An American company that develops and manufactures electric vehicles faced several complex business challenges as its designs evolved. First, it needed a better way to manage the growing number of engineering changes across each vehicle’s lifecycle. In addition, it was important to optimize the understanding of the bill of materials (BOM) so that all the different disciplines involved in vehicle development could work together smoothly and minimize the risk of obsolete parts in the inventory.
The company chose the NETVIBES data science solutions portfolio on the Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCE© platform to help resolve these issues. It implemented Change Intelligence to analyze and improve change management, and developed a new data science experience, BOM Intelligence, to streamline its BOM management and enhance productivity across multiple disciplines. Adding Sourcing & Standardization Intelligence also enabled the organization to tackle the challenge of inventory obsolescence.
Using Change Intelligence, the company has been able to streamline its change management process while boosting individual and collaborative productivity. BOM Intelligence supports more timely, accurate BOM management and significant reductions in the time required to generate reports. Meanwhile Sourcing & Standardization Intelligence ensures that design and engineering activities are aligned with existing inventory to minimize the risk – and cost – of maintaining obsolete parts. Users understand exactly when to introduce each change to minimize its impact on the inventory.
Driving Efficient Design Development
The company is an American automaker that designs and builds electric vehicles (EVs). It has grown quickly and recently launched several new models in one year. Developing, manufacturing and continually improving them requires close collaboration between people with diverse skillsets across the organization.
As the company expanded and its vehicle designs evolved, so did the volume of data it captured – and that brought complex business challenges. It was difficult to manage engineering and design changes, get a clear picture of the BOM and prevent obsolete parts in inventory. Targeted data analytics were needed to overcome these issues, but building a solution in-house would be difficult and time-consuming.
The company chose NETVIBES data science solutions on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform to deliver out-of-the-box capabilities that could be tailored to the business’s specific needs.
Sustainable Change Management
Developing a new vehicle involves many engineering changes, which multiply with each enhancement or model variant. The company had launched several new models in a year and its backlogs were growing as it struggled to manage all the changes involved. A fast and effective solution was needed.
As the company had deployed the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, NETVIBES Change Intelligence was a logical choice, integrating seamlessly with its engineering platform. That integration would give managers, designers and engineers immediate visibility into change backlogs while supporting collaboration and efficiency from day one.
Change Intelligence delivers a live, 360-degree analysis of the change resolution process from the origin of each change to how it was assessed and ways to improve efficiency. Users gain insights into how critical each change is, how it compares to previous ones, the impact it will have on other processes and the right modifications to put in place. They can analyze and learn from past events to help them minimize future change-related challenges. The solution can also build analytics to answer new questions that arise. All of this helps the organization to measure and reduce the number of overall changes and decrease their financial impact on the business.
The application was effective with its initial, small group of users in the company’s manufacturing space. More users were added after just one week, quickly increasing their productivity, both individually and in collaboration with others.
“There are multiple disciplines and many interconnected points of view involved in a process like change management, so a holistic view is essential,” said the company’s engineering director. “For instance, with Change Intelligence, designers can see how decisions about making parts to order versus keeping them in stock will affect the engineering BOM setup. It provides a real-time dashboard for BOM analysts or engineers to work from, so they know which changes are in the pipeline and they can manage their work accordingly.”
There are multiple disciplines and many interconnected points of view involved in a process like change management, so a holistic view is essential.Engineering Director
Intelligent Bills of Materials
Change management wasn’t the only hurdle the organization faced. Managing BOMs was proving just as tricky. An accurate BOM is essential for efficient vehicle manufacture, but factors like poor communication between departments and suppliers, data management complexities and lack of standardization often slow things down and introduce errors. The result can be a shortage of the right components to fulfill orders, alongside an inventory bloated with unused and unwanted parts.
To avoid these problems, the company needed a solution that could deliver an in-depth understanding of data across design, engineering and manufacturing departments. Users needed answers to questions about the delivery status across the supply chain, for instance, or the lead times on different parts. And it was crucial to understand how the engineering BOM aligned with the manufacturing BOM and the bill of process (BOP) for each vehicle.
Enter NETVIBES BOM Intelligence. It uses advanced data consolidation, semantic analysis and data visualization to provide the comprehensive detail the company needs for accurate BOM planning. BOM data is visible to every stakeholder who needs it, from engineering to manufacturing, including an accurate view of key metrics such as weight and cost. This has ensured more accurate BOM consumption and validation, helping the company to achieve its targets of more precise metrics and zero defects. Better quality BOMs, with fewer development hours, are the result.
More Data, Less Time
The company’s next step was to address more challenges with BOM Intelligence, such as how to benefit from rapidly mounting volumes of data in real-time design projects.
In less than a year, the data required for the BOM Intelligence project increased from five million business objects to more than 35 million, and that growth is expected to double within two years. Generating the reports required for those bigger data sets was a struggle, often taking hours.
To tackle the problem, the company included additional data sources. This allowed it to reduce the time spent validating data for production, and to continuously monitor the health of its manufacturing BOM and BOP based on near real-time data. Integrating the information with 3D data has provided a wide range of visualizations for product and process management, so employees can see the choices they have and get fast, accessible answers to their questions.
With all the data integrated in the same environment, the organization also knows it can rely on the accurate traceability, governance and integrity of its BOM information. Critically, the time it takes to generate reports has been reduced from hours to minutes, and sometimes even seconds.
Making Obsolescence Obsolete
Inventory obsolescence is another big challenge for EV manufacturers, who must constantly balance innovation against the risk of holding unsellable inventory. Every breakthrough in battery technology, charging infrastructure or the distance an EV can travel per charge can leave manufacturers with unwanted stocks of older parts.
To prevent that happening, the company needed to make sure its existing inventory would be used during any change or upstream engineering design by consolidating its reporting between inventory and enterprise resource planning systems.
The company chose NETVIBES Sourcing & Standardization Intelligence to provide contextual insights across its change, BOM and inventory systems. These artificial intelligence-driven solutions bring together data from multiple systems to streamline component sourcing. Connecting processes such as design and procurement helps users to make informed decisions about when to use standard parts and when and where to buy new ones.
Now, as part of their change process analysis, users have a clear understanding of how each change will affect inventory obsolescence and how timing it right can minimize that impact. As well as reducing obsolescence, the organization can provide design and engineering teams with early-phase visibility around inventory best practices and introduce more efficient processes for new parts. The result is a reduced inventory containing up-to-date parts – and a decrease in the costs associated with storing and discontinuing obsolete ones.
We have been able to solve business challenges that we did not believe were solvable with a single solution.Engineering Director
The Journey Continues
The company has overcome several obstacles with NETVIBES – and its sights are set firmly on the road ahead.
“We have been able to solve business challenges that we did not believe were solvable with a single solution,” said the engineering director. “We see tremendous value in leveraging NETVIBES indexing technology to address additional challenges that we have yet to solve.”
This ongoing journey sees the company continuing to work in partnership with Dassault Systèmes to realize what is possible.
“NETVIBES and the 3DEXPERIENCE platform deliver the solutions organizations need to boost productivity and support intelligent, streamlined product development,” said Morgan Zimmermann, CEO of NETVIBES at Dassault Systèmes. “They can use these solutions to uncover knowledge, detect emerging trends, accelerate program development and run ‘what-if’ scenarios for planning. Our customer has used these technologies to great effect in boosting momentum towards its goals and opening up more paths to build on its success. As the business navigates growth in today’s fast-moving industry, it is equipping itself with the technology to map out an exciting future.”
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