Uzoka, Chino (2018) Development of a Computational Fluid Dynamics Assisted Sustainable New Product Development Methodology for Flow Handling Equipment Industry. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This study presents an assessment of the current state of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) adoption in fluid flow handling equipment industry and demonstrates its utility in the New Product Development (NPD) process through the development of a novel sustainable CFD-assisted NPD methodology. In the flow handling equipment industry, the need for a CFD-optimised methodology in the management of NPD activities is prioritized by the modern global inclination towards increased sustainability practices coupled with the emerging digital industrial revolution. Most fossil-fuelled and green energy sources rely on the control of fluid flow for various purposes such as in valve and piping networks, heat exchangers and wind turbines among others. While fluid flow in either of these systems can be analysed using conventional numerical calculations and experimental methods, CFD as a nascent technology in the digital era, provides a virtual digital environment for simulating, analysing and predicting flow behaviour thereby inspiring sustainable rapid design and development of new flow handling solutions.

Despite these recent advancements, some firms in the flow handling equipment industry experience varied challenges in adopting CFD technology and optimizing its integration to the overall NPD process. In the body of literature, mentions of CFD-optimized NPD methodologies are grossly limited. Where feats achieved using CFD are presented, they are mostly recorded as isolated cases during design but seldom as part of a systemic methodology with capacity to influence the entire NPD process itself. The question as to whether the flow handling equipment industry is ready for such a systemic integration of CFD technology is one that this research develops to assess the current practice with a view to developing a systemic methodology in its place.

Following a pragmatic inquiry, a mixed methods approach was adopted for the research beginning with a qualitative investigation of six flow handling equipment industry firms in West Yorkshire. Six key respondents from Small, Medium and Large Enterprises in the Valve and Fan industry were each interviewed following preliminary questionnaire sessions. The key findings from the study revealed that ‘cultural perception’, and ‘accessibility’ were key factors that influenced the adoption of CFD technology alongside the original constructs of ‘perceived ease of use’ and ‘perceived usefulness’ highlighted in the standard Technology Acceptance Model (TAM). As a response to the perceived difficulty in adoption of CFD technology, most of the firms outsourced CFD related work or decided not to use the technology at all. Methodically, most of the firms did not appear to be very structured in their approach to NPD but mostly applied modified adaptations of traditional staged NPD processes that were not originally designed specifically for flow handling equipment product development processes.

Consequently, a novel CFD-assisted NPD methodology was developed utilizing Systems Engineering principles to provide the industry with a structure for accelerating CFD integration for NPD process in order to stimulate organisational growth and improve sustainable product quality practice within dynamic product lifecycles. Following the development of the new methodology, a pilot test was initiated as the second part of the mixed methods approach, to test the efficacy of the newly developed methodology. A novel hybrid valve design was realised from the pilot test, featuring both linear and equal percentage valve flow characteristics. Other notable novelties from this study include; a new CFD-optimised Technology Acceptance Model to aid in future assessments of CFD-specific technology adoption in flow handling equipment industry, a novel systems engineering process engine for procedural and lifecycle navigation during new product development, and a novel prescriptive product development plan for the novel hybrid valve design.

In recommending future work, the author believes more attempts to integrate CFD technology into the NPD process would improve the prospects for faster, cost effective and high quality new product development in the flow handling equipment industry. The new CFD-optimised technology acceptance model can also provide a guide for assessing future trends in CFD technology adoption specifically when used in line with periodic advancements in computing technology or as global sustainability requirements influence organisational practice within the flow handling equipment industry. Technologically, the author recommends development of user-friendly CFD software as well as cost effective commercial CFD codes to accelerate widespread CFD adoption.

FINAL THESIS - Uzoka.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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