MechChem Africa

Olivier Leteurtre, the Eurowest MD of Dassault Systèmes, presents his views about the ways that digital and virtual technologies are changing the world we live in

Olivier LeteurtreDassault Systèmes was created in 1981 by a team of engineers from Dassault Aviation, who had a vision to develop a high-end 3D design software suite. CATIA, the company’s flagship brand, was launched in that same year.

“Having been involved in high-end innovations for over 30 years, I am here today to discuss how we view innovation and to share some trends I have seen in the countries I visit,” Leteurtre begins.

Showing a slide full of superficially unrelated images, Leteurtre points to a virtual 3D image of a concept car branded AKKA Technologies, a design company with considerably know-how in automotive embedded systems associated with telematics and ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems). “Anything one can see and feel in a real car can now be simulated and tested in the virtual world,” he says, including the built-in intelligence and the market response.

Drawing attention to a medical image, he points out that, via additive manufacturing, it is now possible to manufacture body parts such as blood vessels, heart valves, skin, liver cells and even fully functioning bionic ears. “3D printing or additive manufacturing over- comes the need to go through the rigorous process of prototyping,” he says.

“Also, the world is moving towards digital certification, especially in the aerospace industry. By using digital models for certification, months can be saved on a development project and testing can commence without the need to invest heavily in manufacturing. Many industries are moving in this direction.

“Is this innovation? Yes, but innovation is no longer about R&D and the creation of IP. Why? Because we don’t buy products anymore, we buy a way of living or an experience. Look at how people use mobile phones. Everyone has their own unique device to suit their preferences and needs. So to innovate for the new generation, companies have to know their customers, even if they do not supply product directly to them,” he argues.

Citing a fitness equipment manufacturer in Italy, he relates that this market highly competitive. “The machines are not that complicated and the financial barriers to entry are low. So competition is fierce,” he says.

This company decided to create a down- loadable app for use by fitness centre members to enable exercisers to enter personal data such as age, weight, medical and physical details and problems. Then, by incorporating compatible intelligence into its machines, when a member goes to the gym the machines can offer personalised set-ups and routines to suit individual profiles.

This company now knows exactly how its end-users are using the machines. By collecting the data, designers are better able to develop the range to directly match the preferences of fitness equipment users. “They have also moved from being a hardware company to developing software ‘experience’ solutions,” Leteurtre notes.

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