This article highlights that up-front computer-aided engineering (CAE) dramatically decreases product lead time. Up-front CAE entails vesting responsibility for performing finite element analysis tests and other analysis tests with the design engineers. The designers use specific software packages to analyze their first-stage designs. This way, they can easily change designs that do not pass analysis tests-such as vibration or stress tests-before passing them on to an analyst for in-depth study. Not every engineering company, however, is turning to up-front CAE even as it faces the need to get products to market faster. Some engineers, like Zlatko Penzar, find that their present analysis hierarchy works just fine. He is a senior engineer for the fuel systems division of Mannesmann in Dusseldorf, Germany, another auto components supplier. Engineering departments have to find their own answer to the relationship between designer and analyst. The important thing is that once an answer is agreed upon, it happens the same way every day. A working atmosphere that functions reliably and smoothly is really the key to successful product design.

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