The future is now & is very bright: Altair Engg MD Pavan Kumar

Chennai: Virtual testing is the need of the hour in the engineering field as is makes do without the hassle of making a prototype and putting it through its paces in the real world.

Such tests need top-of-the-line simulation softwares for faster development and Altair Engineering have been pioneers in the segment.

News Today had an interaction with Altair Engineering India’s managing director, Pavan Kumar and according to him, ‘The Future is Now and it is very Bright’ for his firm.

Excerpts from his interview:

Q) With more and more companies working on simulation while developing a product, how important do you think virtual testing is going to be in the near future?

A) Virtual product development is in vogue today, but as products get smart and complex with embedded electronics, physical testing though needed will be costly and time consuming affair. Virtual testing will gain prominence till the product gets refined and physical test towards a final approval. It is now an accepted practice to do as much as possible ( which today is almost 98 per cent of physical phenomena) in the virtual domain and only do physical tests to corroborate the findings. This is the only way that manufacturers can meet the often conflicting goals like lower price vs higher performance/quality as well as quicker time to market.

Q) Talk us through your product cycle and upcoming innovations.

A) Our range of products help to simulate almost all physics phenomena that matter to a physical product. Most cars today house a computing power equivalent to several desktop workstations to perform efficiently. To help design systems and simulate the interoperability of various systems it becomes imperative to study the electromagnetic interference and electromagnetic compatibility between systems to avoid accidents. Our current range of tools tackle these needs too. We will keep innovating and tackle evolving requirements like the ones I described above for years to come. The immediate new domains would be sensor design, motor design (more electrical vehicles), autonomous/semi-autonomous driving aids etc.

Q) Composites have made in-roads into the world of production. Would you consider them to be more engineerable than ubiquitous metals?

A) Composites have emerged as a viable alternative to metals in quite a few areas. Yes, they are easier to engineer than metals as they lend themselves to complex engineering (often inorganic shapes) but they also do suffer from some concerns. Composite manufacturing is still a person intensive activity and hence repeatability  is sometimes an issue. However given the increasing automation in shop floors even this limitation can be overcome soon enough. I would say that composite usage will grow in specialty cars etc but may take a little longer to be introduced to main stream lower cost vehicles or products.

Q) Could you explain to us about your cloud computing software arm.

A) We acquired a technology which was utilized by NASA for handling complex computing jobs on distributed computers many years ago to help apply the same technology to compute intensive simulations utilizing our tools. This line of business spawned the PBS Works range of products which have gone on to manage a large number of super computers around the world in diverse areas like weather forecasting, gene research, War game simulations etc. To help complement this range of tools and democratize this powerful too set, we have created easy to use overlay tools which help in job submission, monitoring and controlling systems without having to be a coding expert. We now have full feature cloud based (both MS Azure and AWS) systems running all this complex technology which will help the engineers become more innovative at a lower cost.

Q) How big is the 3D (printing) industry today in India and what do you think are the possible fields that 3D printing will end up replacing traditional methods?

A) I may not have the most accurate estimate or know the exact market for 3D printers since we don’t actually sell printers. However we do make one of the best design tools that help anyone create a wonderful shape which is also structurally sound and can be printed with minimal effort and material. The products is called Inspire and has already spawned several successful designs that were printed across the globe. I would guess that the printer market is around $15 million or so right now in India but is growing very fast.

Q) Talk us through India as a market for your firm.

A) India has been a great market for Altair over the past decade. Indian engineers are very fast to adopt new technology and we have seen the fastest offtake of our newer tools in this geography. Our customer base is now over 500 strong and we have over 10,000 users of our technology in various fields like automotive, aerospace, Defense and general engineering domains.

Q) It was recently stated that graduates in India are not sound in their core fields. How do you see that?

A) I don’t completely subscribe to this statement as it is imperative that educational institutions provide our engineers sound knowledge in various aspects of physics and engineering and not just make them job ready. However, I do agree that some of our graduates are not work ready when they graduate as they lack the required work ethos to be successful at their job.

Future of simulation
Simulation is essential for product design and the market demands are pushing industry to adopt more and more of simulation techniques. The sky is the limit for usage of these tools. Altair’s focus will be to tackle the challenges posed by the convergence of electronics, cloud storage/computing, communication and electronics in virtually all products that are designed and built or manufactured today.


Global revenue
Altair’’s global revenue in 2017 was $333 million with an almost equal contribution from the three geographies, APAC, Americas and EMEA. I am not at liberty to disclose India’s numbers separately but suffice to say that we contribute double digit percentage of Altair’’s revenue.