November 28, 2005
ECAD Continues To Expand Into The MCAD Arena
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Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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ECAD Continues To Expand Into The MCAD Arena

Below are two announcements that we received this week, one from PTC and one from UGS. Although they each discuss different things, they both involve a common thread - the continued merging of electronic computer-aided design (ECAD) and mechanical computer-aided design (MCAD) and how, combined, they are influencing the areas of both design and manufacturing.

PTC Expands Its Windchill Electronics Support

PTC announced the general availability of new Windchill capabilities, including two new Windchill modules, specifically designed to optimize the development of products which mix mechanical, electrical and software components.

The major capability enhancements include:
  • New component and supplier management capabilities
  • The extension of Product Lifecycle Management to include software development
  • Automated ECAD change identification and management
  • Anticipated benefits of the new capabilities are improved quality and shortened time-to-market, enhanced regulatory compliance and greater capacity to manage increasingly complex supply chain requirements.

    Optimizing vendor selection and manufacturer part sources across multiple product lines and geographies is a major challenge facing product companies today, with huge implications on product cost and time-to-market. With the introduction of Windchill Supplier Management, an optional module of Windchill PDMLink, PTC customers can now manage, analyze and communicate critical supply chain-related information. This includes approved manufacturer and vendor lists (AML, AVL), environmental regulatory compliance, lifecycle status and end-of-life risk and component and supplier preferences (approved, do not use, etc.).

    Windchill Supplier Management delivers a key linkage between design and manufacturing functions, providing designers with access to supply chain information during design. This allows them to make better decisions from the beginning of the development process. In addition, earlier collaboration with suppliers can help to reduce re-designs and delays during release to manufacturing. Customers can also reduce operating costs by identifying and eliminating ineffective and redundant suppliers.

    These supplier management capabilities also significantly extend Windchill PartsLink Classification and Reuse - another optional, integral module of Windchill PDMLink. Released earlier this year, it enables companies to achieve greater design reuse of preferred parts by combining comprehensive enterprise component management with high-speed parametric search. In combination with Windchill PDMLink, these modules comprise a comprehensive enterprise component and supplier management solution.

    Many companies that develop products with embedded software are struggling to ensure that the right version of source code is delivered with the right version of the product. The latest release of Windchill 8.0 introduces a solution for interfacing with Software Configuration Management (SCM) systems that manage software source code and related software artifacts.

    The Windchill Integration for Rational ClearCase integrates IBM Rational ClearCase, the software configuration management system, with Windchill. This new module enables the data developed by software developers to be synchronized with the appropriate versions of the corresponding mechanical and electrical designs, all within a single, secure system. This solution facilitates greater collaboration and innovation among globally distributed product development teams resulting in improved efficiency and higher quality.

    The ability to quickly identify PCB design changes has been a difficult challenge for electronics manufacturers. This release of Windchill delivers the integration between Windchill PDMLink and InterComm EDAcompare, PTC's solution for comparing different versions of an ECAD or PCB design. Now, when changes occur, Windchill automatically identifies the disparity between the two ECAD designs based on attribute, netlist, bill of materials (BOM) and graphical series of comparisons. When combined with the change management processes supported by Windchill PDMLink, this solution provides early PCB change identification and management -- a vital capability for products containing PCBs and a key
    missing piece in most PLM solutions.

    "PTC is committed to helping our customers in the electronics industry remove obstacles that impede product development success," said Chad Hawkinson, director of electronics and high tech marketing and strategy, PTC. "By addressing key problems in the product development process, these new Windchill enhancements provide powerful solutions to help improve customers' ability to get high quality products to market faster, and at lower costs."

    UGS Launches Electronics Version Of Tecnomatix For Electronics Manufacturing

    UGS Corp. announced Tecnomatix for Electronics Version 7 software, the company's first integrated suite of digital manufacturing software solutions custom designed for the global electronics industry.

    Designated as "Version 7" to align it with the entire family of UGS' Tecnomatix solutions, Tecnomatix for Electronics automates and streamlines all key product planning and execution processes enabling global electronics manufacturers to systematically enhance product delivery, cost and quality in an increasingly competitive industry and challenging regulatory environment. The Tecnomatix for Electronics suite combines several digital manufacturing software products previously offered by UGS as individual solutions for printed circuit board (PCB) assembly, final assembly and manufacturing execution.

