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 The Interoperability Advisor

Archive for June, 2010

Best Practices for CAD-to-CAE Interoperability Projects

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

CAE tool providers attempt to close the data exchange gap between CAD and CAE with built-in pre-processors. Unfortunately, the overall success rates are low, ranging from 20-50%.  These failures are associated with conversion, repair, or simplification processes and add a significant amount of non-value-added labor.

Third-party solutions push success rates to 75-95%.  However, in global organizations, the proliferation of multiple tools, processes, and methodologies eventually erode productivity gains. This article explores best practices to help you increase your internal rate of return on CAD-to-CAE interoperability investments.

1.  Use Value Stream Maps to Illustrate Labor Waste

Many CAE teams struggle to find investment capital for interoperability initiatives.  By using value stream maps, non-value-added time (NVAT) is illustrated within the context of the process and quantified in terms of hours and labor dollars.  If you wish to see an example, email me.

2.  Minimize Downstream Risks by Classifying Data Formats

Modeling kernels all pose different risks to downstream applications.  If your CAE teams consume data from multiple sources, document all import and export formats, and include any requirements that involve custom CAD packages and proprietary analsysis tools.

3.  Standardize Your CAE Interoperability Platform to Reduce Costs

In cases where multiple CAD and/or CAE packages are used, acquire technology that will enable the standardization and consolidation of your CAE interoperability needs under a single platform.  For instances where proprietary CAD and/or CAE packages are used, use a third-party provider to develop interfaces that will integrate with your chosen platform.

4.  Stabilize the Data Before Engaging in CAE Pre-Processing

Unknown, destabilizing conditions within complex parts or assemblies can pose serious time delays for teams performing specialized analysis scenarios.  Third-party data stability analysis tools can be used to predict and/or troubleshoot downstream usability failures in models used for simulation, before they happen.

5.  Centralize CAE Interoperability Technologies

Establish a technical center of excellence that will centralize your CAD-to-CAE interoperability processes and technologies.  For small-to-medium companies, a single application implemented as either a workstation or server solution can fill the gap.

For global enterprises with a myriad of CAD and CAE applications, a CAE Interoperability Center of Excellence can be implemented and scaled to include support for native and/or neutral formats, proprietary systems, and integrated within PLM workflows.  The figure below illustrates an in-production use case:


Risk Mitigation for CAD Validation Deployments

Monday, June 7th, 2010


An increasing number of engineering enterprises have built successful business cases for 3D CAD validation; this demand for automated solutions has propelled the release of several validation software products within the last year.  With a plethora of new CAD validation offerings now available, the industry’s attempts at commoditizing CAD validation poses substantial risks to the engineering and IT decision-makers that evaluate, procure, and oversee CAD validation initiatives. 


As more applications enter the market, industry veterans of 3D CAD validation have experienced a substantial increase in the number of remediation engagements associated with failed projects that stem from untested and immature software applications.  Validation software helps organizations avoid scrapped parts, labor waste, and product recalls, but sub-standard deployments will wreak havoc in many downstream processes.  This article explores three ways managers can limit their exposure:



1.  Know the Common Denominators of Failed Projects


There are three common denominators associated with failed CAD validation projects:  1) engineering managers were unfamiliar with the implementation requirements, process changes, and the downstream impacts associated with CAD validation and lacked the knowledge to mitigate the risks,  2) engineering influencers and technology champions assumed that all CAD validation software solutions were mature, and 3) IT managers applied the same decision-making processes and criteria to validation solutions as they do to a commodity purchase (i.e. hardware).



2.  Use Specific Investigative Criteria During Your Discovery Phase


The CAD validation market is on the cusp of stabilization, but do not assume that the market has matured to the point of commoditization.  Because of the impact validation poses to downstream applications and processes, decision-makers should rely on a consultative pre-acquisition strategy that requires potential validation suppliers to provide more than just data analysis results.  Require your suppliers to provide pre-sales consultative input on process improvements, deployment architectures, diagnostic prioritization, usability, risk mitigation, standardization, statistics and reporting, and measurements for success.



3.  Consider Possible Reuse Scenarios


Validation software is sold as a point solution or integrated into quality-centric software product suites; most are licensed for either desktop or server use and a few can be integrated into PLM environments.  The wrong solution architecture or deployment strategy will negatively impact uptime, scalability, and skew validation results, particularly if the demand for the technology increases.  Consult with your validation provider to determine all possible reuse scenarios for all points in the value chain (i.e. design, analysis, manufacturing, and sustainment).  Doing so will ensure a successful deployment strategy and promote consistency in your analysis results, software availability, scalability, reporting, and performance.




Jamie Flerlage is a Senior Consultant for ITI TranscenData, an interoperability consulting firm specializing in strategic services and software products for Fortune 500 manufacturers.  Since 1994, ITI TranscenData has assisted global enterprises with the acquisition, implementation, integration and customization of CAD validation solutions.  For more information, visit or email Jamie, at

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