My name is Yasuhiko Fujikawa, and I’m the CEO of VINAS, Pointwise’s distributor in Japan since 1998. If you were to ask me if I could generate a good mesh, the answer would be “no.” Instead, our engineers work hard every day, creating high-quality meshes for our customers. They worked with Gridgen for over 20 years, and now they use Pointwise and continue their valuable work in the field of CFD, allowing us to offer our Japanese clients effective solutions to technical problems.
I graduated from the Nagoya Institute of Technology with a specialization in the Finite Element Method (FEM) and Acoustic Intensity in 1980. I soon joined Kobe Steel and was assigned to the laboratory responsible for structural strength analysis. In my new position, I was in charge of developing structural analysis technology, utilizing FEM.
Kobe Steel was an early adopter of numerical analysis technology and one of the first companies in Japan to do so for product design. Around 1980, Kobe Steel had several calculations ranking first and second in Japan, using MSC / Nastran and Marc, along with Kawasaki Heavy Industries. At that time, IBM and Fujitsu’s large computers controlled jobs by utilizing JCL (Job Control Language), and Job Control Cards (JCC) – which used a separate card for each program line executed in the numerical analysis calculation.
When I joined the company, my first task was the structural analysis of machines using FEM. I also worked on developing an automatic mesh generator to assist with the generation of input data for the analysis of product structures using FORTRAN.
Node and element numbering, as well as boundary condition specification, were done by hand in those days. This was a very time consuming task. Because the accuracy when computing stress and strain is affected by the arrangement of the nodes and elements, it was a challenge to achieve the most appropriate mesh. With current tools such as Pointwise, this process is now much more automated and less error prone.
When Kobe Steel had advanced the technology of structural analysis using FEM to a certain extent, I was put in charge of relocating the technology to the product design department. I worked with the product design team for eight years to establish product development technology using FEM. During this time, I developed further understanding of the importance of mesh generation, and as the size of simulations we performed increased year by year, we began to use supercomputers to complete our computational tasks.
We initially used computers made by IBM and FUJITSU, but the data size continued to grow steadily. Around 1990 we started using CDC (Control Data Corporation) super computers. When CDC’s software department became an independent subsidiary, Kobe Steel ultimately bought it. I moved to the department that scaled their numerical analysis technology, and supported the incorporation of CDC into Japanese businesses. While in this department, I was able to learn about CAE software contracts, support, marketing, and sales.
I was also in charge of the FieldView postprocessor for CFD, which started business from my department of Kobe Steel during my time there. Japanese customers prefer to buy comprehensive services, consolidating the software and services they use into a single company. This pares down multiple software support contracts, and allows them to focus on their product development.
I was highly conscious of the importance of mesh generation, especially in CFD analysis, due to my experience developing meshes and using them in the design phase. I repeatedly requested to change company regulations to allow a single department to sell and support both preprocessors and postprocessors. Since the programs were separated into different departments, however, we could not sell the mesh generator.
In order to solve this problem, I established VINAS in 1996 to assist users with comprehensive pre & postprocessor sales and support. FieldView, developed by Intelligent Light, was the first software supported by VINAS in addition to consulting services involving the development of a CFD solver at JAXA (NAL). Around then, I was looking for a high-quality mesh generator for CFD. ICEM/CFD existed, but since many users mentioned that it was difficult to use, I started looking for something better.
The General Manager of Intelligent Light, Steve Legensky, introduced me to Pointwise and Gridgen. I traveled to Fort Worth, Texas, to meet John Chawner, John Steinbrenner, Rick Matus and, later, Erick Gantt. This was my first encounter with Pointwise team and it was a pleasure to meet such technically powerful, reliable, and really good people.
Since Gridgen could not be used in Japan under the terms of the U.S. government, researchers at JAXA (NAL) went to the U.S., and stayed in NASA AMES using Gridgen. When the restriction on the use of the software was cancelled, Gridgen became available in Japan and was supported by VINAS.
VINAS worked on improving customer satisfaction. We began offering various services that Japanese companies wanted, such as creating a Japanese user manual, running training classes, supporting users on-site, contracted mesh generation, and the development of scripted automatic mesh generation templates. As a result, we have set up services related to postprocessing using FieldView, and offer comprehensive services for CFD preprocessing using Pointwise.