    As a result, UGS can focus this newly packaged offering in the areas of new product introduction (NPI) and manufacturing execution systems (MES) while providing a level of functional integration and coordination of the suite's development and release. The resulting solution helps companies face challenges such as increasing demands for new and innovative products, shrinking delivery schedules and regulatory compliance requirements.

    "With the new release of Tecnomatix for Electronics, UGS is uniquely positioned to address our electronics customers' core manufacturing requirements while facilitating compliance to increasingly stringent regulatory directives," said Al Hufstetler, director of Tecnomatix Marketing for UGS. "UGS is committed to helping all of its customers transform their process of innovation by offering them world leading comprehensive and robust PLM software and services. Tecnomatix for Electronics continues this strategy by further enhancing UGS' digital manufacturing family of solutions."

    By combining multiple software products into an integrated suite, Tecnomatix for Electronics provides the electronics manufacturing industry with end-to-end solutions for planning and executing manufacturing processes:
  • RoHS (Lead-Free) Compliance support. As the RoHS deadline approaches, manufacturers will need to declare compliance and back their declarations with proof by way of traceability and process control on the shop-floor. UGS has worked with global customers in developing MES solutions that facilitate compliance strategies by assuring that production is compliant from component level through final product assembly.
  • Stockroom to ship traceability. Tecnomatix for Electronics provides a custom designed traceability solution for electronics manufacturing by collecting stockroom to shipping traceability at the component, board, surface mount technology (SMT) line and final box assembly level. All related production history is captured and archived with on-demand traceability reports that dramatically reduce risk of product recalls.
  • Real-time production control As a web-based, out-of-the box solution, Tecnomatix for Electronics can interface directly with today's electronics shop-floor, including the most commonly used production equipment, enabling real-time production control and improving overall equipment efficiency. Tecnomatix for Electronics offers manufacturers full visibility allowing processes to be controlled in real-time.
  • Improve business metrics by integrating with enterprise business applications. Realize the true potential of enterprise ERP/MRP investments by feeding back accurate inventory, labor, and WIP status enabling manufacturers to make informed decisions and to execute as planned.
  • Facilitates continuous process improvement. By designing, capturing and reusing best manufacturing strategies that eliminate errors during production launch and shorten the durations of NPI efforts, Tecnomatix for Electronics helps manufacturers "get it right the first time."
  • Optimize line setup for high mix production With shorter production lifecycles many manufacturers are facing numerous product changeovers on a daily basis leading to excessive down-time. Tecnomatix for Electronics allows manufacturers to achieve common setup across several manufacturing jobs which may result in some cases in significantly increased manufacturing uptimes of 50% or more.
  • Enhanced test engineering Perform upfront design for test and increase test coverage and job turnover while eliminating test process bottlenecks. Building on the industry's leading test solution, Tecnomatix for Electronics now incorporates more features with greater user flexibility resulting in improved testability at the board level.
  • These announcements combined point to the fact that not only is mechanical CAD getting more closely entwined with CAM and CAE, it is also getting cozier with the electrical and electronic, or ECAD, side of things. Of course, PTC and UGS aren't the first or the only companies to realize and try to capitalize on ECAD. I say this because while CATIA, Pro/ENGINEER, and NX have had some pretty sophisticated ECAD capabilities, Inventor and SolidWorks can also deal with ECAD, albeit at a different level.

    So exactly what is ECAD?

    Like a lot of other things in the technical world, ECAD means different things to different companies. Depending on which company you are talking to, ECAD can mean everything from laying out layered printed circuit boards to designing the integrated circuits that are mounted on the circuit boards to routing wires and cables on paths through space and terminating them with harnesses and connectors. More commonly, though, the technologies used for PCBs and ICs is referred to as electronic design automation (EDA). Whatever you call it it's, a complicated proposition - for both design and manufacturing. It gets even more complicated
    when you add configuration management, ERP, MRP, MES, and other systems to the mix. For our purposes here, though, we'll consider routing wires and cables with their associated connectors and harnesses to be our definition of ECAD.

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    -- Jeff Rowe, Contributing Editor.


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