V6 web service allows engineering firms to simulate factories

A new online service will enable small and mid-sized engineering firms to create digital simulations of their factories. It aims to help companies identify...

A new online service will enable small and mid-sized engineering firms to create digital simulations of their factories. It aims to help companies identify production bottlenecks and win new business from larger firms.

This is the thinking behind Dassault Systemes Delmia's (DSD) decision to make its V6 product lifecycle management software available both as a standalone product and a service.

V6 allows firms to build a detailed digital model of their factory. It captures machine and human activities and operating parameters as well as work and materials flows, and builds an animated simulation of a production line. Planners can zoom into any aspect of the line to check tolerances and try alternatives.

DSD's vice-president for R&D, Pascal Lecland, told Computer Weekly large firms such as global auto and aircraft makers, the company's traditional customers, would use V6 to simulate the entire behaviour of their factories down to machine tool level.

Competitive pressures were making it important for the assemblers to know what their suppliers' factories were capable of making. Both sides could use V6 to colloborate to optimise factory performance and to develop new products, he said.

Lecland said Dassault was very concerned to ensure that data flows in V6 were secure.

"We are dealing with customers' intellectual property," he said. "If we are going to offer V6 on a software as a service basis, we have to address the security issue for customers."

V6 ties in with Dassault's Catia computer aided design software and ERP packages such as SAP, allowing companies to develop new products and the processes to make them, simultaneously. This can cut months or years off the time needed to bring a new product to market, Lecland said.

He added that the firm is working to develop a real time feedback loop so manufacturing information from the factory floor goes to the engineering and design departments for rapid changes to improve the product's manufacturability.

"Our goal is 'right first time'," Lecland said, "but we realise that no digital model will reflect shop floor reality from the start. We believe simulation in a digital factory will reduce drastically the number of trial production runs required to build to high quality.

"This will get the product to market quicker and cheaper and let the manufacturer introduce more variations faster."

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