Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)

PLM Strategies-PLM Umbrella

30 Jun, 2005 By: Arnie Williams

Dassault Systèmes offers solutions for all levels of designers

A Major Player In The Automotive and aerospace arenas, Dassault Systèmes ( has set the PLM (product lifecycle management) bar at a very high level with projects such as the ongoing Boeing 787 that will not only be digitally designed from concept to finish, but will also benefit from unprecedented digital behavior studies conducted through Dassault Systèmes' suite of products. These include CATIA, its flagship 3D modeler; ENOVIA for collaboration across a product's lifecycle, and DELMIA to digitally model all manufacturing processes.

 Figure 1. The Falcon 7X is a business jet developed through a fully digital project. CATIA, ENOVIA and DELMIA combine to mock up and capture all aspects of design data to be used in manufacture and maintenance throughout the aircraft's lifecycle.
Figure 1. The Falcon 7X is a business jet developed through a fully digital project. CATIA, ENOVIA and DELMIA combine to mock up and capture all aspects of design data to be used in manufacture and maintenance throughout the aircraft's lifecycle.

The open-architecture, all-digital approach is also exemplified in projects by Dassault Aviation, such as the Falcon 7X business jet, a project that has 27 partners in Europe, the United States and Canada concurrently designing the aircraft from their remote offices. Such projects are proof that PLM has emerged as the smartest, most efficient approach to large-scale, international, multiyear projects that don't stop when an aircraft rolls off the assembly line. Lifelong monitoring and maintenance demand an accurate history trail of every aspect of design and manufacture, and PLM provides the tools to see these projects through from initial concept to physical retirement.

Although Dassault Systèmes considers PLM an umbrella that covers its entire product portfolio line as well as a close working and training partnership with its customers, this month we're looking primarily at ENOVIA to discover some of its PLM characteristics and consider how the research and development teams at Dassault Systèmes have approached PLM.

Heart of PLM

ENOVIA is at the center of Dassault Systèmes' PLM strategy, providing a secure, Internet-based 3D collaborative workspace. ENOVIA works with CATIA and other CAD programs, where project design often begins with initial 3D modeling. CATIA in turn is linked to DELMIA, where users can simulate and digitally mock up manufacturing processes. All this data is managed by ENOVIA throughout the lifecycle of the product. As the heart of the PLM process, ENOVIA records any change that moves through the system, "comprehending" the relationship each piece of data has with the whole, and ensuring that any change is reflected throughout the data trail.

For example, if a marketing team member makes a business decision that an aircraft under design needs to have a longer maximum flight time, ENOVIA can link such a business goal to a design specification (fuel capacity, weight, speed and so on), which might in turn call for a change in wingspan dimension. This kind of change obviously affects many parts of the design and manufacturing process, in addition to the team members responsible for those areas. The fail-proof linking of data in ENOVIA is the lifeblood that makes such all-digital projects as the 787 and the Falcon 7X possible.

Dassault breaks the ENOVIA V5 platform down into three key domains:

  • 1. VPM (virtual product management)
  • 2. DMU (digital mockup)
  • 3. LCA (lifecycle application)

Using VPM, engineers and designers create virtual product models with unlimited configuration and viewing capabilities. The VPM includes access to product specifications, engineering rules, simulation results and manufacturing processes—data that is crucial for manufacturing and maintenance.

The DMU domain helps curtail expenses in a project by providing an alternative to big-bucks physical prototyping. Engineers use this domain to navigate, review and analyze digital mockups at every stage of planning and design, everywhere from ergonomic analysis to packaging development. This key area of ENOVIA has helped companies reduce development cycles by half or more.

LCA brings the extended team into the process by providing Web-browser access to data in a secure environment that supports document management, change management, 2D and 3D viewing, workflow review and non-CAD collaboration tools.

The People Equation

Joel Lemke, CEO of Enovia Corp. and general manager of PLM Americas for Dassault Systèmes, stresses that the Dassault approach is not just a module that you buy and start loading data into. Rather, it's a partnership where business processes are carefully scrutinized and incorporated into a system-wide approach. Head of ENOVIA since 1998, Lemke has expanded the organization from a 46-employee product-management unit into an international developer of intellectual property and data management PLM solutions with more than 3,000 customers worldwide.

Lemke and his team have focused on fundamental areas that business partners need for PLM success. One is to make the approach process-centric, based on a company's business processes and industry needs. Another is to work within a real-time, shared, 3D environment. The ability of all players on the team (which often includes internationally dispersed members from multiple companies) to interact with in-work designs is what the collaborative approach is all about, with controlled access levels that ensure internal as well as external security.

With ENOVIA and other products in the extended Dassault Systèmes portfolio (CATIA, DELMIA and SMARTEAM), companies gain the ability to analyze and control changes efficiently, design in-context, engineer products concurrently, version products without increasing manufacturing complexity and optimize performance and cost—all digitally.

Along with Dassault's high-profile aeronautics successes, a project is underway with Northrop Grumman to bring PLM and digital design to shipbuilding. But the benefits of ENOVIA, DELMIA and CATIA are not limited to these high-profile, heavyweight applications.

Though this trio of products is still developed for its traditional design platforms of Sun Solaris, Silicon Graphics IRIX and Hewlett-Packard HP-UX, the whole suite of PLM products from Dassault Systèmes has long been ported to Windows. All are scalable to the smallest business enterprise need, notes Lemke, so don't feel as though PLM doesn't apply if your project isn't multiyear and on multiple continents, he says. The efficiencies to be gained by PLM and ENOVIA extend to enterprises of every size.

Arnie Williams, former editor-in-chief of Cadence magazine, is a freelance author specializing in the CAD industry. E-mail Arnie at

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