“We are long time Catia users, but the Delmia systems have proved to be the missing piece in the jigsaw. Our Quest virtual factory has meant we have had to make no modifications to our line and were able to reach full production very quickly … Our engineers were able to effectively walk the line looking for and solving problems,” explains Paul Burton, manufacturing projects manager for car-maker, TWR. The company has managed to take the Renault Clio sport, V6, 24 valve, from concept to full production in 18 months using software from Catia and Delmia (both part of Dassault Systemes). TWR deploys Catia as its core CAD system and uses Catia FEA (finite element analysis). But the real value has come from utilising Delmia’s Igrip and Quest software, to optimise robot offline programming and determine the best factory layouts. Although the actual car is being manufactured in TWR’s Swedish plant, the UK headquarters in Leafield boasts Europe’s largest virtual reality centre. And it is here that the company brought together all the technologies. How was it achieved? Burton continues: “First, we scanned the surface geometry from the show car and transferred it into Catia. These surfaces were then approved in our VR centre … The obvious advantage of building the car in VR is the total eradication of traditional methods, such as clay or surface models. “Our VR centre was used constantly by both our product and process engineers, so they were clearly able to see how changes to the design affected the manufacturing process,” adds Burton. “And product design, part manufacturing feasibility and car assembly feasibility were reviewed and developed before even building a prototype or committing to the tooling. We even ran crashes virtually, and later, real-life crashes to check the virtual crash data.” TWR also used Igrip to prove-out manufacturing details such as gun access welding and the off-line robot programming, and even allowed the company to simulate the paint thickness build-up.