We go to and participate in several engineering software conferences every year, and one of our favorites this year (as it has been for several years) is SOLIDWORKS World 2015. This year’s event takes place February 8-11, 2015 at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, AZ.
At SOLIDWORKS World 2015, we’ll be in Booth #405 covering the show from wire to wire. We’re also recording video interviews of Dassault Systemes personnel, as well as several exhibiting partners. If your company is exhibiting at SOLIDWORKS World 2015 and you would like to arrange a video interview, contact Sanjay Gangal at 408.850.9202 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Well, we can’t say that 2015 in the MCAD industry has started off on a dull note.
With what many in the industry I’m sure consider a surprise, this morning Dassault Systèmes announced that Gian Paolo Bassi has been appointed CEO of its 3D design software brand SOLIDWORKS. Gian Paolo Bassi replaces Bertrand Sicot, who will become Vice President Sales of Dassault Systèmes’ Value Solutions sales channel.
The press release says Bertrand was “promoted,” but going from CEO to VP doesn’t exactly seem like a promotion to me. However, this isn’t the first “promotion” of this type. Sicot’s CEO predecessor, Jeff Ray, endured a somewhat similar fate about four years ago when he became Executive Vice President of Geographic Operations, at the time a newly created position within Dassault. I guess, just chalk it up to “business is business.”
Paolo Bassi will lead the development of SOLIDWORKS’ future product and technology strategies designed for the desktop and the cloud, as well as continued collaboration with the brand’s user community.
Going back just a year, in the following video Bertrand Sicot, then CEO of DS SOLIDWORKS, speeds down the Lake Placid sled track at 95 mph in a bobsled designed in SOLIDWORKS by Bo-Dyn Bobsled.
SolidWorks CEO Bertrand Sicot’s Bobsled Ride for SolidWorks World 2014
We just returned from Dassault Systemes 3DEXPERIENCE Forum North America in Las Vegas this week. Truth be told, Las Vegas is not one of my favorite destinations, but I was intrigued by what I might discover about Dassault’s elusive 3DEXPERIENCE, something I’ve always had difficulty getting my head wrapped around. I came to Las Vegas hoping to finally understand what the 3DEXPERIENCE platform was about, also hoping the Forum would provide that opportunity.
After learning all I could at the Forum, I now realize that the 3DEXPERIENCE platform is a comprehensive engineering and business platform, each dependent on the other and not mutually exclusive.
On many different levels and in many different contexts, the Forum was all about experience, experience, and experience. Design and engineering definitely took a back seat at this event. This is a departure from competing engineering software companies where it’s all about products and subscriptions. Keep in mind, though, that the Forum was geared primarily toward big companies with current and prospective customers at the CxO level. This being the case, most of the presentations were high level and emphasized business potential over technology implementation. Technology was presented in the context of strategy, experience, and culture; not as an end in itself.
Dassault Systemes’ 3DEXPERIENCE Platform
Until this Forum, I reacquainted myself to the fact that Dassault Systemes (DS) is involved in 12 major market segments/industries that include:
Aerospace & Defense
Architecture, Engineering, & Construction (AEC)
Consumer Goods & Retail
Consumer Packaged Goods & Retail
Energy, Process & Utilities
Financial and Business Services
Transportation and Mobility
Marine and Offshore
That’s quite a broad range of markets that are served, and DS has strategically entered these markets through organic in-house development, as well as through acquisitions.
Below is the 3DEXPERIENCE compass with brief descriptions of its various points of reference and components.
The 3DEXPERIENCE Platform Compass
In DS’s view, consumers do not just buy products anymore, but rather, experiences. During the Forum, DS used Apple as an analogy to reinforce this thought on customer experience. Apple sells both products and supporting services that equate to an overall experience for customers – Macs, iPhones, iPads, iTunes, Genius Bar, etc. It seems like DS aspires to do the same.
If you’ve been around the technical/engineering software business as long as I have, as with any business, nothing stays the same. This includes founders, executives, and other major players who were once prominent in the industry, but for many reasons have moved on. Some, to other companies in the industry, some to other industries, and some who have just plain disappeared. History never stands still and the CAx industry is no exception.
