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C2ES: Boosting quality and market dominance through CAD & CAE

Interview - July 25, 2023

Since its establishment in 2015, C2ES has emerged as a leading analysis engineering company, offering a comprehensive range of cutting-edge software, engineering technology, consulting, and training services. With a diverse portfolio of solutions including Moldex3D for rapid and efficient molding and RTM simulation, CAD/CAE/VR total solutions, and the globally acclaimed ANIFORM and DIGIMAT Suite for composite forming analysis and composite Material Modeling, this South Korean company is making significant contributions to society through its innovative offerings.

SEUNGCHAN LEE, PRESIDENT OF C2ES KOREA
SEUNGCHAN LEE | PRESIDENT OF C2ES KOREA

After dominating labour-intensive industries up to the 1990’s, the Korean industry advanced into consumer products and quality-sensitive fields, beating its competitors by combining functionality with cost-effectiveness. As the South Korean industry continues to grow into a key global player in critical fields, such as semiconductors and advanced machinery, critics claim that the country might find itself ‘sandwiched’ between new and established manufacturing powers or that it will be incapable of creating a supply-chain less reliant on foreign technology. From a macroscopic perspective, what is your assessment of the strengths of the South Korean industry? And of the challenges the industry faces?

In my personal view, Korea has been leading the market since the nineties with conservative and traditional industries. However, the markets that have been driving the economic development of Korea include semiconductors, chip building, phones, and steel. South Korea is known globally as the best chip maker and has a strong presence in semiconductors and chips. With the six leading industries in Korea, we have been building knowledge and experience. Companies like Samsung and LG have established robust supply channels and networks worldwide, enabling us to improve product quality and build trust with other countries. The market is now more competitive than ever, especially after COVID-19, but thanks to these larger companies and their networks, we have been able to maintain our position in the top three globally. South Korea's membership in the G7 further demonstrates the country's economic power. Although we are still dealing with the economic damage caused by the pandemic four years ago, we have almost fully recovered, thanks to these companies that have built a steady supply chain and network. We proved our resilience ten years ago during the IMF crisis, where we quickly recovered. COVID-19 presented different challenges as the global economy was shaken, but we have been recovering and will continue to do so. I predict that by the end of this year, we will be completely back on track. I believe it is possible because of our knowledge, excellent resilience, and most importantly, our ability to overcome challenges.

 

The large brands of Korea, such as Samsung and LG, have played a crucial role in exporting South Korean products worldwide and establishing trust. However, when the media discusses the Korean industry today, one common criticism is that these big companies have become overly dominant. As these companies grow larger and more diversified, they tend to hinder the emergence of small and mid-sized enterprises. What are your thoughts on this issue, and do you agree? How would you rate the South Korean ecosystem for small and startup companies?

I believe that startup companies, for example, have their own ideas and technologies that they want to promote. I think they have a better chance of promoting their unique ideas compared to large companies. Politics and the economy are always intertwined, and since last year, with the new ministry in the country, it has become more business-friendly. I believe that the government is supporting both small and mid-sized companies as well as large companies. It seems more flexible compared to the previous ministry. One of the government's main focuses has been the worldwide issue with semiconductors, and they have been providing strong support to companies in this sector. Smaller companies are also receiving assistance and opportunities to compete with larger enterprises. The government achieves this by investing in materials and equipment that used to come from Japan, especially since Japan's ban. This support has been primarily directed towards smaller companies. I also believe that for these companies to survive, especially in Asia, they need to go beyond their limitations and leverage what they have. For example, they can explore conversions between different industries or apply new technologies to existing products. If you are an equipment company, why not incorporate AI into your products or establish a smart factory? By combining these elements, smaller companies can gain an advantage over larger ones. We are planning to collaborate with “Hankuk Carbon” and assist them in implementing AI into their equipment.

There is a leading company in the manufacture, production, and research of composite materials in the Korean market.
The name of the company is "Hankuk Carbon" and it is a very famous company in the world, and we are expanding our technology using CAE analysis. In the future, Hankuk Carbon plans to activate various CAE analysis and apply AI to composite materials, especially C2ES will provide technical support together.

 

For decades, CAE and CAD systems have offered useful tools, including simulations and validation to help engineers develop new product and production practices. As new technologies, including AI and VR, advance, the possibilities and scope of engineering software are expanding. How will new technologies, including AI and VR, impact the development of CAE and CAD?

The role of AI is to reduce errors by utilizing its accumulated database. By minimizing errors, we can enhance the quality, leading to an increase in value. When a product delivers greater value, it contributes to customer satisfaction. Once customer satisfaction is achieved, market domination becomes feasible. CAD was developed decades ago, and now we are focused on CAE, which aids in the design process. To further improve this, we can once again employ AI to analyze the database spanning the past 10 to 20 years. By utilizing AI, we can swiftly address deficiencies. Implementing AI in a company saves time and costs while simultaneously enhancing quality.

