While gear design can be a challenging endeavor, the results justify the complexity of the task. However, the process can be made a lot easier with the right tools.
The software and engineering experts at Smart Manufacturing Technology (SMT) have created solutions that can assist and eliminate many design steps, allowing for a quicker process and more robust final design.
SMT’s MASTA software
SMT’s flagship CAE software, MASTA, is well known as the premier specialized transmission and driveline design and analysis tool. MASTA enables engineers to design robust, efficient, lightweight, and quiet transmissions from concept design, through detailed design, and all the way to manufacture, enabling true design for manufacture.
MASTA is complemented by SMT’s MEASA TE and NVH hardware and software solution, which allows easy and accurate data acquisition of TE and NVH test data, together with data analysis tools developed specifically for transmission applications.
There are considerable productivity benefits from having a single workflow only requiring input of data once resulting in fewer opportunities for introducing errors. SMT’s MASTA software enables engineers to start the process from a clean sheet, build models quickly, analyze their models and optimize their designs using accurate results for maximum efficiency and accuracy when working on a project, according to Pramod Mooneeramsing, director of sales and marketing at SMT.
“We provide the complete suite to help engineers get the right results at any stage of their design process, before it gets to the manufacturing process,” he said. “Saving time and cost, providing accurate analysis results, and enabling to build designs optimized for manufacture are just a few of the many advantages.”
SMT’s engineering services
“SMT’s engineering services team are dedicated to solving the difficult problems that customers face, providing expertise and knowhow,” said Dr. Paul Langlois, software engineering director at SMT. “Our expertise in areas such as NVH, efficiency, and shift quality, with proven ability to solve problems within these difficult areas, distinguish us. SMT aim to solve high difficulty problems that others cannot solve, rather than providing a pool of resources for routine work when customers are short of them. This combination of world leading software, high-class project engineers, and a proven record of problem-solving resolutions encapsulates SMT’s expertise-based approach.”
In business since 2002
SMT started life as a company in 2002 with a group of engineers who were experts in software, system dynamics, gears, and bearings, and who are still with the company today. SMT was founded with a clear vision to provide solutions to engineers to bridge the gap between design and manufacturing, according to Mooneeramsing.
From its beginnings, SMT sought to make use of modern technologies.
“With a strong architecture built in from the start this enables our software to be robust and easily extensible,” Langlois said.
SMT is a Microsoft Gold partner and develops its software on the latest Microsoft platform. This allows rapid inclusion and integration of new features with no legacy code or platform constraints to hold back further development, according to Mooneeramsing.
“Software should enable engineers to optimize the use of their time in making important engineering decisions and allow them to spend less time on manual, time consuming tasks,” he said. “With MASTA, the modern and intuitive interface is designed to ensure that, when working with the software, it is user friendly and streamlined. Another important and common goal for SMT is ensuring that all types of engineers at different levels of knowledge can use the software, whether they are an expert or not.”
‘MASTA, built for you’
A focus on software quality since the start of the business, together with a continual focus on stability throughout the development process from expert developers, has enabled SMT to be very flexible toward bespoke requirements for the end user, according to Mooneeramsing.
“SMT work with users of the software to ensure the features meet their requirements for now and the future,” he said.
One of the key distinguishers of the software is that the modular construction allows customers to choose the modules they need for their requirements and not pay for functionality that they are not going to use, according to Mooneeramsing. Using the right tools within the software, in this manner, reduces cost while maximizing productivity.
“In many CAE tools, unnecessary additional costs are common when wishing to take advantage of available computing power,” he said. “With MASTA, you get the whole package. SMT software can take full advantage of the processing power available via multi-core processors. Further, Microsoft’s decision to support platforms other than Windows further increases this advantage, with new developments allowing SMT to leverage the power of High-Performance Computing (HPC) running on Linux.”
Continuing the company ethos of building the software around customer requirements, with an open and liberal approach, is what continues to drive SMT’s innovation.
One huge addition for SMT in the past year has been the release of their new scripting functionality in MASTA 10; a product innovation that enables MASTA users to work with the software at a whole new level, according to Langlois.
“Scripting allows the users to interact with MASTA models and analyses from their own code, written in .NET languages such as C# or languages that engineers are often familiar with already such as Python or MATLAB,” he said. “Users can therefore write code in the languages they are used to while taking full advantage of the development tools and libraries which are available for them.”
