July 31, 2006
Ford Selects ICEM Shape Design To Complement Design Strategy
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Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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ICEM has announced that Ford Motor Company has made a significant purchase of ICEM Shape Design (ISD) software as part of its global C3P NG strategy. This purchase will provide Ford with a best-in-class automotive Class A surface modeling and design visualization solution that is fully integrated into its enterprise-wide product lifecycle management (PLM) environment. As ISD is developed on the Dassault Systhmes CAA V5 software architecture used for the CATIA V5 engineering CAD/CAM system, it will enable Ford designers and engineers to use native CATIA V5 data throughout the entire vehicle body and interior design product development process, with no need for data translation.

The purchase of ISD by Ford Motor Company is a complement to its current use of the ICEM Surf software suite used by Ford for many years, which has given the company considerable expertise in the use of advanced surface modeling software. The introduction of ISD will now leverage this experience and help the company in its efforts to drive down development costs and improve time-to-market for new vehicles.

The inclusion of ISD in Ford's product development strategy provides 100% data visibility across all disciplines, ensuring data integrity and enabling processes to begin earlier and to be run concurrently. ISD will be a key driver in reducing lead times and in process improvement at the origin-of-data phase. The CAA V5- based solution will provide Ford with seamless integration into its body engineering and tooling departments, whilst taking advantage of the productivity gains of parametric and feature-based modeling offered for the first time in the Class A surfacing domain.

"This solution will bring real benefits in terms of data integrity and consistency, as well as in terms of an improved workflow for Ford Motor Company", noted Michael Check, general manager, ICEM Inc.


by Jeffrey Rowe, Editor

On the software side of things, Ford has been in the news a lot this week, (also see "The Week's Top 5" below), and the announcement that the company will expand its use of ICEM's software with shape Design is an interesting development. The company and its product line have had an interesting journey the past few years, going from being independent, to being acquired by PTC, to being independent again. It's also one of the two product lines of choice (the other being AliasStudio, acquired by Autodesk last year) for conceptual design of swoopy and complex surfaces that are essential to automotive design.

In its current form, the ISD portfolio is actually a software suite for automotive vehicle body and interior and other product design development. ISD was the first product release following a strategic software development and marketing agreement between ICEM Ltd and Dassault Systhmes announced at the end of March 2005. The software suite provides a diverse range of tools for creating, modifying, and validating just about any type of surface, from freeform surfaces to complex mechanical shapes. ISD was developed on Dassault Systhmes' CAA V5 software architecture, so that it integrates with Dassault's CATIA V5 product development and manufacturing software suite, as well as other CAA
V5-based products.

The ISD software suite is comprised of software modules addressing different aspects of the product development process. The suite is accessed through one of three standard configurations, each of which acts as the prerequisite for other modules. All three standard configurations provide comprehensive surface modeling and validation tools, including tools for modeling Class A surfaces.

Class A surfaces have an optimal aesthetic shape and high surface quality. Mathematically, Class A surfaces are those surfaces which are curvature continuous, while providing the simplest mathematical representation needed for a desired shape/form and do not have any undesirable waviness.

The three standard configurations include:
  • Configuration CE3 - ICEM Shape Design Centre plus ISD Realtime Renderer and an IGES interface
  • Configuration EX3 - ICEM Shape Design Centre plus ISD Expert and an IGES interface
  • Configuration RE3 - ICEM Shape Design Centre plus ISD Scan, ISD Quick Surfacer, ISD Form and an IGES interface
  • Any one of these configurations can act as the prerequisite for other optional, add-on modules. These optional specialized modules providing more advanced surface modeling capabilities, as well as reverse engineering, data manipulation, surface model analysis, and photo-realistic design visualization facilities can be added onto the three standard configurations.

