“PLM 360 is a Total Game Changer,” Says Race Car Developer Neill Briggs – TV-Report
Verdi Ogewell posted on March 02, 2016 |

Is it such a big deal to implement a PLM system in a small or medium sized company?

Most people who know this business claim that it is, but Autodesk’s CTO Jeff Kowalski disagrees.

Yes I do, I don’t think it is,” Kowalski said in this TV-report. As a matter of fact, the visionary Autodesk top executive claims that,  “within ten seconds of a phone call with us,” you can have Autodesk’s PLM 360 software up and running.

While that is a symbolic statement to illustrate how easy and fast it is, his words still hold a good portion of truth.

PLM 360 is a realistic option for small and medium sized businesses (”SMBs”), as opposed to the traditional complex systems developed for large corporations operating in advanced and often global environments,  claimed analyst Monica Schnitger.

From the users I’ve talked to, they found it very quick and easy to implement, which is key, especially if it is a smaller company without an IT department and where it’s tough to get the budget to do a big IT implementation.” In the case of PLM 360, they can often do it themselves, she added,  “Because it is intuitive in the sense that people who do not spend their lives using a PLM product or using engineeering kinds of IT tools can use it.”

It is not perfect,” Schnitger continued, explaining that,  “It is a very young solution and there is not the huge scope that some of the 20 year old solutions have, but it is definitely a capable solution for doing things like managing a BOM, (Bill of Materials) et cetera.”


However, Neill Briggs, product development director and co-founder of British car maker Briggs Automotive Company, goes further than that. He calls PLM 360a total game changer” in the case story covered in this TV-report.

“PLM 360 will allow us to accelerate even quicker than we are currently. We’re already a disruptive business,” Neill Briggs asserted, pointing at the one-seated vehicle his company is producing that is probably the world’s first street-legal race car.

“A Formula 1 vehicle for the road,” as Briggs puts it.  “Right, so obviously we work with creating a revolution and for us now we need to keep on with further revolutions and some evolution as well, and PLM 360 will allow us to do it.”

Neill Briggs and his brother Ian are the founders of Briggs Automotive and the men behind the world’s first street legal race car, BAC Mono. The company is enthusiastic about Autodesk’s software PLM 360: “It’s a game changer,” says Neill in this TV-report. (Image courtesy of Move Commercial.)
Neill Briggs and his brother Ian are the founders of Briggs Automotive and the men behind the world’s first street legal race car, BAC Mono. The company is enthusiastic about Autodesk’s software PLM 360: “It’s a game changer,” says Neill in this TV-report. (Image courtesy of Move Commercial.)


Carl Bass’ Reply to the “Old Dinosaurs”

One of the interesting things in the PLM industry is that we have seen a boost of visionary ideas during the last few years.

In a business that early on regarded Dassault Systèmes’ CEO Bernard Charles as the only true visionary competition, disruptive new technologies have inspired new personalities who have great ideas centered around coherent PLM solutions to step into the limelight.

Autodesk’s two top leaders, CEO Carl Bass and Jeff Kowalski, are good examples. This company used to be regarded mainly as a CAD provider; Bass and Kowalski changed that.

Not only did they have an idea about a solution that would cover almost all areas from product definition, simulation, visualization, data management, CAM, 3D printing and more, they also decided that the Cloud would be the ideal environment in which to put all these capabilities. In the Cloud, Autodesk could provide infinite computing resources and an infrastructure beyond what any company could set up by themselves.

“New technology platforms such as the Cloud made our PLM 360 solution possible,” said Autodesk’s CEO, Carl Bass.
“New technology platforms such as the Cloud made our PLM 360 solution possible,” said Autodesk’s CEO, Carl Bass.

“This,” said Carl Bass, “makes PLM a realistic option for thousands and thousands of smaller companies that otherwise only had the option of turning to what the ’old dinosaurs’ had to offer in terms of capable, but extremely expensive solutions. What Autodesk does is to once again contribute to the democratization of modern product development tools.”


Autodesk’s “Design, Make and Use” Concept Closes the Circle

Today Autodesk, in line with good scientific principles, filtered the idea of broad coverage down to what Kowalski calls, “the concept of design, make and use.”