There is a continual large focus on automation within many industries. Automation enables lean design and development workflows to be optimized while minimizing the potential for errors. MASTA’s scripting function enables MASTA to be easily integrated into such workflows and even enables MASTA to be used as the platform on which such workflows are built, according to Mooneeramsing. This is also an important feature for companies that need to protect their intellectual property but need a deeper integration with MASTA.
Growing with the EV market
SMT is always looking for ways to better itself and the software products and features it produces, and with the gear market in the automotive industry moving toward electric vehicles, SMT is confident it will continue to excel in providing solutions in full system design and analysis within MASTA, according to Mooneeramsing.
“What I mean by full system analysis is a complete, high fidelity model of a transmission, including the electric motor, where the assumptions in the system are kept to an absolute minimum,” he said. “Not only should it be very accurate, it should also be easy, not a struggle to get the tool to do what you want. We have testing facilities in the U.K. where we test EV cars. We achieve results that correlate with MASTA to give our engineers tremendous confidence in our technology.”
With all of SMT’s innovations and worldwide expansion, it only serves to demonstrate how the company will continue to focus on growth, according to Mooneeramsing.
“We opened an office in South Korea last year and it’s been very well received, generating lots of interest,” he said. “We’ve had our U.S. office readily established as well, meaning we’re always trying to make sure we work closer with our customers at a local level. Having offices across the globe allows us to work closely with a wider range of customers, giving us added insight into a variety of challenges. Whether it’s software related or engineering-services related, we are always working with customers to make sure we are providing the best of the best.”
‘Customer and quality are the priority’
SMT’s relationship with its customers is a key driver in the constant innovation behind the MASTA suite. The feedback process and development plan are important in acknowledging the customer needs first and foremost, according to Mooneeramsing.
“If a customer wants a specific feature in MASTA, SMT facilitates that as the driving force to ensure customers are using the right tools for their projects,” he said. “This opens the door for many users to see for themselves the benefits of the whole suite, learning new features they may have been limited from in other software packages.”
The company now has more than 100 employees, with a large number of SMT staff with PhDs in their areas of expertise, according to Langlois.
“As a customer-focused company, we aim to have staff at all levels, no matter what role, to understand that the customer and quality are the priority and that anything they do they should keep that in mind,” he said.
“The software itself, I would say in a nutshell, is about 90 percent driven by our customers,” Mooneeramsing said.
The experts at SMT believe that providing great customer support is crucial to their mission. They are passionate about helping their customers achieve their objectives efficiently, according to Dr. Rob Forrest, customer support manager.
“SMT is committed to delivering first-class support to all our customers as part of a company-wide ‘customer-first’ ethos, and we always endeavor to work closely with them to ensure both ongoing success and satisfaction,” he said.
According to Mooneeramsing, SMT engineers are some of the best in the industry.
“If needed, we give you direct access to them, and that’s all part of the customer-first ethos in our philosophy, to make sure you get the highest level of customer support, whether you’ve got a small problem and you just need to talk to one of our support engineers, or you need help with something much more complex,” he said. “We’re open. We’re there for everybody, and that’s really important for us.”
Communication is key at SMT; internally, all departments work together to one common goal, the customer comes first, according to Mooneeramsing.
“This high level of integration ensures the customer support received is also very open, the Portal that they use is of high technical caliber, and resources are readily available to open the door to support queries and further help; it’s not just reactive,” he said. “The Support Portal gives access to, for example, a wide range of videos, which have proved very popular with SMT’s customers as a method of training and also a method of answering customer support queries on certain functions and workflows.”
This focus on the customer is reflected in the excellent feedback SMT has received regarding its customer support, according to Mooneeramsing. With a 96 percent overall satisfaction rating and a Net Promotor score of 55, a value for this standard metric, which is deemed excellent, it is clear that SMT’s customers are happy. With a global reach and local support, if customers need to talk to one of SMT’s support engineers, or help with something much more complex, SMT is ready.
OEM customers all over the world
Within 18 years of being in business, with four major OEMs in Germany, as well as OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers in countries such as the U.S., Japan, Korea, and China, trusting the company’s software and being longstanding customers is a huge achievement for SMT, according to Mooneeramsing.
“I’ve had a very personal relationship with each and every company,” he said. “This is why our philosophy is consistent in every market. Wherever we do business, I make sure everyone interacting with a customer focus on that customer’s technical and commercial needs. We’re always happy to sit down and discuss anything with a customer. We are very much a technology-minded business thinking of how we can help the customer.”
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