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design direction. As soon as this was achieved the design team quickly moved to digital media for all subsequent development. In a radical departure from accepted processes, CATIA was used to progress not only the engineering design but also the styling - developing both in tandem. Computational fluid dynamics ( CFD) was also used to simultaneously refine the design' s aerodynamic performance without having to resort to physical models and wind tunnels - another benefit afforded by the totally digital approach. This created a highly- integrated process which helped reduce timescales and smoothed the workflow. New thinking Ken Anderson, MIRA' s engineering design manager, explains the reasoning behind this new approach: " Styling the design directly in the industry- standard CATIA software enabled the requisite design engineering to progress in tandem with styling evolutions. By doing this we were able to ensure at all times that proposed styling changes were feasible within known legislative, structural and packaging constraints." Anderson continues: " As a design and development consultancy, simply replicating our client' s designs and processes will not draw them to MIRA. We need to show that we bring something new to the table. Optimus demonstrates our commitment to the delivery of new thinking and fully- engineered solutions." The final design comprises a generic chassis able to incorporate bespoke body panels. Customers benefit from a high- quality engineered product, which they can ' customise' to their own brand identity, but at a fraction of the usual cost of developing a new vehicle. By adopting the modular design and digital process, vehicle makers will be able to slash months off development schedules and millions of pounds off development spend from future vehicle programmes. " The project has repositioned MIRA in the minds of our customers," believes Anderson. " No longer are we regarded as simply a development partner. Today full programme responsibility - from styling right through to production - is the order of the day." more information? click here!

By Paul Janson How to provide flexible support for challenging economic times T he automotive design industry is currently in a period of change as the established methods are being put under the spotlight and their effectiveness questioned. The processes used, and the way they are staffed are changing as rapidly as the financial situation and the technologies available. The ' one glove fits all' approach is no longer suitable, as OEMs realise that they need to be different, not only through their designs, but how they create them. This situation requires adaptable resources.