Aug 16 2017

PRODUCT DESIGN ENTERS A NEW REALITY: Immersive virtuality helps companies design better products faster and more economically

Seeing a virtual product in 3D on a computer screen is good, but the small screen makes it easy to miss the fine details of complex products – details that could be expensive to fix later. The arrival of low-cost head-mounted displays is eliminating that challenge, allowing designers and engineers to experience their creations at life-size scale.

While all three are immersed in a virtual cabin interior in Embraer’s mixed reality facility, Bruce McDougall kneels to point out a detail to Evelise Teixeira (center) and Brian Hammer (right). A model of the area they are experiencing is displayed on the wall monitor. (Image © Embraer)

Development of 3D design software revolutionized product development. The ability to see those 3D models in immersive virtuality (iV) is about to revolutionize it again.

“VR allows you not just to look at the 3D models, but to experience them,” said David Nahon, director of Immersive Virtuality at 3DEXPERIENCE Lab at Dassault Systèmes (publisher of Compass). “That is a game-changing development. Looking at a model on a desktop is good, but the full-scale experience of the model gives you the capacity to asses a lot of elements you might not notice on the small screen, before you invest in any further expensive development.”

The world’s wealthiest corporations have used iV technology in Virtual Reality (VR) CAVEs for nearly two decades, but high cost and complexity limited its use primarily to expert users in design and engineering. Low-cost head mounted displays (HMDs), newly introduced in 2016, are making immersive experiences available to companies of all sizes, however, while expanding access to more users than could ever fit in a CAVE.

“Many manufacturing industries have interest in VR,” said Hervé Fontaine, vice president of B2B Virtual Reality for HMD maker HTC Vive. “With the product lines of Vive designed specifically for enterprises, anyone who is using 3D software can suddenly view their model in VR.

“Rather than building a physical prototype to look for mistakes, they will be able to spot errors in VR at a much earlier point in development than they have been able to do on a computer screen, which will save them lots of time and money.”

Continue reading the rest of this story here, on COMPASS, the 3DEXPERIENCE Magazine

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Aug 09 2017

Opportunities and challenges of a manufacturing Center of Excellence

I recently blogged about the annual Gartner MESA survey and how it reveals that most manufacturers do not achieve the full value of their enterprise MES, or MOM systems, because they don’t start with a clear understanding of the value and benefits they are aiming for.

Manufacturers tend to view MES as a financial investment with predictable payback through automation of current operations reducing the cost of goods sold (COGS). This approach generates quick-hit benefits, but it limits the impact of the technology because it fails to enable all the new things that could be done. Enterprise MES should be the starting point, not the endpoint.

Now the latest Gartner MESA survey has come out, and it reinforces these findings. Most manufacturers are still implementing MES in limited ways that prevent them from realizing the high-level benefits such as responsiveness, agility, corporate-wide quality containment, synchronized supply chains, and continuous improvement.

The survey summary states, manufacturers should “look at MES as part of an enterprise architecture, not just as a stand-alone app, and build a long-term business case instead of an immediate fix.”

Ironically, by focusing on immediate financial return instead of the more strategic operational returns, many manufacturers miss out on the full value of their investment.

Transformation, not just automation

By contrast, the most successful manufacturers generate value from enterprise MES not just by automating their current operations, but by transforming them. For multi-plant manufacturers, the foundation of this transformation is the manufacturing Center of Excellence, or CoE. I touched on this in my last blog. Now I’d like to discuss the CoE in more detail.

A CoE is many things. It is a centralized hub where the best practices and expertise of an enterprise are formulated and eventually reside, so companies can set standards for the organization and deploy them consistently to all plants. It can also be a repository and gateway to critical enterprise manufacturing data, an environment for testing new emerging processes, and a tool for discovering, monitoring and disseminating manufacturing improvements.

Most importantly, a CoE that represents a single enterprise operations-based foundation, allows global manufacturers to extend their operational and quality control into the supply chains, upstream into external suppliers as well as internal design and engineering teams. This establishing a stream of digital continuity; the Digital Thread. This same foundation enables a holistic view towards customers and service and repair entities.

This is where the game-changing advantages are to be found. For example:

Quality. How is incoming quality inspection handled in each plant? Is the process the same everywhere, or are there differences? How do you know if you are comparing apples to apples? The Center of Excellence makes it possible to achieve consistency and establish meaningful KPI standards for quality. Then there is the larger question of consistent quality manufacturing across all plants. This can only be done, with real accuracy, with a CoE to monitor and control every step of production, everywhere.

Measurement. Measurement is critical for all operations. Take on-time delivery. Many manufacturers consider this a key metric and constantly try to improve it. But can you see how all the processes, supply chain issues, and other factors relate to on-time delivery? It’s hard to link these factors meaningfully unless you have an enterprise MES managed from a Center of Excellence.

