March 23, 2009
V-Shaped Recession Predicted for Technical Software
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| by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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Research from engineering and enterprise IT applications market research and analysis firm, Cambashi, predicts future growth in global expenditure on software for technical applications. Spending on technical applications software includes AEC (architecture, engineering & construction), geospatial (GIS) and manufacturing (CAD/CAM/CAE and PDM/PLM) applications.
Using the latest economic data, Cambashi has processed its Country Observatory models to show the demand for technical applications software is set for a marked increase following the predicted slump in 2009.
To focus on underlying demand, Cambashi selected local currency information from its Country Observatory to avoid the distortions introduced by currency exchange rate fluctuations. This provides a fair indicator of relative growth as many contracts are honoured in local currencies.
Christine Easterfield, principal consultant at Cambashi, stated, “Despite the general decline in demand for technical applications software, there are still areas with potential. For example, when ranked in order of growth, four of the top ten countries are from the emerging nations of South America with China and India maintaining a strong position. But overall, the figures show the battle for market share will be more difficult over the next 12 to 18 months.”
With government support in Europe and the USA for major infrastructure programs, for example, renewable energy programs, the prospect for growth in this market space is also considered to be good.
These results come from Cambashi’s latest version of the Cambashi Country Observatory which contains estimates of market size and growth for over 50 countries worldwide.
This is the first in a series of market observations from the team at Cambashi that combine to give a worldwide view of the status of the technical applications software market by region at this challenging time.
For further information:
Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor
By now, virtually everyone I know has been adversely affected by the current state of our economy, so the Cambashi report and its observations really should come as no surprise to anybody. Although more information may be disclosed, the first installment doesn’t really discuss the bottom or breadth of the V-shaped trough that represents current and future technical software purchases. In other words, like other segments of the economy, no one can really accurately predict how low sales will go and how long they will remain low before rebounding.
I see the current and foreseeable future of technical software as an opportunity for a few technical software markets:
Lower-cost (mid-range) or even free software
Open source software (relatively small potatoes now, but has interesting implications and a promising future)
New versions of software with significant upgrades that appeal to larger groups of prospective customers
Upgraded software that is more stable and reliable
Most of these points involve actually spending money for software, but I’m hearing from more companies and vendors that a lot of users will just make do with what they have for at least this year. This slowdown is very visible in the recent earnings of several CAx vendors, and the fact that very few of them are hiring anyone in any capacity at any level. Some vendors have already made modest cuts, but much bigger ones are in the near future if revenues continue to fall.
On the customer/user side, it’s all about making the correct technical software choices for maintaining competitiveness. In the United States, from various statistics I’ve tracked from various sources, I estimate that manufacturing accounts for approximately 20 percent of our economy, over 60 percent of our exports, and probably over half of our total R&D expenditures. While these are impressive numbers, are they enough to maintain our position as an innovator in manufacturing practices on the world stage? That’s a debatable and critical question we must ask ourselves in today’s increasingly competitive manufacturing environment.
All manufacturing companies are mindful that they must equip their workforces with tools for solving problems with innovative solutions. These same companies must constantly respond to regional and global trends in product demand and adjust their product development processes accordingly. On top of all this, manufacturers must be aware of what’s going on in the many links that comprise the supply chain, as well as overall business practices and the business climate, the state of education for attracting future workers, and domestic and foreign government policies. This lengthy list just seems to get bigger as time goes on, further complicating an already complicated
tangle of issues.
Today there are obvious indicators that show overall spending is increasingly falling for computer software and hardware because many manufacturers do not believe spending right now will promote immediate technology-induced gains in productivity and profitability. I believe that this thought process goes counter to getting out of the current economic hole, but more about that later.
The price/performance ratio of technical software technologies has increased dramatically in the past few years when compared with the bigger corporate IT world. However, IT specific to design, engineering, and manufacturing, CAx tools, have made greater strides in terms of capabilities. At the same time it has also tried to overcome the misconception that it is too expensive, difficult to learn and use, and may not integrate well with existing systems and processes. Like corporate hardware and software, for CAx tools it is almost as important to what not to base a purchasing decision on as it is what to actually base the decision on.
So what do you base CAM purchasing and implementation decisions on? Certainly not hype or emotion – especially now.
As the design and manufacturing environment becomes increasingly competitive, it becomes more important and more complex than ever to make the right choices for the technical software tools that literally run an innovative product development process.
The thing I want to leave you with is the fact that virtually all of us (software vendor or end user/customer) should continually re-educate and reinvent ourselves in good times. During times like we are experiencing now, it is essential if we are to survive and innovate another day. Of course, reinvention requires sacrifice and investment, yes, investment, as hard as that may be to swallow right now. No company that I am aware of ever cost-cut its way to greatness, and the current state of the American car companies are perfect examples of this. Innovation comes from investment, ideas, and commitment to both. Granted, technical (including MCAD) software may be a relatively
small part of the bigger economic picture, but is a vital aspect of future innovation.
We believe that the current state of affairs and its future implications toward the development and use of CAx tools are so important that we will frequently revisit this topic over the coming months with an eye toward a positive outlook and outcome.
EDITOR’S NOTE: In the next edition of MCADCafe Weekly (to be published April 6, 2009), we will feature as our focal point a detailed review of Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended. The review will show that that the software is very capable and comprehensive for some interesting engineering applications that include 3D image editing and advanced image analysis.
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.