Allow me to share an example with you. Dassault and MSC Software, a prominent company operating in France and USA, has been at the forefront for the past 30 years. I have had the opportunity to work not only with Dassault and MSC Software but with many others as well. I have witnessed their progression, starting from CAD and advancing to CAE. Presently, they are all utilizing AI. I played a role in introducing these technologies in South Korea. Similarly, other companies in various sectors, such as hardware companies like HEXAGON and Siemens, are entering the AI market due to the valuable and significant opportunities it presents.

Taking Siemens as an example, they are renowned for their medical equipment. They have ventured into AI because by creating their own AI database, they can detect cancer at an earlier stage and expedite the analysis of appropriate treatments. The same principles apply to engineering industries involved in The same applies to engineering industries related to car manufacturing, spacecraft development, etc. Software companies such as C2ES' Korean partners Hexagon and MSC Software are also accelerating the development of great solutions such as AI, which can identify and efficiently solve various problems in complex manufacturing industries.

 

As technologies change, the role of the engineer or designer is also changing. Currently, in the broad manufacturing rail, we are seeing very big transformations in the materials being used. In the industry back in the day we used a lot of Steel and metals, nowadays it is fibers, CFRP, and certain types of plastics. You are an engineer today, you have the changing technology and software that keeps evolving and you are using altering materials. What services does the company offer that allows your clients to stay on top of all these new developments and how do you educate them in using all these new changing technologies?

Let me provide an example of how Virtual Reality (VR) is utilized. Instead of physically disassembling a car, we can showcase its appearance through VR. Similarly, when it comes to inspecting a large ship to ensure proper construction, welds, and leak checks, VR can significantly reduce the time required. Walking around the ship and verifying every detail can be a time-consuming task for an individual. However, with VR, there is no need to visit the ship in person. This also means that clients who have ordered a ship don't have to travel across the world to inspect it physically; they can observe the building process through virtual reality online.

HYUNDAI Motors is an example of a company that effectively employs AI. With factories located in the U.S., Brazil, France, and Turkey, they utilize AI for data sharing. France shares its designs, the U.S. shares its manufacturing data, and through artificial intelligence, this data exchange happens within seconds. When it comes to sharing data through AI and utilizing VR, it is crucial to educate our clients effectively. Leading companies in these technologies include Hexagon, Dassault, and Simemens. They excel at educating their clients and assisting them in adopting these new technologies.

We are currently assisting companies like HYUNDAI Motors, as well as the government, particularly universities, in building their data infrastructure, providing education, and delivering technology. Korean companies are striving to specialize in AI and training their teams in its utilization. New departments dedicated to these emerging technologies are being established. South Korea is one of the pioneering countries actively implementing these technologies. Presently, we C2ES Korea are collaborating with a Korea government institute on a 5-year project where AI is employed to minimize errors. Our government also provides financial support for such initiatives, enabling industries like ours to collaborate with the government in advancing AI development. In Korea, we have a framework called Industry, Education, and Research Development Collaboration, where we work together as a cluster in these areas.

In addition, C2ES is also preparing various CAE and AI research with renowned Korea government institutional research institutes such as KRICT, DYETEC, KICET and Hankuk Carbon, LG.

C2ES is collaborating with ZIOVISION (www.ziovision.co.kr), the most famous AI professional leader in Korea, to provide AI business applications to all industries, and through ZIOVISION's strong manpower and excellent experience, we will be able to maximize work efficiency through AI deployment in companies and research institutes in Korea.

 

This cluster focuses on South Korea. Looking at the future, are you also looking to diversify your clientele into more international companies, organizations, and research centers?

Yes, we C2ES  have already established partnerships with numerous Korean and oversea universities (UNIST, Texas State University, KUMHO, SEOUL, GNU, SMU, PSU....) and many Korea Government R&D centers, both domestically and internationally. One notable collaboration is with a renowned Netherlands, German, UK, USA R&D center known for its extensive research. Working together with these institutions, we have been at the forefront of the composites material and CAE Analysis industry.

 

Today, more than 16% of South Korea’s population is over the age of 65, a number that is expected to increase beyond 40% by the 2060’s. This demographic trend is causing a series of challenges for the country’s private sector. On top of a shrinking domestic market, the decrease in the working population is expected to create labor shortages. On the other hand, this unique demographic situation is forcing companies to adapt their production practices and to develop innovative products and solutions. What challenges and opportunities are Korea’s demographic situation creating for C2ES?

This is one of the reasons why we emphasize the use of CAE, as it enables us to save time, resources, and manpower. The current situation motivates us to further utilize and improve CAE. When using CAD, one needs to spend the entire day looking at the monitor to design a single product. However, with CAE, this is not the case. With a simple keystroke, the model appears on the computer screen instantly, eliminating the need for prolonged manual work. This significantly saves on labor hours. In Korea, we have a thriving concept called CAE virtual engineering. Our VE experts eliminate the need to rely solely on human resources. Another notable aspect of our industries is our speed. However, it is true that over 60% of our population is over the age of 65, and I myself am 63. Age should not be a barrier; anyone with the necessary background can work with CAE and AI. This is how I believe CAE and AI will have a positive impact on the country, as it empowers anyone to learn and utilize these tools, greatly benefiting the industry.

