Is Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) about to stumble on the final stretch of its iPLM project?
A number of factors indicate that JLR’s PLM project is once again suffering delays. The solution, which is based on Dassault's 3DEXPERIENCE platform, was scheduled to have been in full production by year-end 2015/2016. But iPLM is not yet there, however, so the company has taken steps to deal with the situation.
Among other things, nearly everyone holding the highest levels of responsibility for the iPLM project has been reassigned, or they have resigned. This includes JLR’s former head of PLM, the director of product development and operations and the company’s CIO.
During the summer and fall, Jaguar Land Rover reorganized the entire venture and appointed new managers to the key PLM positions. The unusual thing here is that this was done during what, according to earlier plans, was supposed to be the global roll-out phase of iPLM.
However, instead of fully using the new 3DEXPERIENCE’s data backbone ENOVIA V6, my sources at JLR said that, "due to iPLM not being ready, new vehicle programmes generally are now starting in the old way, such as using Teamcenter." The latter is Siemens PLM’s solution, which was to have been phased out years ago.
GREAT SALES, BUT PLM IS A PROBLEM. Jaguar Land Rover, the UK's leading manufacturer of premium luxury vehicles, reported its best ever November retail sales of 47,588 vehicles. They have also noted record sales numbers during the past couple of years. However, the same does not apply for the company’s iPLM venture based on Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform. After seven years, they still haven’t managed to get what was originally set to be one of the world’s leading and most advanced product realization solutions up and running. The result is that JLR spent the summer and fall reorganizing its entire iPLM initiative, placing new managers in important posts.
That said, the fact remains that the iconic British automaker still designs, builds and successfully sells top of the line vehicles; but the dream they’ve had of a seamless “beyond PLM” product development system has turned out to be much harder to put into production than anyone in the organization had expected.
What started seven years ago based on ideas around PLM from Dassault’s visionary CEO Bernard Charles, was simply too complex to realize according to the first plan, which was to have it up and running within the time frame of four years. The problems have continued and as of today JLR, instead of having one coherent iPLM platform, is working with a mix of solutions from Dassault, Siemens PLM and others.
Generally CATIA V5 is still the CAD system, but it is combined with CATIA V6, which creates a number of translation steps in the work flows. The same goes for the PLM/PDM side, where there’s a combination of solutions in place spanning from Dassault’s ENOVIA V6 to Siemens Teamcenter, all supported by third party point solutions like Danish Configit Ace (BOM generation).
This heterogeneous environment makes the product realization processes more sluggish than the promise of the iPLM project.
The intent of this article is to present a discussion around aspects of what reasons might be behind the delay. This is interesting for many reasons, but perhaps mostly because this is not just a noble effort to bring the world's most advanced PLM solution onto the track, but also because it is among the largest PLM swap projects ever.
It is also clear that JLR is not alone in facing challenges related to the next generation of PLM. The difference between this venture and others is the unprecedented scale of change within an originally short-term time frame.
A BOLD DECISION. Jaguar Land Rover’s CEO, Ralf Speth, made the decision to solve the PLM problem at the basic level: to reorganize and replace everyone who held senior positions related to the project.
Big Bang or Incremental Deployment?
First, a couple of views on the implementation approach.
Naturally, the technology in itself has to be taken into consideration, but just as important in the case of JLR is the implementation approach. JLR is a big organization – 8,000 employed engineers, plus thousands of engineers and product developers in the partner network – containing internal departments and external development partners. The latter is of utmost importance, since they contribute up to 80 percent of the development work.
At some point during 2010, JLR took the decision to launch this huge project, named iPLM.
The company had several different strategies to chose from. CIMdata’s president and analyst, Peter Bilello, points at two major paths:
“One strategy is generally known as the ‘big bang’ strategy. To deploy a big bang strategy, all PLM capabilities need be purchased and deployed with full functionality at the same time. The second strategy is an incremental deployment strategy. With this strategy, the capabilities of the PLM solution are deployed in stages or work streams.”
