Bell Helicopter launched its Business Systems Modernization (BSM) initiative in 2008, largely to replace aging legacy systems with more modern, integrated solutions. A key element of the initiative has been to establish a single source of information to maximize collaboration and improve the efficiency of communications, of which the use of Dassault Systèmes’ ENOVIA platform has been essential.
“We chose ENOVIA from Dassault Systèmes, not as an engineering tool or even just as a CAD data manager, but to manage all of our aircraft and product data, from contracts all the way down to capturing the delivered aircraft as a bill of material in ENOVIA,” says Jeff Cloud, manager of systems engineering and engineering operations at Bell.
In the latest cycle of the ongoing BSM effort, Bell chose to upgrade from ENOVIA V6R2011 to ENOVIA V6R2013x to capitalize on new functionality. “We have more than 6,500 ENOVIA users worldwide,” says Charles Marsh, chief of design tools and standards at Bell. “And V6R2013x serves a broad range of different roles at Bell.”
Those roles range from people who write contracts to design and manufacturing engineers to quality engineers. “They all use ENOVIA to access our product information – whether it is CAD design, computer-aided manufacturing, planning instructions, certification documents or requirements – we carry the whole gamut of the company on ENOVIA,” says Marsh.
Bell uses V6R2013x to manage all of its product data – from requirements and 3D models to documents and drawings. “All of our documents are now more like objects,” says Cloud. “We have them all in one place and all of the approvals are in ENOVIA.” As a result, overall productivity at Bell has improved noticeably. V6R2013x has brought improved interoperability between ENOVIA and CATIA V6 to Bell. “Behaviors in ENOVIA can now be replicated in CATIA, so that you have one platform,” says Marsh. This has led to the zero files approach that is beginning to take hold at Bell. “All of our documents are now more like objects,” Cloud says. “We have them all in one place and all of the approvals are in ENOVIA.” There is one place for everyone in the company to go to find the information they need.
Bell has learned a lot throughout its BSM journey about project implementation. One major lesson, Marsh stressed, is to build an environment for development and testing that is customer representative. But the biggest lesson learned from the V6R2013x upgrade, says Marsh, is to make a very robust plan. “Plan for mistakes; plan for challenges; staff the plan; identify issues early and get risks mitigated,” he says. “Ensure that you’ve got engagement from all areas of the business validating that your business needs are still being met. And plan in such a way that your implementation can be event- or gate-driven, not date-driven. There’s always a time factor, but you want to ensure you get the functionality required. You don’t want to break things that are working.”