December 19, 2005
Nissan Selects UGS NX As New CAD Standard
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Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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UGS Corp. announced that Nissan has selected UGS to be the provider of the new global PLM system that Nissan and Nissan affiliates will deploy to design and build its next generation of vehicles.

UGS expects the selection to represent its largest win in 2005. Nissan will use UGS' NX CAD software to digitally design its vehicles on a global basis and UGS' Teamcenter collaborative Product Development Management (cPDM) software to digitally manage product data and enable digital prototyping for all Nissan vehicles across the world. The company will deploy the software as part of a fully integrated, common R&D infrastructure for use inside Nissan.

"Nissan is one of the world's most innovative and successful companies, and UGS is proud to help strengthen its strong automotive industry leadership by providing the new technology foundation for its innovative, knowledge- enabled vehicle development process," said Tony Affuso, chairman, CEO and president of UGS. "No other PLM company combines superior technology, ability to scale the product across multiple global sites and proven strength in supporting large global customers, and our expert UGS delivery team is gearing-up to deploy its unmatched track record for customer success on Nissan's behalf."

The selection of UGS follows a multi-year process during which Nissan evaluated CAD systems for the purposes of identifying a standard PLM partner for its three-year business plan "Value-Up," which began in April 2005. Under "Value-Up," Nissan has committed to maintain a top level of operating profit margin among global automakers for each of the three years of the plan; achieve global sales of 4.2 million units, measured in fiscal year 2008; and achieve a 20 percent return on invested capital on average over the course of the plan, excluding cash on hand.

UGS' selection by Nissan strengthens the company's leadership position in providing global CAD and cPDM solutions to manufacturers across industries, including automotive:
  • UGS is the world's leading supplier of combined CAD/cPDM solutions.
  • UGS is the CAD market leader in China and emerging Asian markets.
  • Among companies with more than 1,000 PDM seats, 90 percent are using UGS' solutions.
  • UGS is the leading vendor of product development solutions in automotive OEMs with 200,000 seats.
  • "UGS' selection by Nissan represents an inflection point for PLM in the automotive industry. Of all the major, global automotive corporations that have worked with our firm, and especially in comparison to the top five automotive OEMs, Nissan has applied the most disciplined and structured review of requirements and competitive software alternatives for design and engineering that we have seen," said Don Brown, chairman, Collaborative Product Development Associates, LLC, a leading PLM industry analyst firm. "That effort began with a strategic business assessment of the major design platforms. Nissan applied a highly detailed and rigorous approach in clearly defining and
    quantifying metrics, which in turn are quite demanding.

    "The fact that UGS emerged as the winner speaks volumes to the company's unique ability to combine world-class CAD with world-class PDM. It is clear that Automotive companies will increasingly demand an open choice in selecting their next generation CAD systems and that a multi-CAD environment will drive the need for greater openness and integration across the supply chain. UGS is gaining major momentum, and the Nissan selection clearly articulates this to the rest of the industry."

    Although some car manufacturers insist that they and their suppliers use only digital design and engineering tools from a single vendor, I find that statement highly suspect. While most automotive companies do employ sophisticated tools, such as CATIA, I think I have a pretty safe bet that these same companies also have a few seats of AutoCAD around, as well - and not necessarily the most recent version. The mix of MCAD products found at probably all automotive OEMs has got to be a nightmare on a lot of different levels - file formats, interoperability, skill levels, training, keeping track of software versions, and so on.

    Like I said earlier, most, if not all automotive OEMS are at least making an attempt to standardize on an MCAD platform. For DaimlerChrysler, it's CATIA; and for General Motors it's UGS NX. Ford, on the other hand still seems to have a hodgepodge of tools, everything from I-deas, to Pro/ENGINEER, to a legacy, homegrown and maintained CAD system, but I have heard that the company is making headway toward a more standardized approach.

    Prior to moving to UGS NX, Nissan used a combination of UGS' I-deas and Dassault's CATIA. They were exclusively using I-deas, when Renault acquired a stake in the company back in 1999. As a result, in 2002 Nissan began using some CATIA. With the announcement, however, Nissan will migrate to UGS' NX as its exclusive CAD software.

    Although UGS would not disclose a lot of details on the announcement, a Dow Jones and Company story stated, "Industry analysts estimate the deal to be worth more than $100 million over four years. A spokeswoman for Dassault said the French software maker will still supply Nissan with software for digital manufacturing processes. 'There's no change at all in our relationship,' she said." So I guess that explains the wording by UGS that it is the exclusive CAD supplier.

    This win at Nissan is actually bigger than it might appear, because it gives UGS NX the major presence at an automotive OEM beyond GM. I can't help but believe that UGS is pleased and breathing a sigh of relief at this business opportunity. Although GM adamantly denies any thoughts or rumors of bankruptcy, the company isn't exactly what I'd want to be betting all my chips on. Admittedly, the GM situation is indeed serious, but it may not be as serious as it's been made out to be. The company has weathered as bad or worse storms in the past 15 or 20 years. Even so, I'm sure that UGS views the Nissan win as something of a contingency safety valve for its future in the automotive arena.

    The Week's Top 5

    At MCADCafé we track many things, including the stories that have attracted the most interest from our subscribers. Below are the five news items that were the most viewed during last week.

    UGS Corp. announced the availability of Parasolid version 17.1 software, the latest release of its geometric modeling component software. Parasolid V17.1 includes new capabilities to support more efficient 3D model construction, editing and refinement, as well as to enhance CAM applications. This latest release also includes extended support for advanced Microsoft technologies and general productivity improvements for users of Parasolid-based systems.

    Agile Software Corp. announced that Agile 9.2, the latest version for managing the enterprise product record throughout the product lifecycle. Building on Agile 9, this latest release features enhanced overall functionality and expands on the solution's compliance, product portfolio, product collaboration, and quality management modules. The new release of Agile PLM will also support the Linux operating system.

    PTC announced that Lufthansa Airlines is using Arbortext Editor as the dynamic publishing system to support the creation and quarterly publication of its flight operation manuals to 4,500 pilots operating eight air fleets. As a result, Lufthansa has developed an innovative strategy to automate the assembly and publishing of its flight manuals saving them an estimated $1 million during the first year. Aircraft documentation includes everything necessary to operate, service, and maintain each aircraft. Sometimes amounting to well over 100,000 pages, each set of aircraft-specific information must be continually maintained to reflect its current status.

    UGS Corp. announced German-based Albert Weber GmbH, a division of Weber Automotive, has standardized on Tecnomatix software, UGS' digital manufacturing solution, for digital production planning, cost estimation, time calculation, and digital simulation.
    Albert Weber, a Tier-1 supplier to all major automotive OEMs, will use UGS' Tecnomatix to streamline the machining-processes of highly complicated powertrain components such as engine blocks, cylinder heads, crankshafts, housings and connecting rods. After an intensive evaluation process, the company selected UGS for the combined implementation of eM-Planner, eM-Plant, eM-Machining and eM-RealNC from the UGS Tecnomatix portfolio of products.

    Kubotek USA launched a discount program for users of CADKEY software. The company is kicking off the program to help users preserve the life of their CADKEY files. CADKEY is the predecessor to KeyCreator. The discount program is designed to help users cost effectively retain CADKEY functionality as they change and modernize their Windows computing environments. The program also offers amnesty for all CADKEY users -- regardless of current licensing status. CADKEY users get a major discount on maintenance and a "run-anywhere" license. For more information, go to on the
    program that runs through March 15, 2006.

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    -- Jeff Rowe, Contributing Editor.


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