Tutorials, news, snippets, and other various musings about the electrical engineering industry.
The Cost of Not Simulating
Most products go through a pretty thorough QA and testing period, but this testing is often done over weeks or months. This leads to the question, “how can testing of physical products detect issues that may occur years down the road or under conditions that would be difficult to replicate in a controlled environment?”
What really got me thinking about this was a very scary incident my family and I experienced recently—we had a fire at our house. Thankfully, smoke detectors worked and my family and I were able to get out safely. Of course the kids were excited to see real fireman and fire trucks right in their front yard (priorities, am I right?) and the only time anyone got upset was when the firetrucks left—my 2-year-old daughter wanted “more fire trucks”. The fire inspector eventually informed us the culprit was a 6-year-old dehumidifier that malfunctioned.
Honestly, I’m sure no company is going to test their product for 6 years before actually putting it to use (except maybe aerospace and military). The market their product was targeting will most likely have been already won by their competitor by the time their perfect device even becomes available.
But what if companies could virtually test their products under thousands or even millions of scenarios and emulate months or years of operation in a matter of hours or days? What if this particular failure could have been identified in software before this product was ever even built?
As the team here at EMA has been preparing for our latest campaign (FREE PSpice), I keep going back to the fire and dehumidifier and wonder: Could this have been prevented? How can a company identify a potential product failure six years into operation?
I have no idea if the failure in my case was preventable or if the issue was even electrical, but the result for myself and my family was certainly quite disruptive and will, right or wrong, affect my buying decisions when it comes to the brand who built my particular unit.
In our always connected internet and social media age, where users can easily share their experiences with millions using a simple app on their phone, companies need to consider the risk product failures can have for them more so than ever.
When companies focus on the licensing or time costs to simulate and virtually prototype their designs, I think they are focused on the wrong thing. The question they should be asking is: What is the cost not to?