August 06, 2007
PTC Expands Business with Visteon
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Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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PTC announced that Visteon Corp., a leading global automotive supplier, is using Mathcad to create and document the engineering calculations and mathematical models used in the design of automotive electronics.
With Mathcad, users can develop mathematical models used to verify that designs will meet customer requirements over varying production and environmental conditions. Mathcad worksheets are designed to communicate analysis results to other interested parties throughout the design process. Because the worksheets are reusable, they can be used as a starting point for similar designs, which can improve productivity and enhance analysis capabilities.

The combined strengths of Pro/ENGINEER and Mathcad deliver an integral solution that enables companies to streamline the process of leveraging critical engineering calculations that drive product design models.

"Leading companies like Visteon are constantly innovating and improving product quality to meet customer demand," said Martin Walters, director automotive product and market strategy, PTC. "The integration of Mathcad software with Pro/ENGINEER is another example of our commitment to continually develop innovative product development solutions that help our customers remain competitive. We are pleased to support Visteon's ability to deliver great products to the market."

Mathcad's standards-based XML architecture enables organizations to extend its capability beyond just engineering calculations. Its open-engineering data model easily integrates to other engineering applications and creates an auditable trail of documented calculations that simplify compliance reporting, verification and troubleshooting initiatives.

Mathcad is ideal for knowledge capture of engineering calculations and gives engineers the ability to reuse engineering-driven analyses throughout the design process that can save time, streamline design processes and reduce costs associated with rework.
Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor

Based on recent earnings announcements Visteon and PTC are both companies that could use some good news – they both fell short of financial expectations. This is, however, another “in” for PTC in the automotive sector as a couple other competitors duke it out to become the favorites – but more about that later.

Visteon, one of the largest auto parts suppliers in North America makes automotive interior, climate, electronic and lighting products for cars, and is in the midst of a major financial restructuring that began in 2006, which the company said accounted for its loss during the second quarter. The company, which was spun off from Ford Motor Co. in June 2000, has completed a little over half of its previously announced restructuring activities, including the shutting down of several facilities around the world. Ford remains Visteon’s largest customer, and as you probably know, these are not the best of times for Ford right now either.

Going forward,
Visteon, which still employs about 45,000 people worldwide, expects a full-year net loss in the tens of millions of dollars on product sales of over $10 billion. So, not exactly a pretty picture for the near term.

As for Mathcad, it was acquired along with its developer, Mathsoft, last year by PTC. This was probably one of the better acquisitions that PTC has made the past few years because it’s relatively easy to see where Mathcad fits with other products in the PTC lineup. Mathcad is a technical product used by engineers to create, automate, document and reuse engineering calculations critical to the product development process, as well as other mathematics-driven processes. So why is this important? Well, while CAD is excellent for documenting design geometry, it doesn’t necessarily provide an understanding of the underlying calculations that drive critical parameters, so CAD
often does not completely, or sometimes even adequately, capture engineering intent.

So, what is the significance of PTC, Mathcad, and Visteon? Primarily, it provides PTC a greater presence in the automotive market. Admittedly, PTC has a pretty good presence in the automotive sector, primarily powertrain design. In fact, the company claims that it provides 3D design, PDM, and collaboration products to over 1,400 automotive manufacturers, including eight of the top ten powertrain suppliers and three of the top five OEMs.

It’s the OEMs where, for a variety of reasons, PTC has run in third place behind the “ big dogs” Dassault Systemes and UGS, and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon. Here in this country, two of the
“Detroit 3” have decided and implemented CAD and related technologies from specific vendors – GM has UGS and Chrysler has Dassault. There is some crossover of engineering software vendors and OEMs, but for the most part GM and Chrysler have chosen their primary vendors for products and services.

Ford, on the other hand, uses Dassault’s CATIA V5, as well UGS’ I-deas. Where this will ultimately end up is anybody’s guess, but the company is in the process of consolidating everything to one primary vendor, probably sooner rather than later.

With all of this going on at the various OEMs over the various data formats, the “battle royale” seems to be playing out on the interoperability front. All of the OEMs and their suppliers want the ability to view 3D models, regardless of the CAD system they are using and what system was used to originally create the models. This battle is being waged by UGS PLM Software’s JT data
format and Dassault’s 3DLive technology. The ultimate goal would be for one of these two formats/technologies to reign supreme and be adopted as a the single, standard platform throughout the automotive industry. How likely is this to happen? That’s very tough to speculate on. On the one hand, it makes perfect sense. On the other hand, though, there’s too much at stake for the various players to relent and concede.

In the end, it could boil down to one format, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

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.

The Boeing Blended Wing Body (BWB) research aircraft -- designated the X-48B -- flew for the first time last week at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California. The 21-foot wingspan, 500-pound unmanned test vehicle took off for the first time and climbed to an altitude of 7,500 feet before landing 31 minutes later. The X-48B flight test vehicle was developed by Boeing Phantom Works in cooperation with NASA and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory to gather detailed information about the stability and flight-control characteristics of the BWB design, especially during takeoffs and landings. The Boeing BWB design resembles a flying wing, but differs in that the wing blends smoothly into a wide, flat, tailless fuselage. This fuselage blending helps to get additional lift with less drag compared to a circular fuselage. And because the engines mount high on the back of the aircraft, there is less noise inside and on the ground when it is in flight. While a commercial passenger application for the BWB concept is not in Boeing's current 20-year market plan, the Advanced Systems organization of Boeing Integrated Defense Systems' (IDS) is closely monitoring the research based on the BWB's potential as a flexible, long-range, high-capacity military aircraft. The two X-48B research vehicles were built by Cranfield Aerospace Ltd., in the United
Kingdom, in accordance with Boeing requirements.

MSC.Software Corp. announced the release of SimOffice R2 that provides a desktop-based CAE solution that emphasizes design analysis productivity. Users can extend the analysis functionality, including the ability to perform analyses that include contact between components, the ability to analyze components that deform beyond elastic limits and the ability to study the behavior of components made of composite materials. Users are also able to increase control with extended FE Modeling capabilities, including the ability to assign loads, constraints and properties to FE entities and automatically create "spider" type multi point constraints. SimOffice R2 provides a multi-CAD
environment that works with nearly all major design systems including systems from Dassault Systemes, PTC, and UGS, and by supporting standard CAD interchange formats like Initial Graphics Exchange Specification (IGES).

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-- Jeff Rowe, Contributing Editor.


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