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Briefings: April 2005

By DE Editors

   DE Readers Pick Acuitiv 4.0 Product of the Year

Desktop Engineering (DE) presented ACUITIV Software of Batavia,Illinois, with the third annual Readers’ Choice Product of the YearAward at National Manufacturing Week in Chicago last month.”This award is a true honor for us,” said ACUITIV General Manager BillPanepinto. “This award demonstrates the growth, importance andsignificance that CFD visualization tools play in the automotive,aerospace and defense … and chemical processing markets. As thesemarkets embark on new designs they will be able to accelerate decisionmaking and shorten time to market through products like ours.”
DE‘s readers picked ACUITIV v4.0 from among a field of 12 2004 monthlyReaders’ Choice winners in ballotting online from January 15 throughFebruary 16.

ACUITIV v4.0 CFD visualization software was announced in the August2004 issue of DE. It delivers a fully interactive, enterprise-class CFDvisualization solution for a number of manufacturing and processingindustries. ACUITIV 4.0 provides customers with a suite of interactivetools for transient models, multi-PC sessions, and steady-state modelsupport. More details on ACUITIV V4 can be found at deskeng.com or atacuitiv.com.

DE congratulates all of its 2004 Readers’ Choice Award monthly winners:Saelig, Iiyama, Measurement Computing, EUROCOM, MathRevolt, ConceptualProduct Development, ANSYS, ACUITIV Software, Omega, Design Science,and Alias.

Click here for more information about monthly Readers’ Choice Awards and to readabout current and past winners.

Arena Offers Free Workgroup PLM for First Year

In a bid to push adoption and use of product lifecycle management (PLM)solutions among manufacturing and design teams of every size, Arena Solutions now offers Arena PLM Workgroup Edition free for the firstyear. The entry-level version of its PLM solution is designed for teamsof five or fewer and is built on the same on-demand PLM infrastructureas Arena PLM Professional Edition.

Designed to help early stage companies and small product teams withinlarge companies, Arena’s Workgroup Edition provides core PLMfunctionality for managing the complete product record. The edition isbundled with online tutorials, sample data sets, and full customersupport, so customers can go live within hours of implementation.Following the free subscription period, Workgroup Edition can berenewed for $2,500 per year for up to five users.

There’s also a turnkey upgrade path to Arena PLM Professional Edition.Companies that require more advanced functionality around businessprocesses, such as change management workflows, request and issuetracking, advanced reporting and analysis, CAD and ERP integration,advanced supplier access, or more user licenses for larger teams, canupgrade to Professional Edition.

Solidworks Embeds Engineering Web in 3D

SolidWorks Corporation has added engineering search tools to 3Dmechanical design software by providing access to GlobalSpec directlyinside its CAD environment. This new functionality will provideengineers with higher-quality engineering information in a fraction ofthe time it takes a general-purpose search engine.As a result of this new partnership,GlobalSpec will provide SolidWorksusers with three critical search services: SpecSearch, which letsengineers find and compare products and services by specifications; TheEngineering Web, more than 200 million tech-centric filtered Web pages;and The Hidden Web, which provides access to proprietary technicalcontent not found on general search engines, including fully indexedcontent such as application notes, material properties, standards,patent information, and general engineering research.

For example, a SolidWorks user designing a household appliance can useGlobalSpec to find a motor that fits the design without ever leavingthe SolidWorks design page. The engineer can limit the search byvariables such as shaft size, RPMs, and voltage. Alternatively, theengineer can specify a part and issue an electronic request for quotesto the suppliers represented on GlobalSpec. With a conventional searchengine, this could take hours, and render hits on all sorts of uselessinformation.

The technology allows users to search by specification more than 78million parts in 1,200,000 product families from more than 12,500supplier catalogs. GlobalSpec has more than 1.8 million registeredusers with more than 14,000 new users every week.