Although it’s a bit dated and based on a research project, check out the video below for a very short recap on the history of CAD:
A Short History of CAD
During the coming weeks and months we’ll try and track down players who were formerly very prominent in the MCAD arena and see what they’re up to now. Some of these folks include:
John Walker – Autodesk
Mike Riddle – Autodesk
Carol Bartz – Autodesk
Dominic Gallello – Autodesk
Dick Harrison – PTC
Steve Walske – PTC
Jim Meadlock – Intergraph
Joe Costello – Think3
Pat Hanratty — MCS
Martin Newell – Ashlar
Jon Hirschtick – SolidWorks
John McEleney — SolidWorks
Jeff Ray – SolidWorks
Jason Lemon – SDRC
Fontaine Richardson – Applicon
John Wright – United Computing (later Unigraphics)
Thomas Curry – MSC Software
Robert Bean – CADKEY
Obviously, this list only scratches the surface of possibilities. If there is anyone currently or formerly renowned in the CAD/CAM/CAE/CAx industry you would like to see us track down and update what they’re up to, send an email to me at email@example.com with a subject line that reads, “Where Are They Now?”, and we’ll do our best to respond in an upcoming blog on a person’s whereabouts and more recent accomplishments.
Dassault Systemes announced this week that it has acquired simulation technology provider SIMPACK in an all cash deal. The transaction was completed on July 10, 2014. Not surprisingly, financial details of the deal were not revealed.
With the acquisition of Munich-based SIMPACK, Dassault continues to expand its multiphysics simulation technology portfolio to include multi-body mechatronic systems.
SIMPACK has more than 130 customers in the energy, transportation (primarily automotive and rail), and biomedical industries, including Alstom, Bombardier, BMW, Daimler, Honda, Jaguar Land Rover, MAN, and Vestas.
Editor’s Note: This is the second installment of a series of four evaluation articles of CAD/PDM systems for SMBs.
SolidWorks Enterprise PDM is one of two PDM products offered by DS SolidWorks and is a separate purchase. SolidWorks Workgroup PDM is available integrated inside of SolidWorks Premium and Professional.
Data cards are crucial elements for managing design data with EPDM because they contain metadata about the files, folders, items, and templates in the vault database. Data card information is stored centrally, so users can search and locate information about files, folders, items, and templates without needing local copies.
By adding controls such as text fields, list boxes, check boxes, and tabs, data cards are used for managing the design process.
With surprisingly relatively little fanfare, DS SOLIDWORKS last week announced the availability of its long-awaited new product, Mechanical Conceptual (MC for short). Dassault Systemes says that MC is the first SOLIDWORKS application on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform — “that embraces the new realities of today’s world of design in the age of experience: it is more social and conceptual and delivers on the promise of ease-of-collaboration among key contributors.” All of this is something I’m still unclear exactly what it is, what it does, and what it means.
I contacted Kishore Boyalakuntla, Director, Product Management, SOLIDWORKS, who is in charge of managing Mechanical Conceptual for some clarification on what the press release announcing the launch lacked.
Mechanical Conceptual was formally introduced a few months ago at SOLIDWORKS World with the following four basic tenets — conceptual, social (collaboration), connected, and instinctive. The conceptual part I understand, because that’s the primary purpose of MC. It also lends itself to collaborative methods because it’s a cloud-based application, as well as instinctive, because it has direct modeling/editing capabilities. The connected part, though, especially to SOLIDWORKS is still a bit of a mystery. (more…)
This year’s edition of SolidWorks World, held in San Diego, CA attracted a crowd of more than 5,600 attendees. I’m sure the location and weather in San Diego helped draw attendees from parts of the country caught in this winter’s the Polar Vortex.
Of course, the first morning of the conference offered the obligatory good news of sales and user (2.3 million+) numbers, as well as a long-awaited new product.
A presentation slide showed all the areas that DS SolidWorks is involved in, including CAD, simulation, electrical design, technical publications, PDM, inspection, etc. Noticeably absent, however, is CAM, but the company has partners willing to take that on. Absent from the Partner Pavilion was Delcam; probably because that company is about to be acquired by Autodesk. (more…)
For many years, all of the major CAD vendors have been stressing the importance of managing the design and manufacturing data created using their software. Surprisingly though, still relatively few design and manufacturing companies, especially SMBs, have a formal PDM system of any type in place beyond Windows Explorer or Excel. Some of the reasons we hear for PDM not being employed include the perceptions (and experiences) that PDM is time consuming and expensive to implement.
While most SMBs have made the transition from 2D to 3D, many are finally exploring how to manage the mountains of CAD and associated product development and project data. These companies are seeking solutions that are more capable and scalable than just files, folders, Excel spreadsheets, and Windows Explorer.
Immediately following Labor Day, I, along with about 35-40 other CAD and business journalists and bloggers were invited to Dassault Systemes’ North American headquarters in Waltham, MA for the launch of the SolidWorks 2014 products. The HQ is situated across a freeway from the beautiful Cambridge Reservoir, owned and operated by the city of Cambridge, MA, and provides a nice contrast to the perpetual string of office parks that line I-95 in the area.
