For those firmly entrenched in the design engineering world, Dassault Systèmes has made a couple of head-scratching acquisitions in recent history: Last year’s purchase of Netvibes, a provider of customer sentiment analysis software was a good case in point.
But while engineering folks might wonder where business intelligence software fits within the product line of a company best known for CAD and product lifecycle management (PLM) solutions, Dassault’s acquisition this week of Apriso, which markets manufacturing execution software, is much less confusing and seems to be more clearly aligned with the company’s long-standing mission.
Apriso, which Dassault acquired for approximately $205 million in cash, delivers the FlexNet platform that goes beyond traditional plant-based manufacturing execution systems (MES) to deliver visibility and controls across a global manufacturing and product supply network. In addition to enabling real-time visibility and controls over the business processes commonly performed by plants and their suppliers, the Apriso product line also encompasses solutions for warehouse management, logistics, quality management, and lean manufacturing.
While Dassault’s 3DEXPERIENCE product line is best known for its emphasis on 3D digital mock up and PLM capabilities, the addition of Apriso FlexNet expands its range in manufacturing operations management—a key competency for companies looking to pair product innovation with manufacturing operational excellence. Dassault officials also said the new domain expands the company’s addressable market over the mid term by around $1 billion. Here’s how Dassault Systèmes President and CEO Bernard Charlès described the company’s direction during the press conference announcing the acquisition:
The question isn’t simply, ‘what is the next innovative idea?,’ but rather ‘Can you produce your idea quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively? Can you excel in global business responsiveness and local production agility?’ These are the questions the 3DEXPERIENCE business platform answers.
According to Charlès, Apriso’s product line complement’s Dassault’s 3DEXPERIENCE strategy, and particularly its DELMIA digital manufacturing software, to offer a complete solution that spans processes from product conception to product launch into stores. Dassault targeted Apriso because it offers companies the flexibility to quickly adapt to market changes, enables real-time operations monitoring across multiple plants, and also allows for shops to introduce process standardization across multiple factories.
Through the Apriso acquisition, Dassault is connecting the virtual world of digital design with the physical world of what’s happening inside the plants on a global basis, according to Patrick Michel, Dassault’s vice president of user experience for DELMIA.
“We are aiming to close the loop between engineering and manufacturing,” Michel says. Consider the example of an engineering change order related to a new product under development. With the extended Dassault/Apriso solution, an engineering team can consider the manufacturing implications around a specific product design as part of the initial conception process as opposed to dealing with potential issues after the design has already been finalized.
“The idea is think about the features of a new product that cause big headaches in manufacturing at the onset rather than taking six months to resolve an issue because no one was talking about it,” he explains. “We’re talking about taking manufacturing and putting innovation back into it by tying that vision closer to engineering.”
While integration between MES and product development systems has been part of the PLM vision for years, Michel says much of the integration work between systems happened at the individual customer level—a situation addressed by the Apriso acquisition. “We’re saying we’ll invest in this and deliver an integrated solution to the market,” he says.
To learn more about Apriso’s vision into global manufacturing operational excellence, check out this executive briefing video.