Modern Times in Manufacturing

Watching Charlie Chaplin working the assembly line makes a lasting impression of what manufacturing means. Nuts and bolts, big wheels turning, adrenaline pumping. Clearly, manufacturing is where things are done.

Think of Ford’s production of the Model T like “Tin Lizzy” which started just over 100 years ago in 1908. The goal: produce a reliable automobile at a price people could afford. The price was just 400$ at the time and this was quite an achievement, but the color was black and custom changes not at hand. Fifteen million models of the same car have been produced at the Highland Park Plant in Michigan during a period of 19 years (video).

Times have changed no doubt. After the revolution of Total Quality Control which has driven the manufacturing industry to re-engineer their processes, improve their tools and train their staff to focus on better and better products, market demand for Mass Customization has forced discrete manufacturing to allow a great deal of flexibility to build individual variants from product platforms. See for example what offers the Mini brand to customers: not only they can configure their new car online with colors and all features, but they are also invited to add their unique design to go on the roof top of a car which hereby becomes a custom product.

And of course there is an ever increasing and pervasive pressure for short time to a global marketplace, surely at competitive cost structures, to be realized at the best locations, at the same time meeting demand for best quality, the right features, and all meeting legal regulations.

This makes a seemingly simple product like a printed T-shirt a global challenge. With designs changing about every 5 weeks at a leading fashion retailer … 5 sizes, 4 cuts, 10 colors, 100 variants of prints, 10 production sites in 5 countries, 1500 shops in 73 countries … you do the math regarding what needs to be accomplished to have those products ready for sale in stores for customers.

Manufacturing today has acquired an enormous complexity. The challenge: enable managers to visualize the global picture and gain the controls needed to take the right decisions. Supply chains, equipment and resources need to be managed. Production schedules and logistics need to be organized.

Manufacturing has also become an integral part of the PLM process which is interwoven with design and engineering. Production needs to be prepared early during the design process and product changes need to be accommodated with no delay, even long after production has started. PLM software has become the backbone to manage the challenges in collaborative manufacturing. Read more about how DELMIA’s 3D virtual factory solutions support the creation of innovative production systems and enables experience of the complete manufacturing lifecycle.

A key component to the success of the 3D virtual factory is the ability to integrate with enterprise-wide ERP systems, to connect product engineering with manufacturing execution. These systems allow production people visualize what “is to be produced” and track change requests in real-time. To serve that need, Dassault Systèmes DELMIA has established a close partnership with Intercim, a leader in Manufacturing Execution Systems.


With 25-year experience and over 200 customers in data rich manufacturing, Intercim takes care to proliferate information required to build the product to the shop floor, by bringing engineering, manufacturing and quality communities on the same collaboration platform. Thanks to the deep integration with Dassault Systèmes PLM platform, customers can reuse all their virtual information for real production and vice versa. Find Intercim on the PLM Marketplace.

The close loop between the real world and the virtual environment creates tremendous benefits and makes it an indispensable ingredient for customers who aim for 21st century manufacturing operations.

Enjoy a beautiful month of May.


A scientist by education I learned to enjoy more to work with people across cultural hemispheres than in a lab. This is why partnerships and alliances has become my domain of choice. My job at DS is to help our Tech Solution Partners global ecosystem to show how they can contribute their expertise to the global PLM solution and 3D experience. Our partners are experts in their specialties which makes me learn a thing or two every day. I enjoy that too.

Latest posts by Michael (see all)