Cluster solution is the buzzword for all industries today, including the automotive sector. Increasingly, manufacturers are looking for a cluster of solutions offered by a single provider, because a streamlined supply chain often results in quicker and efficient operations. The rapidly increasing input costs further necessitate involvement of such solution providers.
One such company is Dassault Systemes, which has developed a portfolio of products aimed at providing multiple solutions to customers, including a wide range of 3D design software, 3D digital mock-up and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solutions. Dr Chandan Chowdhury, Managing Director, India Geo, Dassault Systemes spoke to Auto Tech Review about these solutions and their effectiveness.
FROM DESIGN TO MANUFACTURING
If the industry has to put an end to sluggish markets, the need of the hour is to reduce cost, while increasing efficiency, said Chowdhury. Another key area to be worked upon is product development cycles, which need to become significantly shorter. The development process also needs to become more communicative so that more people, including potential consumers, can share feedback. Receiving this feedback in early development stages can lead to saving of significant amount of cost, as the chances of reworking are reduced substantially, he said.
Citing an example, he said that Dassault delivered the world’s first online, co-created military vehicle in the US. The vehicle was developed in collaboration with Local Motors and can carry out functions such as reconnaissance and delivery & evacuation in the battlefield. The vehicle was designed with inputs from over 12,000 members of an online community. Participants were asked to submit their designs online after which they were reviewed. Using the Dassault software, the vehicle went from a concept to prototype stage in six months.
Chowdhury said that this span is usually in the range of six years for such vehicles developed in a traditional way. Using the right software and feedback from people during development though helped shorten the cycle to just 10 %. Applying similar processes within the automotive industry could reap huge benefits for companies in the form of lower cost, better products and flexibility in product portfolio.
In one of our earlier issues, we mentioned the huge gap between the development cycles of cars and smartphones, due to which effective communication becomes a challenge. Using such solutions could potentially reduce this gap and offer better connectivity to consumers as a result.
We were told that the company’s 3DExperience, a product launched last year is an example of a cluster solution. Using this platform, one can design a car and virtually manufacture it to assess various parameters. Post this, testing functions such as crash-worthiness too can be done using the 3DExperience. Chowdhury said OEMs can make huge savings due to non-requirement of having to carry out tests physically. Also, not having multiple prototypes or having a lesser numbers lowers the usage of materials and emissions. The overall development time too would automatically reduce and so would the unexpectedness of any unforeseen delays. Importantly, during the design process the manufacturability of a car too can be tested. This helps make the entire process streamlined and efficient as going back to the drawing board is significantly reduced.
Dassault is presently offering solutions, which can also help companies track their supply chain and logistics and make them more efficient. Manufacturing is another area, where OEMs spend a lot of money and making changes is extremely expensive. Using Dassault products, companies can virtually create factory and check parameters such as movement of people and machinery. The overall factory layout can be optimised for maximum space utilisation and safety standards. Co-development by engineers from a supplier and OEM too becomes more efficient as they’re able to work together in real time.
Dassault Systemes is in discussion with multiple auto companies in India and the response is encouraging so far. Chowdhury refused to share any names for now but said he expects the business to grow at a good pace in India, where the company is growing at a double-digit rate. Talking of non-product challenges, he mentioned that one of the greatest challenges for the Indian automotive industry is the lack of adequately skilled manpower. Engineers turning into management graduates are making it hard for companies to find the right people to generate the right amount of product development.
Text: Arpit Mahendra