London Taxi Company's advantage of using CATIA

LTI Limited (now The London Taxi Company (LTC)) is synonymous with the ‘black cab’, which is an icon of London, and recognised around the world as the very best purpose-built taxi. The first one left the production line in 1948, and since then more than 100,000 taxis have been manufactured. The hand-built vehicles can be seen everywhere in the streets of London and major cities throughout the UK, as well as in North America and conurbations globally. The latest taxi, the TXII, was launched in 2002, with features designed for maximum passenger comfort and accessibility, as well as with special consideration for wheelchair users, partially sighted and hearing impaired people.

Vehicle design

Enhancement of the vehicle design is an ongoing process with planned upgrades, homologation requirements and compliance with American FMVSS requirements – all necessary to maintain the position of the TXII as the world’s premier taxi. The Coventry design department is responsible for the evolution of the ‘black cab’, and it wanted to move towards a solid modelling environment, to enable it to have better control over new designs and modifications.


Digital Model

CATIA V5 and ENOVIA SmarTeam were installed in January 2004 providing a PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) solution to replace the company’s existing CADDS5 computer-aided design system. This was prompted by the aim of having a fully defined solid model of the taxi.

Terry Bailey, Engineering Manager for LTC, elaborated,

Integrating details of proprietary supplied components will help us to build up a complete digital model of the vehicle.”  

Richard Craner, Design Engineer for LTC, continued,

The advantages of using CATIA V5 solid modelling are the powerful analysis tools available, enabling us to validate the design rather than going through the development prototype route.”

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PLM Solution

Clash detection tools and plans to use finite element analysis techniques in the future will have a significant impact on the quantity and quality of prototypes built by LTC. The company has also embraced PLM and uses SMARTEAM to manage its engineering change control, further speeding the design iteration process.

Richard Craner said,

The digital model, which is our first aim, will produce a higher standard of data, engineering changes will be much quicker and simpler and we anticipate improvements in quality. Prototypes will be right first time, and prototype production will be reduced. It has the potential of stretching the boundaries and adding more intelligence into the design.”

Digital data will also be shared with LTC’s suppliers, providing models for those capable of working with them. Furthermore, drawings and models will be shared around LTC’s factory, disseminating the latest engineering data directly to its point of use.

Black Cab iconic London Taxi Company

1st class service

LTC chose Desktop Engineering as its partner for the implementation of CATIA V5 and SMARTEAM. Desktop Engineering’s knowledge of both CADDS 5 and CATIA V5 was of key importance to LTC in helping it to migrate to V5.

Richard Craner commented,

They provided the methodologies we required to successfully migrate data as well as introducing us to drawing office standards for the successful implementation of V5. We are getting on far quicker than we thought.”

After the initial training, Desktop Engineering’s technology transfer programme helped LTC to work on particular projects and develop best practice. This was followed by continuing support, both on-site and by telephone, to resolve any operational issues as they arose. Richard Craner added,

We can’t fault the service we have had from Desktop Engineering, it has been 1st class.”

Geoff Haines, Managing Director of Desktop Engineering commented,

LTC has been a loyal customer of ours for many years, and their migration to a CATIA PLM solution is an emphatic endorsement of the quality and value of the relationship we have with them. I am sure that they will gain significant business advantage through this change.”

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We can’t fault the service we have had from Desktop Engineering, it has been 1st class.
Richard Craner, Design Engineer - LTI, London Taxi Company

Step Forward

All the seven design engineers are equally happy with V5. Having the familiar Windows platform for the software has produced a much shorter learning curve, enabling them to concentrate on the new way of working which constitutes a different philosophy and a big step forward for LTC .

Desktop Engineering set out the objectives and stuck to the planned installation. Their depth of knowledge has shown through.”

Richard Craner

Terry Bailey concluded,

We can see that major automotive OEMs are going down the V5 route, which will have an effect on our supply chain. V5 has already produced a significant improvement to our systems.”

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