Romax Technology provides class-leading simulation solutions for the design, analysis, testing, and manufacture of electro-mechanical drivetrain systems.

Designing, creating, and manufacturing gears and drive systems can make up a sizeable piece of a manufacturer’s budget.

By employing innovative technology as an integral part of the development process, much of that cost can be minimized — this is accomplished through simulation-led design and virtual prototyping.

Romax Technology does just that with its leading software platform, Romax Nexus.

“We empower end users of our products and their organizations, most often the manufacturers of gears and associated drivetrain systems, to simulate their electro-mechanical systems in an efficient, reliable manner early in the development process,” said Chris Baker, senior vice president of software products for Romax Technology. “Through doing so, they ultimately go to production with confidence that they will meet their product’s target DNA, as well as achieve business-critical cost and quality KPIs.”

One dimension of “target DNA” that is seeing a lot of emphasis today is sound quality, according to Baker. Romax Spectrum, one of the most popular products on the Nexus platform, provides a solution for predicting full radiated noise from a high-fidelity drivetrain model. This caters to the noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) community and really delivers in terms of ensuring the satisfaction of the ultimate customer.

“We offer both standards-based life calculations and propriety methods developed over the course of our three decades in business to deliver accurate performance predictions,” he said. “We specialize in technology that serves key performance attributes, such as durability, NVH, and efficiency. And our software has been designed to facilitate collaboration between groups that focus on the different attributes through model-sharing on the Nexus platform.”

Tried and true methods

Romax is particularly proud of its enhanced bearing analysis methods developed by the company’s founder, Dr. Peter Poon, MBE, according to Baker. Those methods are employed in Romax’s products to make sure customers get the most realistic results possible.

“We are seeing every day how our Romax Nexus products, having been developed with engineering processes in mind, are changing the way our customers do business, with a general shift toward simulation-led design,” Baker said. “We like to talk, more now than ever, about the importance of this simulation-led design, which stretches CAE into the earliest stage of the development process. It plays into the whole discussion around model-based systems engineering (MBSE), and the models created can live throughout the development process as digital twins in the later stages of development. Notably, the Romax Concept product facilitates layout design and iteration for new drivetrain ideas and connects seamlessly with our other full-system, high-fidelity solutions on the Romax Nexus platform. You can walk through the entire engineering development process using the Romax Nexus family of products, all while considering manufacturing variability, tolerancing, and multi-attribute optimization to achieve a trustworthy design and virtual prototype before costly hardware is employed for validation and ultimate production.”

One key advantage of Romax’s software is that it’s able to overcome barriers that often exist between different groups within organizations. (Courtesy: Romax Technology)

Tailored for different audiences

One key advantage of Romax’s software is that it’s able to overcome barriers that often exist between different groups within organizations, according to Baker.

“You might have one group focused on NVH and another focused on efficiency or electric motor development,” he said. “Often, they don’t speak the same technical language, sit in the same department, or communicate effectively, to be frank. What we’ve done is we’ve tailored our various product lines to suit those different audiences but have used a common model framework to facilitate collaboration through model-sharing, only exposing the parameters and features of importance to each audience. That’s one of our unique selling points: We have these tailored products that deliver targeted value and talk to each other. With that, we have much more productive conversations with our customers about improving their processes as a technology partner, not just a software vendor.”

The Romax product lines

“This Romax Nexus platform underpins a set of six product lines and enables the aforementioned collaboration so that the products talk to each other,” Baker said.

Those product lines include:

Romax Concept. It’s for design engineers who do layout and need to evaluate different variants very quickly. It translates 2D layouts into 3D models to be consumed by and simulated by the other products.

Romax Enduro. This is for durability engineers and leverages all the standards that are tried and true as well as some of Romax’s unique methods to look at durability and performance of drivetrain systems.

Romax Spin. This is more specific to bearing design and simulation and has a targeted audience for component-level development, but it still considers the context of the system for proper simulation.

Romax Spectrum. This is one of Romax’s flagship products, offering cutting edge simulation for drive system dynamics. The software can calculate accurate, micron-level variation at the gear mesh and use that to generate reliable predictions of radiated sound pressure, allowing a broader audience to appreciate the implications of design changes on system sound quality — this is a game-changer in terms of democratizing high-fidelity CAE and exposing its value to a broader audience.

Romax Energy. This product is all about efficiency, and it includes the company’s activities around computational fluid dynamics (CFD), which look to account for churning losses in the geartrain and thermal effects.

Romax Evolve. This is Romax’s solution for simulation of electrical machines. Through interfaces to leading electromagnetic simulation tools, Romax Evolve brings Romax’s system level capabilities to the electrical machine designer, ensuring that Romax’s simulation capabilities for bearing analysis, rotor-dynamics, and e-machine NVH are available at the earliest stage in the CAE-led electric machine design process.

