With the latest update for TruePlanning 16.0, we have a new plugin for Phoenix Integration’s ModelCenter tool.  ModelCenter aids in the design and optimization of systems, and is a popular tool with many TruePlanning users in the aerospace and defense industry.  The new plugin will allow users to integrate TruePlanning’s cost models with computer-aided design (CAD) tools, simulation tools, performance models, Excel, etc. and automate data sharing between them. By linking these models/tools together, you can do in-depth studies on the entire trade space for a design, and find optimal answers to very complex design questions.  And with the improved plugin, you can do this more quickly than ever before.

In testing out the new plugin, we put together a quick case study looking at a notional AESA radar design.  We wanted to study the effects of varying the number of T/R Modules, and various substrate technology options (GaAs, GaN, HBT SiGe, etc.), which will affect the T/R Module power.  We wanted to understand their impact on the range, weight, and total cost (development and production) of the radar.  Once we decided what analysis we wanted to do, actually doing it it was a breeze – it took 7 minutes to add TruePlanning to a pre-existing ModelCenter project with the performance/weight models, create the linkages for new TruePlanning inputs/outputs to the rest of the models, set up the trade study, run the model, and produce preliminary results/graphs below. 

 

Right away, we gained some insight by looking at the bottom-right chart, which shows a clear line where there is an optimal power for any fixed number of T/R modules, and any further increases in power provide significantly less value.  Other charts validate the models in that we see expected relationships between design parameters and their effects on cost and performance.

In designing complex systems, you’re rarely trying to just find the least costly design or the highest performance design.  Rather, you often want to find the best value designs –designs that hit the “sweet spot” where you’ve appropriately weighed both performance and cost.  You also want to find the design that takes advantage of any opportunity to gain additional performance for relatively small cost increase, or where you can cut costs with little impact on performance.  To find these “sweet spots” and valuable opportunities in a complex design, it is extremely helpful to integrate all your cost/design tools in such a way that you can quickly analyze the entire trade space, and create visualizations like those above.

If you’re interested in learning more, we’ll be hosting a webinar August 17, 2017 to review a more in-depth aircraft wing design case study.  If you’d like to try out the new plugin, please contact us or leave a comment below.