Although it is common in the world of structural analysis, services that comprehensively support preprocessor and postprocessors independently from CFD solver was an innovation by VINAS and we have been able to achieve high levels of customer satisfaction in Japan’s CFD industry.
VINAS began managing user’s meetings in 2000. These events allow many domestic and overseas users to present cases and exchange information. Many Pointwise users, including Stanford University, NASA, W.R. Davis Engineering, Cameron Compression Systems, Boeing, Vestas, Valeo, and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, have attended and presented their work.
I would like to wrap things up with an interesting anecdote. Many years ago we received an urgent request for a mesh from a client involved in heavy industry manufacturing. The client’s current mesh generator had been unable to create the necessary mesh over the course of three months. The client needed the mesh within 24 hours and we received the request at 8:00pm.
An engineer at VINAS immediately started meshing using Gridgen. By the following morning, the mesh was completed and sent to the client. We received a very polite thank you letter from the client, and, a few months later, they purchased Gridgen.
User’s requests depend on a variety of factors, such as country, industry type, circumstance, and timing. We believe that we can obtain the greatest customer satisfaction by establishing a support system capable of responding to difficult requests from users, in conjunction with the high reliability of Pointwise.
- Location: Osaka, Japan
- Current position: CEO, Sales & Marketing
- Current computer: Lenovo ThinkPad X250
- One word that best describes how you work: Challenging
What software or tools do you use every day?
Microsoft PowerPoint, Word, Excel, Becky! , Internet Mail, Mozilla Firefox, Skype, Sleipnir, CCNV, iappli, Adobe Reader (PDF viewer).
What does your workspace look like?
What do you see are the biggest challenges facing CFD in the next 5 years?
Big data analysis, high-fidelity analysis, multi-disciplinary optimization, AI, and strong cloud support.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on planning future business strategies, as well as marketing and sales, investing in new partners, and building strong relations with existing customers.
What would you say is your meshing specialty?
I would say that VINAS specializes in meshing for open-source CFD solvers, such as OpenFOAM, Front Flow Blue, and Front Flow Red. We also specialize in the blade design of rotating machines.
Any tips for our users?
Mesh quality is the primary source of difficulty in CFD, and VINAS resolves that difficulty using Pointwise. Come and join VINAS’ Pointwise Training – The basic course is free of charge for Japanese users, and we also have an advanced course designed for specific needs.
What project are you most proud of and why?
- When Japanese National Laboratories were having meshing difficulties with the SST (Super Sonic Transport), Erick Gantt from Pointwise came and stayed at our office in Japan for a week. He solved the situation by sharing his grid generation knowledge, which in turn helped solve the fundamental mesh generation problem at JAXA. This is also how Gridgen started spreading in Japan. Afterward, we all visited Universal Studios Japan 🙂
- When we were developing the H2A Rocket engine, LE7, we (VINAS) performed a full rocket engine analysis by using Pointwise, and contributed to JAXA. The spokesperson for JAXA made a great speech about this in Fort Worth afterwards.
What CFD solver and postprocessor do you use most often?
Our engineers at VINAS often use OpenFOAM and Helyx for solvers, and FieldView for postprocessing. We use DAKOTA for multi-disciplinary optimization.
Are you reading any interesting technical papers we should know about?
We read so many papers, from different perspectives, that it’s hard to pick one!
Do you plan on attending any conferences or workshops this year?
I will be attending a many conferences this year, including some overseas. The overseas workshops are “ASME Fluids Engineering Division Summer Meeting”at the Hilton Waikoloa Village, Waikoloa, Hawaii, and SC17 in November.
What do you do outside the world of CFD?
Outside the world of CFD, I hunt around seeking the best wine and the tastiest oysters.
What is some of the best CFD advice you’ve ever received?
Accuracy is the top priority – it’s everything when it comes to grid quality.
If you had to pick a place to have dinner, where would you go?
That is a hard question, because there are thousands of restaurants constantly opening up and closing down in our office area. I can never be certain if my favorite place is still open. It’s tough, but I’ll keep looking.