This article first appeared in the Autumn 2015 issue of OnWindows magazine.
Virtualisation, 3D modelling and simulation technology is now commonly used by companies when designing and manufacturing products, yet when Dassault Systèmes revealed its plans to evolve into a ‘3DEXPERIENCE Company’ in 2012, some were sceptical.
“People thought we were mad to move away from purely providing product lifecycle management solutions to become a 3DEXPERIENCE company, but companies are no longer in the business of just engineering or manufacturing,” says Bruno Latchague, senior executive vice president of Industry Solutions and Indirect Channels, Global Field Operations (Americas) at Dassault Systèmes. “Today’s consumers buy experiences, not isolated products, and our 3DEXPERIENCE platform helps enterprises to connect the dots, from design to sales, to deliver the sustainable customer experiences.”
So far, the risks have paid off. Not only does Dassault Systèmes release an updated version of its 3DEXPERIENCE platform each January, it has already introduced industry experience solutions for 69 sectors in 12 verticals, which have been adopted by companies worldwide. Since the start of 2015 alone, Dassault Systèmes has launched a Passenger Experience solution to help aviation companies design customised aircraft cabins, a Build to Operate solution for the aerospace and defence industries and a Perfect Product experience for consumer packaged goods companies. It has also introduced the 3DVIA Make 3D printing application so retailers can offer personalised products.
“We’ve made good progress with our industry solution experiences portfolio, particularly for the core automotive, aerospace and general manufacturing industries, but we aim to double it over the next three to five years,” says Latchague. “Some of our key focuses will include the energy and power, consumer packaged goods and high-tech industries.”
To do this, Dassault Systèmes will continue to pursue an ambitious acquisition strategy. Over the past couple of years, it has purchased various companies including Quintiq and Exalead. This April, it acquired German model-based systems developer Modelon to enable customers to reimagine the manufacturing process by harnessing the internet of things.
“Each acquisition supports our overall vision of helping companies to harmonise product, nature and life, and also allows us to diversify into industries and solution areas we wouldn’t have previously served,” says Latchague. “For example, Accelrys – now BIOVIA – was acquired to help our customers innovate in the life and materials space, while acquiring Realtime Technology – now 3DEXCITE – enabled us to provide companies with 3D visualisation tools for marketing and sales campaigns. Meanwhile, by integrating Apriso’s FlexNet platform with our DELMIA application portfolio, we were able to help customers gain visibility across a global manufacturing and product supply network.”
Latchague adds that Dassault Systèmes’ transition into a 3DEXPERIENCE company has benefited its customers in numerous ways.
“Now that consumers are looking beyond the aesthetics of a product, it’s even more critical that companies harness insights and expertise from across their entire business ecosystem, from the engineering teams to the design, marketing and sales departments,” he says. “Our 3D modelling and virtualisation technologies enable employees across a company to work together to develop a complete consumer experience and then design a product with features that will provide that experience. Plus, the ability to create multiple prototypes without expending physical resources and simulate how products will behave in real life helps enterprises to create more sustainable products.”
Certainly, the 3DEXPERIENCE platform is already helping companies to address challenging issues in a more innovative way. Take for example, the Living Heart, a scientifically accurate 3D model of a human heart powered by Dassault Systèmes SIMULIA software, which is being used to study congenital defects and disease, and virtually test treatment options in a way that was not previously possible. Or Virtual Singapore, a collaborative 3D modelling tool that has been built on the 3DEXPERIENCity solution to help Singapore’s government to address citywide challenges.
However, Latchague considers the Solar Impulse project as one of the most impressive uses of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. Swiss company Solar Impulse has created the only plane that is able to fly day and night on solar power and plans to attempt a record-breaking round-the-world challenge in 2015.
“Solar Impulse is using our CATIA and ENOVIA applications to design and visualise everything from the propulsion, to the electronics, to the crew facilities to ensure that the plane’s round-the-world flight will be successful, particularly as the pilot will be in the cockpit for five days,” explains Latchague, noting this would not have been challenging to do without virtualisation.
Dassault Systèmes’ rapid growth has certainly been impressive, and Latchague is confident it will continue at a similar pace over the next few years.
“When we started to plan our business strategy six years ago, we envisioned a 3DEXPERIENCE platform that would help our customers to develop product experiences for their customers and we’re certainly providing the tools they need to do that,” he says. “We already have a large portfolio of industry experience solutions, but as consumers begin to play an increasingly central role in product development we’ll expand it and invest in more capacity to target new markets. We’ve still got a lot of hard work to do and investments to make, but we’re well on our way to becoming the 3DEXPERIENCE company we set out to be.”
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