DETROIT -- Nissan Motor Co. is entering the world of digital manufacturing on a global scale.
The automaker struck a deal with U.S. software company Delmia Corp. that will let Nissan reconfigure or build production lines digitally. The software also will allow Nissan to build a manufacturing plant on a computer screen before metal is cut or concrete is poured.
Delmia told its customers about the contract at a conference here last week.
Delmia CEO Philippe Charles said his company has been testing the software for 1½ years at two Nissan factories in Japan. The software will be used at every Nissan plant. He would not reveal the terms of the deal.
A study by consulting firm CIMdata Inc. of Ann Arbor, Mich., said a large deployment of the technology could cost $10 million.
The study also said a company could save up to $100 million annually.
Other automakers have used similar software to reduce product development time.
DaimlerChrysler AG said digital technology shaved six months off the construction time of its Jeep plant in Toledo, Ohio. The automaker said that by 2005 every DaimlerChrysler production plant will be planned, built, launched and operated first using full simulation.
"We've been working with Nissan in proving out the value of our technology," Charles said. "This is a key milestone."
Delmia is in Auburn Hills, Mich. It is a subsidiary of the French 3-D computer-aided design company Dassault Systemes. Delmia customers include Toyota Motor Corp., Audi AG and General Motors.
Charles said the next step will be to install the software at all Nissan plants.
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