Modeler more than CAD, more than drawing management

Aug. 19, 2004
Catia Version 5 Release 13 (V5 R13) includes Catia (for solid modeling and simulations), Enovia (for enterprise data management), SmarTeam (team data management) and Delmia (factory or production simulations).

Catia and Enovia now make it possible to generate product variations by building the skeletal structure (or using a template) and then populating it with existing data. In this case, an engineer is shaping a fuselage to accommodate an internal wing structure. The method cuts up to 40% off the time needed for previous approaches.

One of the SMBs deals with functions and capability for building white goods such as the clothes washing machine.

All have been upgraded and simultaneously released in R13.

The most important features of R13 are the integration with data management in Enovia and the improved access to it. Users previously needed live Catia and Enovia sessions in separate windows. Now an Enovia client in Catia has the needed links in the guise of VPM Navigator. The navigator resides in Catia V5 but provides access to the Enovia V5 database. The combination lets users browse and search the database, open files, and use them. Enovia transparently controls revisioning and other housekeeping issues. Anything out of date is immediately viewable on an Impacts Graph.

This might appear as no big deal to users familiar with parallel CAD and PDM workings. A few beta testers, however, reported cutting 30 to 40% off the time needed for some tasks.

Another important addition is that best practices are captured in special applications. For example, a casting and forging add-on to part design lets users generate needed geometries and attributes to manufacture these types of parts. And multipocket machining for aerospace components now take less time because it considers all pockets as one entity. The developers are also working on body-in-white applications, though at present it is mainly joints. For example, where two panels join, a requirement is usually for a smooth surface from one panel to the next. This can be covered by a single feature in the new release instead of several operations.

In addition, Catia has facilities that let users capture assembly knowledge. Take a wing spar, for instance. By capturing a template associated with a complete assembly, users can reuse that knowledge in another design by letting the template rebuild itself in the new location.

R13 lets users capture more process knowledge as well. When starting a particular job, the user selects a template appropriate for the geometry and is presented with a procedure as well as a series of defaults for the task. After building the geometry, the template queues up analysis and other appropriate-downstream activities. At each stage the template accessesor requests data it needs for the job.

Several “behaviors” or functions are associated with new process knowledge. These could be to open a file, run an analysis, or get another template. These operations can be done in steps so that the designer interacts with the process rather than an automatic procedure. Alternatively, all choices can be selected together depending on the task at hand.

V5R13 complies with the new dimensioning standard, ASME Y14.41. A tolerancing “stack-up” partner product from 3DCS takes existing data with respect to tolerances and does the analysis.

Small to medium-size businesses (SMBs) will find some of the repackaging and streamlining useful. Electrical design is one example. An electrical P1 package provides electrical functions for particular applications and leaves out specialized mechanical products. Also, it does not include high-end electrical applications because it's assumed that SMBs don't need them, and those companies that do can add the functions to the bundle. SMB is probably a misnomer. It's meant to categorize the end products. Washing machines for example, have different requirements than computers, so their packages differ. SMBs, however, make it possible for a lot more people to get benefits of sophisticated software at a reasonable cost.

For the automotive industry, the developers provide a generative car. All disciplines involved in car design — body-in-white, powertrain, trim, and others — have a set of templates and methods to lets designers quickly develop concepts. As a design develops, changes to parts ripple through to assemblies providing a single master data source. Process expertise here can reduce the number of operations necessary to create specific features, such as joints frequently found on auto bodies. Templates are available for difficult features such as swages and holes. A lot of the tricky internal B and C Class surfacing is often labor-intensive and the intention here is to reduce the manual interaction as much as possible.

Boeing plans on using the software in a 24-hr workday. Their concept is called Design in Context, Decide in Context. It supports a collaborative environment that needs product and program management.

The developer likes to say V5R13 provides a workspace for collective innovation, which improves product development by merging design and data management in a single interface. Capturing process knowledge and expertise takes data reuse to a new level and provides significant “gearing” to processes, allowing a reduction in design cycle times. This is part of V5's philosophy: Get the computer to do the work instead of the operator. Catia, Enovia, Delmia, and SmarTeam come from Dassault Systems,

— Charles Clarke
Clarke is a U.K.-based software reviewer and industry consultant.

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