Mazda from April 2004 will commence the second stage of its so-called digital innovation (MDI-II), which is claimed to further boost the engineering efficiency of the product development system.

The second stage will expand the engineering areas aided by digital technology in an effort to reduce the need to build and test costly prototype models. In order to support this initiative, Mazda will invest 13.9 billion yen ($US126 million) during the next four years to advance virtual-testing capabilities, to purchase new super computers and provide for the development of associated software.

Launched in 1996, MDI-I is said to have brought a dramatic improvement to the engineering efficiency of product development, reducing model development times from 27 months to between 12 and 18 months. This improvement was gained by introducing concurrent engineering of new products with common digital data that is shared throughout the process, from design and technical engineering, to testing and production preparation. For some new products to be launched in fiscal 2004, Mazda aims to complete the engineering process in 12 months.

MDI-II will further enhance the quality and speed of product development while aiming to further improve efficiency. It will maximise engineers' capability and creativity, and establish a system that verifies on a computer the functional capability, the quality and the production process of a new product before the design drawings are finalised.

Critical goals include establishing a system that allows all engineers in the product development system to share the latest engineering/manufacturing information and accelerate collaboration and concurrent engineering across divisions.

Mazda will also introduce state-of-the-art parallel computation that will dramatically shorten CAE analysis time and a 'digital factory' for simulation of production preparation for all products.

MDI-II will nearly double the amount of 'virtual testing' performed during the development process, improving the ability to forecast such things as collision performance and NVH levels.

The company will introduce a 'virtual reality system' to the design engineering process to present fresh ideas freely and quickly that can be seen on the computer and further studied; expand the use of testing equipment that accelerates concurrent engineering efforts - developing an engine and transmission at the same time, for example; establish an 'automatic designing system' that promptly designs and tests new ideas; create a virtual engineering environment that conducts a significant amount of wide-ranging and often difficult product verification; and further expand and maximise the use of testing equipment introduced during the first stage of MDI and more fully utilise the virtual engineering system that has been supported by Mazda-developed software.