Bilello says that CIMdata generally recommends an incremental deployment strategy. This approach allows for a more manageable roll out of capabilities. It also can be executed with a lower level of risk to the business. But there are negative points too:
“Yes,” said Bilello, “It requires a longer-term commitment from management to execute. Companies that don’t follow through (i.e., don’t implement the entire PLM solution), generally fall far short of the quantity of benefits possible if the entire solution set was implemented.” He added that, “Sometimes it isn't the technology, nor the design of the solution, but just how fast the organization can accept the change.”
Generally, JLR went on a mixed path in their implementation. However, I would characterize it as leaning towards a more aggressive approach, rather than a long-term vehicle program by program approach, although it swung in this direction along the way.
Furthermore, with the benefit of hindsight, maybe too little attention and resources were assigned to the supplier and partner chain.
CHARISMATIC PLM VISIONARY. Dassault Systèmes’ CEO, Bernard Charles, inspired JLR’s leaders with his ideas around PLM, ideas that are very appealing. But as often happens in these contexts, reality, the historical heritage and diverse environments can drive a spike through the heart of aggressive timelines.
Jaguar Land Rover – A Posterchild for Dassault Systèmes
While these delays are troublesome for JLR, they can also be viewed as a setback for Dassault’s 3DEXPERIENCE solution (3DX). Jaguar Land Rover is a prestigious customer, and iPLM was also meant to provide definite proof of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform's capabilities, particularly for other customers in the important automotive segment; a posterchild for Dassault.
Overall, the industry has so far been cautious towards 3DX, ENOVIA and V6. In this context, Dassault usually points at Renault Group, but when I asked Renault’s PLM manager, Eric Delaporte about this, he said that it is not a “clean” 3DEXPERIENCE solution they are working with presently. “We are aiming at 3DX,” he said, adding that, “Today, the solution in question is a mixed V5/V6 version.”
While waiting for the evidence that the 3DX platform and the V6 architecture have the necessary industrial maturity, automotive companies have generally stuck to the well-functioning Dassault Systèmes V5 solution, often in combination with Siemens PLM Software's Teamcenter/Tecnomatix suite.
Seven Years Under Construction and Dogged by Continuous Delays
PLM platforms are not easy to build, and to date Jaguar Land Rover’s iPLM platform has been under construction for seven years, as mentioned above. The program concept was launched in 2010 with the decision to migrate to the V6 architecture and then to 3DEXPERIENCE (or rather, to the first version of this platform, which was called 3DLive).
The interface of Dassault’s 3D Live, which was the original name of what later became 3DEXPERIENCE.
The starting point for the system in full operation was originally set for spring 2014. This didn’t happen, however, and since then the project has been dogged by continuous delays, and the activation of the platform has been postponed several times.
JAGUAR LAND ROVER’S FORMER head of PLM, John Knight-Gregson.
According to the latest plan, activation now appears to aim at taking place in 2017. The plan divides implementation into 5 waves:
- Wave 0 is the time from 2010 to 2012
- Wave 1 covers 2013-2015
- Wave 2 covers 2015 - 2016
- Wave 3 covers 2016 - 2017
- Wave 3+ is the time after 2017 and onwards
When I met John Knight-Gregson, then head of PLM, in the early summer of last year, he said that the iPLM platform would be in full global operation by the end of the year 2015-16.
In a presentation to the Global Automotive Advisory Group (GAAG) auditorium in late 2015, he said, “We have deployed into iPLM production and migrated CAD data for 14 vehicle programmes, plus the base engines from Teamcenter, into ENOVIA.”
While this may be the case, the statement does not appear to mean that more than only some parts of JLR's model range have come into operation. How large a deviation this is from the original implementation plan is unclear.
Among other things, the lack of clarity is related to programs that started in JLR's legacy solution, Teamcenter combined with CATIA V5, and have since had parts migrating into iPLM and Dassault’s 3DX. Currently, one model program is completely or partially up and running on the iPLM platform, but JLR has at least three to four additional model programs still in design.
WHEN THE CONTRACT WAS SIGNED. In March 2011, Dassault Systèmes’ Bernard Charles and JLR’s CEO Ralf Speth signed the agreement as a “strategic partnership.”
