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Tetra Pak packs a HPC punch for fluid simulations

Packaging company Tetra Pak has used HPC to improve the performance of and reduce the time taken to design and develop its filling systems by using more complex computational fluid dynamic (CFD) simulations.

The company packaged 69,505 million litres of liquid last year, which is around four to five litres every second. Dr Ulf Lindblad, a senior technology specialist with Tetra Pak, said: ‘We have to simulate everything to make sure this production does not stop or slow down.’

Tetra Pak has implemented two HPC offerings to improve its simulations. First of all, to bring down its simulation times, the company implemented a HPC cluster to run Fluent, which is a CFD software package from Ansys that its engineers use for simulation-based filling machine development.

Secondly, Tetra Pak also bought a cluster from Intel and IBM to improve its simulations’ performance. The cluster consists of five IBM BladeCenter H Chassis, each containing 14 HS21XM blade servers, powered by 140 Quad-Core Intel Xeon processors E5345 and running a SUSE Linux operating system. Ethernet interconnect and IBM System Storage DS3200 also provides connectivity and storage while the worldwide Tetra Pak intranet and Gridcore’s Advanced Computing Environment (GRACE) for Technical Computing enables Tetra Pak designers in different global locations to work on the development of new filling machines.

The company had been using RANS simulations to design and develop its filling systems, which is the industry standard and a computationally cheap model that contains a lot of assumptions and, therefore, can bring in errors when compared with real-life systems. This meant that the engineers had to produce and optimise more real-life systems because of the assumptions in the RAN simulations, costing time and money.

Under the new cluster, Tetra Pak has been able to run LES simulations, which are common in scientific research institutions but less used in industry as it uses a lot of computing power. Lindblad added: ‘LES is a very accurate way to simulate the flow and we can do this in parallel which saves a lot of time and money as we only need a few experimental processes.’

Since its implementation in June 2007, the HPC solution has run continuously, demonstrating its reliability and its computer power enables Tetra Pak’s engineers to work with parallel development tracks, speeding up innovation.

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