Like increasing numbers of smaller and specialist engineering companies, supercar manufacturer Ascari Cars turned to Dassault Systemes CATIA V5 for high performance engineering and a scaleable PLM solution for the future.

Ascari is an exclusive carmaker that builds high performance cars in low volumes. It will only ever make 50 KZ1s and 10 A10s, but the capturing and storing of engineering data is just as important as for high-volume manufacturers, and a vital part of creating and establishing an ongoing legacy for the company and for future teams of engineers.

Pete Manners joined Ascari Cars as a Consultant Engineer and in September 2005 became the design manager. At that time, Ascari’s small team of design engineers had worked with several different CAD systems: “We had various systems including CATIA V4 [but] I knew we needed to find a single system to consolidate all our data, and pave the way for future generations of Ascari cars. Design and engineering knowledge needs to reside within the computer network rather than the engineer,” he says.

“The digital representation is the master, and with a complex engineering project there may be hundreds of versions that all need to be kept up to date with every single change and iteration. PLM does that updating automatically, ensuring you’re always working with the most accurate information and creating a traceable evolutionary path for every component and part.”

Full-scale support

Manners researched several potential PLM systems and concluded that CATIA V5 has become the de facto solution within the automotive industry. “CATIA V5 clearly offered the functionality we were looking for,” says Manners, “so I approached our contact at Business Partner INCAT to find out if they could implement the scaleable solution we needed and which would also enable us to migrate our legacy data.”

INCAT proposed a flexible solution of CATIA V5 licenses including floating modules of Generative Shape Design, one license of STEP and one Sheet Metal Design module. “When you’re a small company like ours, you don’t necessarily have in-house specialists on hand to guide you through this kind of implementation process,” says Manners. “You need a technology partner you can trust to deliver a flexible honest solution with the right level of training and support.”

CATIA V5 has been in place at Ascari Cars for nine months and the team is already experiencing benefits in terms of time saving, seamless migration, design development and ease of use. It also enables effective communication with its partners and suppliers, offering seamless translation between most systems and speed of data transfer. The overall design development process has become quicker and easier, as Manners explains: “The more I use it, the more benefits I discover. For example, we used to communicate designs to our engineers using individual part drawings. Now I can create a full assembly drawing in minutes. This means changes can often be made in minutes rather than days. Since our cars are customised for each individual, this speed of flexibility has become invaluable.”

While Manners recognises the day-to-day benefits of using CATIA V5 it is the longer-term impact of the system that he sees offering the most potential: “Naturally, our attention is turning to future generations of Ascari Cars.

Using CATIA V5, we now have a single data source and a clear product development path, so that all the information from KZ1 can be easily accessed for any future design project, whether that is for road or race.”

For now CATIA V5 offers the company an excellent grounding in design, a consolidated approach to engineering data and a common intercommunications platform. The next generation of Ascari cars will trigger what Manners terms “a step change” in the company’s product development processes, creating a need for a more fully-fledged CATIA PLM system to cope with the ever increasing amount of engineering data, the expansion of the design team and an overall growth in the company’s production and output. More information is available at