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General Motors Takes Design Up A Notch

Automaker upgrades PLM software to improve design and manufacturing processes

General Motors Corp. this year will, on average, produce a newly designed automobile every 22 days. Add in the updated versions of existing models, and that number drops to 11 days.



This year, GM will produce a new model every 22 days.
Such a feat requires speedy, simplified design cycles aided by product-life-cycle-management software and digital-design tools. GM has been using software from UGS PLM Solutions, an EDS subsidiary, for several years and has already cut design cycles to 18 months from 44. The automaker also has slashed $1 billion from product-development and engineering costs.

GM is raising the bar by leveraging an upgraded version of UGS PLM's Teamcenter software, being launched next week. The software lets GM test and validate part designs in the context of an entire vehicle and any design changes that occur during the design cycle. Such efforts will save GM millions of dollars each year by improving accuracy. "What we're trying to promote is a continuous review," says Terry Kline, global information officer for product development at GM.

The software, based on math-based processes called repeatable digital validation, lets GM store designs and all the data behind the parts' relationships so designers can collaborate more effectively. Design and engineering groups can zero in on specific areas of a vehicle as they work through the design process.

Repeatable digital validation is key to GM's efforts to interactively collaborate with some 900 North American and 1,000 European suppliers during the design and manufacturing phases, Kline says. Equally important is GM's decision to implement a single product-life-cycle-management and digital-design system throughout its operations. GM now has 28,000 seats of UGS PLM's software.

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