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Solid Edge Seeks the Spotlight

Solid Edge seeks to establish itself as a front runner with new PDM, FEA tools

by Roopinder Tara, Editor, TenLinks, October 4, 2005

As the CEO of UGS announced a major revamping of products at the recent Solid Edge annual user meeting, a smoke bomb meant to underscore the news went off in a less than impressive manner. Undeterred, Tony Affuso, the longstanding leader of UGS, explained to the assembled at the Solid Edge annual user meeting, that his company was no longer content to have his company’s products sell themselves--he was going to unleash a marketing machine. I expect next year’s conference to not just have impressive smoke bombs but all the pyrotechnics of a Kiss concert.

Bruce Boes, emcee and VP of Velocity Series Marketing (right) introduces Tony Affuso, CEO of UGS

Affuso had chosen this venue to outline his company’s plan to gain penetration into middle-sized companies. This plan centers around the just introduced “Velocity Series,” basically an update of Solid Edge to V18*, the venerable midrange solid modeler, bundled with Teamcenter Express, for PDM and Femap, for analysis. But this time, UGS will not be content to let the products sell themselves as Affuso promised an aggressive marketing campaign. In addition, UGS aims to increase the reseller channel by 50% by the end of 2006.

UGS Eyes Mid-Market

UGS has done well with high-end CAD. Its NX product line was created after an acquisition of SDRC, another high-end CAD company, back in 2001. UGS was able to keep best-of-breed products from both companies and more importantly, the combined user base. But as SDRC now seems to have been digested, UGS is once again hungry for growth. What to do? Poaching users from competitors is never easy.

Looking below the large enterprise users that occupy the top of the pyramid lie thousands of companies in a market segment UGS has taken to calling the mid-market. Defined as companies with revenue between $250 and $750 million, the mid-market offers the highest potential for growth. To back this up, UGS references AMR Research numbers that predict PLM sales to the mid-market will grow 12% annually to $6.4 billion by 2009. If UGS can maintain over 30% of the PLM market (UGS figures), that would raise UGS’s revenue to over $2 billion—a doubling of revenue in 5 years.

While the mid-market may now be sub-optimally equipped with PDM and analysis tools, Affuso tells us that these companies will eventually need all the same tools as their larger counterparts as they have the same issues. Their products are just as complex, they face the same shortened design cycles and have to deal with the same globalization issues. He homes in on the latter as an area in which the mid-market really needs help. With organizations that have teams in various locations, often in different countries, collaboration is more vital than ever. Collaboration tools have tended to be complex and require IT investment, resources often scarce in small and mid-size companies.

Mr Right Stuff, Chuck Yeager, inspires the crowd

Velocity Series Takes Flight

The marketing department, on whose shoulders much of this new responsibility falls, had already fulfilled its first assignment: coming up with the “Velocity Series” brand name. During the conference, it was watching the rest of its work enfold. No less than Mr Right Stuff, Chuck Yeager (who, as the first person to break the sound barrier can be presumed to know a little about velocity) was brought in to ensure the connection.

With the Velocity Series, UGS aims for the ‘sweet spot’ of the midmarket: companies with about $250 million of revenue and between 5 to 50 engineers.

Teamcenter Express

UGS introduced the Velocity Series as the “first company to bring enterprise-level PLM to mid-sized manufacturers.” The key product here seems to be Teamcenter Express, a downsized version of Teamcenter (now being called Teamcenter Engineering) for collaborative product data management (cPDM). UGS has decided the best way to tame the overly complex manner in which products are conceived, developed, designed, manufactured and sold is with product data management software. While Teamcenter was previously available to large organizations (UGS claims 90% of companies with over one thousand PDM seats use Teamcenter) with their correspondingly large IT support and training resources, UGS aims to make Teamcenter Express available to the masses.

Teamcenter Express aims to apply a familiar interface to ease entry for users new to PDM

UGS bills Teamcenter Express as “an easy-to-use, preconfigured and easy-to-deploy product data management solution designed to meet the requirements of mid-sized manufacturing companies.” It is patterned after MS Outlook and is meant for the non-CAD user.

  • Complete search and retrieval
  • Managed check-in/check-out
  • Revision/version control
  • Friendly part/assembly structure management
  • Comprehensive product documentation management
  • State-of-the art dynamic user interface
  • Embedded visualization
  • Flexible data structure to support customer’s individual need to view data by project, product line or document type
  • Comprehensive, dynamic access control based on user’s assignment to groups and roles

Teamcenter Express brags of a “transparent UI,” with out the look of a “bolt on” product. For example, opening a part in Solid Edge automatically invokes Teamcenter Express and part is checked out. The user may not even know Teamcenter Express is working behind the scenes.

While PDM software has been available to Solid Edge users through the Voyager Partner programs (see list of Solid Edge 3rd party PDM applications), one advantage of a UGS PDM product would be no waiting for a for a 3rd party PDM to update with each new revision of Solid Edge.

FEMap Express

UGS also introduced Femap Express, a lesser version of Femap. Femap was acquired by SDRC in 1999, and therefore became part of UGS when SDRC was acquired by UGS. It is a modeler and results viewer which has been updated since to work with Nastran NX, a UGS-branded version of Nastran FEA software. As expected, the Express version can handle linear static problems involving stress, but Femap Express goes beyond the norm by being able to create midplane meshes of sheet metal parts using plate elements (more efficient than brick elements for modeling thin, flat parts) as well analyze for natural frequencies.

Femap Express, available with Solid Edge at extra cost, does stress and modal analyis.

Wire Harness

Solid Edge users will have one tool that is important for electronics manufacturers: wire harness design. It is smart enough to know if wires are bent too severely or if pass through holes are too small. With it, you can bundle wires as you would manually with a wire tie. But does it do interference checking?

Solid Edge Version 18 enhancements:

  • 2D diagramming. UGS hopes it has covered the last reason their users would have to keep AutoCAD in house.
  • Electrodes design
  • NX machining integration
  • Assembly enhancements may reduce large assembly sizes by half
  • Wrapped sketch
  • Weld design and visualization

Cincinnati, the setting for the 2005 Solid Edge User Summit and Executive Symposium, lies along the Ohio River. Why Cincinnati? Centrally located and also near Milford, Ohio, where UGS has offices (formerly the SDRC headquarters)

*Solid Edge V18, along with the whole Velocity Series will ship in Q4, 2005

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