David Heller is the founder and President and CEO of IBSystems, Inc , MCADCafe's parent company. Always curious and on the look out for 'cool tech' he enjoys thinking outside the box and sharing his discoveries with you.
Siemens acquiring LMS: What Does It Mean? – By Dennis Nagy
November 12th, 2012 by David Heller
Commentary by MCAE industry veteran Dennis Nagy
November 11, 2012
A historic event: the largest acquisition in the history of the mechanical engineering simulation software market (MCAE)
On Thursday (Nov. 8, 2012) Siemens announced its intention to acquire LMS International of Leuven, Belgium for EUR 640M (~$865M), topping previous acquisitions of Ansoft ($824M) and Fluent ($589M) by ANSYS in 2008 and 2006, respectively. Two professional MCAD/MCAE pundits whom I highly respect (Monica Schnitger and Jeff Rowe) have already written on Friday (Nov. 9, 2012) about the facts of the announcement, so I will not repeat those here. As a 40-year MCAE industry veteran (ironic that I write this on Veterans Day) who has worked in the past for or with both Siemens and LMS in the specific area of MCAE, I am particularly familiar with both parties to this acquisition and I have clear views on what I think it will mean for the engineering simulation software industry going forward.
LMS started in 1980 as Leuven Measurement Systems*, a mechanical vibration testing company, and has been a leader (both in thought and action) in the combination of mechanical vibration/dynamics testing and MCAE for almost two decades now. They have always realized the synergy between simulation and testing (not simulation vs. physical testing) and have delivered on that synergy with software, testing hardware, and related consulting for their growing customer base in automotive, aerospace, and other industries. So Siemens (and their Siemens PLM [SPLM] Business Unit, into which LMS will be integrated) gains both a strong mechanical testing software/hardware presence and a highly-respected set of MCAE/testing consulting engineers.
In the traditional MCAE software arena, SPLM will have some shorter-term tactical challenges in positioning (and integrating), marketing, and selling their multiple/overlapping offerings in finite element modeling/analysis (FEM/FEA) and multibody dynamics simulation (MBD) through their multiple sales channels.** I am confident that SPLM and LMS (both known for their solid, professional management teams) will find ways to overcome these merger-related birth pains and be able to focus on the much more strategically significant (to me, at least) move into Mechatronics that this acquisition represents.
Key statements in the Siemens and LMS acquisition press releases (my emphases italicized/bolded) support this view:
The convergence of mechanical and electrical/electronics engineering needs (including embedded software in digital controls) has rapidly descended upon the traditionally decades-long separate vendor markets of MCAD/MCAE and ECAD/EDA/ECAE. We only need to look at the rapid evolution of digital electronic cost content in automobiles over the past decades (electronics from 10% in 1970 to 40% in 2010 and embedded software from 4% to 13% in 8 years [2002-2010]), to sense that meeting design requirements now demands a more integrative engineering approach at all levels from system to sub-system to component design.
LMS acquired the French company Imagine, and its promising product AMESim, in 2007 and has been heavily promoting (with apparent success) the resulting LMS Imagine.Lab platform for system simulation and Model-Based System Engineering (MBSE). SPLM previously had no real offering in this emerging MBSE space and now arguably jumps to the head of the class. Dassault Systems (DS) does have a similar product in Dymola, but it is housed in the CATIA business divisions of DS, separate from the rest of DS’s MCAE line in Simulia, and seems more competitive with MATLAB/SIMULINK from MathWorks (a whole other story). ANSYS has a lesser (in my opinion) product in SIMplorer (acquired as part of the Ansoft acquisition in 2008), and finally MSC acquired, with great promise, EASY5 from Boeing way back in 2002 but seems to be slowly starving it to death since then, choosing to focus instead on acoustics and materials simulation with its recent smaller acquisitions and partnerships and some aspects of MBSE in its traditional MBD line (MSC.ADAMS and related tools).
SPLM now has the ingredients to respond to the growing need for integrated mechatronics/MBSE simulation environments. Some astute automotive engineering observers believe that the obstacle to such integration (and corresponding vendor success) lies more with the traditional “silo” organizational structures of major automotive OEMs than it does with available pieces of tools and technology. But that’s a whole other topic. Stay tuned!
*At the time LMS was founded in 1980, the clear leader in modal analysis-based mechanical vibration testing was Structural Dynamics Research Corporation (SDRC) of Milford (outside Cincinnati), Ohio (and I worked for SDRC at that time). SDRC also had a good presence in MCAE and decided to grow outward in different directions from the mid-1980s through 2000 (into 3-D MCAD and PDM), losing its mechanical testing interest and consequently its lead to LMS. LMS, in turn, realized the future required a strong synergy between MCAE and testing and created their LMS Virtual.Lab platform in response to that need. SDRC was taken private by EDS and merged with Unigraphics in 2001, later to be spun out again as UGS and eventually acquired by Siemens as their new Siemens PLM Business Unit in 2007. Now that SPLM is acquiring LMS, the many former SDRC employees/executives who are still in key positions with SPLM are finally getting their mechanical testing mojo back!
**More specifically, SPLM will have the following technology/positioning issues to deal with:
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