BOSTON — Beneteau displayed its GT40 at LiveWorx 2019, a digital event held at Boston’s Convention and Exhibition Center June 8-11, to show how its partnership with digital manufacturing company PTC will impact its sales going forward.
“Today there are huge gaps between design, engineering, manufacturing, and sales and marketing,” George Armendariz, CEO of Groupe Beneteau Americas, told Trade Only Today. “So, we’ve decided to do some cutting-edge stuff in this realm.”
Those gaps can occur in each phase of the process — from engineering, design, manufacturing, sales and marketing, all the way through to service. PTC provides a digital thread for each boat model so that those gaps are filled.
“With this process, you have associativity from the start of CAD design, so when an engineer is working on a change--effectively through all levels all the way to the shop floor--they will have all the right parts in place,” said Mark Taber, marketing vice president of PTC.
For example, if a change is made on a boat after manufacturing has already commenced, the digital link would ensure the right parts are ordered to support that change and are available on shop floors. The process also ensures that the message delivered by the marketing department aligns with the company’s capabilities, so the options offered on various builds would be consistent with engineering and manufacturing capabilities.
PTC also supports the engineering “for mass personalization,” said Taber. One of its clients, BMW, makes 40 models with many dozens of options. “Customers in almost all industries expect that now,” he said.
Beneteau is among only four companies chosen — out of a pool of around 9,000 customers — to participate in PTC’s innovation program developed last year, said Taber.
“When we bring in new technology, those companies get to use it first,” said Taber, adding that PTC also has strategic relationships with other companies including Microsoft, Rockwell, Oshkosh Humvee and Bosch.
That gives Groupe Beneteau insight into technology that other companies might not see for a while, said Armendariz.
The company has been exploring augmented reality, or AR, on the sales and marketing side, said PTC senior application engineer Matt Mason. Augmented reality means that you use a screen or other device to integrate your actual world surroundings on top of a virtual one, like in the once-trendy game, Pokemon Go.
Mason held up an iPad with a faint line drawing of Beneteau’s GT40 on it and pointed at the actual boat, until it populated the line drawing.
He then walked through the boat, demonstrating how customers could see the boat names of their choosing on their preferred hull color, place it on an Italian lake with hills and chalets in the background, and check the boat feature by feature with views of the engine room, seating versus a grill on the aft deck, and so forth. Because everything from product design, engineering, manufacturing, production and onward is connected digitally, the options will match each model of boat.
Customers also have the ability to view areas of the boat from places they typically wouldn’t be able to access. Mason, for instance, took the viewer below-deck — virtually — and then allowed them to view the cockpit from below.
“You’ve all heard us talk about the cost of boat shows,” said Armendariz. “Imagine if we could come to a show with two or three models.”
Check out a video on board the GT40 here.