A Lingua Franca For PLM Vendors and Manufacturers?

A Lingua Franca For PLM Vendors and Manufacturers?

Boldly declaring "the use of closed technology a thing of the past," UGS PLM Solutions and other PLM industry vendors and global manufacturers launched JT Open, a global initiative designed to promote open data sharing, enhance collaboration and expand visualization across extended enterprises and throughout the PLM industry.

JT is a common data format for enabling product visualization and information distribution and enhancing data sharing between PLM software applications. The robust functionality and lightweight nature of JT technology (theoretically) make it possible to view and share product data and dynamic images worldwide, in real-time, and throughout all phases of the product lifecycle.

"The announcement of JT Open is a pivotal and ground-breaking step in our ongoing drive to maximize the value of PLM through open solutions," said Tony Affuso, president and CEO, UGS PLM Solutions. "We are gratified to see so many important industry leaders join us in a shared vision to define, promote and deploy open formats and software applications. We believe the result of openness in the PLM industry will inevitably reduce product developments costs and enhance product quality and innovation worldwide. As the PLM industry continues to evolve and mature, increasingly the use of closed technology is a thing of the past."

JT Open is an initiative driven by those with a vested interest in the PLM industry that have adopted the JT format. In addition to UGS PLM Solutions, initial members include Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Actify, Alias, and PTC, as well as academic members Brigham Young University, Technical University Darmstadt, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and the University of Michigan. DaimlerChrysler has committed to join the JT Open program and intends to participate in 2004.

Membership in JT Open is available to all end-user corporations, independent software vendors (ISVs), and non-profit organizations. In addition, many other companies that derive indirect value from the initiative can participate as "JT Open Advocates". Initial JT Open Advocates include CIMx, Elysium, HP, Intel, SAP, Tecnomatix, and Theorem.

One organization with a special interest in the JT Open program is the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG), an organization focused on the prosperity of the global automotive industry. AIAG was instrumental in the formation of JT Open.

JT Open is being created to benefit all organizations associated with PLM regardless of the industry they represent. While every JT Open member shares a common goal, each brings a unique viewpoint regarding the need for open solutions and the types of benefits they create.

More information about JT Open can be found at http://www.jtopen.com/ -- A public Webcast will be held on December 3, 2003.

All of this sounds like an excellent cooperative start, but it will be interesting to see how and if all of the players will continue to play well together as events unfold and things evolve.

A "Technology of the Year" From PTC

For a company in need of some good news, PTC's Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire was recognized in INDUSTRYWEEK's 11th annual Technology and Innovation Awards Program. The editors of the manufacturing management magazine selected Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire as one of the five Technologies of the Year for 2003. This award marks the second time that PTC has received an award for "Technology of the Year," as Pro/ENGINEER won in 1993.

To select the winners, INDUSTRYWEEK editors solicit reader nominations for a judging process, designed to recognize outstanding achievement in technology. To be eligible, candidate technologies must relate in a significant way to accomplishments and achievements in the current year.

"We're proud to showcase technologies that significantly improve the way in which companies develop and manufacture their products," said Patricia Panchak, editor-in-chief of INDUSTRYWEEK. "Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire is a technology that clearly helps manufacturers connect their product development to strategic business goals, and we're pleased to reward PTC for its efforts."

Winners of INDUSTRYWEEK's Technology and Innovation Awards span a wide range of science and engineering. The editors seek developments that show great potential for re-directing business opportunities and creating new growth in the manufacturing world. Represented among the winners are technologies with the potential for creating new industries, and commercial products that represent bellwethers for fundamental change.

Besides PTC, the other winners for outstanding technologies included:
  • Aluminum Vehicle Technology (AVT) from Alcan Inc. helped Jaguar introduce its 2004 XJ, an industry-first use of rivet-bonding, monocoque (unit body) construction.
  • IBM's Millipede probe-based data storage that is cheaper, denser and more compact than current methods.
  • Manhattan Associates' pre-configured radio frequency identification (RFID) solution that will enable companies to bid farewell to barcodes.
  • STEP Tools Inc.'s introduction of the first commercial software products for early adopters of the emerging STEP-NC data standard for computer-aided manufacturing.

