Simulated processes help auto industry avoid errors

As the customers look for value in their product, there will be more dependency on process simulation to evaluate manufacturability and serviceability.


Auto companies today work in an environment of major uncertainties. Digital manufacturing helps bring in this surety in the product development of automotive companies. By designing and validating As the customers look for value in their product, there will be more dependency on process simulation to evaluate manufacturability and serviceability.manufacturing processes, resources, plant layouts, and configurations in a virtual environment early in the lifecycle, companies can avoid significant errors during actual manufacturing. Plant Engineering discussed the trend with Praveen Govindaraj, who heads the industrial engineering/simulation practice for Geometric.

Plant Engineering: Assess the adoption of digital manufacturing processes in the auto industry, both at the final assembly and at Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers. Where are we today in terms of use of process simulation, and where are we headed?

Govindaraj: There was high focus on process simulation (human and kinematics) to perform virtual build and serviceability prior to the recession in 2009. The number of vehicle launches in North America and Europe declined, while the launches in Asia increased, and this is reflected in the focus and budget for process simulation of these manufacturers. The forecast on the volume and number of launches for the next five years is looking very positive and will be hitting pre-recession levels. Also, the lead time for a new product program has decreased from 36 months to 18 months. 

To meet these timelines, automotive companies will have to leverage process simulations to minimize the risk of expensive redesign, which also increases the time for the launch. The new development is that, as the customers look for value in their product, there will be more dependency on process simulation to evaluate manufacturability and serviceability.  

PE: Why is this process so important to the auto industry?

Govindaraj: The auto industry is moving closer to build to order, and lowering the overall cost of manufacturing and carrying inventory. There will be a high dependency on digital process simulation to create and optimize a lean manufacturing system.

PE: We've written about the need for greater flexibility in manufacturing plants. How can simulation of processes help manufacturers outside of the auto industry?

Govindaraj: There are high volume and product complexity in appliance and consumer products industry, and high product complexity and low volume in heavy equipment industry. Digital process simulations help these industries simulate their process, to ensure processes are designed to enable the flexibility that will support their product complexity and throughput requirements. 

They also simulate their schedule prior to implementing the schedule on the manufacturing plant. In fact, we have worked with non-auto customers to simulate the entire process flow right from the warehouse docks to the manufacturing stations.


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