Product Lifecycle Management: Success Of JT Open Grows

Two-year anniversary brings together collaborators -- manufacturers, vendors and academia -- to accelerate collaboration in product development.

Collaboration -- the customer need for it -- inspired the formation of Plano, Texas-based UGS Corp. from more than a dozen best-of-breed design solution providers. Then collaboration became the corporate mission via product lifecycle management (PLM). Now another UGS collaboration milestone -- last December's two-year anniversary of its JT Open forum of JT file-format users.

More than 100 members of the growing conference gathered at a Detroit seminar to document that with JT, "Innovation is a Team Sport." The JT file format makes it easy to visualize design data from different CAD, CAM, CAE, PLM and other applications, says UGS Corp.'s Chris Kelley, vice president, partner and platform marketing. JT offers the easy ability to access the 3-D data without having to invest in buying a CAD seat.

The need for facilitating collaboration is critical and growing, says Dave Shirk, executive vice president, global marketing. "In today's global manufacturing environment, supply chains include a wide variety of organizations and can extend across multiple continents. Studies have shown that as much as 60% of new product costs are external and that 50% of product quality problems can be traced back to outsourced materials or services." With the JT file format as the cross-platform collaboration tool, costs fall and quality improves, he adds.

When JT Open debuted in December 2003, automotive OEMs General Motors, Ford, Daimler-Chrysler and Renault were already vocal proponents of using the file format to facilitate engineering data access internally and by suppliers. The OEMs started using JT in the mid-1990s, Kelley says.

Membership in JT Open provides the advantage of a strong direct voice in the future direction of the UGS technology. As the name suggests, membership is open. In addition to users such as the auto OEMs, the membership includes software vendors (even competitors such as PTC), interest groups such as HP, Microsoft and SAP and universities in the United States, Europe and Asia-Pacific.

Ford Motor Co. initially employed JT in 1993 to facilitate the move to virtual mock-ups to reduce the need for expensive hand-built prototypes, says Ford's Dave Knapp, principal architect, product creation, Dearborn. He says JT simplifies collaborative design, enables cross-platform visualization and makes possible data integration with many applications. Ford uses UGS and Dassault CAD systems.

General Motors Corp.'s JT involvement also began by facilitating digital mock-ups in the 1990s. "Internal applications of JT continue to build," says Diane Jurgens, global director, strategic applications, Information Systems and Services Division, Detroit. "In addition to [supporting] collaboration among our global engineering centers, we want to continue to add applications that can leverage our JT data. An example: assembly documentation -- rather than creating a special drawing, this would allow people on the factory floor to directly look at the lightweight visualization data."

Also, Jurgens says, "GM has been working with other OEMs and other manufacturers to promote JT as an exchange format with suppliers. A JT2Go Viewer on the UGS Web site allows any supplier to download the tools necessary to view and visualize engineering data."

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