On April 30 this year, Autodesk Inc., the American multinational software corporation released in India the Autodesk 2015 Design Suites that feature tighter integration with Autodesk cloud services. The key benefits the new suite offers to customers include the ability to collaborate, simulate and analyse and more, with just one click from within the suite. Close on the heels of this launch, we caught up with Rajiv Bajaj, Head – MFG Solutions, India and SAARC, Autodesk to understand the solutions that the new design suite brings in for the manufacturing sector.
The new design suite has been designed to simplify design, visualisation and simulation workflows from product development through to delivery, Bajaj had said at the launch of the product in New Delhi. Additionally, the new suite offers solutions that are scalable, cost effective and open. These characteristics, he explained, help industries and companies graduate seamlessly towards digitisation and offer 'great' products.
For Autodesk, the automotive industry has, and continues to be, an important focus area globally. The concept of digital prototyping is a popular solution in the automotive and manufacturing industries, as customers have the flexibility of designing, visualising, simulating, manufacturing and managing their entire data set digitally. "In the concept design phase, particularly, there is a definite need for accuracy and perfection. Our solution offers our customers the speed to do fast concept modelling. At the same time, we ensure they meet the manufacturability parameters," he said.
With an industry-wide focus on increasing efficiency, one solution that is getting popular in the factory and manufacturing domains is factory digitisation. Today, it is as critical as 3D product digitisation, Bajaj said, and added that the industry isn't far from accepting factory digitisation as a standard practice. Through solutions like these, Autodesk is enabling its customers to plan and maintain Greenfield projects. Importantly, it is also helping existing/ old factories – with no drawings of its buildings – digitise by simply placing scanners in four corners of the factory and migrating all data digitally to its software. A new product offered by Autodesk is Process Analysis 360, which is part of the digital prototyping solution. This web-based tool allows users to model and analyse the process flow for their factory layouts. It helps engineers and system designers model, study, and optimise the manufacturing processes.
PHYSICAL MOCK-UPS VS CLAY MODELLING
With digitisation fast catching up in every aspect of the automotive industry, we wonder if designers would completely start depending on digital renditions of their designs, and move away from traditional practices like clay modelling. Bajaj agrees, "With the availability of technology, clay modelling would gradually come down for sure, but we can't do away with it. Traditional designers would still want to touch and feel the product in clay but with the new breed of designers coming in, a paradigm shift is happening. This technology would gradually eliminate clay modelling in times to come."
In recent years, the scope of digital mock-ups have increased significantly in industrial design and manufacturing. Digital mock-ups are being used in all facets of engineering – be it product design, product modelling, product prototyping or product representation. The two critical factors that would determine the eventual migration for designers from clay modelling to digitisation in the automotive industry are time and cost. Some studies done by researchers globally project that digital mock-ups can help reduce time by about 70 %, and cost by a staggering 95 %, when compared with a clay modelling.
The Indian automobile industry is fast adopting concept design and visualisation platforms, and the past 18 to 24 months have been particularly encouraging, Bajaj pointed out. A case in point is Ashok Leyland (ALL). The Dost light commercial vehicle from the ALL stable was completely done on Autodesk software, which in turn has helped the company develop a design language. There has also been an uptick on factory digitisation, with more companies – both among OEMs and Tier I & Tier II – engaging in active discussions on designing efficient factories or even digitising their existing factories and laying out new factories more efficiently.
The last couple of years haven't been particularly encouraging for the Indian automotive industry. Usually around such cyclical downturns, companies focus highly on improving efficiency across products, engineering or manufacturing processes. It is around these times that solutions like the ones offered by Autodesk come in handy.
Text: Deepangshu Dev Sarmah