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Ford, UGS to develop software to get models to market faster

Associated Press

DEARBORN, Mich. -- Ford Motor Co. and software company UGS Corp. have agreed to work together to develop digital car-design software that will help get models from concept to market faster, the companies said.

Ford has been criticized by Wall Street analysts for bringing products to market too slowly. It has the oldest showroom lineup in the industry, according to analysts.

Ford already uses computers to design and test cars, but the new software would integrate all areas of design with production, said Richard Riff, a Henry Ford Technical Fellow with Ford.

Plano, Texas-based UGS will work with Ford so that data collected in testing by product development engineers could then be used simultaneously by engineers in the manufacturing section, Riff said Friday.

"Both sides are bringing their intellectual property, creating something new," he said.

When finished, the software could help eliminate the need to build prototypes until final prototypes are constructed for testing, Riff said.

Kevin Reale, research director for AMR Research, an industry consulting company, said it costs auto companies about $250,000 to build one prototype, money that could be saved with the software.

When product development engineers get data for new cars and trucks, the software would allow the company's purchasing and production staffs to simultaneously figure out which plant should build the car and what materials and tooling will be needed, Reale said.

Currently, engineers can't work on such projects at the same time, Riff said.

"There's not an ability to work on the same data at the same time exactly and still have 100 percent efficiency," Riff said.
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