Insights from industry

Techno-Economic Data for Strategic Materials Information

In this interview, AZoM discusses how Granta designs software tools for the materials industry to make their life easier, including techno-economic data and data management tools.

How’s the trade show going for you so far?

Yeah, it’s going well today, thanks, very well indeed. We had a lot of traffic.

That’s good to hear. So for anybody who doesn’t know, what do Granta Design do?

Granta Design, we’re the largest software organisation in the world focused on materials information. We are the materials information technology experts.

Excellent. So you guys have like catalogue or database, lots of materials property information, that type of thing?

Well we have two sorts of flavours of product for industrial customers. One of them relies heavily on content that Granta can supply and that’s the materials strategy sessions where we provide a lot of techno-economic data. And our other products which are more data management tools rely on no data from Granta at all, but just an infrastructure of software tools to manage the in-house data of our customers.

So basically what you guys do is make all sorts of software to make life easier for everybody?

That’s right. We … there are many, many materials engineers in Granta. And we understand the role of the materials engineer in industry and so we try and provide software to make their life easier.

Sounds like an important role to me. So you guys are involved in a materials data management consortium. Can you tell us about that?

Yeah, well the Materials Data Management Consortium has been growing year on year now for the last five years. We’ve just had a new members Boeing … a group from Boeing Integrated Defence Systems and another group from Northrop-Grumman have joined, joining people like Rolls Royce, GE Aviation, Honeywell and several NASA sites. And the role of the Materials Data Management Consortium is to give us direct advice on the tools that our customers, all of the MDMC members are our customers, to give Granta Design direct advice on what they want our tools to do next, so development of our software capability.

So that sounds exciting. So what you’re doing is also cataloguing lots of materials test data for them, that type of thing?

Yeah. The role of the materials data management tools within Granta MI, that’s the name of our product, is to provide software tools to take data from every stage in its development or its data life cycle from the raw test data coming directly off a test machine through to a population of data which can be analysed statistically using in-house rules, and then to the provision of design allowables used by the design houses, design functions and analytical engineers within our customer organisations. So Granta itself never gets to see the data within our customer organisations but they use our software to manage every step of the lifetime of that data from its inception at the test lab through to its use by a designer.

So all your software tools can deal with any type of material and any type of test?

Yeah, we have a lot of customers in many, many different areas from people, as you say, the gas turbine manufacturers are very interested in the high temperature creep and fatigue data. We have a variety of customers from materials manufacturers, a lot of organisations in the energy sector where creep, in the nuclear power generation, where creep is incredibly important, the lifetimes of components over 40 years. And also in domestic equipment, Intel, for high tech chip manufacturers and a lot of people like Bosch and consumer and industrial product. All of these people have a materials issue where they are trying to get their arms around what the materials that they understand within their organisation can do and how best to apply them in the most cost effective way.

Very good. So you were also telling me about another organisation that you guys are part of, the Materials Strategy Forum. What exactly is that?

Well the Materials Strategy Forum takes off where the Materials Data Management Consortium stops. The Materials Data Management Consortium is focused on generating tools to create a database of internal, in-house materials information about the materials moving through the organisation’s work flow. The Materials Strategy Forum is where techno-economic data is added to that database so that an organisation can define its materials strategy in the sense that you might want to comply with the latest environmental legislation or perhaps you might want to switch from one material manufacturer to another or just reduce the number of suppliers of a particular material. The Materials Strategy Forum’s role is to again advise Granta on the design of tools to allow the management, the senior management of an organisation to first of all define its materials strategy, and then tools to implement it so that every engineer is guided through the organisation’s materials strategy when making any and every materials related decision.

So it takes into account things like life cycle analysis which you obviously … and things like sustainability?

Absolutely. Yeah, the tools within the Materials Strategy Forum can cover all aspects of a material’s life cycle. But it’s any decision that a designer makes. So for example, if they’ve got two materials that are of equal performance, there will always be one which is preferable to the material defined by the organisation’s material strategy. It may be the production costs, it may be the use of hazardous materials in its processing, or it may be its end of life recycling which is going to define the materials strategy. But the upper managers, the senior management of that organisation has defined their materials strategy and we, Granta, through the Materials Strategy Forum, can provide the senior management tools to allow every engineer to be guided in their decision making process in accordance with the materials strategy of that organisation.

Sounds pretty comprehensive.

Well we are the, as I said earlier, we’re the materials information technology experts. And so we try and provide all software tools to organisations that might be just a couple of hundred people or to several hundred thousand people. We have customers that fit every single mould and we don’t like anyone to escape our clutches, as it were, because materials information is very, very important but it’s been allowed to run down in the last couple of year, recently, because it’s seen as a cost centre. But in actual fact, materials innovation is one of the key steps to product performance.

Well if only we could convince everybody of that, that’d be fantastic.

We’d take a long step in the right direction.

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