My colleague Narayan Rangarajan, Altair Engineering team leader, has contributed the following post:
Today, computer-aided engineering (CAE) has enabled high-end research in Crash, NVH, Durability and Optimization of many different industries, including automotive, aerospace, defense, consumer products and architecture, among others.
While yes, many if not all of these are essential in at least some shape or form, are these the most basic of necessities? What about the fundamental human necessities – food, clothing and shelter? Can CAE play a part when it comes to these?
Let’s take a closer look.
According to the publication SAVE FOOD!, a study conducted for the International Congress at Interpack2011Düsseldorf, Germany, roughly one-third of the edible parts of food produced for human consumption get lost or wasted globally, which is about 1.3 billion tons per year.
Food wastage can occur in various parts of the food supply chain, but one of the main causes is poor storage facilities and lack of infrastructure, which cause postharvest food losses in developing countries. Fresh products like fruits, vegetables, meat and fish straight from the farm or after the catch can be spoiled in hot climates due to lack of infrastructure for transportation, storage, cooling and markets (Rolle, 2006; Stuart,2009).
CAE can address complex, fluid structure and thermal problems in aircraft. Why not use it in developing low cost storage and cooling facilities to address one of the primary causes for the food wastage issue?
Cold temperatures kill thousands of people in the world every year. Again, it’s a thermal problem. Weaving patterns, air trapping in layers and material thickness play important roles in retaining warmth.
Why not implement CAE to develop an optimal low-cost clothing solution?
Internet searches show optimization of high-end structures using topology optimization, but we see comparatively fewer studies on cost optimization of the low-cost/affordable housing sector.
In the 2011 census, the Indian government estimated a shortage of 24.8 million houses.
The housing market at the base of the pyramid is estimated at $250 billion. This is a huge sector, where topology optimization can be applied to bring in much needed cost savings.
It’s a known fact that optimizing low-cost housing is a complex problem, but a lot can be done in optimization of fundamental forms.
Structural analysis can be effectively used in establishing baseline quality standards in the affordable housing sector.
Considering the points above, my food for thought is this: if a large percentage of overall CAE usage helps the life of 15 percent of the developed population, there must be at least a small effort towards the remaining 85 percent of the developing population.
As they say in India, “Roti kapda aur makaan,” which in English means, “Food, clothing, and shelter are the bare essentials for life.”
I think the solution lies with us, the “CAE patrons.” We need to spread the word and build awareness of CAE’s applicability in these areas, to address larger human issues.