“Romax Nexus comprises these six products and delivers unparalleled capabilities for the development of electro-mechanical drivetrain systems,” Baker said.

The Romax Nexus platform underpins a set of six product lines and enables collaboration so the products communicate with each other. (Courtesy: Romax Technology)

Intuitive interfaces

Each one of the products has an interface that is modern and process-oriented, making the software approachable and flattening the learning curve for new engineers, according to Baker.

“Novice users can pick it up; it’s intuitive; they walk through it tab by tab in building and simulating their models and then exploring results,” he said. “Each product is domain-specific, so it speaks the same language as the target audience. These products were developed with very specific target audiences in mind. But, again, the crux of it is that these products talk to each other and share a common model paradigm. So, an Enduro user can pass his model to a Spectrum user, and the Spectrum user can pass the model to a Spin user, and the particular product used to open the model will expose only the things important to that particular audience. It’s an exciting innovation for us and our customers.”

‘Right First Time’

All that sophisticated software boils down to what Baker considers Romax’s mantra: “Right first time (RFT).”

“The RFT ethos plays into everything we do — whether it’s software or engineering services, it’s all about facilitating our customers in terms of delivering their product in a reliable, repeatable fashion,” he said. “Making sure that the products are fit for purpose is paramount. To us at Romax, ‘Right First Time’ means that what’s designed is suitable for the target application and its target market, as developed virtually in an efficient, intuitive way. We often help our customers understand how to cover the bases and develop better processes that build robustness and confidence.”

“Simulation-led design and development using Romax Nexus drives down hardware prototyping costs, improves the productivity of engineers and designers, raises quality and functional performance of the product being developed, and ultimately provides more confidence that the products that our customers take to production will be successful in the market,” he said.

Working with customers

Since customers’ knowledge and expertise can vary, Baker said that Romax’s approach to a customer’s challenge often involves what he calls “discovery.”

“Some customers are well positioned to tackle their business objectives and design challenges — they have knowledge of CAE and a high level of proficiency with other tools,” he said. “They may be new to Romax, in which case we conduct meetings to understand the nature of their business. To whom do they cater in the market? What sorts of technologies do they leverage? If they do use CAE already, which products do they use? What we strive to understand is how we can bring our expertise and technology to bear on the success of their business as a partner. For the customers prepared to deploy the software, we want to ensure the full value is realized and that it’s leveraged to the fullest extent. However, in some cases, our customers need more than just analysis support or deployment of CAE software. They may not have the bandwidth to do the development or the experience to understand the complexity of a robust development process, as is the case with some start-ups. In those cases especially, they need us to do more, and we have a business unit called eDRIVE dedicated to full turnkey development from clean sheet all the way through prototype and hardware sourcing. These days, those activities focus on the exciting domain of electro-mechanical systems, as the eDRIVE name suggests, but we still tackle more traditional system development, too. These activities are exciting for us, because we can truly harness all of the know-how and horsepower of the business.”

Romax’s beginnings

Even though Romax’s portfolio has branched out into a myriad of different industries, the company has its roots in the bearing world and was the brainchild of world-renowned bearing expert Poon in 1989.

“Dr. Poon always has been driven by the Right First Time philosophy that is at the core of Romax, and he’s embraced that and built our brand with an eye to engineering a better world and having a positive impact,” Baker said. “That’s really at the heart of what we do in both our software and services activities at Romax. Dr. Poon has left this indelible mark on the company and our culture. Also, hand-in-hand with that philosophy comes the system-level thinking that he’s embraced since day one. Our software suite has evolved over the years to deliver a full drivetrain system simulation platform that’s unique and covers a variety of different attributes that are very important to the market. Over the course of the past 30 years, the company has progressively developed this technology to keep pace with the market, and we do our best to continually identify future needs so that we can innovate and add more value.”

Going forward, Romax will continue to offer its innovative software to the gear industry and beyond.

“As far as our place in the market is concerned, we are very proud of our broad partner ecosystem and diverse community of customers across a variety of key sectors, including automotive, aerospace, energy, and general machinery. While we are focused on system-level solutions, we aren’t leaving gear and bearing components behind,” Baker said. “We’re focused on electro-mechanical applications, and consideration of component-level details and manufacturing techniques is paramount for delivering reliable system-level performance predictions. Gears are not going away, and the broad array of use cases, loads, and sizes that one encounters in the market is amazing. We anticipate a great deal of innovation in materials to improve efficiency and cost. Likewise, we see trends like 3D printing becoming more mainstream, challenging traditional simulation techniques. We are positioning our team and developing our technology to address these opportunities for the market in close cooperation with our technology partners, all in the interest of helping everyone achieve Right First Time products and processes.”