IBM offers grid computing for automotive design

IBM has launched a new grid-based product -- the IBM Grid Offering for Engineering Design: Clash Analysis in Automotive, Aerospace and Defense -- to help automotive and aerospace companies improve the quality of their products and get them to market faster.

Developed in cooperation with Platform Computing, it includes Catia and Enovia software and is designed to cut the time needed to capture, compile and analyze research data. It can also accelerate product development and time to market, IBM said in the statement.

Clash analysis, sometimes called interference analysis, is the process of making sure one part of an automobile, for example, doesn't interfere with any of its other myriad components, said Laura Yandow, a grid sales executive at IBM. "The clash does a test of all the component parts in the vehicle at the end of the design process to make sure none of these parts are clashing or interfering with any other," she said. "It's a key part of the design process in the automotive industry."

Because clash analysis is very numeric-intensive, it's a good fit for grid computing, Yandow said.

Currently, one of the key issues with clash analysis is that a complete study can't be conducted until the product has already been built, Yandow said. "Building a car can take one to two years. ... To have to wait until that time to find out that there's maybe a clash can be very expensive and time-consuming because you have to go back into the design process, maybe redesign a part, and then it can cause a lot of quality issues as well," she said.

By grid-enabling Catia, the collaborative, virtual product development application developed by Dassault Systemes SA in France, IBM and Platform Computing helped Magna Steyr analyze the components of an entire vehicle in one evening, Yandow said. Magna Steyr is an automotive product and services company based in Graz, Austria.

"Magna took 72 hours to run a clash when it was a manual process; now, as a result of grid-enabling the system, it only takes four hours," Yandow said. "Magna is able to detect any issues in the design of a component and address them early on, not at the end of the design process."

Now engineers can submit a clash test every night before they leave for home. The test runs overnight in just a few hours, and when the engineers return, they have clash test results and can make any needed changes.

"Now they have much more accurate data, more timely data, and it reduces any of the late changes that might be required," Lindow said. "The ultimate benefit is that it has had a big impact on Magna's time to market."

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