SolidWorks users will access GlobalSpec through a search field in theSolidWorks 2005 Task Pane, which appears on the SolidWorks desktopwhenever the application is open. The new capability is available at nocost to subscription users by downloading SolidWorks 2005 Service Pack3.

UGS anD HP Form Strategic Five-Year Alliance to Supply One-Stop Enterprise-LevelPLM

UGS and Hewlett-Packard (HP) have agreed to a five-year alliance toprovide customers with a one-stop shop of enterprise-level PLMsolutions. The move is expected to more efficiently enable companies tointegrate individual components, such as hardware, software, services,integration, and support.The solutions provided by UGS and HP address three majorconcerns: theability to use existing technology and resources by upgrading PLMsoftware; minimizing risk and investment while maximizing flexibilitythrough open standards and broad industry expertise; and creatingcompetitive advantage by accessing technology and solutions based onindustry standards.

According to UGS, the alliance will give customers a choice whenselecting an enterprise-wide PLM solution. The scalable, open solutionsoffered tie PLM to existing ERP, CRM, and SCM solutions.

HP and UGS will invest in joint sales, product development, marketing,and services delivery. As part of HP Services, the HP consulting andintegration team will be available to provide customers with the ITconsulting, systems integration, and the technology implementationneeded for reliable solutions, said the company.
The alliance will also combine product development and enterprisesystems, certification of HP services resources on UGS softwareproducts, technology planning, and development of integrated PLMsolutions for multiple industries.

Engineering PLM’s EDM Suite GainsSolidWorks Solution Partner Status

Engineering PLM Solutions announced its EDM Product Suite receivedSolidWorks Solution Partner status. The set of stand-alone yetinteroperable solutions helps CAD users with product configuration,part classification, PDM, and task automation.The EDM Product Suite works by capturingthe rules about how companiesdefine, design, produce, and sell their products, while allowing CADusers to concentrate on designing innovative products. EDM simplifiesand automates process and product configuration, attributes and partnumbers definition, vaulting, ECOs, and all the repetitive and timeconsuming tasks, such as drawing, printing, file conversion, PDFcreation, and more.

Users can access the EDM Product Suite directly from within theSolidWorks 2005 user interface, and modular packaging of EDM allowscompanies of any size to benefit from its functionalities. As anexample, engineers and designers can use EDM and SolidWorks to automatethe generation of part numbers for every new component, and be guidedby a simple user interface in the definition of the attributes that arerelevant for specific categories. Attributes assignment can beautomated to minimize user input and dramatically reduce thepossibility of error.

Leverage 2D and 3D DATA Across the Entire Enterprise

During National Manufacturing Week in Chicago last month, Actify Inc.,announced SpinFire for Microsoft Office, a plug-in that works withMicrosoft Office. According to Actify, the plug-in allows knowledgeworkers to leverage the company’s .3D file format to embed anddistribute 2D and 3D CAD design data across the enterprise.With SpinFire for MicrosoftOffice, users can leverage designinformation in common, everyday tasks by delivering CAD informationinto Office documents for quoting and estimating, technicalpublications, manufacturing specifications, and supplier collaborationmaterials. Users have access to 2D and interactive 3D designinformation, both graphical and textual, from Microsoft Officeprograms, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook, without havingto access the native CAD system or knowing how to use a CAD system,says the company.

“The exchange of design information has typically been a major painpoint for manufacturing enterprises,” said Don Richardson, director ofthe manufacturing industry unit at Microsoft. “SpinFire for MicrosoftOffice brings a new level of collaboration to the enterprise and is agreat example of how ISV’s are leveraging the Microsoft Office platformto allow product design information to be exchanged easily within thecontext of an already familiar application suite.”
Actify will consider additional Microsoft Office applications forinclusion in SpinFire for Microsoft Office later this year. SpinFirefor Microsoft Office will be available in late April and will sell for$299. For more information or to purchase SpinFire for MicrosoftOffice, visit the company’s website.

