Aerospace testing, engineering, and certification are where AeroTEC shines. Their tagline, Accelerating the Evolution of Aerospace, “is something we put a lot of thought into,” said Dale Goulding, chief development officer. He said, “There are many innovators and technologists out there; there is so much new technology coming into the space – but really, there aren’t many companies that can do the wide range of products that we can.” He elaborated on the expertise of AeroTEC and their 250 employees and ability to provide a wide range of services in things like, “weather radar, a new interior system, a power generation upgrade, an aerodynamic improvement for drag reduction, and a whole new power train (battery or hydrogen-electric).”
He added, “We are uniquely situated outside an OEM as a smaller company that can help bring a wide range of products to market.”
Bringing those products to market requires depth in the dynamic flow of information in products, delivery, management, and communication. This is where Applied CAx comes in. The name “CAx” may seem odd in its taxonomy and appearance. According to Taylor Saul, managing partner, “CAx” is an umbrella term that refers to various computer-aided technologies used throughout the design, engineering, and manufacturing processes. The “CA” stands for “Computer-Aided,” and the “x” is a placeholder that can be replaced with various letters to signify different tools and technologies. He refers to computer-aided design, manufacturing, and engineering as the stand-ins for ‘x’ depending upon the application need. Therefore, CAD, CAM, and CAE are the acronyms for their applications.
In the case of AeroTEC the applications needed, via the services provided by Applied CAx, are great. Saul said the software used by AeroTEC includes “multiple Siemens software solutions throughout the design lifecycle, including NX, Teamcenter, and a range of Siemens Simcenter Tools for advanced simulation applications. They utilize STAR-CCM+ for CFD analysis, Simcenter FEMAP for FEA, Simcenter 3D, and AMESIM for 1D system simulation and system performance analysis.”
If the tools sound complex, it is because they are. But, Goulding said, “We’ve helped companies around the world design, test, and, if needed or requested, certify their product — everything from aerodynamic modifications to clean-sheet aircraft, including hybrid/electric, hydrogen technology, supersonic, and eVTOLs.”
Thus, the software running everything in the company must also have depth. Developing that process has been a joint effort between Applied CAx, the Siemens-based application development, and the identified needs and problem-solving of AeroTEC. Goulding enjoyed the process because with Applied CAx, “They take the time to listen and understand how you will use the tool. Their people have seen this installed in multiple ways. They discover what we are trying to achieve, define the process, and work with us on the journey. It is a tailored deployment of those tools.” He said that they work together to achieve the best possible result.
Saul explained that this success has been built over many years. He started with Applied CAx in 2015 in sales and business development after earning a degree in architecture. When he earned his degree, there was a housing market crash, so he worked in construction until he found a job with a construction-based customer at his software company. But added, “I had a draw to aerospace and defense,” so after a time, he approached Applied CAx.
When he started his job search, Applied CAx was hiring an aerospace and defense sales executive in the Pacific Northwest, which appealed to Saul. “Working in design, engineering, and manufacturing software was something that I was always interested in, and sales was something I was good at,” Saul said. CAx was considered a Silver Siemens partner, which he said was the lowest end of the tier. During his eight-year tenure, they’ve been “North American Partner of the Year” three times.
Last year, they were Siemens’ top sales company. Saul said, “Part of that success was that we’ve focused on a couple of industries. Most of our client base is in the Northwest, almost all aerospace and defense. In the last four or five years, we’ve also branched out to work in renewable energy.”
He said that because of their relationships with customers, “There are a lot of aerospace engineers that we’ve worked with that have led to (additional) work in hydrogen and nuclear fusion companies,” and others.
He said that, like architecture, where he received his initial training, software sales are all about solving problems for the customer. “Ultimately, they come to us with a problem, a repetitive process they are trying to eliminate, and we are bringing them solutions that save them time, energy, and money.”
