With a heritage covering almost a century, Bentley Motors is among the world’s most iconic brands. The mixture of speed and luxury combine in the Continental and Arnage ranges to suit the world’s most discerning drivers. From Bentley’s Crewe, UK plant, the company produces limited numbers of hand-finished cars that incorporate the famous leather and wood craftsmanship that typify the brand.

Bentley Motors has a strong PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) strategy, evolved to match the company’s 21st century needs. Bentley’s PLM deployment is based on Dassault Systèmes V5 technology incorporating DELMIA for assembly and planning management. Design data is managed within ENOVIA, enabling enterprise wide data access. Derek Harrison, Bentley’s, I.S Senior Manager, Product Development Systems, describes the system: “Currently we have 407 CATIA and 30 DELMIA users at Bentley and we are expanding the use of 3D across our business. The ability to create, use, and share 3D design data in non-design situations allows us to work both collaboratively and concurrently. Because DELMIA sits between our design and ERP technologies it provides the ‘how’ to their ‘what’ and ‘when’.”

According to John Unsworth, the company’s CAD strategy manager, “Using DELMIA, we can see designs in a manufacturing context and visualize how components can be assembled. Virtual data can be analyzed in great detail to define the most efficient production process methodology. Since this information is available during the design evolution process, even before designs are completed, departments that previously worked in series (having to wait for others to complete their work) can now work in parallel.”

Benefits derived from designers and manufacturing engineers sharing the same visual data and having visibility of each other’s work as it progresses. Through this technique, design for manufacture has improved considerably because designs are optimized for manufacture very early in the design process, even at the conceptual stage.

One example of this was in the conceptual design for an instrument panel, which was modified before mainstream design engineering was initiated. The Bentley process and systems architecture allows manufacturing engineers to access and comment on the proposed design, from an assembly perspective, very early in its lifecycle.

Harrison added, “Line side planning procedures have been greatly enhanced through DELMIA’s production simulation features. Because these allow us to link with the engineering bill of materials (BOM) and assembly specifics to the virtual build, it is possible to tune the process sequence for maximum efficiency. Using skeleton data and applying it to future assembly plans at Crewe, we are able to plan from existing knowledge and add more detail as it is generated.”

Having made an investment in DELMIA as part of its DS-based PLM infrastructure, Bentley Motors is able to bring further advanced production technology into other parts of its business at low cost. Bentley is considering options for enhancing its design in context utilization. This could include rolling out 3D DELMIA manufacturing data to the supply chain to improve manufacturability of designs, the after sales network, and providing imagery for marketing purposes. The company also uses DELMIA to enhance its virtual build, improve processes, and develop staff training.

Says Harrison, “The earlier we can show assembly procedures to line side engineers, the better they will be able to understand and learn them. Using DELMIA we are able to develop, refine, and demonstrate build sequences virtually, allowing assembly engineers to visualize their work long before the parts are actually available.”

Bentleys are sophisticated cars that illustrate a high degree of complexity in automotive engineering. The front area assembly, for example, is particularly advanced and requires a great deal of planning and training to manufacture. By showing animated assembly sequences of real design geometry, associate training is greatly enhanced. This allows those involved to be prepared and fully up to speed by the time assembly commences. Any difficulties can be resolved well in advance so that work proceeds faster and more smoothly because assembly methodology has been made available in context through DELMIA V5.

With the DS PLM strategy, designers are able to better consider manufacturability while manufacturing engineers, having early access to design data, can influence designs and commence training to make their work more efficient. This allows manufacturing engineers to develop more robust, proven assembly procedures to enhance the process further. The result is increased efficiency, assembly time reduction, and better communications within and beyond the enterprise.