“That’s right,” he said to the PLM TV News team. “Our vision of PLM is that we have design, make and use all together in a closed circle. Regarding the design component, we actually think we’ve got a great set of collaborative tools for doing design for really well-investigated parts and assemblies, collaboratively. We’ve got that part up front.

Connecting that to  ‘make,’ to manufacturing, that’s that next step we’ve got already embedded inside of Fusion and leveraging the good products we have in Delcam.

The next step, ‘use’, is where we bring in IoT through our acqusition of SeeControl, to help understand how those products actually are being deployed.”

The point is, he asserted, that all this stuff exists together in the Cloud.  “So, it’s all part of the 360 vision that we have, where this information exists for all designers in the company to be contributing to or drawing from.”

“Our vision of PLM is that we have design, make and use all together in a closed circle,” said Autodesk’s CTO, Jeff Kowalski, adding that the company’s PLM solution, “can be up and running within 10 seconds.”
“Our vision of PLM is that we have design, make and use all together in a closed circle,” said Autodesk’s CTO, Jeff Kowalski, adding that the company’s PLM solution, “can be up and running within 10 seconds.”

PLM 360 is a Business Automation System, but Cloud PDM is On It’s Way

For a smaller company like Briggs Automotive, the PLM 360 backbone brings many business automation capabilities to the table. And Neill Briggs is enthusiastic about it; a feeling he shares with many of Autodesk’s PLM 360 customers.

Earlier, we published a case story on global automotive subcontractor Roulund Brakings (Is PLM an Option for SME’s?) where development engineer Mark Lawrence stated that it is a great solution: “The ability to rapidly deploy the system and provide all users with access to real-time data has significantly minimized development errors and improved development time.”

During Autodesk’s recent Accelerate event in Boston, I spoke to several other PLM 360 customers who had the same positive reactions to the system.

The simplicity of implementation and configuration is attractive, and the users are generally positive about key functionalities in the business automation areas like BOM, change, quality and cost management and supplier collaboration.

When it comes to PDM, there is still some work that remains to be done before the complete Cloud PDM solution will be up and running. Fusion has gone live on the Cloud PDM platform, which is one important step on the path to the complete solution. Additionally, Autodesk’s on-premises PDM software Vault has Cloud integration via Jitterbit.

The latter is also the main integration point when it comes to ERP.  “But we also have an ambition to extend the integration well beyond the traditional process and data driven integration into what we are calling the evented web,” Autodesk’s product manager Jared Sund told me during Accelerate.    

BAC Mono is a one-seat race car allowed on common streets. “It accelerates faster than Porsche Carrera and Ferrari,” claims Neill Briggs.
BAC Mono is a one-seat race car allowed on common streets. “It accelerates faster than Porsche Carrera and Ferrari,” claims Neill Briggs.

 

BAC Mono - The World’s First Street Legal Race Car

As true as that is, Neill Briggs is fully satisfied with what can be done using the existing funtionalities. We’re going to take a closer look at the Briggs case, but first a couple words on their  “supercar.”

We’re talking about a one-seat vehicle, which is not only faster than a Porche Carrera, but also beats the acceleration of a Ferrari. It is the world's first street legal racing car, called BAC Mono. If Neill Briggs, who founded the company together with his brother Ian, gets what he wants, Liverpool will not only be famous because of the Beatles or its soccer team, but also for Briggs Automotive’s advanced supercars.

“It’s a car targeted for customers who seek a car focused on performance; anything from acceleration, top speed, handling, braking performance et cetera. It gives the car a differentiation, it’s focus on design attracts these sorts of customers. We didn’t use a platform from anybody else; it’s designed from the ground up on a blank sheet of paper using Autodesk’s software.”

Briggs Automotive’s vehicles are charactarized by no compromises. “Our customers wants to have lap time performance, and that’s what we’re giving them,” asserts Neill Briggs. This filters down to the engineering targets during production of this light-weight street racer (1,200 pounds/545 kilograms.)
Briggs Automotive’s vehicles are charactarized by no compromises. “Our customers wants to have lap time performance, and that’s what we’re giving them,” asserts Neill Briggs. This filters down to the engineering targets during production of this light-weight street racer (1,200 pounds/545 kilograms.)

