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EDS Tools Tie Suppliers To GM Design Network

GM expects to use the collaborative-design infrastructure to link as many as 10,000 suppliers into the network in the next two years.

General Motors Corp. expects to tie as many as 10,000 suppliers into an electronic engineering and design network during the next two years using a new collaborative-design infrastructure from system integrator and software vendor EDS.

Kirk Gutmann, GM's global product development information officer, says GM will use the new product, E-vis 4.0, to connect as many as 500 of its largest suppliers in the next few weeks. In the following months, second-tier and third-tier suppliers will be brought into the GM design network using the new tools, which include product life-cycle management, design collaboration, and graphics tools.

Gutmann says EDS tools will let more upper-tier suppliers work in real time with GM designers to create and edit 3-D CAD models online using EDS's Unigraphics CAD product. GM wants tier-two and -three suppliers, who aren't as involved in design as larger suppliers, to begin using the tools so it can take advantage of their design skills. "Tier-one suppliers are already interested in pushing this down into the tiers of suppliers who work for them because it will let those suppliers work as their design partners," Gutmann says.

A new E-vis lightweight math format for digital designs that's more easily transmitted over the Internet will let lower-tier suppliers use the new network to view, measure, and mark up designs, rather than working from paper blueprints. "Using the new math format in our metal-fabrication unit, tool designers have been able to get rid of blueprints and work solely from computerized designs," Gutmann says.

The new tools are built on a Microsoft .Net platform, which allows suppliers to collaborate on designs using a PC, rather than high-end graphics workstations. E-vis 4.0, which is aimed at automotive, aerospace, and high-technology manufacturing, is available immediately. Pricing was not disclosed.

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