Standard processes versus localization. Local variations are often necessary, but every difference in process creates inefficiencies. Further, where variations occur, it’s important to understand those differences and how they may impact all the other metrics. A CoE provides the control and visibility for manufacturers to manage these variations and ensure that only essential variations are allowed.

Discovery of best practices. Centers of Excellence are not just a way to deploy best practices, they are also a way to discover best practices. Innovations don’t always come from headquarters. Sometimes—maybe even most often—innovations are developed on a plant floor somewhere, by people who are close the problem every day. A CoE that can “harvest” best practices from their sites provides a formal path and policy to discover, “upload”, test, and then methodically deploy the innovation across the enterprise rapidly and reliably.  Industry leaders are utilizing this harvest within their COEs with terrific results.

These are just a few examples of enterprise MES benefits that are not easy to measure by a simple financial formula. They are soft, but strategic.  There are many more, such as quality containment, supply chain synchronization, rapid new prodct/ferature deployment, and design-manufacturing collaboration. While such benefits aren’t easily justifiable by a simple financial formula, they are clearly of major importance to global manufacturers.

Why so challenging?

With so many high-level benefits, why aren’t more manufacturers focusing on Centers of Excellence? One reason is complexity. A CoE is a combination of people, processes, and technology, and it touches on nearly every activity of a global manufacturer. The few examples given above should make that clear.

Yet while this kind of transformation is challenging, it is by no means insurmountable. There is a growing body of expertise and experience surrounding enterprise MES and Centers of Excellence, and how to deploy them successfully. DELMIA has helped many global manufacturers (Valeo and Cummins, for example) transform their manufacturing with enterprise MES technology.

In my next blog, I’ll explore the value and maturity assessment process we have developed at DELMIA over hundreds of engagements to assess, plan, and implement enterprise MES within a manufacturing COE so that the full benefits of transformation can be achieved.

Related articles:
CENTER OF EXCELLENCE: Optimizing key step in realizing MES/MOM operational transformation
The secret to MES success: Learn from experience

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Jul 26 2017

DATA DRY SPELL: The maritime industry has plenty of data, but few owners use it to improve operations

With nearly 91,000 vessels, the global maritime industry crosses social, economic and geographic frontiers, but it has not yet crossed the data boundary by embracing big data. With connectivity options and speeds improving, ships are beginning to join a data revolution that promises efficiency and cost savings. However, the question remains: what will be the trigger to push the majority of maritime into the digital age?

With connectivity options and speeds improving, ships are beginning to connect to a data revolution that promises efficiency and cost savings. What will be the trigger to push the majority of maritime into the digital age? (Image © Eagle Bulk Shipping)

Frank Coles, CEO of Transas, a provider of specialty IT systems for the shipping industry, neatly summarizes the impact of big data on the global maritime industry: “Big data is all of the data that we are now collecting off of a ship,” Coles said. “Smart data is the ability to sift through that data and get to a place where we can use it in a clever way for analytics.”

It’s an important distinction, especially in an industry widely considered to be conservative in its adoption of new technologies and even further behind in analyzing data to make ship operations more efficient and cost-effective. Thought leaders like Coles intend to change that.

“They are still issuing paper ‘noon’ reports,” Coles said, referring to the tradition of ships reporting to their home offices at noon each day. “The master (ship’s captain) is still bogged down in a plethora of paperwork which should be automated. We need to change attitudes. I think when the next generation (of mariners) gets more involved in owning ships, that will be the drive for change because they come from a different mindset.”

Why change? Because it’s good for the business, proponents say.“Shipping is very conservative, emotionally driven, with people operating as they always have,” said Jonathan Dowsett, senior fleet performance manager for Eagle Bulk Shipping. “Now you have to embrace this new technology and this new approach, which suggests that perhaps you shouldn’t simply conduct your operations as you always have.”Corporate consolidation, an increasingly connected logistics chain and digital natives becoming shipowners are among the trends simultaneously driving shipowners and operators to adopt new solutions. Also helping is steadily rising connectivity speed from VSATs. According to a study by DNV GL, the maximum speed to and from ships was approximately 10 Gbps in 2015. This is expected to dramatically increase to over 200 Gbps by 2025.


Continue reading the rest of this story here, on COMPASS, the 3DEXPERIENCE Magazine

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Jul 19 2017

Megan Wild

Identifying Mission-Critical Parts and the Impact On Your Supply Chain

Managing a factory is by no means an easy task. Chances are, you have your hands full between supervising workers and overseeing production processes. All these are necessary for keeping the factory in working order. What would happen if you had a major equipment failure, though? Do you have a protection plan in place? If not, one task you’ll have to fulfill is the identification of mission-critical parts.

What are mission-critical parts?

Identifying mission-critical parts is a task in and of itself. What is considered critical changes from business to business, and even from department to department. In order to properly prepare, it’s important to make a distinction.

