Tetra Pak and Novo Nordisk – Virtual Simulation Leadership Forum

Marcus Oledal, Ph.D. - EDRMedeso, Head of Business Innovation

Marcus Oledal, Ph.D. – EDRMedeso, Head of Business Innovation

Simulation Leadership Forum is the only virtual forum for technology executives and thought leaders to discuss and share cutting edge technology strategies related to simulation designed to win in the rapidly changing environment!

In the past the Forum has been limited to an annual, physical live discussion forum. With the ongoing situation we are shifting to a virtual forum where we offer an opportunity to gain access to brilliant industry and technology insight without leaving your office or the comfort of your home!

Watch recording

November 18

Session 2: Tetra Pak vs Novo Nordisk

After a six-week break, Simulation Leadership Forum returned with new energy and once more, a great lineup of speakers. With almost 300 registrants it was with much enthusiasm that I introduced Ulf and Fredrik from TetraPak, together with Morten from Novo Nordisk!

I have closely followed the progress of both companies since early/mid 2000’s, and I had some insight into the simulation strategy work undertaken since our first meetings. And as I had eagerly anticipated, the presentations delivered by both Tetra Pak and Novo Nordisk didn’t disappoint! They contained much experience, findings and also, I believe, emerging best practices. More about that later!

Tetra Pak

First out was Ulf Lindblad and Fredrik Lago from Tetra Pak. Ulf previously participated in the 2013 inaugural Simulation Leadership Forum (or the “Simulation Integration Management workshop” as we called it back then), where he ended his presentation with a cliffhanger about the wake of simulation success. Now we were told how this was dealt with at Tetra Pak.

We held a quick survey in sync with the Tetra Pak presentation, about the stages from a vision to the new normal, and the results mirrored Ulf and Fredrik’s thoughts: It’s easy to come up with a vision, it’s hard work to realize it, but then the real challenge starts: to make it stick.


And that was the main topic of Fredrik’s part of the presentation, how did they make it stick at Tetra Pak?

It’s difficult to summarize a speech covering almost twenty years of progress and all the experience that has been gathered by the Tetra Pak team in a few words, so check out the recording instead, well worth the time!

My own two takeaways from the presentation were:

  • Simulation readiness, we heard the same from Grundfos during the last SLF session, and there are reasons to believe this will become part of a best practice toolkit going forward

  • Words matter. Instead of talking about upfront simulation, Tetra Pak instead talked about Upfront validation and Upfront regulatory compliance. Hence they manage to get acceptance of the methods from more people that more easily relate to the work done.

The conclusions drawn by Fredrik included some seemingly simple advice:

  • Involve the whole organization

  • Create a common language to unite users and non-users

  • Create momentum but take it one step at the time.

We spun further on the language in the Q&A session afterwards, and one observation they made at Tetra Pak, was that if the community did not agree on a common language, the downstream management got very confused and overall adoption was harmed. By sorting this out communication was much improved in all directions.

Finally the alignment of technology readiness and simulation readiness was discussed. Again the benefit of a common language was stretched. There is so much to say about this so now go and check the recording!

We concluded with a short poll about how far people are into their own simulation journeys, when benchmarked against Tetra Pak’s journey.


Novo Nordisk

Next up was Morten Nielsen from Novo Nordisk who started off at a high pace with a description of the Novo Nordisk “simulation dream” where they would be able to run a complete test program of a device in 1 hour using 1 click. That’s what I call ambitious!

Well, they are not there yet but all of the efforts that has gone into the organizational development at Novo Nordisk indicates that this is not just a dream. By identifying three levers of simulation, namely:

  • To make virtual testing faster

  • Convert to virtual testing

  • Use virtual testing to find optima

they are increasing the chances of achieving their ambition; Novo Nordisk has started on their journey.

An important step in this process has been to scale up the knowledge of simulation specialists to a larger audience. Today the specialists represent a bottleneck in the development work, and when the ambition is to reduce the workflow time from 2 days to less than half an hour, obviously there is no time to waste.

I had to ask Morten about his view on the many levels of complexity involved when we talk simulation democratization. It’s not only the automation of more or less complex physics, it’s also the complexity in convincing an organization that this is done for good reasons.

Check out Mortens answer in the recording to hear how they addressed this at Novo Nordisk, and how important it is for the development work that simulation is truly democratized. It’s a really nice story!

