Innovative design now the clincher, not the carbon tax

Manufacturers should forget worrying about the possible effects of the Federal Government's carbon tax and make more of an effort to design their products in a sustainable way.

MANUFACTURERS should forget worrying about the possible effects of the Federal Government’s carbon tax and make more of an effort to design their products in a sustainable way.

Bertrand Sicot, US-based Chief Executive of SolidWorks, believes Australian manufacturers should make more of an effort to design their products in a sustainable way.

"By a sustainable way, I mean taking a holistic view of the impact of design decisions – considering material efficiency, production waste, disassembly and re-manufacturability of the product or project.

"Companies who fail to realise this will be at a significant competitive disadvantage," Sicot told Manufacturers’ Monthly on his recent visit to Australia.

"It’s all about innovation. If you want to stay ahead in whatever industry you are in, you need to innovate. There is now a growing trend in industry to sustainable design. It’s no longer just a buzz word.

"And it’s not only about green products, it’s also about making sure that over time it can become a competitive advantage.

"We believe at Dassault, we have the technology in the design process to help companies to achieve that."

Sicot says it’s important for manufacturers to work on the sustainability of the product early in the design process.

"For example, when you design a product, 85% of the product is often set in stone by the engineering department, so if you don’t think about innovation, specifically sustainability, ahead of time then you cannot change anything."

"Whether we like it or not, the next generation, our kids, will be sensitive to sustainability issues, because we have no other choice," he said.

Price not the only issue

Sicot says many manufacturers make the mistake of thinking their customers are just interested in price, "the lower the better".

"The idea that sustainability in a product makes it more expensive is not true.

"By sustainability I mean a holistic view, from cradle to grave. It’s not only how you produce the product and the material you are using, but also how you decommission a product and its impact on the planet.

"When you design a product you can define the geometry, you can do some FEA (finite element analysis) with our simulation product on how it’s going to behave, and then there is another form of simulation you can do, the sustainability simulation of the product.

"That’s what we can deliver to our customers, to understand better what the environmental impact is of their design."

Sicot explained that SolidWorks’s Sustainability product now has a costing module, where the engineering department can create the product, plus look at the cost of it and at the same time look at the four parameters for sustainable design.

"We loop the loop. Today we have included solutions which allow you to design a cost effective product while at the same time looking at the product’s impact on the planet," Sicot said.

Kernel change

When questioned on Solidwork’s proposed kernel change, Sicot bristled at the suggestion that users will be disadvantaged.

"There is no kernel change, we are working on the next generation of CAD and the next generation of SolidWorks will be based on version 6 platform of Dassault Systems," Sicot said.

He was adamant this move will have no impact at all on SolidWorks customers.

"It’s all a game; we know our competitors speak a lot about us. I like that, it’s free advertising."

Sicot scoffed at the idea that Siemens PLM’s history-free synchronous technology feature is an advantage, describing it as a "marketing ploy".

"The reality comes from our users, who say having a history tree alongside their design has a lot of advantages.

"It’s not a question of having a good marketing word, it’s making sure the users have what they need, and that’s all that matters for us at SolidWorks," Sicot said.

SolidWorks is represented in Australia by Intercad and SolidTech.