Mfgquote.com Grows Parts on Demand

Now a website can help you find the perfect machine shop to mill thatnew aluminum widget sleeve your plant needs, by next week. MfgQuote.comis finding success in matching buyers with suppliers by giving theformer all the information they could possibly want about the latter,for free.

For example, your plant has all the manufacturing capability for yournew product except for the machining aspect. Or, you are a startup anddon’t have the manufacturing know how, but do have a crack engineeringdesign team. Or, your most-favored supplier, the guy you’ve been buyingmachined parts from for 12 years, is in the middle of a gigantic joband just can’t get to yours in time.

Instead, you can put a request for quote (RFQ) up on MfgQuote.com,attach it to an eDrawing so that none of your proprietary CAD data isreleased, and get back an average five quotes in less than a week. Inaddition to the quotes, each supplier is identified with a ratingestablished by previous buyers. The ratings measure things like qualityof workmanship, whether specs were met, and if the part was deliveredon time. So, it’s a pretty good bet you’ll be matched with someone whoknows what he’s doing and is actually available to do the machining.

And it’s not just machining. You can send out RFQs on anything fromcastings to injection-molded parts and from stamped items to forgedpieces. Suppliers of rapid prototypes, laser-cut parts, raw materials,finishers, fabricators, and coating appliers are some of the othersubscribers. You can let the system automatically match your RFQ to asupplier, create a preferred supplier list to control the distribution,and even invite suppliers not currently members of MfgQuote to quoteyour RFQs online. And you never have to accept a quote, but founder andPresident Mitch Free is betting it’ll be difficult to turn one down.

“It’s all about transparency,” he says, explaining the simple reasonbuyers have had success using his site. They know what they’re gettingand there’s little risk. And by providing that transparency, Free saysMfgQuote is able to provide “the right supplier on demand.”
This service is free to buyers because suppliers pay a flat fee to usethe system, which provides them with a steady stream of possiblebuyers. And because they are paying for the service, they are morelikely to respond quickly to RFQs and produce quality work to developlasting relationships.

Free says the site works because he listens to users and has addedcapability that makes the service responsive, valuable, and a cinch touse. An online wizard walks buyers through the steps of creating RFQsand attaching associated plans. For convenience, MfgQuote converts CADfiles to the eDrawings format. Also, suppliers can configure filtersthat tell the system which RFQs should come to them. For example, theseagents can be configured by process, material, industry, quantity,location, delivery date, and a variety of other attributes.

So far, 47,000 buyers have used the site (some apparently have made ittheir homepage) and gained access to 1,300 suppliers. In earlyFebruary, the total value of open quotes on the site averaged more than$80 million (the site publishes the daily information on open quotevalue and breaks it down according to industry process). Free says it’sa customer-service driven attitude that gets customers like NASA tokeep coming back and has prompted SolidWorks to become a partner indeveloping a price-quoting service for its users powered byMfgQuote.com.

Now Free will bring the streamlined and optimized capability of thesite to a new product called MfgQuote CS (collaborative sourcing), asuite of online tools aimed at providing OEMs the ability tocollaborate on their sourcing needs. At press time, beta testing of CSwas under way.

Daratech Summit Studies Future of PLM

The democratization of manufacturing information got a big boost inFebruary at the Daratech Summit held in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Aftercalls for collaboration, standards, and transparency of informationexchange from leading automotive manufacturers, the CEOs of DassaultSystemes, MSC.Software, and UGSexplained their individual companies’strategies for providing manufacturers with those capabilities toimprove overall manufacturing efficiency. And while implementations ofproduct lifecycle management (PLM) takes on many forms, it is effectivefor large corporations as well as small- and medium-sized companies.

Butjust what is PLM? Well, as expected at a forum like this, theanswer is going to involve statements about all-inclusive, end-to-enddesign, manufacturing, and retirement capability where the informationexchange is seamless. The trio of heavyweights surveyed the importanceof design and, from the MSC point of view, the potential of up-frontdesign analysis.

