The role of IT in speeding up growth of automotive companies is assuming greater prominence: Chandan Chowdhury, Dassault Systemes

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Published: January 3, 2015 1:29:58 AM

In the near future most automobile manufacturers would deploy telematics, embedded software and in-vehicle infotainment to enhance their...

“In the near future most automobile manufacturers would deploy telematics, embedded software and in-vehicle infotainment to enhance their competitive positions. The challenge, however, would be to integrate the various technologies and offer in-vehicle experience in the most simple, seamless, safe and user-friendly manner,” believes Chandan Chowdhury, MD, India, Dassault Systemes, a company which specialises in the production of 3D design software, 3D digital mock-up and product lifecycle management (PLM) solutions. In an interaction with Vikram Chaudhary of The Financial Express, he says that the future technological development in the Indian automotive industry would be driven by changing demands in the core areas of fuel efficiency, emission reduction, safety, durability, cost optimisation and innovative features. Excerpts:

How can your 3DExperience platform tackle the challenges faced by manufacturing industries, particularly the automobile industry?
Information technology is revolutionising products. Once composed solely of mechanical and electrical parts, products have become complex systems that combine hardware, sensors, data storage, microprocessors, software and connectivity in myriad ways. These ‘smart, connected products’ bring new dimension of manufacturing and design challenges to any company which is catering to the needs of new preferences of today’s consumer. To achieve sustainable competitive advantage, a company must be able to differentiate itself and thus command a price premium, operate at lower cost than its rivals, or both. The 3DExperience platform provides software solutions for every organisation in an automotive ecosystem—from marketing to sales to engineering—that help our customers in the value creation process.

How do 3D solutions reduce manufacturing cost?
More than 1 billion euros per year are spent today by the OEMs across the world for producing prototypes before a vehicle is validated for mass production. We see a new trend has started—called NPD (No Prototype Development)—this requires phenomenal transformation in adopting digital technology across the organisation to optimise the ‘verification and validation’ process and reduce manufacturing cost significantly. If potential issues of products can be checked early in the product development phase, the cost incurred in fixing them can be drastically reduced.

Do we think auto companies in India will increasingly use concepts such as NPD?
Automobile manufacturers would deploy telematics, embedded software and in-vehicle infotainment to enhance their competitive positions. The challenge, however, would be to integrate the various technologies and offer in-vehicle experience in the most simple, seamless, safe and user-friendly manner. The future technological development in the Indian automotive industry would be driven by changing demands in the core areas of fuel efficiency, emission reduction, safety and durability, cost optimisation and innovative features. With the focus on green technology, green vehicle manufacturing—product and process innovation and enhancement of efficiency and productivity—would assume centre-stage. In view of fluctuating fuel prices and increasing expectations of Indian consumers for cost-effective and fuel-efficient vehicles, OEMs would place greater thrust on two core areas—reduction in weight of the vehicle and development of smaller engines. The need for improved margin would put cost optimisation high on the industry’s agenda. This would increase the need for local sourcing, local manufacturing and collaborative multi-plant operations. Globalisation objectives would lead to companies widening their presence, not just within the domestic boundaries but also across the global markets. The role of IT in speeding up the growth process and in managing growth of automotive companies is assuming greater prominence.

The automotive landscape in India is changing quickly…
The recent McKinsey analysis (The road to 2020 and beyond: What’s driving the global automotive industry?) lays out the imperative clearly for the automotive industry—the global automotive industry is about to enter a period of wide-ranging and transformative change, as sales continue to shift and environmental regulations tighten.

Of all the automotive companies in India, which are your biggest customers?
More than 80% of global OEMs, including suppliers, use our design portfolio as their primary CAD system, but some of the leaders in this domain such as Ford, Toyota, Renault, JLR, Honda, Volvo, etc, use our 3DExperience platform. Tata Motors, Ashok Leyland, Mahindra & Mahindra and Maruti Suzuki also use our applications.

How do you foresee the Indian automobile manufacturing landscape changing in 2015 and beyond?
The government with the help of regulatory bodies ARAI and SIAM is trying to give directions for the long-term growth of the automotive industry in India and is giving a special impetus to the automotive component sector as well, aligned with its ‘Make in India’ policy. Key policy decisions such as the National Electrical Mobility Mission Plan, new fuel efficiency norms, Bharat New Vehicle Safety Assessment Program and Vehicle Recall Policy are expected to change the direction of the industry since it is becoming important to be transparent with the customer on vehicle quality. Perceived quality has been an important criterion for many customers and this is getting reflected in the consumer’s choices and the associated market share of many OEMs. Of all the sectors, the two-wheeler sector has been growing fast and there will be a significant amount of consumer choices with new entrants in the market, especially in 200cc-plus segment. With the growth in demand of luxury cars coupled with relaxation of FDI norms by the government, many global automotive OEMs have been ramping up investment in India to meet the rising domestic demand. These players are expected to leverage India’s cost-competitiveness and create export hubs for specific segments/brands.

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