Real Virtuality – Beyond Hollywood

By Michael

Here I am at Dassault Systèmes, the company spezializing in 3D and lifelike experiences. Dare I ask:

  • How useful is a virtual experience?
  • How real is a computer generated environment?

Virtual reality has come a long way. In Hollywood for example. Think of “You’ve got mail” as a first step, a film made in 1998 with Meg Ryan getting all excited about receiving a virtual letter on her computer screen.

In “Matrix ” also made in ‘98, where Keanu Reeves is torn between the real world (not cozy) and a virtual world (the matrix), which is revealed as being the false reality.

Further back and quite visionary, Stanly Kubrick’s 1968 film “A Space Odyssey 2001” (note that we have already passed this year) presents Computer HAL with virtual intelligence and in charge of almost everything in the space ship, starts to misbehave and needs to be shut down .

Finally in “Disclosure ”, a movie from 1994 (not really a good one I think), where Michael Douglas solves the story’s mystery by means of entering a virtual library in full VR gear with data gloves and head set.

Where are we TODAY really – with virtual reality ?

To highlight this, let’s look at a recent example from the aircraft industry. Airbus’ manufacturing site for aircraft wings in the UK, Broughton, needed an immersive virtuality environment to validate methods and process improvements in manufacturing for their new A350XWB aircraft – before any physical model was built.

Their requirements included:

  • Working directly with their CATIA and DELMIA PLM data and turn them into a 3D immersive virtuality model (without any need for translation)
  • Utilizing head and hand tracking for full immersion
  • Linking into a high-end haptic system, i.e. to have force feedback in reaction to manipulations on the model
  • Making this an integral day-to-day tool for their manufacturing engineers


Airbus got all this from Virtalis, a UK-based system integrator specializing in immersive virtuality turnkey installations and a Dassault Systèmes cooperation partner in the virtual experience domain around 3DVIA Virtools, CATIA and DELMIA software. Virtalis was capable of putting this together to meet Airbus’ needs , based on the Dassault Systèmes PLM environment, all while incorporating key solution components from Haption, another member of the DS software partner community.

So this seems pretty real and useful, doesn’t it?

Meanwhile back in Hollywood: they don’t stop getting inspired and borrowing technology for their movie plots. This time they shopped at Creaform based in Quebec, a specialist in 3D scanning and reverse engineering and a solution partner of Dassault Systèmes as well.


Have fun with this detective crime-buster clip on Creaform’s website. Here’s a screenshot from it to entice you:

I’ll talk to you again soon with more cool stuff …


PLM as the Enterprise Backbone: Emerging with Advantage

By Brian

Coming through the ENOVIA side of the house where our focus has been on business processes (across engineering, purchasing, program management, finance, etc), Bill of Materials (BOM) management, and engineering change management, it is easy to feel lost in the shuffle as Dassault Systemes builds out its “3D Lifelike Experience” branding of PLM. Recently, however, I’ve realized that there is a key positioning of PLM that can bring this all together by placing PLM as the enterprise backbone.

Doing this doesn’t necessitate companies having a single monolithic structure that houses all enterprise functions in one system, but rather allows each to focus on their particular value-adding function.

It is the 3D / virtual experience afforded from PLM, coupled with the extended business processes, which provides a unique and superior enterprise foundation.

I will be posting a blog series that emphasizes the building block nature of PLM as the overarching enterprise foundation, supporting other enterprise applications and business functions.

3D PLM solutions have evolved to the point where they need to be positioned as the enterprise backbone supporting Enterprise Resource Planning, Supply Chain Management, and Customer Relationship Management systems (Figure 1).

Product Lifecycle Management Positioned as the Enterprise Backbone

Product Lifecycle Management Positioned as the Enterprise Backbone

A recent article by Jim Brown, a blogger at Manufacturing Business Technology, stresses the value of doing this all in one system, and laments that fact the neither PLM nor ERP vendors provide such a capability. Single systems and architectures may sound nice, but asking one system to optimize both transactional (ERP) and innovation (PLM) competencies of corporations can only lead to sub-optimization.

Emerging with Advantage from the Global Economic Crisis

A PLM enterprise backbone anchors all enterprise systems around a forward view of a company’s product and market strategy in ways that are just not feasible in an ERP system, by their very transactional nature. Competitive corporations establish their market strategies based on their portfolio of current and new products, and their manufacturing platforms and sourcing strategies that support them.

Using ERP, MRP or any other enterprise system as the enterprise backbone would be equivalent to driving out of your rear-view mirror, and would reflect an emphasis on yesterday’s strategies and product lines.

As markets recover from today’s global economic contraction, companies that position new and innovative products will ‘emerge with advantage’ over those that simply retrench and rationalize their previous products, manufacturing footprints, and supply chains. This really highlights the fundamental difference and opportunity in managing an enterprise backbone from PLM rather than ERP. With limited investment funds, forward looking companies should focus their investments in a PLM enterprise foundation.

The ability for companies to emerge with advantage from this economic crisis will be a function of how the following competitive competencies are managed:

1. Product Portfolio and Program Management
2. Direct Materials Sourcing and Extended Enterprise Collaboration
3. Eco-Design / Sustainability and Regulatory Compliance
4. Integrated New Product Market Launch

Today’s challenging economic times necessitate tighter data mastering and integration across these mission critical systems. Over the next few months, I will present in this blog series these four components as a foundational enterprise PLM capability and critical to emerging from this economic crisis with renewed global advantage. And of course, I will base this enterprise capability on the 3D basis of PLM.



Driving for Green: a mini poll

By Jonathan

Following my previous blogpost Would you buy this eco car?, I’d like your opinion on what would make you change your driving habits and/or buy an eco car.

I’ve setup a 4-question poll, all you have to do is select from multiple choice answers. You won’t see the answers now, but I’ll be presenting the answers in a couple of weeks in dedicated posts per subject.

Thanks and here we go…

Beyond PLM (Product Lifecycle Management), Dassault Systèmes, the 3D Experience Company, provides business and people with virtual universes to imagine sustainable innovations. 3DSWYM, 3D VIA, CATIA, DELMIA, ENOVIA, EXALEAD, NETVIBES, SIMULIA and SOLIDWORKS are registered trademarks of Dassault Systèmes or its subsidiaries in the US and/or other countries.