New Autodesk Software and Services For Manufacturing

Incorporating the requests of thousands of customers, Autodesk this week announced its next generation of manufacturing software products and services, and include:
  • Autodesk Inventor Series (AIS) 8 software, now with built-in Autodesk Vault for design data management.
  • Autodesk Inventor Professional (AIP) 8 software, also featuring the built-in Autodesk Vault. Autodesk Inventor Professional 8, a superset of Autodesk Inventor Series, expands beyond the tube and pipe functionality offered in Autodesk Inventor Professional 7 to include cable and wire harness capabilities.
  • AutoCAD Mechanical 2004 DX software with Autodesk Inventor software interoperability. AutoCAD Mechanical 2004 DX is a design tool for 2D mechanical design and documentation with Autodesk Inventor interoperability. Intelligent linking automatically notifies users of changes and enables updating of views and annotations to keep drawings current. AutoCAD Mechanical 2004 DX is for those users who are not ready to move to 3D, but who want to decrease the time to create and change 2D production designs or who need to access or document 3D model data. The new software helps users create mechanical designs and associatively interoperate with 3D models.
  • Autodesk Streamline 5.3 collaboration service now offers integration with the Autodesk Vault, globalization for non-English speaking users, and enhancements including Autodesk Inventor fidelity and offline viewer improvements.
  • Autodesk also recently introduced AutoCAD Electrical 2004 (built on an AutoCAD 2004 foundation), a new AutoCAD-based product optimized for electrical controls design and engineering, that interoperates with Autodesk Inventor Professional software. Wire data reports created in AutoCAD Electrical can be leveraged directly by the cable and wire harness functionality in Autodesk Inventor Professional.
This is a slew of new products from Autodesk for mechanical design. I am very familiar with Inventor, and the new releases should help them catch up with the competition, especially the new cable and harness capabilities. AutoCAD Mechanical 2004 DX is a good 2D design product optimized for mechanical design, and further proof that 2D design is still alive with a good lifespan ahead.

Along with New Products, Autodesk Also Reports Good Financial Results

Autodesk announced that revenue for its fiscal third quarter ended October 31, 2003 totaled $234 million, a 10 percent sequential increase, compared to $212 million reported in the second quarter of fiscal 2004. Compared to the same quarter in the prior year, revenues increased 24 percent, from $189 million.

Third quarter net income was $22.6 million or $0.20 per diluted share on a GAAP basis. There were no adjustments to GAAP basis accounting in the quarter. Non-GAAP net income in the second quarter of fiscal 2004 was $12.9 million or $0.11 per diluted share, excluding a one-time tax benefit of $19.7 million. GAAP basis net income in the second quarter of fiscal 2004 was $32.6 million or $0.29 per diluted share. Net income was $5.8 million or $0.05 per diluted share, for the third quarter from the previous year, excluding restructuring and other charges totaling $13.3 million. GAAP basis net loss was $3.9 million or $0.03 per diluted share in the third quarter of the prior year.

"Contrary to our normal seasonal slowdown in the third quarter, Autodesk increased revenues 10 percent and operating profitability by 100 percent sequentially," said Carol Bartz, Autodesk chairman and CEO. "Each of our lines of business turned in a strong performance. Today's results clearly demonstrate that our strategies are working, our products are being well received, and most importantly, our customers are satisfied."

During the quarter, Autodesk launched three key enhancements to its subscription program, demonstrating the company's commitment to its customers -- Web support direct from Autodesk, e-learning and multi-year contracts. These features address three of the most common requests from customers. The subscription program will be a key factor in improving the predictability and the profitability of the business model in the future. Subscription revenue was 14 percent of total revenue for the Design Solutions Group. Deferred subscription revenue grew to $66 million.

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