A JLR employee I spoke to said, “How far have we come? It’s hard to say. The supplier network is generally still working with Teamcenter to exchange the data. The BIW structure (Body in white) will be 100 percent iPLM, as it’s the only area 100 percent designed in-house. The rest of the vehicle is 80 percent designed by external suppliers utilizing Teamcenter; so in which system does the vehicle reside?”
Obviously it is a matter of definition, but one thing is clear: the full iPLM system isn’t in place as planned. Some of the internal design areas seem to be in function, whereas the supplier integration still has a way to go.
The latter is especially paramount; supplier integration needs to be established in iPLM before it can be declared a finished solution.
A “Money Hungry” Black Hole
When JLR and Dassault agreed on a definitive contract in March 2011, Dassault’s CEO, Bernard Charles, and Jaguar Land Rover’s CEO, Ralf Speth, signed a “strategic partnership agreement.” This generally means that the solution in question isn’t ready to deploy and needs further development. Since in the case of JLRs's bet it was not only a completely new platform solution (3DX), but also a new architecture (V6), the vision of what it could become was important.
“We share a passion for technology and innovation,” said Speth. He added that one important goal “was to speed up the processes.”
Six years later, the vision and the cooperation between the two companies has not achieved the original objectives, and from a financial perspective the cost of the iPLM implementation, according to my JLR sources, has exceeded $135 million. But it does not stop there; a request for additional funding of almost $90 million has been filed for Wave 3.
Meanwhile, the iPLM organization has grown to more than 450 people, which was created by John Knight-Gregson. This is a lot of people according to any standard measurement, even in a PLM implementation of this size.
Given the vast resources involved in this project, there was growing pressure on the CEO: that the system must be rolled out, instead of continuing to develop into a ”money-hungry” black hole.
Jaguar Land Rover’s New PLM Crew
Simon Bolton, JLR’s new CIO.
So, to remain an effective executive company leader – what do you do? Jaguar Land Rover’s CEO, Ralf Speth, took the bold decision to solve the problem at the basic level: to reorganize and replace everyone who held senior positions related to the project.
- The iPLM leader, John Knight-Gregson, was forced to leave his position just before the summer. My sources say that this relates to "the lack of progress in the rollout of iPLM." Knight-Gregson was a key player in this process.
- Paul Davies, who I also interviewed in connection with JLR’s PLM initiative, has vacated his previous position as Director of P3 & O (Product, Programmes, Processes and Operations). Instead Davies has been given a role in the BIW (Body-in-white), which is a step downwards. A new position has been created, replacing Davies´old one: Product Engineering Operations Director. This position is filled by Alex Crawford, who previously worked under Davies.
- Former CIO Jeremy Vincent, who was quoted in my last article on JLR, resigned a few months ago, and was replaced by Simon Bolton, ex-Rolls-Royce CIO Land & Sea.
- A wholly new position was also created, Executive Director Corporate Strategy, which offers some indication of what may have been the problem. Newly employed for this job is Hanno Kirner. He was most recently CFO at Rolls-Royce Land & Sea; before that, he held the position as CFO of British sports car manufacturer Aston Martin (James Bond's favorite car). Kirner was also one of the senior managers of the 2011 PLM implementation of Siemens’ NX and PLM Teamcenter suites. Earlier, he also served as General Manager Project- and IT-Controlling at BMW AG. Undoubtedly, Kirner is an experienced automotive man with the capacity to operate a business in which the execution of a strategy is a priority.
Hanno Kirner, the new Director of Corporate Strategy.
All in all, dramatic moves like these point in the direction of widespread discontent on several levels. Generally, “cleanups” and changes in PLM management posts at this scale don’t occur in an area where continuity, sustainability and deep knowledge of company processes and business structures are of great importance.
JLR and Its Teamcenter Background
An interesting aspect of this story is that two of the key recruitments made – Simon Bolton and Hanno Kirner – are very familiar with Teamcenter (TC) environments from their previous employments. Both Rolls-Royce and Aston Martin are “TC-companies.”
