Academic journal article Research-Technology Management

Leveraging Virtual Experimentation and Simulation in R&D: Best Practices and Pitfalls: Developing Technology for Virtual Experimentation and Simulation Offers Both Opportunities and Challenges for Industrial R&D

Academic journal article Research-Technology Management

Leveraging Virtual Experimentation and Simulation in R&D: Best Practices and Pitfalls: Developing Technology for Virtual Experimentation and Simulation Offers Both Opportunities and Challenges for Industrial R&D

Article excerpt

As the technology for virtual experimentation and simulation has matured, interest in its uses for R&D has grown. Indeed, investment in virtual experimentation and simulation in R&D is growing rapidly across industries (Jaruzelski, Loehr, and Holman 2013). Virtual experimentation and simulation enable new ways of working in R&D, in part by allowing faster and more thorough experimentation and testing, minimizing physical product test failure, enabling co-creation with customers, and supporting cross-discipline integration.

The potential advantages of virtual experimentation and simulation tools are illustrated by the experience of Millennium Pharmaceuticals. Beginning in 2001, the company developed a simulation system that enabled drug testing and virtual generation of drug candidates. With the system, experiments that would once have taken days or weeks could be completed in just a few seconds, and it became possible to run multiple experiments in succession. This

Anita Friis Sommer is a senior consultant for the LEGO Group managing the continuous improvement program for pan-European (EMEA) markets. Prior to joining LEGO, she was a research associate at the Engineering Design Center, University of Cambridge. Her research focuses on the improvement of product development management, especially through agile/Stage-Gate hybrids and virtual experimentation and simulation. Since 2006, she has consulted to industrial manufacturing companies to help them improve development, management, and manufacturing processes. She holds a PhD in product development management and a Master's in industrial engineering from Aalborg University, Denmark. anita.friis.sommer@lego.com

Steven Moskowitz received his PhD in chemistry from the University of Washington in 2001. He worked in IBM's Microelectronics Division for more than 12 years in a number of capacities, covering R&D, technology transfer, and manufacturing. While at IBM, he also received his Lean Six Sigma Black Belt. He joined ATM I in 2014 as a Design for Six Sigma Master Black Belt. After Entegris's acquisition of ATM I in May 2014, his role shifted to focus on the new product development phase-gate process; he was responsible for integrating and upgrading the processes and systems of the two companies. He also incorporated more rigorous and formal portfolio management, idea generation, and risk management processes. He is currently a Senior Principal for Strategic Technologies, focused on the overall innovation management process for Entegris. steven.moskowitz@entegris.com tool not only saved significant time in the development process; it also improved researchers' ability to predict a prospective drug's success in clinical tests, and even in the marketplace. These new capabilities saved the company millions of dollars in development efforts that would have been expended on unsuccessful candidates (Thomke 2001).

Given these kinds of results, it is unsurprising that innovators in other industries would be intrigued by the possibilities of simulation tools for R&D. Motivated by this growing interest, especially among its members, the Industrial Research Institute (IRI) established a research group to explore best practices and pitfalls in leveraging virtual experimentation and simulation in R&D. The research group engaged in a comprehensive study of the current state of practice in virtual experimentation and simulation, conducting a structured literature review, a comparative case study across more than 15 companies, and a survey.

Through that work, the group has explored how R&D itself evolves when virtual experimentation and simulation tools are implemented, inducing change in the core areas of the discipline. For instance, these tools can alter the approach to design thinking and accelerate iterations, as well as enabling new modes of co-creation with customers. However, as the literature survey reveals, these tools are not without pitfalls, many of which may be avoided if managers are proactive and alert to developing attitudes toward the technology. …

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