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OVAL Corporation
Using CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) Upfront to Design Better Flowmeters

[Vol. 2] OVAL Corporation is a flowmeter manufacturer, who has cultivated their own advanced technology to develop a diverse range of products. They have started using SC/Tetra to improve product accuracy and quality. In this article, OVAL Corporation explains how they benefit from using CFD and also discusses challenges they experienced when introducing the tool.

Aiming to Front Load the Design Process with Computational Analysis

“Our final goal is to achieve front loading. To do so, the first thing we need to do is to accumulate technical know-how,” says Dr. Fujikawa. OVAL Corporation is planning to use SC/Tetra during the pre-production design phase. This will reduce prototyping and experiments, which will ultimately minimize cost and reduce development time. He explains: “To keep the development cost low, we have to reduce the number of trial-and-error evaluations during prototyping and experiments that involve making and testing actual equipment. This cannot be done without CFD predictions.” Another reason CFD is so important at the OVAL Corporation is that their flowmeter product mix calls for wide varieties but small quantities. Flowmeters must be designed differently to comply with different specifications, including calibers, pressure, temperature, and viscosity. SC/Tetra is a useful tool for narrowing down the many design decisions to identify the best values to meet specific customer requirements. Using CFD will speed up development. Dr. Fujikawa hopes to achieve front loading and improve product accuracy and quality.

 

OVAL Corporation is currently performing steady-state analyses for about 30 different design studies using models that contain ten to twenty million mesh elements. It takes one to two weeks to calculate a solution in four parallel processes. “There are some things that can only be clarified by performing transient analyses. Although calculation time is a problem that still needs to be resolved, we are considering taking up this challenge,” says Mr. Motomiya. He further explains: “That will mean increasing the degree of parallelism. It would be better if we can run multiple jobs using just one license.” Cloud services, which have become more common in recent years, can be the solution. Using cloud services, several hundred parallel calculations can be processed. Cloud services provide significant benefits for a user who does not regularly process large scale calculations. Mr. Motomiya also recognizes the possibilities and advantages that could come from using cloud services. He will try using these services if the benefits exceed the costs.

 

SC/Tetra's Fast Mesh Generation Function is a Great Advantage

Regarding the support provided by Software Cradle, Dr. Fujikawa says: “Their engineers are not only quick but extremely helpful. They are our reliable partners.” As a Japanese firm, Software Cradle provides manuals and related documentation in Japanese as well as English. This helped OVAL Corporation engineers who are not familiar with English.

While using SC/Tetra, what struck Dr. Fujikawa the most was the integral capabilities of the SC/Tetra Postprocessor. For example, the data needed to produce the graph shown in Figure 2 was obtained from the analysis results. When an analyst wants to generate the velocity distribution of an arbitrary cross section according to the existing experiment data, the analyst can simply select the spot on the window without having to input coordinates.

OVAL Corporation also finds mesh generation easy using SC/Tetra. The CFD software they used previously did not have the automatic mesh generation function. This forced them to use a step-by-step procedure just to generate meshes. They ended up using another CAE (Computer Aided Engineering) tool, which was compatible with the CFD software, to generate mesh elements. They had to use a multi-step process to change the file extension, export the data, and finally import the data into the CFD software. “SC/Tetra is very easy to use. It generates the mesh automatically. We can adjust settings separately to generate mesh elements even around walls too,” says Dr. Fujikawa. The improved capabilities reduce processing speed and provide a substantial advantage to OVAL Corporation.

 

No One-Click Answer is Possible

To truly improve the flowmeter design/development processes, CFD must be used effectively. To do so, Dr. Fujikawa explains that they first determine the required performance and then consider possible design options. Unrealistic options are deleted by theoretical calculations. The remaining options are evaluated using CFD to identify the best options. Dr. Fujikawa explains that this will ultimately reduce the number of experiments.

OVAL Corporation is intent on using CFD to help achieve their design objectives; however, they also know they must use the most feasible approach. Their approach is based on recognizing that “CFD is not a magic tool.” It does not produce results with just one click of a button. “It is crucial that engineers are sufficiently trained when using the tool,” says Dr. Fujikawa. Engineers can decide whether or not the calculated results are correct when they have substantial knowledge not only in the operation of the CFD tool, but also in academics, such as fluid engineering and CFD analysis. “Even if engineers are well-trained, once they stop using the software regularly, there is little hope for attaining optimal results. It won’t change even if the software has amazing capabilities. We engineers need to be aware of this at all times” says Dr. Fujikawa. If engineers are satisfied with having installed the software, and believe that the right solutions will somehow appear, the true potential of the software capability will not be realized. Or worse, the software may end up being unused. “CFD is not a magic tool” is a key idea for OVAL Corporation, whose intention is to encourage engineers to fully use the software.

Currently, Dr. Fujikawa is collaborating with Professor Tetsuya Kodama from Tohoku University (Biomedical Engineering for Cancer, Biomedical Engineering for Diagnosis and Treatment, Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering), to undertake simulations for micro flows at extremely low Reynolds numbers in living bodies. As Professor Kodama and Dr. Fujikawa were both conducting similar research in fluid engineering, they decided to perform their research using SC/Tetra. This project is expected to contribute to overall research at the OVAL Corporation.

As a future prospect, OVAL Corporation plans to increase the number of SC/Tetra users in their design division. This will be followed by extending CFD usage further into the design process which will ultimately help them achieve front loading. SC/Tetra will continue to act as a powerful tool to help accomplish their goal.

*All product and service names mentioned are registered trademarks or trademarks of their respective companies.
*Contents and specifications of products are as of January 31, 2016 and subject to change without notice. We shall not be held liable for any errors in figures and pictures, or any typographical errors in this brochure.

Company Details

 

OVAL Corporation
Founded May 10, 1949
Businesses Manufacturing and sales of flowmeters, associated electronic instruments, flow measurement systems, and peripheral products.
Representative Jun Tanimoto, President
Number of employees 665 (consolidated)
Capital 2.2 billion JPY
(issued stock: 26.18 million)
Head office Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, Japan
URL www.oval.co.jp/english/index.html

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