Dive into the World of Zero Tests, Zero Prototypes, Zero Downtime

How FCA Brazil Cut Costs and Timelines with VR

As the automotive industry becomes increasingly competitive, reducing costs for unnecessary downtime and launch delays due to production risks becomes that much more important. What if there was a way you could predict potential issues before they become a problem, avoid pre-production pilot assembly and tooling costs and shave off weeks from your production and launch timeline? Marcelo Lima at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles explains how they achieved all of this, and more and how you can too.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019
By Eric Kam

At Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Brazil, you quickly moved ahead with implementing ESI IC.IDO in production, applying it to the Fiat Argo and most recently the Cronos line. Prior to that move, how did you perform production validation and what drove you to use Virtual Reality?

Marcelo Lima
Marcelo Lima

The processes validation was done manually with numerous physical prototypes with great chance of rework or modifications, which could consequently increase the cost and time of development of the project.

The market in Brazil has become increasingly competitive, forcing the adoption of global initiatives such as Industry 4.0 as well as development of FCA strategies for world class manufacturing (WCM) and world class technology (WCT).

The currently methodologies used in FCA consist of the constant search for simulations solutions to facilitate the day-today of our operations. In collaboration with the best specialists in the world we optimize our processes, seeking efficiency thinking about the quality of our products. During the development of the process we make several analyses to minimize the physical tests implementing virtual tests, so we can devote more time from development to “best in class” in the operations that demand greater attention and assertiveness.

With this latest project, our goal was to digitize the engineering for a new launch of the upcoming “Cronos” automobile.

ESI IC.IDO allowed us to implement complex tooling evaluations, without the cost of building them, and also enabled us to arrive at the best assembly process through collaborative decision-making.

You recently shared your success with IC.IDO and reported that the initial investment paid for itself in just eight months. In which areas of the planning process did you apply VR and how were you able to quantify the value of the Virtual Assembly activity?

The estimate is based on the costs we avoided by not building physical prototypes and performing conventional pilot assembly. The largest saving was probably related to the costs we avoided for unnecessary downtime and launch delays because of the production risks we discovered and resolved using Virtual Assembly in IC.IDO. We were able to predict potential issues before they became a problem. Therefore, we eliminated cost to acquire pre-production components needed for pilot assembly, plus weeks of waiting for prototypes from production and launch project timeline, and finally tooling costs for temporary tools or subsequent modifications resulting from engineering changes from what we found in pilot builds. In the end, we might never know the full extent of what we saved because of how many potential errors we avoided.

Given the success of Virtual Assembly Validation at the FCA LATAM facilities on those specific challenges, where do you see your team and Virtual Assembly Validation technology going next?

We will continue to use Virtual Assembly on the next generation of vehicle models and for the improvement of existing products. Because of the great success we had, it is also a possibility that we will use it in other LATAM plants and FCA sites globally. We are an innovative leader among the FCA Group and constantly share our success globally within the company. There is potential for VR collaboration with other IC.IDO users within FCA, using the capability for remote users to join and experience the same Virtual environment together. This way, FCA Group could visit the FCA LATAM facilities virtually. Potentially, Virtual Assembly Validation could also extend to allow collaboration with vendors and maintenance teams globally to make sure we are at the top of World Class Technology. After the validation step, IC.IDO and Diota for Augmented Reality would be a next step.

About Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA)

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) designs, engineers, manufactures and sells vehicles and related parts and services, components and production systems worldwide through 159 manufacturing facilities, 87 R&D centers, and dealers and distributors in more than 140 countries. Its stable of brands includes Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Fiat Professional, Jeep, Lancia, Ram, Maserati and Mopar, the parts and service brand. The Group’s businesses also include Comau (production systems), and Teksid (iron and castings). In addition, retail and dealer financing, leasing and rental services related to and in support of the Group’s car business are provided either through subsidiaries or financial partners (such as captive companies, affiliates, joint ventures with leading banks and/ or financial institutions, and specialized providers).

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Image Courtesy: FCA

Eric Kam

Marketing and Alliances Director

Eric Kam is the Marketing and Alliances Director for ESI Group’s Manufacturing Business Channel, supporting their Immersive Experience (VR/AR/MR/xR) Solutions and Virtual Manufacturing Suite. He is an outspoken advocate for the ongoing transformation in Computer Aided Design, Finite Element Analysis, and Computer Aided Engineering. He has spent the bulk of the last 25 years promoting the democratization of previously “analyst-driven” technologies to bring the benefits of Virtual Engineering tools to the engineering and manufacturing practitioners themselves.