The New Frontier in Digital Design: Automating Optimization

Editors like to nitpick, not just about when to use semicolons and em dashes but also about the way specific terms are used in publications. The term that has lately been stirring up discussions and debates among DE editors is optimization. Last weekend, after visiting Altair‘s office in Troy, Michigan, I found myself deep in conversation with managing editor Jamie Gooch and executive editor Steve Robbins about the very topic. It’s important for us to have consensus because we’re considering a number of articles devoted to the subject in the year-end issue. The tone, the stories, and the perspectives of these stories will very likely be determined by how we define optimization. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Solid Edge Plugs into LCA with EcoDesigner

With EcoDesigner plug-in from Trayak, Solid Edge joins the growing number of CAD packages that give you the option to perform lifecycle assessment (LCA) of your design. Like Sustainability Xpress for SolidWorks and Eco Materials Adviser for Autodesk Inventor, EcoDesigner for Solid Edge adds a slim column to the CAD program’s window, allowing you to tally up the environmental impact of your design. But there are significant differences between EcoDesigner and its rivals, according to Prashant Jagtap, Trayak’s president and CEO. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Siemens PLM Connection: Declaring Victory in the Land of Automobile; Forging into Interactive Tech Pubs

Hard-fought battles are paying off for Siemens PLM Software, especially in the realm of automakers, according to Siemens PLM Software’s chairman and CEO Tony Affuso. Speaking to Siemens faithfuls at PLM Connection Americas User Conference 2011 (Las Vegas, May 2-5), he relished in the fact that “24 of the top 25 automotive OEMS (original equipment manufacturers) now use Siemens PLM software.”

Affuso has good reasons to be giddy — over 3 million seats and five quarters of double-digit growth, for instance. Another might be the company’s most recent deal, a 10-year contract with Daimler AG. The automaker, well-known for its Mercedes-Benz brand, will replace its current CAD system with Siemens’ NX. “As part of the worldwide 10-year agreement, Daimler AG will begin using Siemens PLM Software’s technology in its first vehicle series beginning in 2012. Siemens PLM Software will begin enabling Daimler’s vast network of suppliers beginning July 2011,” Siemens announced.

Siemens and its rivals continue to court new businesses in previous unexplored territories, such as life sciences, fashion and apparel, and consumer goods packaging. But big spenders in aerospace and automotive remain the lifeblood of PLM software suppliers like Siemens.

The company is also diving into another area now pursued by nearly all PLM software makers. Betting on interactive online manuals and catalogs as the future of technical documentation, Siemens has just struck a partnership with Cortona3D to sell Cortona3D RapidAuthor software suite with Siemens’ Teamcenter data-management software.

“The integration of Teamcenter with Cortona3D RapidAuthor places documentation authoring, illustration, and publishing within the same PLM environment as product development to align publication activities with product processes and information,” states Siemens. “The capture of Teamcenter product data within Cortona3D RapidAuthor provides automated links between 2D and 3D illustrations and structured text, providing interactive documentation”

Siemens’ French rival Dassault Systemes develops and markets 3DVIA Composer, an interactive tech publishing software that can take advantage of existing CAD files. Siemens U.S. rival PTC offers Arbotext for the same purpose. Autodesk sells Inventor Publisher, a similar publishing product catering its 3D MCAD software users.

Cortona3D’s Cortona RapidAuthor software titles — RapidManual, RapidCatalog, RapidLearning, and RapidWorkInstruction — gives you the ability to create dynamic 3D installation guides and instruction manuals, ready for deployment online. Far more interactive than animations, dynamic 3D scenes and documents produced in Cortona3D’s software allows you to not only view the action sequences but also rotate, zoom in, zoom out, and inspect the 3D data at the desired angle.

More reporting from the conference to follow, including updates on Velocity Series.

DE 15th Podcast Series: Chuck Grindstaff on Synchronous Technology, Mobile Devices, HD-PLM, and More

PrintIn 1995, when DE got ready to launch its premiere issue, the company now known as Siemens PLM Software was known by another name, UGS. Asked to reflect on the origin of the firm, the company’s president and CTO Chuck Grindstaff explained how two different but complementary companies — UGS and SDRC — came together in a merger in September 2001 to form the foundation of present day Siemens PLM Software.

“On UGS side, we’ve always been focused on the integration of CAD and manufacturing — CAD and CAM (computer-aided manufacturing),” he said. “The SDRC side was more focused on analysis, CAE (computer-aided engineering).” UGS’s flagship product was its Unigraphics software, whereas SDRC was known for its I-DEAS software.

Unigraphics Version 10, recalled Grindstaff, marked the separation of “CAD data management, the PDM (product data management) that we have since been able to evolve into become Teamcenter, from our CAD offering. So we really broke apart CAD and PDM so those two can evolve at an accelerated pace.”

Grindstaff called Synchronous Technology, which marked Siemens PLM Software’s debut of a new hybrid CAD modeling mode, a mixture of history-free and parametric, “an important game changer” for “the way in which it was able to simultaneously work with subset equations of constraint, topology modeling and modification, and feature recognition.”

He believes “being able to harness the wisdom of the crowd, bring that back in a structured fashion, mine [insight] from it, and feed that back into requirements” make the role of social media a worthy focus for engineers and manufacturers.

To explain the concept of HD-PLM, which will manifest in the form of NX with HD3D, Grindstaff turned to Google Earth. “We have a very complex data set — all the aerial photos you need to navigate, with data on top of that. Where are gas stations? Restaurants? We have the same kind of ideas about navigating complex product data and manufacturing structures,” he said.

He has also been taking note of the swift takeover of mobile devices, like iPad and iPhone. “These devices can really change the way we interact with data stores,” he acknowledged. “You’ll be happy to learn that we’re just in the final phase of testing and releasing some applications for the iPad that reaches into our data stores and provide real-time feedback.”

To support mobile devices, which generally have smaller memory footprint and storage capacity, Siemens PLM Software plans to rely on its lightweight 3D format, JT.

For more, listen to my complete interview with Chuck Grindstaff in the podcast below:

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Webinar: March 16, 2011, Mercury Marine Uses Teamcenter as its Engine of Change

From adding a new robot in the manufacturing floor to correcting a typo in an engineering drawing, from new suppliers to new machine-control programs, Mercury Marine uses Siemens PLM Software’s Teamcenter to monitor all classes of change and ensure that its business divisions are working on a single source of product data. Similarly, the company uses Teamcenter to encourage part reuse, preventing designers and engineers from spending unnecessary efforts recreating common engine components. The results of this disciplined approach can be seen in Marcury Marine Outboards, known for reliability, fuel efficiency, and performance.

On March 16, in a webinar I’m co-hosting, speakers from Mercury Marine will explain how it:

  • transforms home-grown engineering change management systems into a single global engineering change system;
  • improves productivity by increasing part reuse; and
  • saves time and money by accelerating new product introductions.

To register, go to:

Disclosure: I receive compensation to moderate the webinar.