DETROIT - Every time an engineering change is made to a component, layers upon layers of product design must be updated.
Now IBM and Dassault Sys-temes are taking software to a new level to deal with the complexity. Their Product Development Management II, or PDM II, software was demonstrated at the International Automotive Manu-facturing Conference & Exposition in mid-May.
PDM II, which includes Virtual Product Development Manage-ment software, is meant to allow engineers of different components and systems to work simultaneously without interfering with one another. The computer manages data so that changes and design conflicts are automatically 'reported' to the engineers who need to know, and to the designs of the components they are working on.
'We're managing data at a level that's much finer than the normal product development management,' said Michel Tellier, program director of market development for Enovia Corp.
Enovia is a wholly owned subsidiary of Dassault, with headquarters in Charlotte, N.C. Enovia is developing the PDM II product line. IBM is responsible for marketing and selling the Enovia products.
By changing the way data are held, a much greater level of detail is available to the engineer. Tellier calls it 'granularity.' That would allow a manufacturing engineer who was joining two parts to 'call up' the design of the components to make sure the eventual assembly would not conflict.
Tellier said using Virtual Product Development software, an engineer could also design a subassembly, and then turn the software around to generate a precise sequence of assembly instructions.
'A product definition has a unique nature to it,' said Tellier. He explained that the time taken to design and document a component is time that can be reused to explain how it should be made.
IBM manufacturing expert Michael LaLande, at IBM's Southfield, Mich., offices, said catching conflicts early is vital if vehicles are to arrive in the market on time.
EFFECT ON PROFITS
'If an OEM overspends his engineering budget by 50 percent, it reduces profit per vehicle by something like 3 percent. However, if the OEM gets the vehicle to market late, profit per vehicle goes down much farther,' LaLande said, citing a private study done for Ford Motor Co.
Dassault and IBM maintain strong relationships with Chrysler Corp., which has been a leader in moving to 'paperless' design for its vehicle platforms and which uses Dassault's CATIA software for computer-aided design and engineering.
IBM spokesman Michael Shore said the initial PDM II software products are expected to be available beginning in mid-June; development work will be ongoing.