Morten then described several cases where physical testing is converted to virtual testing, some more difficult than others, and obviously an area where an understanding of simulation readiness kicks in.

In the final part of the presentation, again we understood that words matter. Through the use of simulations and the introduction of variation, it has been possible for Novo Nordisk to move from overly conservative safety factor discussions to the discourse around failure rates, the latter obviously more easy to grasp for everyone outside the specialist teams.

Panel discussion

We managed to run a very productive panel discussion which must be seen, really. Some of the topics we covered include:

  • What happens when top-down and bottom-up meets,

  • Did Covid19 strengthen the simulation community?

  • How “Someone else’s problem” affects the long term success of simulation initiatives

  • And why making a convincing cost-benefit case for simulation is such a challenge!

Ulf from Tetra Pak commented afterward that “There was a sense of us sitting in the same room having a natural conversation. I enjoyed that!”.

Well, that was heart-warming as it has been something we have worked really hard to achieve, but it’s oh so difficult these days when every single meeting is virtual. Thanks for the great presentations and participation Morten, Fredrik and Ulf!

Wrap up

This was session 3 out of 4, so only one left before we take a break for the Holidays. Many of the discussions have been related to simulation maturity in one way or the other, so here is a friendly reminder to complete the quick simulation maturity assessment if you did not do that before. The assessment can be found here:


Use code: wobonzn8

If you want to assess your company, we can set up company-specific assessments for you. Feel free to reach out to me at Marcus.oledal@edrmedeso.com and we will set this up for you.

With that, the 3rd Forum session is closed, and we look forward to conclude the 2020 simulation leadership sessions on December 9! We will then meet GKN, Linköping University, and Gothenburg Business School. Until then, take care! 

Register for SLF


Question 1: I did not 100% follow your arguments for why early insights using simulations does not pay off. Could you please eloborate on this?

Answer 1: The message was that frontloading simulation pays off! However, the savings is often seen in later phases of product development whereas the cost is seen directly. Depending on how your organisation is set up the implication might very well be that the people that is hit by cost increase will not see the savings in their budget. This effect might in reality hamper frontloading even though most people agree that it is in principle desirable.

Question 2: Were you able to make the designer process flexible enough so they can run whatever they invent, yet closed enough so they don’t change the process, parameters etc… which would lead to incorrect conclusions?

Answer 2: We rely so far mostly on tools for the Mechanical Designers within or near the CAD enviroment to be able to have a smooth workflow with geometry associsation

Question 3: Are the simulations small enough that they can run them on their workstations, or do they send all jobs to a central cluster? and in this can what tool do you use for managing the pipeline of jobs into the cluster?

Answer 3: Most calculations done nt Mechanical Designers are performed at their workstations. Some jobs are sent to bigger “workstations”. There are a demands for more computational power but still the jobs are not sent to our cluster. Investiigation will be done forward how this could be done in a smart way even for Windows applications

Question 4: It seems that the skill level of the designers is kept very low – one button click simulations. Did you consider an intermedaite usergroup?

Answer 4: Its a mix today. The majority of simulations performed by Mechanical Designers today are done by designers that are quite skilled.

Question 5: Integration into prodocu development often fails because of the struggle of power and influence. Simulation engineers learns quickly about the design, and then the old gurus are not longer the people they can turn to get the truth about the product. How do you handle this people challenge?

Answer 5: Handling people is of course not the role of the CAE community. However, as the question point at there is a shift of competence in general when M&S is implemented and in particular when it is pushed in the latest sense of system models and digital twins. The model/models might very well become the carrier of the companies cumulative knowledge of their products. This is to my experience not fully understood or at least not acted on by most management teams. Model based system engineering, e.g. is a growing field in academia but is not that spread in industry to my knowledge. What we can do in our community is to ensure this topic is discussed and try to be as concreate as possible and show examples of this to our own organisations.

Question 6: Do you have KPI on how many method you incease to a higher readyness level? Typically, the difficulty to reach higher readyness is increasing, how do you reach the highest levels?

Answer 6: The KPI:s is often on a higher level, meaning that the model supports a project goal with a KPI. Reaching the highest level of MRL can only be achieved if the PD project has taken the model to the center of it’s activities and incorporate it in the latter phases of the product development. Thus this is an organisational response and it would be difficult to set this as a KPI on a M&S community.