Discover how Contechs is designing the cars of the near future and driving digital transformation with 3DEXPERIENCE.
Contechs increased design engineering efficiency and reduced business costs through digitisation.
Contechs, a specialist design and engineering services provider in the UK, works closely with OEMs and Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers in the automotive sector. The UK company has built up sector-leading experience in CAD and engineering services to deliver consistent, efficient services across the complete spectrum of vehicle program disciplines, from design concept ideation to product launch and post-launch support.
In order to thrive during the rapidly changing automotive industry, Contechs required agile design, visualisation, and data collection capabilities. These would bridge the gap with its OEM and supplier clients as they diversify product lines and develop new technology for the cars of the future.
Contechs’ complex relationship with the OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers it operates between. Collating design data from an array of sources and formats during design reviews. Carmakers developing internal combustion, electric and autonomous vehicles in unison.
- Full utilisation of the capabilities of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.
- 3DEXPERIENCE is capable of time compression in the design engineering phase and improves relationships with suppliers and clients.
- Contechs realise significant business savings and increased engineering and design capacity.
- 3DEXPERIENCE breaks down silos and improves collaboration.
- Trust between all parties is enhanced by platform data security
Speeding Ahead of Mobile Disruption
Autonomous driving, connectivity, electrification and shared services are paving the way for entirely new forms of mobility, bringing rapid and fundamental change to the automotive industry. “The future is not going to be driven by the car’s engineering prowess,” said Alan Yee, engineering director at Contechs, a UK-based specialist in design and engineering services to OEMs and Tier 1 and 2 suppliers in the automotive sector. “The capabilities of the batteries will be a given. The future of the car industry is going to be changed socially. We’re going to get what I call a megacity concept, where vehicles will travel autonomously in a larger metropolis megacity within a geo-ring-fenced area, connected to all the different systems in the cityscape. And then we’re going to have the other more traditional vehicles for people to buy or rent and use for long-distance travel.”
“Everything is going to be more electrically orientated. With that comes new platform engineering concepts, including skateboard platforms, which gives manufacturers the ability to scale skateboard platforms and put different top hats onto them to differentiate themselves.”
— Peter Jarvis, managing director of Contechs
Contechs works with some of the largest automotive manufacturers in the world to develop new, innovative products and services that help their vehicles stay ahead of an ever-changing market. This gives the company unparalleled insights into how the industry will develop.
“We have the ability to design the complete car right down to a single entity such as a seating system,” Jarvis said. “We work with very prestigious clients; confidentiality is key. We work two to three years in advance of products going to market.” From Contechs’ perspective, one of the key issues carmakers now face is to develop different vehicles and powertrains—internal combustion, hybrid, electric and autonomous—in parallel.
Contechs, like many others in the industry, believes the solution lies in the ability to adapt and reuse existing designs to suit multiple purposes.
“It is a very complex relationship being in the middle between the OEM and the Tier 1 supplier .The 3DEXPERIENCE platform enables us, in terms of software, to bridge that gap and allows us to organize ourselves with modular thinking and concepts. It’s the next big bang in terms of how we carry ourselves forward and should really deliver time compression in the design engineering phase, allowing us to work simultaneously with the first-tier supplier and the OEM, and drive cost out of the end product.”
A Secure Digital Environment
Contechs’ aim was to bring all of its disparate software packages onto one platform in order to better connect with its clients and suppliers.
“We have an awful lot of complex systems and what Dassault Systèmes has enabled us to do is to bring all of those systems onto a single platform,” said Dan Moran, Group IT manager at Contechs. “This has given us the fluidity we need to connect to our clients and our suppliers, and obviously keep that data really secure.”
The 3DEXPERIENCE platform provides a highly secure, central location for Contechs and its clients to manage all data, instantly access it, compare it and identify what can be reused in new designs. Over time, Contechs hopes to transition all its clients to this new platform-based way of working.
Establishing trust with proven security is critical for Contechs’ long-term relationship with clients, who regularly charge the company with highly confidential information
“We must have a secure environment where we do our designs,” Jarvis said. “Everything is key-locked down throughout everything we do. The process going from concept engineering all the way through to launch involves a lot of iterations with regards to how we do our design and software releases, and all of that is done through a very controlled process.”
“We store a lot of sensitive data for our clients,” Moran added. “There’s a lot of security within the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. So, we are able to give the users full access to that data, which creates trust between the two parties. We also allow them to create their own workspaces using the platform.”
This approach puts far less of a burden on the IT department too.
“Our IT landscape historically used to be servers on sites, and backing up that data and storing it used to be a big headache,” Moran said. “With the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, we can now interact and connect with our suppliers’ environments, which takes a huge amount of backup and data risk away from us.”
Before using the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, Contechs’ departments worked in siloes on a variety of different software, making it impossible to gain full visibility into the product development process.
“Now, we don’t have huge amounts of spreadsheets everywhere, or plans, drawings and clippings from people’s emails that we have to try and piece together in a design review. It all sits in one area. We’ve also brought in parts of the organization that aren’t directly associated with engineering. It’s about bringing everything onto one platform and digitalizing the whole process.”
— Alan Yee, engineering director at Contechs
Running all operations from one platform opens up communication across the organization, helping employees to work together effectively with more awareness of one another, and improve collaboration with clients.
“People from all different areas now have an open channel of communication,” Yee said. “The system records that communication, recalls what was said and done, allows users to load pictures and events, pull data from CATIA and other software, and present it in an intuitive manner, like an online blog, so it’s much easier to understand. We now have multichannel communication on one platform, bringing all disparate company organizations into one place.”
The Car, redefined by Contechs
Backed by the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, Contechs has the confidence to support OEM and suppliers’ ever-growing needs as they redefine what the car of the future will be. To keep up with the fast pace of change, Contechs is keen to harness the power of virtualization to speed up and scale production, backed by its new mantra: “virtual is vital.”
“Without virtualization, we don’t think that we’re going to be able to develop vehicles to meet the demand in the future,” Yee said. “It’s not going to be possible; it would take too long. We’re now going to go back to putting lots of different vehicle types on top of one platform, which is really speeding up production. And the only way we can do that is by doing everything virtually.”
“The 3DEXPERIENCE platform is absolutely perfect for us. It’s what we’ve been waiting for. It gives us the opportunity to add extra dimensions to it and see the whole picture—not just bits and bobs from our CAD software package or finance software package and manufacturing engineering sets of drawings. We can see where all of our resources sit, so we can perfectly scale our business to suit.”
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