New version of CATIA helps satellite maker meet strict project deadline

Nearly every software implementation project starts with the same question: How will this new system improve the business?
By Manufacturing Business Technology Staff September 1, 2008

Nearly every software implementation project starts with the same question: How will this new system improve the business?
At the recent European PLM Summit hosted by the World Trade Group in Toulouse, France, Jerôme Molliex, a project methodology and training manager for satellite manufacturer Thales Alenia Space , indicated that adopting a new version of the CATIA CAD package from Dassault Systemes is making it easier to meet a stringent project deadline.

The company has just 24 months from contract signing to launch a six-ton spacecraft containing 40,000 parts and 12 kilometers of electrical wire into operational orbit, where it will be required to perform flawlessly for 15 years—without after-sales maintenance.
The upgrade from CATIA 4 to CATIA 5 is reducing development times while enhancing product quality by providing access to 3D data throughout the company, Molliex says.
CATIA 5’s Power copy feature, for example, speeded development time and cut errors. The use of 3D mock-ups aided operator familiarization during manufacturing and assembly, and kinetic simulation of assembly processes detected “clashes,” or tolerances that are too close. Overall, budget control and adherence to satellite launch windows improved—with a like-for-like comparison between CATIA 4 and CATIA 5—showing substantial quality gains and a 12-percent reduction in development time frames.
Targeting specific business functions within the company, the long-term goal is to marry revised business and design processes to the capabilities offered by the new CATIA 5 tool. Ultimately, most of the company’s 7,200 worldwide employees and 11 industrial sites will be impacted, although the project so far embraces just 300 design engineers in France and another 100 in Italy.