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ProSTEP iViP Science Days 2005: Review

ProSTEP iViP Science Days 2005, held this year under the motto “Cross-Domain Engineering“, made one thing patently clear: The most realistic simulation possible of products, their functionalities and their properties, as well as the processes involved in their creation, plays a key role in the efficient synchronization of virtual and physical process chains. A great deal has already been achieved, but there remains a number of areas in which more research is required.

135 participants from 16 nations – a new record for the conference, which is held every two years – acted as representatives of the research and development activities being conducted at universities and in industry. The 27 lectures and four workshops covered topics ranging from the presentation of process standardization efforts that have already been implemented through current research activities to ideas for working groups that will be involved in future projects. Several of the conference highlights serve to underscore the wide range of applications that are the focus of current research.

The keynote speaker, Professor Dr. José Luis Encarnação, was on home turf since this year’s Science Days were held at the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics (IGD) in Darmstadt, where he has been director for many years. In his speech, Professor Encarnação outlined the core topic of the conference, namely the efficient collaboration between different engineering disciplines with regard to the development of innovative products. The Fraunhofer IGD has defined 12 paths to innovation for the industry which, at the same time, describe visions for future technological revolutions. According to Professor Encarnação, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) will be followed by simulated reality (SR). The cross-domain engineering workplace of the future will be supported by the complete simulation of materials, products and processes – something which will continue to demand considerable research effort in the field of computer graphics.

 

Professor Frank-Lothar Krause, director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Systems and Design Technology (IPK) in Berlin and member of the board of the ProSTEP iViP Association, also focused on the advantage that realistic simulation offers with regard to the management of complex processes, which are difficult to plan and almost impossible to automate. He presented new methods that rely not only the input of activities, resources and product data but also on libraries in which company-specific process know-how, also relating to the use of information technology, is collected. This makes adaptive, i.e. self-learning, process simulation possible.Requirements management, an area that has, up until now, been addressed to a lesser extent within the Association, was the topic of several presentations. Roland Mayer-Bachmann, from the Institute for Computer Applications in Mechanical Engineering (RPK) at the Technical University in Karlsruhe, gave an account of an unusual approach: The product is regarded as an organism that is made up of product elements including their properties and features. The relationships between the elements are examined for rules of evolution and growth similar to the DNA of human cells. It is intended that this will allow a significant reduction in the time and money involved in defining the requirements for follow-on development in vehicle construction.There is a growing need for major automotive OEMs to link their engineering capacities to some extent in order to also increase the degree to which process know-how can be acquired. Torsten Eder, BMW, has been investigating this relatively new trend. The OEMs cannot by any means expect to reap only advantages. The complexity of the development process increases as does the danger of redundant development data. According to Torsten Eder, OEMs can be happy if the costs do not exceed those of traditional development. Nevertheless, intensive efforts are being directed at standardizing what are referred to as double networks, which are intended to join the individual OEM’s central development facilities of today.

 

The standardization efforts of the ProSTEP iViP Association can also make a valuable contribution to this step. Based, for example, on the OMG PLM Services – the subject of the presentation given by Michael Feltes, Daimler Chrysler. Mr. Feltes, who heads the Association’s PLM Services project, reported on a number of application scenarios in which the OMG PLM Services were used to link the PDM backbones of various development partners and for the integration of different IT tools within the product life cycle. “The PLM Service have been field tested and are ready for use. Best Practice examples and support are available. The PLM Services became an international OMG standard in June 2005.”The team at the Technical University in Kaiserslautern led by Professor Dr. Jan Aurich is working on models for a VR-based reconfiguration of production systems and factories. He indicated the enormous potential waiting to be unlocked in this area by the application of virtual reality, and the challenges that need to be mastered.The variety of the research projects presented provide reason enough to be optimistic that the demand voiced in the keynote speech given by Petra Ålund, Scania, can soon be satisfied: “Our job is to break down barriers and ensure collaboration actually takes place across corporate borders – not only with regard to large networked projects but also with regard to normal contact between companies.”Presentations held at the ProSTEP iViP Science Days are, as far as released for publication, availbale for download.Plannings for the next conference - the ProSTEP iViP Symposium 2006 - are already in full swing. You will find constantly updated information on our web site.

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