Browse Publications Technical Papers 2007-01-0951
2007-04-16

Conditions for Significant Efficiency Improvement in the Product Development Chain by the Application of Integrated Virtual Engineering 2007-01-0951

The traditional Vehicle Development Process is a sequence starting with geometric Packaging integration and Vehicle Configuration balanced with interior and exterior Styling. Production Design and development then follow supported by analysis & simulation and finalized with input from Manufacturing Engineering and other downstream functions. A huge challenge for the automotive industry is the reduction in development time in response to the change in consumer's evolving flexible lifestyle. With the increase of CAx tools, engineering development tasks become more simultaneous. To further respond to development time reduction is the elimination of physical prototype stages and learning cycles based on capable Virtual Engineering processes. The natural drivers of product development evolution which have traditionally been physical prototype stages are now history. A new process is emerging leveraging efficient virtual tools must be defined and integrated to support Virtual Engineering. Virtual program decision gates (Virtual Vehicle Assessments) have been introduced to support key engineering development milestones. Measurable virtual development tasks across all engineering disciplines are defined as well as the required digital design data quality and maturity. Development direction, innovation and data are synchronized at regular intervals over the Vehicle Development Process.
In addition to the current Virtual Engineering process, more capability must be continuously developed. For instance a ‘Road to Lab to Math’ strategy has been introduced to decouple physical prototype tests from simulations as key component of overall Virtual Engineering.
This new methodology to develop vehicles changes development organizations from their very core. Both processes and people need to change. The latter is the main challenge in order to have success. Introduction of Virtual Engineering in GM was supported by a set of progressive initiatives in order to gain understanding and buy in from the organization to facilitate the transformation to Virtual Engineering methodologies.
For example, General Motors Europe achieved an overall efficiency in their product development effort by more than 50% over the past 5 years and Virtual Engineering methodologies played a key role.

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