Let me mention HYUNDAI Motors once again as an example. They are not just involved in car manufacturing; they are also developing their own AI and robotics. In their factories, you will find more robots than people, indicating a shift toward automation. We can educate older generations to utilize robots instead of engaging in physically demanding work. This could potentially create new job opportunities for them, allowing them to leverage robots instead of relying solely on manual labor. In Korea, traditionally, individuals secure jobs at large companies when they are young and continue working until retirement. However, reaching old age does not mean the end of their contribution; it becomes their responsibility to teach and supervise. The expertise and knowledge possessed by older individuals are incredibly valuable and can be shared and applied by everyone. Japan excels in this regard, and Korea is also making progress, even if it may not be as visible. The policies in place are commendable, and I believe that all this knowledge will be passed on or stored in a database that can be utilized by AI.

Since signing your first partnership with Belgium company Capvidia in 2015, you have concluded a series of distribution and supply partnerships with more than 10 different companies. Looking at the future, are you looking for new partners? And, what does a partner of choice look like?

When it comes to complex materials, our company offers unique solutions that are unparalleled worldwide. We are capable of providing consultations and advice to other companies operating in this specific field. CAE and AI serve as tools that utilize these solutions. To achieve the desired outcomes, we need to input data, and obtaining accurate data requires testing. Therefore, we are seeking partnerships with testing companies, as they play a crucial role in providing the necessary data to develop the right solutions. For example, when designing an airplane wing, we need to conduct tests to ensure the desired outcome. The importance of testing becomes significant as it directly impacts the quality we strive to achieve.

Let's consider an example related to cars. Any car can reach a speed of 150 km/h, but to determine whether it is better to use diesel or gasoline, we need to conduct tests and provide the resulting data to AI systems. While many companies excel in CAE and AI, it is essential to acknowledge the preceding step, which involves materials. In the past, both Korean and German companies extensively used steel, particularly in the automotive industry. However, there has been a shift towards eco-friendly materials. To utilize these materials effectively, we need to understand their attributes and determine their ability to withstand collisions, which once again emphasizes the importance of testing.

Composite materials offer numerous advantages, and their use in car manufacturing has significantly increased. Companies like BMW and Honda Motors have been incorporating these materials in their concept cars, with carbon fiber being one of the main components. The usage of steel is decreasing while composite materials are becoming more prevalent. However, the challenge lies in the fact that composite materials consist of various components. To understand how these materials interact, we employ CAE software to analyze their different characteristics. By analyzing the data and inputting it into our software, we can obtain the desired outcomes.

In this sense, C2ES leads the Korean composite material analysis market and C2ES' composite material analysis CAE software (e.g., ANIFORM, Moldex3D, Digimat) is recognized as the world's most powerful solution and addresses the needs and problems of automotive and aircraft development, and C2ES's CAE experts satisfy the overall needs of Korean users. In addition, CAE solutions owned by C2ES will play a significant role in the research and development of UAM and PAV, the protagonists of the rapidly expanding future mobility worldwide in recent years.

In my opinion, when it comes to software development for these products, European countries, especially Netherlands, France, and Germany, lead the field, followed by the United States and Korea. South Korea is experiencing remarkable growth in this domain, surpassing other countries in terms of speed and advancement.

I'd like you to imagine if we come back to do another interview 5 years from today. Is there a goal or ambition that you would have liked to achieve and tell us in an interview?

Worldwide, there are numerous companies, including mine, specializing in CAE, each offering their own solutions. C2ES goal is to provide a comprehensive solution that covers the entire process, from testing to analysis, and supply it not only to Korean companies but also to companies overseas. In my opinion, an ideal scenario would be for each country or continent to focus on their strengths. For instance, European countries, being relatively smaller, can prioritize lightweight products, while the United States, with its ample space, can emphasize manufacturing.

In Korea, where we have strong human resources, we can focus on composite simulation and AI. Establishing a global network and fostering cooperation among these entities would be ideal. To provide a broader perspective, while running a business, profitability is important, I also have a keen interest in how we can contribute to environmental conservation. If we globally focus on our respective roles and work together, we can achieve this. For example, as a CAE software provider, we collaborate with HANKUK Carbon (www.hcarbon.com).

Although we are not directly involved in the material manufacturing process, we offer solutions that enable them to design eco-friendly parts from the initial stages. C2ES Korea has played a leading role in the Korean composite material analysis market for many years and is responsible as a leader in CAE field. In addition, "ANIFORM, DIGIMAT, MOLDEX3D, CADFIL, CONVERGENT," a powerful and excellent composite material analysis CAE solution owned by C2ES Korea, will provide high satisfaction to Korean customers. Composite material analysis experts from C2ES Korea will work together to grow with Korean users and make the best efforts to generate corporate profits.

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