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December 14, 2007

Rockwell/Dassault to integrate digital factory and plant operations

Joint solution will redefine how the mechanical engineer and the control engineer collaborate to reduce time to market and drive down costs

Gerald Ondrey

Rockwell Automation (www.rockwellautomations.co.uk), a leading global provider of industrial automation power, control and information solutions and Dassault Systèmes (www.3ds.com), a world leader in 3D and product life cycle management (PLM) solutions, recently announced that they have signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a joint solution to make the virtual design and production environment a reality.

The virtual design and production environment more closely links product design to manufacturing and will serve manufacturers, such as those in the automotive industry – addressing the needs of brand owners, tiered suppliers and machine builders. The solution will help enable collaborative mechanical and control  design with bi-directional synchronisation. As a result, immediate feedback will be available on design changes, enabling the testing of various 'what if' scenarios in order to  continuously optimise manufacturing operations. Customers will benefit, because manufacturing operations will be commissioned faster with optimal production performance.

“Manufacturers are anxiously awaiting a solution that can turn the idea of a virtual design and production environment into reality,” says Kevin Roach, vice president of Software, Rockwell Automation. “We see this relationship as a way to make our customers’ visions come true in the very near term by capitalising on the strengths of both the Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture and Dassault Systèmes’ PLM solutions.”

“This relationship is a natural fit for both Dassault Systèmes and Rockwell Automation,” says Philippe Charles, CEO, Dassault Systèmes Delmia Corp. “The years of development that we have put into our DELMIA Automation solution and that Rockwell Automation has put into its Integrated Architecture make it possible for our two companies to integrate these technologies and provide a joint solution to customers in the very near future.”

The joint solution will link manufacturing design to factory-floor control by integrating RSLogix 5000 control programming and configuration software with DELMIA Automation PLM software. As a result, manufacturers can expect to reduce the cost of engineering and ramp-up time, and continually optimise their manufacturing operations with an accurate, real-time, simulation model.

"We are one step closer to realising the dream of a virtual design and production environment with the relationship between Rockwell Automation and Dassault Systèmes,” says Jim Caie, vice president consulting, ARC Advisory Group. “Virtual commissioning is a key capability in helping manufacturers go to market with speed, confidence and efficiency."

"The recent announcement from Dassault Systèmes and Rockwell Automation positions Rockwell Automation squarely in the digital manufacturing technology space and extends Dassault Systèmes’ reach into manufacturing operations,” says Dick Slansky, senior analyst, PLM & Discrete Manufacturing, ARC Advisory Group. “The integration of these solutions will provide manufacturers with the capability to virtually design their production systems in 3D, and design and validate control logic prior to physical implementation and commissioning. This will reduce the time it takes to launch manufacturing systems, as well as its associated costs."

Working together with customers, both Rockwell Automation and Dassault Systèmes have created complementary manufacturing engineering technologies, built around strong, object-oriented data models for representing devices and operations. A shared vision between the companies enables a virtual design and production environment, and provides customers with the benefits of collaborative, bi-directional synchronisation.

“Our research shows that over 75% of best-in-class manufacturers are investing in real-time interoperability between PLM and plant-floor technologies. In addition, our research on digital manufacturing indicates the best-in-class are twice as likely as laggards to hit their deadlines by starting manufacturing planning prior to design release, and simulating facility and equipment operation during design," says Jim Brown, vice president & group director of Product Innovation, Engineering and Manufacturing Research for Aberdeen Group. "Manufacturers of complex, asset-intensive products like automotive vehicles are turning to holistic factory simulation to decrease time to full volume production."

The interplay between design and manufacturing will help increase efficiencies in the design process and ultimately minimise the time between design and delivery. Engineers involved in all stages of design will have the ability to make adjustments in real-time, incorporating, preserving and augmenting knowledge rapidly across various stages of the production life cycle.

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