The initial concept designs for the Horizon Taxi project were created in 2013. By now, there were 20 employees in disperse locations using rudimentary file sharing tools but this was becoming problematic as the team grew, so Emerald supplemented CATIA with the ENOVIA brand for CAD file management.
With a small team, managing design change was relatively straight forward, but achieving an aggressive production date of 2017 required a different approach. Emerald started to implement new and innovative design and development practices with a rapidly expanding workforce and growing partner network.
The design and development tasks needed to be performed seamlessly in parallel with each other. In addition these tasks (vehicle package, structural design, powertrain and vehicle systems) needed to be delivered collaboratively, to common standards involving the external design partners and on a multinational basis.
Emerald required technology that would support the requirements of a rapidly changing business and propel them forward as a global automotive OEM.
Choosing the Best Technology for the Job
As the Horizon Taxi project progressed Emerald experienced a dramatic increase in product complexity and the need to consider product behaviour in use and how they were going to manufacture and assemble it. Whilst Emerald were familiar with some of the brand elements of the Dassault Systèmes portfolio, namely CATIA and ENOVIA, enterprise PLM was something new to them.
Emerald recognised that the new system had to be scalable, that there were aggressive time scales to hit and to be successful the management of individual performance throughout was key. It also had to support parallel development with users working seamlessly together on parallel projects across company and international boundaries. All this would be taking place whilst the development and early production facilities were being planned and built.
Taking into account the workforce growing at an exponential rate, integrating the supply chain into to the new business model, simulation and production facilities in the planning phase, after a market evaluation, the 3DEXPERIENCE platform was deemed the best choice, providing a superior technology with a new approach to simplifying the user adoption cycle with real-time, ‘finger on the pulse’ control.
“3DEXPERIENCE has been a key contributor towards Emerald’s success with this project and is instrumental in facilitating our engineering strategy” – Ian Collins, Emerald Automotive Design, CEO
The Implementation Journey
Deployment of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform started in 2014 on R2013x. The TECHNIA (formerly Intrinsys) Part Numbering utility and Drawing Border utility were added to the CATIA V5 integration. From day One the implementation has been an “Out of the Box”, agile approach. Faster project adoption has given Emerald an early return on investment whilst protecting them from lengthy customisation and enabled a much smoother upgrade path as the platform functionality has matured.
As familiarisation of the systems increases, the business can determine what functionality to turn on next, based on project requirement and value. Next came automated JT and 3DXML file creation at the beginning of 2015.
In parallel Emerald embarked on Engineering Bill of Material (EBOM) creation and Change Management. Continuing with the OOTB approach Emerald sort to develop their business processes in line with standard functionality. With the EBOM process going well the project could carry out a proof of concept for integration with the ERP system, Epicor.
A system upgrade can always be a daunting task mid-project but it was decided to upgrade to R2015x at the beginning of 2016. The last few months of 2015 saw the planning for this and ensuring the EBOM and Change Management were robust and business ready. Over a weekend in early January 2016 the system was successfully upgraded and the EBOM and Change Management processes went live.
In 2016 the integration with ERP was developed into a production application and the automated JT and 3DXML file creation utility was upgraded with some functionality from Theorem Solutions. IP Security was also added so that Emerald could continue to collaborate with their global partners but protect sensitive and confidential information.
As the size of CAD models increased the burden on the network was testing user patience. Replicated remote file stores were introduced and the performance improvement was instant. Instead of moving large CAD models around the organisation and supply chain, the models are stored locally and only any changes are updated.
“Vehicle design is very ‘CAD data heavy’ so remote file stores were introduce at all of our locations to give CATIA users better load/save performance and to ease the load on the central server. They have worked spectacularly and compression technology used to sync with the central server is phenomenal” – Stuart Gale, Emerald Automotive Design IT Director
The Emerald system is now mature but continues to evolve. The system serves nearly 300 users with 12 collaboration partners and is distributed over 4 sites, 3 in the UK and 1 in China. The system contains nearly 12,000 unique objects across all current platforms with over 900 standard parts.
In Emerald’s words, TECHNIA brought a practical, straight forward approach to the implementation. Guiding them through the business process adoption for BOM and change management and ensuring that the system and the processes were aligned to Emerald’s requirements.
“TECHNIA’s experience was critical to our success” said Stuart Gale, IT Director, “when they told us what would happen if we wanted to go in a particular direction, they were always right”.
About Emerald Automotive Design
Emerald Automotive Design Ltd specialise in the design, development and production of light-weight, low-emission and long-range advanced hybrid commercial vehicles. Headquartered in Coventry, with facilities in Essex, USA, Sweden and China, Emerald Automotive is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group (Geely).