By Kenneth Wong
In June, Private Equity HUB (peHUB), an online forum devoted to tracking and analyzing venture capital activities, filed a story titled, “VC-Backed Bust: Proficiency Inc.” In it, peHUB’s editor Dan Primack speculated “]Proficiency] appears to have ceased operations.”
In February 2008, Proficiency announced what appeared to be its last round of funding. “It has raised $4.25 million in funding led by Catalyst Investment,” said the company in a press release. This month, a new cash infusion arrives at Proficiency’s door in the form of a buyer. ITI TranscenData, headquartered in Milford, Ohio, decided to snatch up Proficiency for an undisclosed amount. (peHUB has previously reported, “]Proficiency] is in talks to sell its assets to a strategic buyer in Ohio.”)
Fig 1. This month, ITI TranscenData acquired Proficiency, its technology partner in CAD data translation.
Filling a Gap in ITI
In a mix of software solutions and consultation services, ITI TranscenData offers data interoperability solutions to manufacturers who must shuttle design files among different CAD, CAM, CAE, and PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) programs. Its software lineup includes CADfix, for repairing and manipulating imported CAD data; CADIQ, for spotting potential shape and fit problems and comparing differences between 3D CAD parts and assemblies; and DEXcenter, a server-based system for recording, storing, and managing data exchange transactions.
In addition to its own products, ITI TranscenData also offers Proficiency’s feature-based CAD translation technology (part of Proficiency’s Collaboration Gateway). ITI TranscenData’s DEXcenter users, for instance, have the option to use Proficiency’s technology for data translation.
“We made a decision years ago that we weren’t going to invest in developing a feature-based CAD translation product to compete with ]Proficiency],” revealed Margo Mohler, ITI TranscenData’s marketing manager. “We chose to partner with them instead. They were really a natural extension of our business.”
Mohler said, “We plan to continue to use ]Proficiency’s Tel Aviv, Israel] headquarter as the development center. That office will remain where it is.” Proficiency also keeps sales operations in various global locations, including Marlborough, Massachusetts, Munich, and Paris. Mohler said, “The field personnel ]Proficiency’s sales team] will continue to sell and support like they’ve always done.”
The acquisition should also provide assurance to Proficiency technology partners like Dassault Systemes, which, just two months ago, announced it intends to use Proficiency’s technology to drive the Dassault CAD Data Migration Factory initiative.
Proficiency caters to automotive, aerospace, and industrial machinery industries, where the use of PLM is considered crucial by many leading firms. With Proficiency as part of its product portfolio, ITI TranscenData can expect to see its PLM consultation opportunities expand.
Figs 2a and 2b. Proficiency’s CAD translation technology complements ITI Transcendata’s CAD interoperation solutions and services (screens here show ITI TranscenData’s CADIQ, a 3D CAD model validation product).
Manual Translation vs. Automation
At 2008 CATIA Operator Exchange conference, Alex Tsechansky, Proficiency’s vice-president of research and development, revealed the company was looking at snatching a share of the outsourced CAD translation market. Since CAD technicians are available at a lower rate in outsourcing hubs like India, some companies began outsourcing feature-based CAD translation to these destinations.
"The advantage of automating the translation is, you cut down on human errors, and we can process the conversion in large volume, so we can offer competitive pricing,” Tsechansky said.
This adds a new twist to ITI’s acquisition, since the company also offers CAD translation services, both manual and automated. For manual translation, made available for ITI TranscenData clients who prefer it, the company relies on outsourcing service partners in India.
Mohler pointed out Proficiency provides a much more cost effective solution to intelligent CAD data migration, especially when large amounts of legacy data are involved. “We want to keep both options available to our customers,” she said.