Video Report: The Power of Zero – Dassault’s ENOVIA chief talks about the ”Zero Error BOM”
Verdi Ogewell posted on October 14, 2014 |

By Verdi Ogewell

”The Power of Zero” is French PLM developer Dassault Systemes latest mantra, a reflection of the non file-based, product database approach in their new “beyond PLM” 3DEXPERIENCE platform.

In practical terms this enables, for instance, the ’zero error BOM’, Bill of Materials”, claims DS’ CEO of the company’s ENOVIA division, Andy Kalambi. Enovia is Dassault’s cPDM system (collaborative Product Data Management) and is the backbone of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.

The concept of a “zero error BOM” is interesting for many reasons, perhaps mostly because it's this area that's one of today's most decisive battlefields for dominance in the PLM market.

Is the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, the “Power of Zero” and the “flawless BOM” the answers to this challenge? PLM TV News’ Felix Nilsson met with Andy Kalambi to talk about these issues:



The BOM battlefield: Dassault is eager to lead

The “war” has generally been about linking product development with shop floor IT and the BOM certainly plays a key role in this. Right now there are four primary participants on the battlefield: Siemens, SAP, GE/PTC and IBM.

Although Dassault is the overall PLM revenue leader and CATIA is the dominant CAD program in the global  high end market, their cPDM solutions (where the BOM’s are managed) haven’t been able to reach the same level of market penetration and commercial success. But make no mistake about it; they are eager to become one of the leading players in this area too.

 ”Files create friction, friction creates errors…”

”The power of Zero Errors is a theme across all of ENOVIA's capabilities”, says Kalambi, adding that the “zero file solution” strategy will lead to zero errors in the BOM.

”Files create friction”, the ENOVIA chief asserts, ”friction creates errors, and when you have errors you don’t have a zero error BOM”.

“So the moment you move away from files and create a data-driven environment, you have a frictionless environment where you can move information without manual intervention and you can automatically generate a BOM and take that BOM into manufacturing and an ERP system”.

It’s not a simple job to manage a BOM. What might appear as ”a list of parts needed to build a product” is today a complex reality of multiple levels, diversified disciplines and BOMs contains information about structures, electronics, integrated software, manufacturing methodology and the way products are maintained and even disposed of. There are many sources of error and mistakes can be very costly.

If Dassault's “zero error BOM” can become a reality, it’s a huge step forward and would, according to analyst Marc Halpern of Gartner, ”have the potential to realize the ’dream’ of the universal BOM”. But as Kalambi says: ”This is about to embark on a journey; once on ’the road’ the benefits of 3DEXPERIENCE and V6 will increase productivity dramatically”. 

 Challenges to zero error BOM success


Still, there are challenges to be tackled before the “Power of Zero” can be harnessed.To benefit from the capabilities of 3DEXPERIENCE and V6, you have to implement Enovia V6. Subsequently the data driven, non file-based approach has to be applied. This can cause problems since the overwhelming majority of DS customers generally work within file-based environments as in DS’ PLM V5, or even more commonly, Siemens Teamcenter. As a side note, the latter solution (according to Siemens PLM officials) actually manages more CATIA files than ENOVIA does.

Another issue to be addressed is that CAD is not the only information managed in an enterprise wide solution. A lot of the information from other ”BOM sources” that belongs to the complete product lifecycle comes from file-based systems like Microsoft Word, Autodesk (you’ll find loads of AD solutions in almost every big company in the world), programs for software design  and others.

That said, Kalambi points out, “that a zero files environment has been achieved in many other areas like ERP, SCM, CRM. However PLM has remained a file based environment due to the authoring tools being file based”.

Are the big Dassault customers ready?


Finally it all boils down to this question: are the big customers, notably in automotive, aerospace, industrial and shipbuilding, prepared to change to the ”data driven method” instead of file-based?

A solution could be a Dassault ENOVIA hybrid, allowing file based approaches on V6 – but will they create one?

PLM TV News’ reporter, Felix Nilsson, asked Kalambi if DS have had requirements from customers dictating the development of a solution on the V6 platform with file based PDM capabilities.

”No”, says Kalambi explaining that “V6 is the architecture of 3DEXPERIENCE and it manages files like any other PLM system but goes beyond PLM by also creating a zero files environment.”

”Dassault Systemes is not afraid of challenging the exsisting patterns”

The message is crystal clear and once again proves that DS is not afraid to challenge existing patterns. Here’s my take:

Transition is very much the hallmark of what is happening in the area of ​​product development. The cloud, mobility, big data management, Internet of Things, networked products with increasing software content and consumption patterns that moves towards product-as-a-service have in just a couple of years changed the requirements for engineering and product development work. These trends has also brought along significant challenges for developers of industrial IT support and large dominant companies like Dassault Systemes, Siemens PLM, PTC and Autodesk are currently working full steam, partly to adapt their vision to what is happening, and partly to create cohesive software tools and suites that can concretely respond to new needs.

This is done in slightly different ways. While Dassault with its traditionally scientifically-oriented development model is not afraid to challenge existing product realization models, developers such as Siemens PLM and PTC have a deeper footing in their customers' existing models and prefer step-by-step improvments. Both ”attack angles” have their strengths and weaknesses.

As for Dassault's more revolutionary approach a weakness might be that it is untested, probably takes more time to implement and requires larger changes in the engineers' work methodology. The strength is that new technology and process models can achieve greater development dynamics, faster time to market and thereby increased profitability.

For Siemens’ and PTC's more ”evolutionary”, customer-related track of development a weak spot could be that it preserves the existing engineering culture and thus will not be as responsive to market changes as is requiered to keep up long term competitiveness.

On the positive side there are things like the value of familiar environments and smaller changes in processes can ensure short term productivity and at the same time make the transition to new PLM environments easier to bridge.


 Which will get the upper hand?

The future is difficult to predict, and which angle of attack that will prevail remains to be seen. The only thing that is absolutely certain is that change is inevitable and will take place.

A key issue for Dassault is that the big customers generally are cautious to dramatic changes; will they dare to take the ”zero error” and ”product data driven” step?

Andy Kalambi has no doubt about it. Why? Watch PLM TV News’ interview above to find out.

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