Section 7. The Functions that Supported Globalization
Item 3. Further Improvement of Monozukuri
Development of digital engineering
The rapid advances in IT that occurred from the mid-1990s also affected automotive development and production, paving the way for digital engineering technology that utilized digital data. In 1996, TMC's production engineering divisions took the lead in developing the V-Comm (Visual & Virtual Communication) system and began introducing digital engineering.
V-Comm was a program that allowed computerized virtual 3D assembly of new model designs based on vehicle design data and parts data received from suppliers. The system could be used to study workability, interference between parts, quality, and appearance. Compared to previous assessment methods based on the study of prototypes, the ability to identify problems on screen at an early stage shortened the time required to prepare for production, as well as lowered costs. The system also allowed visual communication with plants in remote locations, such as outside Japan, and made worldwide simultaneous production startup of new models possible. Use of digital engineering was expanded to cover the production of major components such as engines and transmissions, and progress continued to be made with such digital factory technology.