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Automotive Sector Ground Zero For PLM Battles

Automotive Sector Ground Zero For PLM Battles

The automotive sector, which has a deep roots in evolving PLM software and practices, is shaping up as a fresh battleground for the major vendors in this category with all touting recent customer wins that play up their strengths and cement their positions as core development platforms for next-generation vehicles.

Dassault Systemes announced a 10-year partnership with BMW, in which the automotive giant will use the V6 PLM solutions to develop the future electrical, electronics and embedded software (E/E) architecture of BMW cars. For its part, PTC announced that after a two-year benchmark test, Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Motors Corp. (HKMC) have selected Windchill as their enterprise PLM platform for the entire vehicle, not just the power train-which is the one area in automotive where PTC has historically held traction. Siemens PLM Software also got in the automotive act with its announcement this month that Aston Martin will standardize global sports car development processes on NX for integrated computer-aided design, manufacturing and engineering analysis, as well as Teamcenter to manage product and process knowledge.

Automotive Sector Ground Zero For PLM Battles
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Even though BMW and Dassault Systemes have had a long-standing relationship, the new alliance around the V6 PLM solutions is significant because it keys in on the platform's strength as an architecture for systems engineering, not just mechanical design, according to Kevin Baughey, brand strategy for ENOVIA at Dassault Systemes. In the past, BMW had committed to using CATIA to create a single reference model for the design of all future engines as well as the Abaqus Unified FEA (Finite Element Analysis) software for the engineering of passive safety and crash tests as part of the auto maker's virtual design process. In addition, the two companies last March signed a strategic, five-year global alliance that promoted collaboration across the two firm's R&D centers.

The new agreement, which is based on CATIA and Enovia V6, goes beyond partnering on mechanical design or any specific area, but rather takes a systems engineering approach. As part of its Architecture, Integration and Design for Automotive (AIDA) project, BMW will implement a collaborative process that connects the various constituencies in the electrical, electronics and embedded software process. The aim is to create a single IP reference that links customer requirements to functional, logical and physical models. "This is true multidisciplinary systems engineering," Baughey says. "This is mechanical engineers talking to software engineers talking to network engineers all working on the vehicle. The key element to convey here is that it's in the same systems that the hardware engineers are designing in."

Traditionally, engineers in each of these disciplines have worked in separate systems encouraging a lot of replication and rework, he explains. The V6 platform's systems engineering focus and openness are what led BMW to the standardization decision, Baughey says.

For PTC, its latest HKMC win marks the first time a major automotive maker has standardized on Windchill for development of the entire vehicle, not just the power train, according to Sin Min Yap, PTC's senior director of product and market strategy. HKMC will deploy Windchill as its enterprise PLM solution to consolidate multiple existing systems into a single platform for managing product data and related processes for vehicle development. In the first phase, Windchill will be leveraged as a system of record for the complete vehicle-from the engineering Bill of Materials (BOM) and for change management. This phase also encompasses CATIA data management and a digital mock-up environment.

While currently in pilot phase, this part of initiative will go live in December 2011, followed by phase two, slated for availability in mid-2013, which brings the R&D center and the supply chain into the environment. Phase three, targeted for a 2014 roll out, will expand the PLM footprint around Windchill to areas like program management, concept design, requirements management and process management, Yap says. "This is a watershed moment for us," he explains. "Windchill will be managing the complete vehicle with this win."
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