Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) has secured a research grant (RM825,000) from the European Union Sixth Framework Programme: Priority : (Information Society Technologies). Through this grant, UNIMAS will collaborate with European and South-East Asian Partners such as Damai Sciences, Volvo Technology Corporation, Centro Ricerche Fiat, Universität Stuttgart, University of Nottingham to develop the Computerized Automative Technology Reconfiguration System for Mass Customization (CATER).
ICT & Automotive Industries
The automotive industries has become increasingly competitive. To remain relevant in todays demanding customer-centric market, they must harness the power of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Surprisingly, the automotive industries are evolving at a slow pace in catering to this customer’s need. In order to adapt to the current changes, the automotive industry needs to be highly networked, and this requires it to restructure its commmunication process, with emphasis on its business-to-business relation.
The CATER project aim to bridge the gap that exists in the ICT world today by delivering an integrated system that can accommodate the requirements of the customer, car manufacturers and suppliers. The project commenced on 1st September 2006 and is expected to be completed in early 2009. Mass customization of cars over the Internet will be made possible by intergrating manufacturing production automation, supply chain management and sales-service support, into a collaborative web of interactive commerce. CATER will introduce innovations that can enhance customer relationship management, as well as support the needs of concurrent engineering team, a juggle which has been proven to be a great challenge in today’s automotive industries. Other innovations that CATER offers would include: CITARASA engineering, 3D Do-It-Yourself design system with virtual reality interface, teardown reconfiguration system, design history system, and the integration of the CATER databases within the supply chain network. A common platform will be built in order to support the different activities that exist between customer and car designers, allowing them to work collaboratively with each other.
European Union-Asia Partnership
The European Union has clearly stated that Asia is a crucial partner for Europe in three different aspects: economy, politics and culture. CATER will not only bridge the conceptual gaps in the automotive design, but it will also present opportunities for people to work collaboratively, transcending cultural as well as geographical barrier. It will also incorporate a new dimension to the partnership between the European Union and Asia, through scientific research and development, for joint implementation and benefits, by employing the use of ICT.
The CATER project is organized into various modules and the Faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology, UNIMAS will oversee the development of a teardown database system which would contain a 3D-model data of vehicle components that can be retrieved easily. The teardown database will also allow the application of integrated indexing and similarity measurement technique for data retrieval from multiple databases formats.
CATER will support the automotive industry needs to stay afloat by helping them to build a car that customer wants, as opposed to the old business model where customers choices are limited by what is offered by the automakers.