Can CATIA improve?

CATIA Version 5 has now come of age – at Release 10 there is noticeable consolidation and a significant concentration on process improvement (a sure sign of maturity) as well as process coverage.

Release 10 of CATIA Version 5 continues to deliver significant performance and reliability improvements with 13 new products and 81 enhanced applications for the automotive, aerospace, consumer goods and electrical and electronics industries.

There is a new Body-in-White Fastening product for automotive, which provides associative definition and management of welding and mechanical fastening. This also encapsulates the whole IBM Product Process Resources (PPR) concept, which enables exploitation of CATIA data across multiple processes. In this case it takes design geometry, the geometric definition of the welding machinery and the process you’ve chosen, defines it in the digital environment and checks the geometric and process viability.

Another significant product in Release 10 concerns business process templates. These allow you to turn CATIA V5 into your own, in-house, bespoke CAD or PPR application. You can define a workflow – a series of design orientated operations. At each stage of the definition you can specify the tools available.

The rationale here is that if you design complex specialist items there are distinct phases and operations you go through repetitively – the closer the design system is suited to your purpose the more efficient and effective the process.

Generally, to work with multiple formats, IBM uses what it calls the multi-CAD plug-in. Release 10 extends this facility to multi-CAD drafting. This means that if you have an assembly made from CATIA and say Pro/E parts you can reference the Pro/E data and it is completely associative.

Associativity does not just apply to modifying existing features, you can even add fillets to the model from the drawing environment. It’s not usual to spend 40% of the drawing production time adding 2D only illustrative geometry, annotation and notes. If subsequently a 3D change is made much of this 2D specific information has to be re-entered – in CATIA V5R10 you make the 3D change in the drawing so the previous time investment is preserved.

These kind of facilities which minimise the time spent on changes and maximise the contribution of the ongoing design development process represent a genuine business saving for companies.

With Release 10 and beyond, IBM/Dassault is continuing to introduce levels of automation, which will allow the computer to take over many of the mundane tasks associated with the design process. Which allows the computer and the software to work for you rather than the other way around. The more automation you build in and the more tedium you take out the better the engineer’s motivation and the more time he has for innovation.

The other major enhancement at Release 10 concerns electrical harness design. You can define a number of harness pathways early in a vehicle design. Each pathway can have maximum sizes for cables and possibly some design rules with regard to the kinds of cables that can co-exist. These involve things like radio frequency emission and cable operating temperature. You can request a cable to run from say the rear light to the fuse box and the system will select the most effective pathway and route the cable obeying all the predefined rules.

At Release 10 there is significant SmarTeam integration. All the SmarTeam tree and attributes are completely integrated with V5. Not only can SmarTeam be accessed from the V5 session but the SmarTeam <file open> and <file save> operations are done by CATIA, so from the users point of view the data is far more secure.

Enlightened CATIA users have recognised that Version 5 will soon be the only game in town. Even sources close to IBM maintain that whatever is not converted from V4 at V5 R10, probably won’t be converted. Having said that there is now more process coverage and more core functionality in V5 than there ever was in V4.

V5R10 puts a stake in the ground for process automation – if you are interested in cutting down the number of mouse clicks you make and you want your computer to do all the grunt work, then V5R10 is definitely for you.

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