Conversely, Goulding said that AeroTEC, because “We have the tools and systems in place,” can help bring a wide range of products to market. They can navigate the certification processes more easily than aerospace start-ups or even more experienced manufacturers. “We can accelerate that, for example, in a start-up company that doesn’t have all the tools and processes in place; we can leverage (what they have).” He said they fulfill processes like risk management and have a hangar in place. He shared that they bring the resources to help customers bring their products to market much more quickly.
One of the purviews presented by AeroTEC on their website, www.aerotec.com is, “At AeroTEC, we know what it takes to successfully develop aerospace products that sell.” Through their certification process, they must understand if a component can survive in austere environments – hot and cold, vibrational spectrum, salt and fog environments, dust, and humidity. He said it is their job to demonstrate the survival and viability of an aerospace component or part through various tests.
At the aircraft performance level, they also assess air systems, avionics, electrical, structural, etc. These system tests need to be documented and monitored, which is where the software comes in.
“We must make a business case for the products. We understand different elements of success,” Goulding said.
For smaller to mid-sized businesses like AeroTEC and some customers, third-party partners like Applied CAx sell and support customers using Siemens software. Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), through their product Teamcenter, is how they measure success. By understanding a customer’s problems, they can understand what is needed. A software foundation is configured based on the customer’s requirements. “We have many options we can choose and configure for a customer,” Saul said.
Any company with a significant engineering base starts with product data management (PDM). Product lifecycle management takes the design/data they are managing and turns it into a relational database. Everyone on the design and engineering team has one database they will use for product management. All changes are logged in the system. A design lifecycle starts with requirements, and ultimately, there is system modeling, mechanical design, validation, simulation, and prototyping. All of these systems can be integrated into Teamcenter. “Any changes in the design process can be seen upstream or downstream,” Saul said. A company can make decisions for engineering parts based on what they see in Teamcenter, with all factors in front of them.
As with many aerospace suppliers, it often takes a partnership in expertise, listening, and understanding to help both companies survive and thrive. In the case of AeroTEC and Applied CAx, productive problem-solving has allowed both companies to thrive.
|Applied CAx Engineering Software Solutions Applied CAx specializes in providing engineering software solutions for product development, design, simulation and analysis, and data management. We are partnered with Siemens Digital Industries Software to help companies everywhere achieve sustainable competitive advantage by offering software licenses, training and mentorship, and technical support. Design Siemens offers best-in-class CAD software tools for design and product development. Solid EdgeNX CAD Simulation & AnalysisOptimize your design. More than just a simulation model, Simcenter CAE Simulation Software utilizes the digital twin as a living entity that evolves throughout the asset’s lifecycle. Simcenter ManufacturingDigitally transform part manufacturing using one integrated software system to program advanced CNC machining tools, accurately validate manufacturing operations, and precisely control 5-axis tool paths to effectively machine complex geometries with dramatically reduced programming times. NX CAM Engineering Data ManagementFully integrate your engineering data, team collaboration, product information, and processes in one centralized system across the digital thread with Teamcenter Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Software. Teamcenter
|AeroTEC Products & Services Aircraft Development & CertificationOur team can plug into your organization, share our processes, and best practices, and accelerate your development program. We’ll even help you select and manage suppliers. ENGINEERING SERVICESOur experienced team can design aircraft systems, structures, and integrations, leveraging our internal tools and processes to complete customer work packages. MANUFACTURINGOur in-house AS9100 manufacturing center can build production and experimental quality hardware to support customer programs, which allows us to control schedule and cost. AIRCRAFT MODIFICATION & MRO182,000 square feet of hangar space with the tools, GSE, and quality systems to complete complex aircraft modifications and maintenance. Flight Test OperationsThe AeroTEC Flight Test Center is staffed with experienced test engineers, instrumentation engineers and technicians, and test pilots ready to take on your program. Special Test EquipmentWe can design and manufacture experimental test hardware like trailing cones, water ballast systems, flutter excitation systems, beta vanes, and more. Wind Tunnel Models & TestingAeroTEC has extensive experience designing and building wind tunnel models of varying complexity.
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