To do this, you must focus on what’s absolutely necessary to keep the factory running. A critical operation is an output that will cause the business financial damages or disrupt delivering products if it’s interrupted. Equipment, for example, is not a critical output, but the products that they produce are.

Another important distinction to make: Some instances interrupt only one department, while others affect the whole company. Only the ones that affect the whole company are mission critical. The others, though important, don’t fall within the scope of critical operations.

There is a caveat, however. Make sure you look at how your departments function together. It may be that the failure of one system in a department can trigger problems in the other, due to a hidden dependency.

Identifying critical parts

As critical parts vary widely from company to company, it’s important that you use a personalized system to identify them. Start your process by forming a list of your factory’s assets. These include safety measures, security systems, hazardous substance disposal and more. You’ll also need to gather any additional documentation included with the systems.

Follow up by researching what steps you’ll need to take should a broken system require new parts or specialized support, as well as the time it will take for these to happen. Based on the information you’ve gathered, you should now have a basic idea of which assets are the most critical and why they have that position. You can either strike the remainder from the list or start a separate lower-priority list.

Formulating a plan

Now that you know what systems are most important, it’s time to develop a plan of action for if things go wrong. In the event of an emergency, your teams will need to know what systems to prioritize and what can wait. You don’t need them to direct resources toward restoring non-vital functions when they could be better spent elsewhere.

One point to consider when formulating your backup plans is if any of your systems require special treatment. This includes prolonged shutdown times for more delicate machines and temperature monitoring for equipment that’s prone to overheating. Should a failure happen, these critical systems will require more attention, since they could incur costly damages if left unattended.

Some of your systems may be so critical that an extended downtime will lead to huge losses for your factory. In these cases, you’ll want to have a parts supplier with the ability to do a day-of delivery. Should an emergency happen, you’ll be able to rely on them to get you the critical parts fast.

What’s to gain from all this?

Conducting all this complex analysis is by no means a small task. However, it’s worth the effort, for both your business and your customers.

On the factory side, keeping tabs on the condition of your mission-critical systems will help keep the organization running at full capacity and ensure product quality. In the event of a failure, you’ll already have a plan in place to acquire new parts fast, minimizing losses due to downtime.

Furthermore, responsible management will ensure you continue to meet your clients’ expectations, even in emergency situations. Doing so could even raise your reputation in the industry, as performing well under pressure while still ensuring quality is no easy feat.

Running a factory isn’t a job for the faint of heart. Between managing workers, supply chains and outputs, analyzing for critical parts may seem like a waste of time. However, knowing what systems are essential and how to repair them is critical, and will save valuable time and money in the event of an emergency.

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Jul 12 2017

ERROR-FREE MANUFACTURING: Immersive technologies reduce errors and detect them faster

Manufacturing has two critical phases – planning how to manufacture a product, and then executing that plan. Leading manufacturers are applying immersive virtuality (iV) technologies at both points.

“Beyond product design, the second area where automotive and aerospace companies have used their CAVEs is in designing the processes for the factory and the workshop,” said David Nahon, director of Immersive Virtuality at 3DEXPERIENCE Lab at Dassault Systèmes (publisher of Compassmis). “iV is even more critical to manufacturing because you must know at the design stage how easy it is to manufacture a product, or if it is even possible. By discovering this early in the design process you eliminate a lot of expensive takes.”

At Dassault Aviation, Diota’s augmented reality (AR) system guides operators in a diverse and complex assembly task. Instructions displayed on the assembly include which operations to carry out, as well as tool diameters and machine types to use. (Image © Diota)

Companies that use 3D design software and product lifecycle management (PLM) design the tooling, assembly line and other processes for manufacturing in parallel with designing the product. While this is efficient, any errors in design can be replicated in the manufacturing process, where they may not be discovered until production begins.

“Imagine if you make a mistake in your design that is copied in your manufacturing and you cannot fit the seats into the car,” Nahon said. “This is the most expensive time to discover it. You may need to redesign the manufacturing or you may need to redesign the product by building the seat in two pieces. All the time you are resolving this problem you are losing production, which drives up your costs, and your product is not on the market, which drives down your revenues.”


Because iV allows 3D models to be examined at life-size scale, problems in the product design and its related manufacturing processes can be spotted more readily. That’s why Brazil-based Embraer, the world’s third largest aircraft manufacturer for the commercial, defense and security, and executive jet markets, subjects it manufacturing plans to the same immersive reviews as its product designs.

“We have applied virtual reality (VR) in the development of our digital factory for the planning and simulation of all production processes,” said Paulo Pires, managing director at Embraer Engineering & Technology Center in Florida.

Embraer’s new mixed reality (MR) process allows up to a dozen people to view and comment on models simultaneously, making it easier for manufacturing experts to join their design and engineering colleagues to review models, identify issues and agree on fixes long before production begins.

Continue reading the rest of this story here, on COMPASS, the 3DEXPERIENCE Magazine

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