Since JLR continues to use Siemens’ Teamcenter as their product data backbone for most of its car programs, one conclusion is that Teamcenter will continue to serve JLR’s needs; though to what extent remains to be seen. For being a solution that should have been phased out years ago, Teamcenter is proving to be remarkably resilient.
Siemens PLM’s Teamcenter still plays a significant role in Jaguar Land Rover’s product development process.
Teamcenter was inherited from the days when Ford Motors owned the company. It was part of the American automakers’ C3PNG program (of which CATIA V5 was another foundation), which they also shared with Volvo Cars, among others. As the companies were sold in 2008, the system was part of the purchase. In JLR's case, Tata Motors bought them.
While Volvo continued in this track, JLR chose to invest in a dedicated Dassault solution, V6 and later 3DX.
“With us separated from Ford, we almost became a green field site,” Knight-Gregson said to me, commenting on JLR’s route choice when I met him in Münich, Germany last year.
The Torments of Upgrading to the Next PLM Generation
Today it appears that the green field wasn’t so green, after all. This is no surprise, however, and JLR isn’t the first company to face the “torments” of a PLM migration.
A general problem, of course, is the pre-existing environment; the opposite of a “green field.” The more complex a product is, such as modern cars, the tougher it gets to implement successfully due to legacy data, among other things.
I spoke to Gartner’s leading PLM analyst, Marc Halpern, to get his general observations of upgrading to a next generation PLM system. He made three important points:
- “Change management is essential for getting to the new generation of product development and PLM. However, we are on a steep learning curve. Companies start with a pre-conceived notion of what to change, but only discover what the real issues are when they try. It recalls the struggles with PDM during the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s. The vendors and services companies are also on a learning curve.”
- “Systems thinking and systems engineering need to be center stage. Well-educated engineers know how to do systems engineering for “bounded” design challenges. We struggle much more with doing it for an extended enterprise ecosystem. This is related to point number one.”
- “Harmonization of engineering BOMs and manufacturing BOMs is a nagging problem that we still have more work to overcome. It is one aspect of the bigger challenge of PLM, ERP and MES integration.”
An example of Dassault’s 3DEXPERIENCE interface, the platform that originally was planned to be up and running during spring 2014.
Configuration-Driven BOM’s are Easier Said Than Done
The scope of iPLM covers the end-to-end product life cycle process. With the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, the promise was to cover the entire vehicle definition across 14 domains, including Bill of Materials, parts and assembly, requirements and verification. The platform will also be able to deal with electrical design, styling and CAE capabilities such as multiphysics and FEA, as well as embedded software.
According to Knight-Gregson, JLR had these objectives within reach during 2015:
“For the first time for us,” he said, “We have genuinely started with a milestone-driven configuration platform, which in turn will drive the BOM’s.”
My take on the case of JLR and Dassault’s 3DEXPERIENCE/ENOVIA is that it was easier said than done to have the configuration drive the Bill of Materials, which was Knight-Gregson’s original intention. That the configuration was to additionally have, “The Bill of Materials to drive the CAD, and effectively give the geometry somewhere to be hung,” didn’t make life easier.
Furthermore, the former head of PLM at JLR said, “Around that, we have an integrated Change Management System, which means that because we have a single source of truth, we can allow people to manage the changes and have complete visibility of every aspect of the change.”
These are all great ideas, but are extremely hard to realize in a vast organization.
Potential Problem Candidates
More concretely, what is the problem causing delays for JLR’s iPLM project? For obvious reasons, the matter is very sensitive, and the number of official statements are close to zero.
I have spoken to JLR’s press department and asked them–in the form of questions–whether the information in this article is correct.
Liam O'Neill, technology and innovation communications officer at JLR, responded that, ”We cannot provide you with comments on your questions, as we wouldn't reveal this information as it is commercially sensitive.”
The noncommittal answer is to be expected, and is easy to understand, given the fact that the matter is a sensitive one. The automotive industry is a highly competitive business, and negative publicity from missed deadlines is not something you want associated with your brand. This is especially true if it leaves a small stain on “the shining high-tech armour” surrounding advanced product development and exclusive cars.
