60 second interview: Chris Buckland

Written by: Paul Fanning | Published:

Paul Fanning talks to Chirs Buckland, OBE and chairman, CFMS.

What is CFMS and How did you become involved with it?
CFMS is an independent, not-for-profit organisation, committed to accelerating the delivery of more intuitive and powerful simulation-based design processes. Throughout my career, I've been involved in simulation in one form or another. I've worked in high-performance computing and visualisation and all those types of activities, so simulation has been a factor throughout. So whether it's CFD [Computational Fluid Dynamics] or FEA [Finite Element Analysis], it's been a theme that has run all the way through my career. My first involvement with CFMS was via the RDA, who put some funding in to help the thing start. I spoke at the launch of it about how important this is to the aerospace industry and to industry in the south west. So I knew of them and they knew of me and when they wanted an independent chairman, they asked me if I'd like to do that.

What are your aims for CFMS?
To really get to the point where we achieve more than the original objectives. The original objectives were to try and get performance improvement of simulation codes by about a million times by a combination of computing power, algorithm modification and also by speeding up the software. So approaching it as a system rather than just a hardware problem. It's really about getting it to a point where we're doing this for other people and demonstrating the advantage it can give in simulation and helping people to look at all the aspects of simulation – not just the analysis part, but all the pre- and post-production elements as well. It's about building the grid and analysing the results afterwards. If you can speed those aspects up, then you move a step closer to analysis being an accepted tool in the whole design and development process. It's making analysis a key factor in the design and development process of products and also getting it to a point where the results are fully accepted and people don't then have to go and test.

Is there still an educational process to be undertaken with simulation?
I don't think there's an educational process to be undertaken with the designers and the engineers, it's more with the executives and the authorities around these things. There are a number of companies that have moved away from physical testing. One Formula One team has stopped using wind tunnel, for instance because it trusts the results of its simulations. So if you can get to that stage where you don't need physical stress analysis. However, there is a real issue around people actually believing science these days. There is one tube line, for instance, which is totally automated, but you have to have a driver there because people feel more comfortable and confident if there's a driver there. They don't need one but it's there for consumer confidence.

Could we get to a stage where physical testing is no longer necessary?
There is a real issue around people actually believing science these days. There is one tube line, for instance, which is totally automated, but you have to have a driver there because people feel more comfortable and confident if there's a driver there. They don't need one but it's there for consumer confidence. It's a question of how far we get with our confidence. If you have confidence in the models and confidence in the analysis techniques, then you don't actually need to have a
physical test process. So I think we could reach that stage, but I'm not sure we're actually there yet because of the confidence factor.


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