"You have the world of the designer on the one side, and on the other you have the world of the engineer, who are working to adapt things and to fix everything together," Grandjean explains. The connection, however, is often made difficult with software systems not always being compatible, which could lead to the loss of data. DS engineers have worked hard to resolve this lack of simple communication by creating a tool that connects the two worlds. "It is really efficient in that you don't lose information, you save time and you save on cost," notes Melkonian.
CATIA ISD provides an integrated solution and the two firms strongly believe that this will ultimately make it a market-leading product. Pressure to initiate such a software system came direct from the OEMs. Melkonian explains: "Our customers, the car manufacturers, wanted to have an integrated solution. They needed to smooth the design and engineering process and streamline the collaboration." With CATIA in the engineering department, they required a better connection between design and engineering. "They wanted an integration between the best of both solutions, because it also helps direct collaboration between the teams," he says.
Grandjean admits that it is very exciting to work with the new software: "With concept cars you are doing a complete car in a very short time. It can take anywhere between five and six months," he notes. Therefore, to have a system that links design and engineering, doesn't lose data and guarantees a high-level of accuracy, is a great advantage for Artware. "We don't have time to lose information or rebuild data just because we need to check if the door is opening in the right way, or to make last minute alterations."
Hitting the right note
Artware works with any car company who requires its expertise, but its main customers are Renault, Peugeot, Citroën, Mazda, Toyota and Mitsubishi.
Competition mainly comes via Italy from similar design consultancies like G-Studio. However, the economic slowdown has meant car manufacturers have been forced to take more projects in-house, as budgets don't always stretch as far as employing an outside consultancy. "Every year we're losing competitors," admits Grandjean. Although he does believe work will pick up for all the main consultancies once the economy improves.
One of the most recent cars to emerge from Artware's studio was the Renault Z.E. Concept car, one of the four zero-emission electric vehicles exhibited at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September.
Another recent project was the Mazda Kiyora concept car, exhibited at the Paris Motor Show last year. The ICEM Surf software helped realize the complex surfaces of the Nagare-themed showcar.
The process is simple. In the case of the Kiyora, Mazda designers provided Artware with sketches of their design. Working within ICEM Surf, Artware then built the data, and the engineers working within CATIA, created the body, the interior and even the chassis. The final step was to match everything together. "That is the real value of Artware Concept - to be able to manage a project from end-to-end," notes Melkonian. What stood on the Mazda stand in Paris was created in less than five months. "Time is short and you need to speed up the process on a project like this," says Melkonian.
Artware and D3 have collectively created as many as 70 concept cars in the last 20 years. "By carrying out everything on the computer you spend less time on the shop floor. This is the choice we made when we created Artware," says Grandjean. "When you finally bring all the information to the shop it is like a big [jigsaw] puzzle made easy with this tool. What we offer is cost saving, time saving and better quality in the end."