So, the company neither confirms nor denies.
Additionally, I have shared this article with Dassault Systèmes and asked for their views, but they have chosen to refrain from comments.
JLR’s Range Rover rendered in Dassault Systèmes’ CATIA V6. This CAD solution is still only partly in use.
My qualified guess, based on sources within JLR, is that the BOM generation and change management processes are possible candidates for being the reason for the delays, especially in the light of the iPLM processes being partially based on data migrated from Siemens’ Teamcenter and CATIA V5 to Dassault’s ENOVIA and CATIA V6.
The difference between ENOVIA/CATIA V5 and V6 is much more than a “normal” upgrade. 3DEXPERIENCE, ENOVIA and CATIA V6 have a fundamentally different architecture than V5, including new interfaces and templates. This means, among other things, that legacy data can not be migrated automatically. Migration has to be performed via “translation” solutions, a process which is time consuming and where there are no guarantees that everything is “translated” correctly.
What may be regarded as a confirmation of these problems is that Dassault has developed an intermediate stage version or “module,” called CATIA V5/V6.
Furthermore, the roles played by PLM/PDM systems are important. Most of these systems use a relational database such as SQL or Oracle for performance of an object-oriented solution. This includes Siemens Teamcenter, as well as PTC’s Windchill or Dassault’s ENOVIA V5 and V6 (e.g. 3DEXPERIENCE/ENOVIA).
Siemens claims that in Teamcenter, data is stored persistent and can be exported; thus, the IP is not locked into the system. In contrast, with 3DEXPERIENCE/ENOVIA the data cannot exist outside of the system. The information may be lost if you want to move it or change PDM systems.
The reason for the 3DEXPERIENCE/ENOVIA set-up is to avoid the interlocking of information that happens in a traditional PDM system if and when any part needs to be worked on or changed. Traditionally, the whole or a large part of the structure is then locked, resulting in difficulties to realizing true collaboration.
This doesn’t mean that Dassault’s ideas around a product data driven environment in 3DX/V6 is without advantages. The concept of using individual data rather than files is brilliant in its own way, but the flipside of the coin becomes apparent when both methods are used in parallel. The result is that the traditional model structures can’t be used.
But what about JLR’s change management and the BOM processes? What is somewhat confusing in the “official” story, versus the historic reality, is that the configuration solution doesn’t come from Dassault. Instead, among other things, they tried a solution from Danish Configit, called Configit Ace.
To further complicate things – and according to JLR’s own presentations on the “iPLM Scope”– the article structure (“the BOM”) is located in JLR’s ERP system, SAP. From this perspective, iPLM doesn’t appear to be the homogeneous solution they planned, but instead is a mixed Dassault/SAP/ConfigIT solution.
To create a distinct and functional unit out of these three – ENOVIA, Configit and SAP – looks like a difficult task; a challenge that does not become easier if you want to get a change process that includes not only product changes, but also the configuration changes.
In summary, these processes are complex. In an automotive vehicle program with thousands of model variants, we’re talking about a puzzle containing millions of pieces, all of which must fall into the right places.
The British automaker’s site in Gaydon, UK.
An Example of the Complexities of Working in Mixed Environments
An example of this complexity was demonstrated just over a year ago, during a JLR supplier conference in Gaydon. The background is that JLR stated, “Catia V5 R18 continues to be the JLR format for non-iPLM vehicles” and “maintaining CATIA V5 R18 will be necessary whilst programs are still in C3PNG.”
Here are a few points that reflect the complexity of working in synchronization within these different environments:
- CAD data can only be mastered in CATIA V5 or CATIA V6, but not both.
- Only context data should be exported for use in CATIA V5.
- Do not manually revise CATIA V5 authored data in CATIA V6.
- Do not delete parts from the V6 Database.
- Data exported from iPLM is not to be manually migrated into JLR Teamcenter C3PNG, as there will be data corruption if this data is then imported from Teamcenter back into iPLM.
- Once context data is exported out of CATIA V6, it is out-of-date.
- It is not possible to modify data exported from CATIA V6 in CATIA V5, and then import the data back into CATIA V6.
