When you think of 3D, it should be Dassault
Whether it is the development of world's cheapest car, Nano, or the biggest aircraft, 3D solutions from Dassault Systèmes is used to design them. The French company's design software helps companies across industries develop, simulate and optimise the lifecycle of their products. Instead of doing a physical prototype, Dassault helps in making a digital prototype of the product in a 3D environment.
Mr Bernard Charlès, CEO, Dassault Systèmes, has made the company a leading supplier of Product Lifecycle Management, or PLM solutions. He has taken the key steps in Dassault's evolution, including the development of the Version architecture and the introduction of the V6 online collaborative platform. He was also instrumental in the development of PLM portfolios with new brands and a broader access to 3D, with the acquisition of SolidWorks and the launch of the 3DVIA brand.
In 2007, Mr Charlès received the insignia of the Chevalier de la légion d'honneur and was appointed member of the Académie des Technologies in 2009.
Mr Charlès believes that India offers a huge business potential. “There is no regular visit to India. There are so many things going on. Each time I come here, it is always an exciting moment. I had a lovely holiday on a boathouse on Kerala's backwaters. It was a week's holiday, and for me it was a very long time,” he told Business Line recently.
In an hour-long interview, Mr Charlès spoke on issues ranging from his holidays in India to the opportunities for Dassault in India. Excerpts from the interview:
Why are you so optimistic about India?
Lot of things are going on here. India is developing in many sectors, including transportation, mobility, infrastructure and aerospace. All these are huge sectors and we also have focus on these. We had our role in bringing out Nano. We have a big list of Indian companies that have used our design software to build products right from packaging of biscuits to complex works being done in mobility, energy, shipbuilding and infrastructure construction. Britannia, Tata, Mahindra & Mahindra, L&T have been using our products for a long time. India is not only a manufacturer or supplier of products but is becoming a brand. It is really exploding.
Dassault, in a way, pioneered 3D design in the 1980s. Boeing was a good example, right?
We did a quick physical mock up of aeroplanes in the 1980s and continue to do that. We want to make 3D pervasive for many things, including application on the Web. Many industries do not do prototypes. They now just do digital prototype. In fact we started with BMW and Daimler having a surfacing product. We continue to be available on new devices. Then we did 3D for ports. In early 2000, if you can do digital mock up, why not see the movie from initial idea to the final product. This, we called product lifecycle management. We invented it. Before 2000, PLM was used to express the fact while we redefined it as a way on how to go from ideation to product delivery. PLM has become a best practise. In the last 15 years, PLM has become a business not a technology. While digital mock up was an engineering system, PLM is a business system.
Is it a 3D experience?
The idea behind 3D experience is to use a game-like, realistic experience to express the idea of what one wants to have in the end product. This might be a way to invent what is the product that you are dreaming of. If you think about search, you will think of Yahoo! or Google. If you think of social networking, you will think of Facebook or Twitter. When you think of 3D experience, it should be Dassault.
Could you elaborate on the aerospace sector?
All new aeroplanes in the world, nearly 90 per cent of them, are based on our solution. So, the reality is that we have demonstrated that if you want to do an aeroplane, it is very difficult to do it without our system. About 15 years ago, an aeroplane programme of single aisle used to take 8-10 years. Now, the same programme, the best and fastest company can develop it in four years. In other words we have reduced the cycle time to develop a plane. Most of our customers are connected in the globe. They involve resources from different parts of world. Developing a product will not be possible without virtualisation or connecting people from different parts of the world.
What's your strategy in India?
It is related to the manufacturing. It seems clear to me, that many manufacturing companies in India want to create world class brands. They want to serve the domestic market first but want to go global. There is a clear trend in the past decade to set a global brand. The Tatas and M&M are good examples. To do this, you need to be competitive, product quality and offer a product, which is of good value. That is why for us the Indian market is very important.
Where is the demand for PLM coming from?
Great brands like M&M, Maruti Suzuki, Ashok Leyland and Tata, have dreams to create new products in a competitive way. We have nearly 2,000 clients, including companies and educational institutions, here.
Any views on your R&D centre in India?
It has been nearly 10 years since the centre was set up. It does high quality work on all of our products. Globally, we have 30 development labs with nearly 6,0000 researchers. Of this, nearly 1,500 are in India [in Chennai, Bangalore and Pune].
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