It was an interesting event because after a general session by SolidWorks’ CEO, Bertrand Sicot, that included all invitees, we were split up into two groups – journalists who witnessed a day of presentations and demonstrations (from SolidWorks employees and some marquee customers), and bloggers who had an all-day hands-on experience with the new products. I would have preferred a little bit of both, but that’s just me.
As you might imagine, the company line for the new SolidWorks 2014 release is that it delivers “major productivity and usability gains for pushing innovation to the forefront.” According to the company, the major new and enhanced features and capabilities fall into the following four areas:
Advanced Shape Control – New Style Spline functionality, automatic Sketch Picture scaling and Conic Fillet controls allow users to create complex surfaces and organic shapes faster, easier and with more precise control.
Faster Drawing Detailing – Perform faster and more automated drawing detailing.
Sheet Metal Improvements – New sheet metal features enable faster creation of sheet metal geometry and improved data output for manufacturing. Users gain improved control over corner treatments, the ability to create stiffening ribs such as the indented design seen on mounting brackets used to reinforce the weight and force placed on the part.
SolidWorks Enterprise PDM Streamlined Workflow – Easily manage more data with the new Microsoft Office integration and enhanced Web Client with graphical preview.
SolidWorks Electrical Improved Integration and Performance – Enhanced integration with SolidWorks Enterprise PDM and eDrawings allows users to optimize, share and track electrical designs more easily for improved project collaboration.
Design Communication and Collaboration – With new support for Android devices, mobile users can expand their viewing choice beyond iOS mobile devices.
Streamlined Cost Estimating and Reporting – Users are able to cost parts faster with less setup, then share cost data more effectively with their business value chain. For example, key product development data for assembly can now be sent to Microsoft Excel allowing for easy sharing with departments such as manufacturing and purchasing.
Streamlined Simulation Setup – SolidWorks Simulation automatically leverages engineering data for re-use in simulations, eliminating duplication of effort and improving design collaboration.
Enhanced Assembly Performance and Visualization – Creates assemblies faster and easier with the new in-context Quick Mate tool bar and Slot Mate. For assembly in section views, users can include or exclude selected components allowing for a fast creation of more impressive section views.
Aaron Kelly, a long-time SolidWorker in a new very visible role as VP of user experience & product portfolio management did a good job talking through the SolidWorks 2014 product lines and answering questions. It’s good to see Aaron in this tough role as one of the company’s primary spokespersons for addressing customers and the press at a critical time for the company.
Granted, there are some nice changes to SolidWorks 2014, but much smaller incrementally than the new features and capabilities found in most previous versions. SolidWorks, of course isn’t alone here, as most other CAD products’ improvements become relatively smaller and smaller the more mature a product becomes. That said, SolidWorks is still an important cog in the DS machine, generating approximately 20% of Dassault’s revenue.
Interestingly, there seemed to be more attention paid to the new kid on the block who has yet to make an actual appearance – SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual (SWMC). We heard from Bertrand that there are “Topics still to address” before it can be released. However, he said that is in production testing now with about 10 customers. Also still in the future; pricing and packaging for SWMC will be presented at SolidWorks World 2014 in late January.
Making it perfectly clear by the product management team, SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual will be a design product for design professionals, not hobbyist/consumers. This hints at the product’s complexity and price point. The management team was also careful to point out that SWMC will be “Mechanical Conceptual”, not “Industrial Conceptual,” so will not compete with Autodesk’s Alias for conceptual industrial design and styling. It still remains to be seen what SWMC will actually be, but it has gotten a lot of attention.
A 2D tool that also deserves some attention is DraftSight 4.0. It will still be available as a free version, but there will also be some licensing schemes that will be paid, and the prices are very reasonable for a capable 2D product that is good at what it does (creating, editing, and viewing DWG files). Not surprisingly, if or when the need arises, DS SolidWorks has also provided a relatively smooth path for moving from 2D with DraftSight to 3D With SolidWorks.
The online pricing and licensing model for DraftSight is new for the company, but has absolutely no plans for carrying this business model over to the SolidWorks side of the house.
Unlike what I had perceived for a while now, the company at this meeting was fairly ambivalent about commitment to cloud-based software, services, or really anything for that matter. Unlike some of its competitors, DS SolidWorks is moving cautiously in this area.
After spending some “face time” in Waltham, there’s no doubt that this is a critical release for the future of SolidWorks, both as a product line and brand for Dassault Systemes. I’m anxious to try out for myself some elements of the SolidWorks ecosystem — SolidWorks 2014 (especially shape control and costing), Enterprise PDM, and Mechanical Conceptual (when it becomes available).
Based on what I witnessed in Waltham, it’s going to be a very interesting upcoming year for the company and I’m looking forward to experiencing the new product line.