PD Versus IT: Departmental Battles
Finally, there is a battle between departments in JLR on budget and iPLM-investment-related expenses. This pits the product development department (PD) against the IT department.
NX INSTEAD OF CATIA AT DAIMLER. Daimler’s former director of R&D, Alfred Katzenbach, responsible for the decision to replace Dassault's CATIA with Siemens NX CAD software at Daimler Mercedes. He didn’t want to administer two PDM-systems, since Dassault mandated that Daimler had to buy ENOVIA if they wanted CATIA V6. They already had Teamcenter as PDM backbone.
Currently (according to my latest information), the PD department wants to hand over the project to IT. The latter refuses to take that responsibility on as long as there are two systems to deal with, and has therefore sent the problem back to PD.
This is a parallel to what happened at Daimler Mercedes when they decided to swap CAD systems a couple of years ago. A decisive reason for choosing to change from CATIA V5 to Siemens NX, instead of upgrading to CATIA V6, was that Daimler did not want to have two PDM systems. They already had Teamcenter, but would be forced to buy ENOVIA V6 in order to be able to use CATIA V6.
"It is both too expensive and impractical to administer two PDM systems in parallel, and ENOVIA V6 could not fulfill our internal business processes," said Alfred Katzenbach, the former R&D director behind the decision to switch systems at Daimler.
For the full story of the Daimler switch, watch ENGINEERING.com’s TV-report: "No walk in the park": The inside story behind Mercedes’ big CAD swap.”
A Transition On a Scale Never Done Before
In the best of worlds, things are like they were for Geely’s newly formed product development daughter company, CEVT, in Gothenburg, Sweden, in 2013. They started from a truly green field, with a mission to create PD platforms for Volvo Cars and Geely Motors some three years ago. Their PLM system was in production nine weeks after the decision to implement Siemens Teamcenter was taken.
But the difference between CEVT and the legacy-rich, diversified and silos-characterized JLR is an abyss. In this respect, this iconic British car manufacturer’s daring move to bet on 3DX is unique. A transition on this scale hasn’t really been done before.
In the light of history, and given the complexity and huge scope of the iPLM project, the risk of failing the timetable was greater than the potential for a successful implementation. Undoubtedly the ideas behind the initiative, inspired by Dassault’s charismatic leader Bernard Charles, were very appealing. But as often happens in these contexts, reality, the historical heritage and diverse environments, tend to drive a spike through the heart of aggressive timelines.
Some of the main problems include obstacles such as administration of two PLM/PDM systems in parallel, software that doesn’t work the way it was expected to, compatibility, steep learning curves, few best practices and how people deal with change. In short, V6 and 3DEXPERIENCE require a whole new way of working. The data-driven environment in ENOVIA, as opposed to file-based in TC, is just one example of that.
The question is how this iPLM project will continue. Is it just delayed, or are the changes in the PLM organization the signal of a new strategy?
The Danger of Getting Stuck in Thought Patterns
It's easy to get caught up in certain patterns of thought, both individually and collectively. As long as these thought patterns achieve good results, it’s a minor problem.
But if these thought patterns work poorly, if too many details require manual processing, it could become a problem that is more comprehensive than the details which created it.
Why? To formulate the idea as Albert Einstein once did: “We can not solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” If the structures are wrong in principle, there’s a risk of ending up in a vicious circle characterized by a tendency to spin around the same dilemmas without finding a way out.
This phenomenon is not uncommon, and the PLM world is no exception. It is easy to hang on to a solution. Or rather, it is easy to be stuck in a solution, where it becomes ever more difficult to get out.
The reasons can be many, such as prestige, career concerns, incorrectly organized work flows, too many different applications or overconfidence in a solution’s excellence. Instead of rethinking, new thinking and redesigning, organizations often try to get around the problem by building bridges or creating workarounds. This can work, yes; but in the longer term, the system tends to get sluggish, inflexible and expensive to operate.
The story at JLR is far from over, and the new team may yet deliver on the bold promise of iPLM. PLM practitioners everywhere should hope they do.