More on interoperability woes

The last two items on this blog discussed the Global Product Interoperability Summit currently being held in Mesa, Arizona (see and One of the most interesting discussions came from an engineer at a well-known manufacturer of high-end corporate jets. The company has moved completely to the 3D MBD (model-based design) approach in building the planes. The speaker said to implement this approach, you first need a sound business model (the approach is expensive). What makes this so mind blowing is that the company got four regions of the FAA to certify its process. Basically, it uses a Dassault-integrated suite of products since Catia is big in aerospace. The speaker says over a 10-year span, the approach actually saves money, even though the software is quite expensive. Surrounding Catia V5 is SmarTeam and Enovia. This arrangement lets engineers happily "churn in their own world."

So, the process starts at Catia V5 for part design. Here, the company brings in functional tolerancing -- it does not need to add dimensions to models. Next comes putting the part in the assembly. Everything -- including the BOM -- is modeled. The company then uses a translator to divorce PDM from CAD. This puts most of the data in a cental database and helps keep model file sizes small. The firm does EVERYTHING in 3D. It hooks into SmarTeam workflow actions and picks up FAA approval data. Thesystem generates updated BOMs on-the-fly. Part of the process involves comparing the results of actions. The firm uses Kubotek's validation technology which compares surfaces (not features generated from point clouds). This shows whether, say, files from different versions of a program are acceptably precise. It also uses ITI's comparison technology. Repairing faulty data is a matter of "STEPPing it out and putting it back in the machine, without indexing a revision to the engineer."

Next, the process proceeds to manufacturing with Delmia which drives the equipment on the floor. It is also used to model the whole plant. The speaker says guys on the shop floor can now use Catia to make revisions needed for manufacturing. Shop personnel love this because it gives them a career path to engineering.

The upshot of all this? Projects that used to take 30,000 engineering-hours now take 12,000.

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