DELMIA Builds a Better Factory

By Stan Gibson  |  Posted 2004-05-03 Print this article Print

The automotive industry is using the modeling software to create virtual assembly lines.

CAD revolutionized the automotive industry two decades ago. Now the new frontier in auto-industry IT is in visually modeling the manufacturing process. By creating a virtual assembly line, its possible to learn what works and what doesnt before incurring the costs of configuring a real factory.

"We started with our [Mercedes-Benz] S Class in the body area. It improved our manufacturing planning time by about 30 percent. It helped out in quality and in cost," said DaimlerChrysler AG CIO Susan Unger.

"The benefits are in shortening of the planning process and to have a more detailed plan of the plant. You can also influence the development of the car in early stages. It is cheaper to remove bugs earlier rather than later," said Wolf-Peter Seuffert, senior manager of IT management for DaimlerChrysler, in Stuttgart, Germany.

Click here to read eWEEKs interview with DaimlerChrysler CIO Susan Unger. The Mercedes group has 80 to 100 workstations in its Sindelfingen, Stuttgart and Bremen, Germany, facilities running DELMIA, Dassault Systèmes AGs manufacturing-process modeling software, said Seuffert. Thus far, he said, the body assembly area and the final assembly process have been modeled using the Lehrte, Germany, companys tool.

"We have a planning cockpit—a window in the screen that shows all the parts and the weld points. It indicates the usage of the machines and the behavior of the machines in a time/behavior diagram. Its a Gantt diagram that describes the behavior of a weld robot," said Seuffert.

Although some of the Mercedes groups engineers experimented with DELMIA in the 1990s, use of the software began in earnest in 2001 with Version 5.8, Seuffert said. Since then, DELMIA has been updated annually, and DaimlerChrysler is using Version 5.12.

Seuffert said DaimlerChrysler engineers provide plenty of product suggestions to Dassault software engineers for improvements to the product. "We would like to see solutions for logistics planning," including the deliveries of suppliers to the conveyor belts in the factory, said Seuffert.

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Stan Gibson is Executive Editor of eWEEK. In addition to taking part in Ziff Davis eSeminars and taking charge of special editorial projects, his columns and editorials appear regularly in both the print and online editions of eWEEK. He is chairman of eWEEK's Editorial Board, which received the 1999 Jesse H. Neal Award of the American Business Press. In ten years at eWEEK, Gibson has served eWEEK (formerly PC Week) as Executive Editor/eBiz Strategies, Deputy News Editor, Networking Editor, Assignment Editor and Department Editor. His Webcast program, 'Take Down,' appeared on He has appeared on many radio and television programs including TechTV, CNBC, PBS, WBZ-Boston, WEVD New York and New England Cable News. Gibson has appeared as keynoter at many conferences, including CAMP Expo, Society for Information Management, and the Technology Managers Forum. A 19-year veteran covering information technology, he was previously News Editor at Communications Week and was Software Editor and Systems Editor at Computerworld.

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