Jaguar Land Rover builds data sharing infrastructure

Jaguar Landrover (JLR) has used a proposed data sharing standard to improve car development within its product lifecycle management (PLM) system.

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Jaguar Landrover (JLR) has used a proposed data-sharing standard to improve car development within its product lifecycle management (PLM) system.

The luxury carmaker has revamped its business systems after Ford sold the company in 2008 for £1.15bn to Tata Motor.

Through the acquisition, JLR needed to migrate from Ford’s IT and PLM systems.

Addressing delegates at the recent IBM Innovate 2013 event in London, Dave Sharrat, senior manager PLM at Jaguar Land Rover, said: "We had a blank sheet to create new systems for the business."

He said the company needed simple integrated technology, which could provide a single source of the truth for the design of new cars.

Sharrat said: "We started with existing applications like CAD (computer-aided design), CAM (computer aided manufacturing) and CAE (computer aided engineering) and created a technical architecture to build a new PLM system with single version of the truth. Where appropriate, this is connected to our ERP system."

Complexity of in-car IT

Software development is becoming a major part of engineering within new car development. Sharrat said a new Range Rover has over 100m lines of code, which is more than a Boeing 777. He said cars are becoming internet-connected devices. “They can have their own IP address.” While it is possible for a car-owner to hook up an iPad, Sharrat said people would most likely do this on longer journeys. For short trips he said people use the infotainment system in their cars.”

“We have to react and change the way we work because consumers want new gadgets.” He said the challenge for the business is to bring consumer technology to the consumer while balancing complexity and cost to the business.

Applications in car design and manufacturing are generally semi integrated. Information is often passed from one application to another, but JLR wanted the data to reside in one place, within the application that created it, and provide APIs so other applications could access it.

Sharrat said: "No company does this so we partnered with several companies based on a PLM from Dassault Systems and IBM who are working together to deliver a solution." The result of this work will be deployed next year on JLR’s new vehicle programmes, he said.

The integration is based on OSCL (Open Services for Lifecycle Collaboration) from the Oasis standards consortium, which provides a set of APIs for exchanging data between applications.

Through the Dassault Systems and IBM partnership, JLR will connect the Dassault’s Enovia PLM with IBM's Rational toolset, to apply system engineering principals to the business of designing and manufacturing luxury vehicles.

The complex mapping between the two products has allowed JLR to check that its business process is correct in terms of information flows. "All our vehicle milestones and dates are exposed in the Rational toolset from where we can fully define the requirements we can out into the [new] product. These requirements are then transferred back into Enovia, which drives a verification process."

JLR is also using Rational to collate product development testing. It is working with Dassault System on a new simulation lifecycle management interface for Enovia, to automate computer-aided engineering processes, which run the engineering verification tests. He said: "The results of these tests are published back in the Rational environment so we can measure the [test] results and everyone can understand how the product is maturing over time."

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While the whole PLM programme will take three years to complete, he said JLR is starting to see the benefits now, by exposing some of the PLM data in visualisation tools. "We’ve implemented control systems that constantly monitor quality [assurance] data from our production plans using dashboards on an iPad."

JLR has also gone live with 3DLive, which presents CAD data in a 3D graphics form for visualisation on low-end devices rather than CAD workstations. "Management used to be able to see how the physical car was being developed." But the move to a 3D CAD/CAE environment has made it harder for management to see the progress of new car development. He said the team is looking to presenting 3D vehicle visualisation back to executive management combined with the right business tools to enable them to understand where there may be issues with the product.

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