To drive speed and productivity, Honeywell engineers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Kansas City National Security Campus (KCNSC) have been working on the Simulation First or “SimFirst” initiative. Through this effort, many production operations can be simulated using physics-based tools prior to actually “bending any metal” in order to find optimum solutions. This also will reduce the number of physical tests required to determine a set of process parameters that meets the final product requirements.
SimFirst is being baselined on parts to radically reduce the cost and time required to produce hardware as well as to provide direct feedback on producibility of the design, even while the design is still only in the conceptual stage.
SimFirst presented a significant opportunity for a strategic partnership of Sandia National Laboratories and KCNSC strengths. Sandia’s science and code development strengths are complemented by the KCNSC’s strengths in application of simulation to ongoing, critical, and timely production processes.
As an example of how this will impact future development, foam parts have had very low production yields historically due to their complex chemical makeup and processing procedures. Beginning in 2013, KCNSC and Sandia collaborated on developing a model that could predict the expansion of Polyurethane foam in an enclosure. Sandia developers created such a model that has been applied over 400 times at the KCNSC to predict the fill behavior for every encapsulated component being developed for current production, reducing the number of physical prototypes required and accelerating development schedules.
Collaborations between sites can be challenging, but it is clear that great things can be accomplished when the Nuclear Security Enterprise sites work together to solve very difficult problems. This challenge led to the expansion of SimFirst collaboration and will be a launching pad to expand the SimFirst initiative to the complete weapon system.