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Honda Details Work With Dassault on Planning Structure Capability

Brett Brune
By Brett Brune Editor in Chief, Smart Manufacturing
Ron Emerson, associate chief engineer on the virtual maturation team at Honda North America, spoke this week at Dassault Systèmes’s 3DExperience Forum North America in Hollywood, Fla. (Photo by Brett Brune)

HOLLYWOOD, Fla.—To improve time to market and productivity at Honda, the Japanese automaker partnered with the French software giant Dassault Systèmes on planning structure, including a new model process development (NMPD) project, Ron Emerson said here this week at Dassault’s 3DExperience Forum North America event.

Honda began using Dassault products “many decades ago when we were just converting from 2D to 3D,” said Emerson, associate chief engineer on the virtual maturation team at Honda North America. Today, Honda uses DELMIA V6.

The vision of Emerson’s “virtual maturation team” is, he said, “to realize the full potential of virtual methods to simulate the ‘Gemba.’ The Gemba is a word we use inside of Honda that means reality, or actual spot. We want the simulation, the virtual world, to look exactly like our manufacturing situation.” He showed side-by-side images of a virtual and actual CR-V production line in Canada, saying Honda just recently began “putting the product in the context of the plant so we can verify all new model aspects of the vehicle.”

Honda’s “global manufacturing simulator” starts with looking at overall product development—from the early concept stage all the way through to customer delivery.

The automaker recently chose to “really push Dassault to innovate its tools” so it could use “innovative processes” in the middle of product development to take on “much more virtual verification” than it had been doing, Emerson said. “This is especially important because Honda has a vision to achieve “primarily digital verification,” he noted.

Honda needed to bring together product, process and resources in the context of the manufactured product and plant. To accurately simulate the actual spot, it needed to be able to see any vehicle, and any variation of it, the specific plan contents and the specific plan resources, he said.

“All Honda plants have different characteristics” so the task was challenging, Emerson said. Visualizing “the product sequence, the buildup, the actual carrier at the plant, the position of the car body and all of the parts that are supposed to be on that car at that particular build location” was a challenging task, and Honda’s vision could not be achieved with the current capabilities and challenged Dassault “to accomplish greater things.”

It was difficult for the process planners “to visualize what they were assembling, because they were just typing in part numbers and typing in a process sequence,” he said.

Honda gave Dassault a long laundry list of must items: It needed to use the 3D data, and with dispatch. It did not need the heavy CATIA data. And, most importantly, it needed to be simple.

The pair worked over two years and “developed a great product: Planning Structure,” Emerson said.

“We can pull all of the product process and resource data in just as we did before from the legacy system as a starting point, and after the process engineers go in and make all of the changes we can quickly understand the part consumption,” he said. “This is critical to make sure that we don’t forget any parts in the overall process.”

It is the same process for every variation of the vehicle. In the visualization, parts that have yet to be consumed are orange.

“So it is [now] very easy for the process engineer to understand that they have to apply that part,” Emerson said. “Once the part is applied to the sequence, we can plan the sequence time and all of the requirements that go along with that.”

Time entries are critical so the process engineer can balance “all of the time across the whole process line, or at least within the work cell,” he said. “Of course then at the end they can confirm the final assembly sequence by seeing the images again in proper color.”

Instead of using CATIA data, the duo chose to go with NAV REPs, “a very lightweight data that we could create in order to make it very visual and very [quick and] easy to turn around,” Emerson said.

On the “simple design” front, Dassault and Honda came up with a drag-and-drop process for assigning parts to the process sequence.

“It’s super easy: Our process engineers are very excited about using this, and they just started using it on one of models in development,” he said.

Once the part is assigned to the process sequence, “you can interrogate the process step and it highlights the part and says, ‘Yes, that’s the right part that I meant to put in there’,” he added.

When things need to be moved around, “that’s also drag and drop, cut and paste, it’s very easy to cut it, drop it in, and it’s very easy to move forward,” Emerson said. “When the adjustments are made the overall process time calculation allocated to the product adjusts accordingly. It’s very smart.”

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