This means that the BAC Mono is designed and produced with no compromises. Briggs’ design team has their own perfomance targets and all the attributes that they have in the car ultimately come down to lap time.

That’s what the customers wants, and that’s what Neill Briggs’ team gives them.

“So, we set ourselves a lap time target. From that, product realization filters down to engineering targets for the various functional areas. Whether that’s the powertrain team, the chassis team, the aerodynamic team and so on. This means that they have functional targets they need to reach in order to give the car its overall ability to reach the lap time goal.”

This process results in an amazingly fast car. Part of the secret is the low weight – less than 1,200 pounds (545 kilograms)­ – in combination with the 305 hp engine which gives it a power-to-weight ratio over 520 hp per ton (1000 kilograms).


Not Just for Product Development, But the Entire Business Process

Naturally, a car like this demands a lot of engineering work, and it’s not hard to see why a PLM system is needed to keep  “law and order” in product development, manufacturing, administration and services processes.

 “Yes, that’s the way it is. We have over 2,500 parts on the car, we have 450 billet parts for example, 44 prepared carbon fibre parts. So there’s a complexity of numbers, of different materials, different assemblies and so on, and in order to organize that complexity, PLM 360 is a welcome addition to our business. It complements all the other Autodesk tools that we already use, mostly in the product development area, things like Sketchbook Pro, Alias, Maya, Inventor, of course, and then obviously the simulation tools.  So, PLM 360 will be a way in which we can bring order to our business. Not just as a part of the product development process, but the entire business process,” said Briggs.

Simulation of a BAC Mono part, one of 2,500, in Autodesk’s software environment. The challenge is to design all the components to be as light as possible while maintaining structural integrity. The combination of linear static and fatigue studies ensured that the front rocker not only withstands loading conditions, but also lasts through a lifetime of usage.
Simulation of a BAC Mono part, one of 2,500, in Autodesk’s software environment. The challenge is to design all the components to be as light as possible while maintaining structural integrity. The combination of linear static and fatigue studies ensured that the front rocker not only withstands loading conditions, but also lasts through a lifetime of usage.

In this context, the Briggs product development director points at BOM management, at the administration of the engineering team, as well as the manufacturing, procurement and service teams and how Briggs Automotive manages spare parts, including distribution all over the world.

As for the future, he aims to develop predictive maintenance: how they can predict maintenance needs based on usage of the cars, and supply spare parts in advance.


Tailored Cars with Truly Unique Connections

One of the challenges for Briggs Automotive is that each car is tailored for the individual user. No car looks like any other; individual variation is the hallmark of how the vehicles are produced.

According to Neill Briggs, “First and foremost, we have an automotive tailoring program that basically is all around the driver. It starts with the driver’s race suit; that then extends to the cockpit area where the seat is molded to the driver’s actual body form and shape. Therefore, they have a connection with the car that is truly unique.”

“The final extension of that is their interaction with the steering wheel. So the steering wheel where the driver grips it is also made to measure with the driver’s hands. From there, that clay is scanned and the part is 3D printed. The part is then sent to the assembly area where it is attached to the steering wheel, together with parts from 14 other suppliers.”

All of that needs to be controlled, and thankfully that’s where PLM comes in: to bring order both to the company’s internal processes as well as the suppliers.

The steering wheel where the driver grips is also made to measure with the drivers hands. From there, that clay is scanned and the part is 3D printed.
The steering wheel where the driver grips is also made to measure with the drivers hands. From there, that clay is scanned and the part is 3D printed.

So what about Jeff Kowalski’s, “ten seconds before you’re up and running”?

Well, Autodesk’s PLM 360 director of strategy and marketing, Ron Locklin, is probably closer to real-life events when he says that an implementation process of at least two weeks is needed. But on the other hand, that is actually more than good enough when compared with what the competion can offer.


In this TV-report you will meet:

  • Neill Briggs, co-founder and product development director at Brigg Automotive Company
  • Jeff Kowalski, CTO at Autodesk
  • Monica Schnitger, analyst at Schnitger Corp.
  • Jim Brown, analyst at Tech-Clarity
  • Ron Locklin, PLM 360, Director Strategy and Marketing at Autodesk
  • Stan Przylibinsky, analyst at CIMdata

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