In their quest for a more efficient and effective utilization of the resources allocated to engineering design projects, and thus to the overall product development project from which the current design task(s) originate, an increasing number of companies allow engineering designers to perform Computer-Based Design Analysis (CBDA) on their own — CBDA is here confined to quantitative analyses using finite element-based structural and thermal analyses, Computational Fluid Dynamics, and Multi-Body Systems. Since all of these tools require a certain level of expertise in order to be successfully utilized in industrial practice, the types of analyses performed by the engineering designers are confined to simple, straightforward ones.
In striving for an increase of the individual engineering designer’s possibilities to actively participate in CBDA in industrial practice, an online survey has been carried out and reported in . The main objective set out for this survey was to give an overview of the current situation in the global industry regarding CBDA tasks being performed by engineering designers, what positive effects they might present to the industry and how they should be implemented for best result. Resulting from this survey, one new type of support, Template-Based Design Analysis (TBDA), was singled out as very promising for future development. TBDA is a support to be used in engineering design analyses based on the utilization of the advanced features provided by high-end Computer Aided Design (CAD)/Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) software in supporting and guiding as well as monitoring the design analysis performed by the engineering designer.
Since TBDA is still in its infancy, substantial development needs to be invested in it to make it the full-blown support needed in industrial practice. To be able to contribute to the development of TBDA, it is essential to acquire knowledge about how companies, both national and international, are planning to introduce and utilize TBDA in industrial practice. It is likewise of importance to acquire knowledge of the arguments against an introduction of TBDA.
To that end a new online survey has been carried out, focusing on the introduction and benefits as well as the disadvantages associated with an implementation of TBDA. The survey was sent to 64 recipients, 41 of whom were selected from the previous survey  and 23 came from Swedish companies known to the authors to utilize CBDA on a regular basis. The limitation to Swedish companies was due to practical as well as economic reasons, as these companies were also invited to participate in interviews. The main objective set out for these interviews was to get an in-depth view on the outcome of allowing engineering designers performing CBDA/TBDA in industrial practice. An additional objective was to get an indication as to the validity of the responses obtained in the online survey by comparing the results from the interviews with the responses given by the companies to the survey.
42 of the 64 recipients, from 17 countries, completed the survey. All of the invited Swedish companies completed the survey. However, due to the risks associated with revealing proprietary information during the interviews, only 5 out of the 23 companies were willing to participate in the interviews.
The introduction of TBDA in an industrial setting has resulted in many advantages, such as shorter lead times, opportunities to generate more concept candidates, and increased collaboration between the engineering designers and the design analysts, all of them contributing to more mature technical solutions. Three different automation levels of TBDA have also been identified and accounted for as well as exemplified. In the companies in which TBDA has not been implemented, some of the reasons for not doing so are high costs, company policy, and the lack of knowledge and experience on the part of the engineering designer. This paper presents the results from both the new online survey and from the interviews.