Dassault Systemes CEO Bernard Charles takes a world view that stressesPLM is about creating value rather than commodities, and that it is notan end in itself but part of a bigger system. He notes that PLM was nota product to be plugged into a corporate system, but works better whenapproached as a way to evolve the corporate culture to take a moreholistic view of the business process. Charles postulates that growinginterest and implementation of PLM systems would democratize, at leastfrom the Dassault standpoint, the affordability of SolidWorks. He alsosays the future of the industry will hinge largely on automation andconsolidations that will provide the RandD budgets necessary for realinnovation.

While Dassault’s leader points to the growing pervasiveness of 3D incollaboration and the emerging role of middleware on the road ahead,UGS’ Chief Tony Affuso says open APIs (application program interface)will become more and more dominant, total system integrations willmultiply, and collaboration will become commonplace. And it’scollaboration that will help PLM providers service their customersbecause no two are alike.

Outgoing MSC.Software CEO Frank Perna talked about the growing gapbetween technology and its application by business, explaining the gapwould continue to widen as time passes. He also said he felt the futurewould engender a “bill of analysis.”

After the presentations, Daratech changed the format and posedquestions, submitted beforehand, from conference attendees to each ofthe three executives. One of them drew some audible “good question”comments from those in the audience: “Where is the boundary between ERPand PLM, and are ERP vendors credible PLM providers going forward?”

Bernard Charles was emphatic with a “no.” Tony Affuso explained thatERP doesn’t do well with fast-paced engineering demands. But Perna,perhaps feeling freed up after recently announcing his retirementsuggested ERP vendors should “go back to their knitting and solve theproblems they’ve already started.” The line got the best laugh of themorning.
— Jonathan Gourlay

New Tool Aimed atInspiring Young Engineers

It’s an accepted fact of life that the US educational system is losingthe contest when it comes to turning out homegrown engineers. We keephearing about students traveling to American schools to earnengineering degrees and gain the vast knowledge our excellent collegesand universities have in stores, but not enough of our own high schoolgrads are interested.

Ray Shingler, a graphic designer, teamed up with Eric W.Johnson, aprofessor of electrical and computer engineering at ValparaisoUniversity in Indiana to create Time Engineers, an interactiveeducational game aimed at helping middle school and high schoolstudents “grasp the fundamental engineering principles that have helpedpeople through the ages.” The 3D game has collected awards fromChildren’s Software Revue and Choosing Children’s Software.

Time Engineers involves gaining access to a time capsule by way ofsolving a binary code and setting a simple sequence of switches topower it up. Once inside, you can choose to visit ancient Egypt,medieval France, or 1940 Brooklyn and London. In Giza, Egypt, studentshelp build King Khufu’s pyramid using static forces, slopes, andangles, and figure out the most efficient way of irrigating his wheatfields by adjusting water flow rates using irrigation channels andweirs.

In France, players must solve for laws of motion and considerforces to correctly operate a drawbridge and take trajectory, friction,and tension into account to accurately fire a catapult. Finally, in1940 Brooklyn they must consider linear algebra, electricity, andmotors to design a submarine that can cross the Atlantic without beingsunk by a German U-boat, and consider probabilistics and radarprinciples to protect London from attack.

The game doesn’t have all the flash some kids have come to expect fromtheir computer games, but this game actually teaches some valuableconcepts. And while a teen might not spend hours trying to figure outthe most efficient way of growing the most wheat along the Nile, TimeEngineers would be a valuable tool for physics, math, and maybe evenhistory teachers to have on hand.


In the Feb. 2005 issue of DE, we included the wrong url for JLT Mobile Computers in “Putting the Hard in Hard Case.” The correct url is jltmobilecomputers.com.

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About DE Editors

DE's editors contribute news and new product announcements to Digital Engineering. Press releases can be sent to them via DE-Editors@digitaleng.news.