    The optional, add-on software modules within the ICEM Shape Design suite include:
  • Expert - for global surface model manipulation
  • Theme - for preparing 3D wire-frame and surface models from exterior and interior stylists' 2D sketches
  • Form - a polygon modeling tool for creating, editing, or enhancing shape and form from a concept or an existing physical model
  • Scan - for handling, trimming, filtering, and analyzing imported 3D scan data
  • Quick Surfacer - for generating a surface model from imported 3D scan data
  • Renderer - for generating high quality rendered and ray-traced photo-realistic images and movies of a digital mock-up
  • Real-Time Renderer - for creating dynamic, photo-realistic images and animations in real time
  • Surfacing is a interesting topic and ICEM is one of the few masters of this complex art and science. Although they probably won't be very forthcoming about it for obvious competitive reasons, how Ford exploits the capabilities of the various ICEM products indicates to me that the company is attempting to consolidate its myriad MCAD products that it has used for many years. Historically, Ford even created and maintained its own home-grown CAD system on top of the other systems and services purchased from many vendors. Whether the company will attempt to standardize on a single MCAD/PLM system remains to be seen, however, it won't do so until the mandate comes down from the top. With the
    current state of affairs at Ford, it may be in its best interest to standardize sooner rather than later.

    In the near future, we will delve deeper into the PLM standardization process at Ford with comments from the company and the various PLM vendors it does business with.

    The Week's Top 5

    At MCADCafé we track many things, including the stories that have attracted the most interest from our subscribers. Below are the five news items that were the most viewed during last week.

    UGS Corp., Ford Motor Company and Ford Global Technologies, LLC (FGT), a wholly owned subsidiary of Ford that manages all intellectual property and technology commercialization matters for Ford, announced an alliance that will focus on accelerating the delivery of PLM commercial products that enable innovation within the vehicle development process. UGS is the first PLM commercial software company to work with the Ford Innovation Acceleration Center. This alliance in itself is innovative, allowing Ford and FGT to collaborate with UGS to provide early input to the development of new PLM solutions and to gain immediate access to new technology, while UGS is able to more quickly bring new
    commercial PLM software to market. Each party will bring technology know-how and demonstrate an ongoing commitment to working together to create and market new commercial technologies.

    IBM and Dassault Systemes announced that Ford Motor Company has extended its multi-year contract, which designates CATIA V5 as the global design and engineering standard for all new vehicle and powertrain systems development. A component of CATIA V5 at Ford is the Engineering Hub, which provides a native V5 environment for access and management of CATIA V5 within Ford's C3P NG platform. This C3P NG solution is used for new product development across the Ford extended enterprise and within Ford affiliated companies. C3P NG is Ford's product development platform, which delivers the next level of digital product capabilities to all brand partners in Ford Motor Company, effectively conducting
    enterprise-wide vehicle and technology product creation. Used by Ford since 2003, CATIA V5 was first implemented on the Body-in-White development of the new Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan, and Lincoln Zephyr. Use of CATIA V5 has expanded into other vehicle programs and functional domains, including chassis, electrical, and interior.

    IBM, which according to IDC is the leading vendor of UNIX systems based on revenue share, introduced a pair of ultra-powerful high-end machines, including the world's most powerful server, the IBM System p5 595 -- a 64-core capable of a record-shattering four million transactions per minute at a more affordable cost per transaction than HP's flagship Integrity Superdome. IBM attributed the leap in performance over competitors to the company's new Dual Stress processor technology, pioneered for ultrafast videogames and making its first appearance in System p5 machines. The bigger of the two IBM servers, the 64-core p5-595 running a single instance of the IBM DB2 9 data server on the AIX 5L operating system and using IBM System Storage DS4800, processed 4,016,222 transactions per minute on the TPC-C benchmark -- 3.2 times better than the HP Integrity Superdome. The p5-595 offered 38% better price performance than the HP machine -- $2.98 per transaction versus $4.82 per transaction. The TPC-C benchmark is an industry standard for measuring the ability of a system to process complex online transactions and large volumes of business data. The TPC-C benchmark is unique in the way it exercises all components of a system,
    including processors, memory, networking, storage, operating system and database software, demonstrating total system performance.

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    -- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.

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