BMW has announced it is
standardizing on Dassault's
CATIA 3-D CAD tool, a move it says will establish a single digital
development system that will reduce the complexity of supporting multiple
systems while aiding in skills sharing and design reuse for BMW engines.
By leveraging CATIA across its organization, BMW hopes to
create a single reference model for the design of all future BMW engines across
its fuel- and diesel-powered cars, motorcycles and new line of eco-friendly
hybrid vehicles. By having a single digital reference model that can be updated
and shared across the globe, BMW will be able to respond more quickly to
consumer changes prior to production as well as garner efficiencies resulting
from having common tools, methods and processes across different engine
development projects, according to Frank Wienstroth, a spokesperson for BMW
Standardization of data formats (CATIA as the standard CAD
format and JT as the standard visualization format) is another benefit of the
consolidation, Wienstroth says. One CAD format will allow for more complete and
integrative digital mock up for engines and power train development as well as
help facilitate skill sharing across the different engine development projects,
he says. From an IT perspective, a single CAD system helps reduce costs by
reducing the complexities of supporting interfaces to multiple CAD systems and
BMW's PLM platform.
In doing the standardization, BMW will be phasing out the
use of other CAD tools, including PTC's
Pro/ENGINEER, Wienstroth says. The phase-out will take approximately
six to eight months for the petrol engine development group and around 12 to 18
months for the motorcycle development organization. BMW will continue to employ
other computer-aided tools for its vehicle design process, including simulation
tools for vehicle crash testing and temperature and durability studies; computer-aided
styling and sketching programs, and computer-aided manufacturing programs to
develop and design the molding and stamping as well as production line
Stephan Clambaneva, IBM's global PLM industry leader, hailed
BMW's move as a way to achieve operational efficiencies, especially in light of
the current harsh economic climate. "Look at this from an operational
excellence perspective – by leveraging a single platform, they don't have to
reinvent the wheel every time they want to design a new engine," he says.
"By focusing on reuse, the design rules, methodologies and knowledge used by one team can be leveraged across others that are working independently.
They'll be able to digitally share a master version of an engine or gearbox across
different teams, and one single digital reference model can be updated and
shared instantly across the globe."
One challenge for BMW may be getting engineers to commit to
using a single CAD platform, especially if they've grown accustomed to an alternative.
BMW officials don't see it that way, however. "We believe the advantages of a
single system will be sufficient motivation for our engineers," Wienstroth
says. "Furthermore, we will not provide ProE installations so there is no way
to fall back to other systems. By professional training, we will make sure that
our engineers will be as familiar with CATIA as they were with Pro/E."
Ed Miller, president of CIMdata Inc., a consultancy specializing in engineering and product development, says the standardization on a single CAD tool is not all that is needed and that consistent processes are key to making this consolidation a success. "To make this work so that
all parties are comfortable requires development of processes that are both
common and simple enough for all associated individuals across the organization
to understand and utilize," he explains. "Once the common processes are
developed, consistent and comprehensive education is demanded to ensure that
the processes (and the most effective use of the CAD tools to support those
processes) are effectively used and that the engineers are able to benefit from