Product Life Cycle Management and the Digital Factory
Good ideas are exactly what the German motor industry and its engineering rely on. But as soon as the ideas go digital, the quality of the data provides the uncompromising basis for every additional step.
When designing a car on a computer (computer-aided design, CAD), data errors can occur, which cause problems in virtual production (computer-aided manufacturing, CAM). If these data errors are not identified early enough, the costs of the production planning process can increase massively. So the aim is to identify any inadequate data quality of all the product-relevant technical details for cars and commercial vehicles immediately, propose corrections and therefore prevent errors in the design process. Designers have test programs available for their software, which work in a similar way to a spell checker for word processing programs. The results then provide a reliable basis for decisions on whose criteria data may be regarded as good geometric information and from when data contain deviations that cannot be tolerated.
The Product Life Cycle Management Working Party in the VDA, abbreviated to PLM-AK, has been regarded as an innovation accelerator and efficient manufacturer and supplier network throughout the entire sector of product creation and maintenance for more than 25 years. The platform was formed to improve what was then the new technology of the digital exchange of CAD/CAM data. Interfaces are identified in the product life cycle at which the quality of the data of all product-relevant technical details for cars and commercial vehicles is particularly important for the success of the project. Readily comprehensible process methods and recommendations are prepared with which the required quality of the virtual product data for the development of automobiles can be achieved and assured.
Using these VDA recommendations it is possible to reduce all the steps in the production cycle of a new vehicle model, from planning and production to repairs and sustainable recycling, and make them more efficient. Furthermore, it is possible to check whether the data are relevant, complete and consistent. The recommendations save time, costs and retrospective corrections – and also speed up the work. The work of the PLM-AK is therefore also a quality pacemaker throughout the entire production and usage cycle of the vehicle.
Plan production virtually and reduce costs with the Digital Factory
Innovative techniques are becoming ever-more important in the face of increasing pressure of competition between companies and the resulting necessity for costefficiency. One of these techniques involves the “digital factory.” Using these increasingly important techniques, it is possible to validate and optimize the design of production plants in virtual form during the planning phase. A network of digital models and methods such as simulation and 3-D visualization helps with this process. All the main factory processes and resources related to the product can be viewed and improved as a whole in a digital factory.