Autodesk named ADEPT Airmotive, a South Africa-based manufacturer of general aviation engines for the light aircraft market, the Autodesk Inventor of the Year for 2008. ADEPT used Autodesk Inventor software to develop the 320T, a 320-horsepower general aviation engine with a compact design that offers low vibration levels and high structural integrity. The 350-pound engine is more than 130 pounds lighter than a traditional piston engine of comparable horsepower, allowing the 320T to reap fuel savings of about 30 percent and decrease environmental impact. Inventor software's capabilities helped ADEPT produce accurate 3D models of the 320T before anything was actually built, reducing
the number of physical prototypes that needed to be constructed. ADEPT Airmotive's core activities are the design, development and manufacture of a range of general aviation engines for the light aircraft market.
Siemens PLM Software announced Parasolid Version 21.0 (V21) software, the latest release of its 3D geometric modeling component software. Parasolid V21 includes numerous modeling enhancements across a wide spectrum of functionality. These enhancements will benefit the independent software vendors who have licensed Parasolid modeling technology to produce more than 350 end-user products in the product design and analysis market space. Enhancements include:
Local operations – Several enhancements have been made to allow significantly more complex changes while performing local edits of geometry. For example, options have been added to automatically indicate desired behavior when features such as holes and bosses interact as the result of a local editing operation.
Enhanced surface creation – Sophisticated sheet and surface creation and manipulation capabilities have been extended. For example, users can perform sweep operations with enhanced control of rotation as well as with more complex configurations of guide curves. In addition, users can perform loft operations between profiles while twisting along a path.
Application support – A new diagnostic mechanism has been added and the tools that help application developers track the creation, editing and deletion of entities have been further developed to provide more support for sophisticated undo and rollback algorithms.
IMSI/Design announced the upgrade to free DoubleCAD XT, DoubleCAD XT PRO, an AutoCAD LT work-alike that includes features normally found in more expensive CAD applications. "DoubleCAD stands for 'Drafting & Detailing' and with our new PRO version, we really feel we're raising the AutoCAD LT bar," said Royal Farros, CEO of IMSI/Design. Based on IMSI/Design's CAD code, DoubleCAD XT PRO works like AutoCAD LT -- that is, you get high-level AutoCAD (.DWG) compatibility and a familiar menu bar, menu items, drawing tools, modify tools, command line, and an “intelligent” cursor. But DoubleCAD XT PRO goes beyond AutoCAD LT with features that include a Drafting Palette, powerful
parametric 2D constraints, and workflow compatibility with other popular applications like Google SketchUp and Blender. DoubleCAD XT PRO's Drafting Palette expedites the drafting-to-detailing process. It creates associative 2D sections based on standard views or sectional planes of 3D surface or ACIS solid models, including XREFs. You can create nested, associative sections (cross-sections of cross-sections). The 2D views may be placed in paperspaces (layouts), hatched, dimensioned, and annotated. Because they are associative, if the model is changed, or the section plane is updated, the 2D profiles, hatches, and fills are also updated automatically. According to the company, DoubleCAD XT
PRO also contains other CAD capabilities, such as a range of intelligent (parametric) architectural objects, Parametric Parts Manager, Bill Of Materials (BOM), Design Director, and XREFs from any supported file format, as well as innovative features like self-healing walls, self-aligning blocks, handle-based editing of selected objects, snap prioritization, brush editor, and smart dimensions.
LMS and its Spanish partner Alava Ingenieros have completed a GVT technology co-operation project with the Ground Vibration Testing (GVT) team at EADS-CASA that enabled the team to successfully complete a 700-channel large-scale aircraft GVT on the Airbus A400M in less than a month. Also, four additional configurations were tested in only two extra weeks. Part of an on-site support project, LMS and Alava Ingenieros engineers helped with the EADS-CASA deployment of a 700-channel LMS SCADAS III hardware and LMS Test.Lab software system over a series of three GVT tests: the Airbus A310 MRT, the Airbus A330 MRTT, and the Airbus A400M. The project covered complete LMS Test.Lab and LMS
SCADAS III system installation and integration, extensive training, and on-site assistance. The entire GVT cycle took just under a month for a thorough 700 channel set-up that included placing 700 accelerometers. During this period, various GVT tests, performed by a joint team from EADS-CASA MTAD’s Structural Test Department in collaboration with EADS-CASA MTAD’s Aeroelasticity & Dynamic Loads department, were carried out on the first aircraft, the Airbus A400M MSN01, which was placed on an elastic rubber platform to simulate a “ready for flight” configuration. These standard tests measured the frequency and damping modal parameters to determine the
aircraft’s dynamic behavior from an aeroelastic point of view.
Siemens PLM Software-sponsored race team lead all three NASCAR Series and National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Pro Stock series standings. In the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Siemens PLM Software-sponsored race teams won the first three points races in 2009, setting multiple records along the way. Joe Gibbs Racing’s driver Kyle Busch won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He also won the NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series races, becoming the first driver in NASCAR history to win two major series races in the same day. Roush Fenway Racing’s driver Matt Kenseth started the season with back-to-back wins. Kenseth won the season
opener, the Daytona 500, and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at California at Auto Club Speedway in California. Hendrick Motorsports’ driver Jeff Gordon is the current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points leader. Roush Fenway Racing’s driver Carl Edwards is the current NASCAR Nationwide Series points leader. In addition to the success in NASCAR, KB Racing, which races in the NHRA Pro Stock series, is speeding off the line with a win and new record at the season opener. Jason Line, the 2006 NHRA Pro Stock world champion, won the Kragen O'Reilly NHRA Winternationals, and teammate Greg Anderson, the three-time NHRA Pro Stock world champion, set a new elapsed time record of 6.528 seconds
to become the current NHRA Pro Stock national record holder. Line is the current NHRA Pro Stock points leader, and Anderson is in third place.
Jeffrey Rowe is the Editor of
and MCAD Weekly Review. He can be reached at
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-- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.