Magazine

Digital Design Needs More Work


The views of IBM's Stephen Ward on the future of digital and virtual design are very simplified and vendor-centric ("The dreams of digital designers," Industry Insider, July 9, North American edition and www.businessweek.com). A reader not familiar with the use of computers in product design might conclude that IBM, together with Dassault Systemes, were the only players and that digital design was a common, hassle-free practice. Both notions are untrue. Even though Dassault's CAD product, CATIA, is a common software in the automotive and aerospace industries, many other products are in use.

Ward also creates the impression that digital car-geometry generation is already a perfect approach. In reality, huge costs are added to the complete process of digital engineering within the automotive supply chain. In 1999, a National Institute of Standards & Technology study estimated that the U.S. automotive industry spends about $1 billion per year for the "repair" of poor geometry data or the complete reentry of insufficient geometry data in the product design cycle. These are not eliminated by using a single CAD system.

Even though standardization efforts have resulted in the powerful neutral product data exchange tool STEP (Standard for the Exchange of Product Model Data, ISO 10303), market-leading software vendors have been committed only halfheartedly to these standards to protect their proprietary data formats.

Wolfgang Geist

Managing Director

ConWeb

Munich Your otherwise excellent "Detroit rides alone" (American News, July 9), about how the Big Three U.S. auto manufacturers could meet higher fuel-efficiency standards, omits mention of one technology that reduces gas consumption by at least 25%. Infinitely variable transmission (IVT) was developed by Torotrak, and is being tested by Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp.

Humphrey Sturt

Reading, England

Detroit's alarmist projections about the impact of higher fuel-efficiency standards are indeed to be discounted. Detroit has only itself to blame. Japanese and European manufacturers have been pushing [fuel efficiency] technology while GM and Ford have devoted their resources to marketing such frivolous and irresponsible vehicles as the luxury pick-up gas-guzzlers that they recently unveiled. They need to stop whining and start catching up with the rest of the world.

Paul W. Rosenberger

Manhattan Beach, Calif. As a global publication, maybe you should consider using the international term for football ("Will soccer's rulers ever clean up their game?" European Business, June 25). "Soccer" is not used by most of the world. Even in its native England, "soccer" is only a slang term for [association] football.

Talk to the world. Don't pander to U.S. readers, who really should know by now that the world game is football, not American-rules football.

Neil Hardwick

Taipei Rather than dismissing the European approach to antitrust as protectionism ("Europe: A different take on antitrust" American News, June 25), perhaps we should take another look at our own "consumer-oriented" approach. When I bought a computer for my home at the end of 1994, the only pre-assembled computer packages available were equipped with Windows, basic word processing and spreadsheet capabilities, and some other extras. As a WordPerfect devotee, I bought a custom-assembled computer, at increased cost.

Were consumers in general being hurt by Microsoft's tactics in 1994? Not when you consider the computer revolution that began with those bundled Windows machines. But that's when the pattern of injury to competition began.

Maybe if the publisher of WordPerfect, or Lotus, or some other competitor had complained in 1994 about Microsoft's bundling tactics, we'd have a far healthier computer industry today.

Injury to a competitor is an early warning sign of injury to consumers.

Robert H. Park

Madison, Wis.


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