Enhancing your CFD capability by partnering – A win win for everyone!

In recent years, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) has become one of the tools of choice for analysis of complex engineering or operation challenges in the offshore and wider Energy Sector. The most obvious benefit of CFD is that it allows a full 3D representation of the problem to be modelled such that the solution can account for the influence of local geometrical effects that would be missing if using simpler non-CFD methods. Typically, the more detailed output can then be coupled with 3D imaging tools to present and explain the results in a highly visual way offering far greater understanding. Unsurprisingly this has proved to be very popular across all engineering sectors.

Looking forward, it is increasingly likely that the role of CFD will continue to grow and therefore that its importance to engineering and/or safety consultants will only become more so. Consequently, it may be perceived that all consultancies need to develop a CFD capability for fear of being left behind. Unfortunately, however, CFD modelling is not cheap and can require significant expertise and investment to set up and maintain the capability. Some considerations include:

  • Initial capital expenditure on computer processing power e.g. new machines/servers, back-up systems, and data storage for the large quantities of data that CFD generates;
  • Software licences, whilst varied, can be very expensive depending on the software, number of users, locations, and licence type etc.;
  • Training and developing staff to be able to use the software in a practical and efficient way (i.e. not just a few simple test simulations). Generating results from CFD packages is often the easy part, checking and understanding the results requires considerable expertise;
  • Development of supporting tools, scripts, and analysis spreadsheets etc. can be fundamental to operating efficiently in a CFD environment, particularly given the quantities of data that are available;
  • Longer term, the costs of CFD must be continuously met to retain capability. Therefore, some degree of assurance about the long term prospect of continuous CFD projects must be known.

Given these considerations, it may be concluded that investing in CFD is either too expensive or too high risk or both. This is perhaps particularly true for smaller consultancies for whom the capacity for taking on overheads is limited. However, an alternative means of accessing CFD capability is by partnering with a CFD consultant, like ESR Technology. The following case study explains how it can work in practice.

ESR Technology were contacted by a relatively small but well established safety consultancy who did not have any in-house CFD capability. Quite simply they found that an inability to provide CFD services meant that they were unable to bid for certain packages of work that they would otherwise be able to deliver. Ultimately, they needed a trusted partner who could provide the extra capability such that they could access projects of larger scope.

In broad terms, ESR were able to assist the partner in three phases of the project lifecycle:

  • Bidding – A specific CFD proposal is developed by ESR for inclusion in the partner’s overall bid package to their client;
  • Work – Following a successful bid, ESR undertook the CFD work collaborating with the partner in terms of input data, 3D model reviews, development of output objectives, and reporting;
  • Result Integration – The role of ESR was not limited to simply generating a report but to a broader involvement in ensuring the CFD results were understood and could be integrated into the associated studies (e.g. QRA) that were being undertaken by the partner in parallel.

The benefit of this approach is that the partner was able to become engaged in larger projects that it would otherwise not have been able to bid for. Furthermore, whilst essentially gaining a CFD capability, they took on none of the costs or risks associated with trying to develop the capability internally but rather benefitted from access to an established and experienced CFD consultant already capable of undertaking the work. The transition from having no CFD capability to being able to deploy fully fledged industry recognised expertise is immediate.

Small consultancies often operate within niche market sectors and usually have very strong relationships with local clients often based on long-established personal connections. ESR recognise and respect the important role played by such highly specialised consultancies and see ourselves as being able to strengthen those relationships through the provision of a broader range of services via CFD modelling.

ESR offer a wide range of CFD-based solutions applicable to a variety of market sectors but particularly oil and gas and wind energy. We see collaboration with non-CFD partners as a way of broadening the nature of the CFD projects we do whilst providing accessibility to CFD solutions to potential partners seeking to advance their offerings to their existing client bases, a win win situation for everyone!

For further information, please contact Terry Atkinson (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

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