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Features List 13
Up to Speed
From CAD User AEC Magazine Vol 20 No 02 - FEBRUARY/MARCH 2007
UGS Velocity series can take a design and manufacturing company all the way - at their own speed, of course
The mid-market is where it's at in PLM. That's the view of UGS - developers of NX Series and Solid Edge engineering design software for the global manufacturing companies and small to medium sized businesses respectively. Which is why it set about redefining its PDM solution portfolio a couple of years back, culminating in the launch of the Velocity Series - a suite of tools specifically designed for the mid-market - in effect, enterprise level PLM downsized to fit the specific needs of the market.
The solution is based around UGS' flagship PLM solution Teamcenter, which has been repositioned for this sector of the market as Teamcenter Express, a PDM solution. Added to this is a repositioned FEMAP, UGS' FEA suite of simulation and analysis tools, and NX programming/CAM, a suite of CAD neutral NC tools; all of which, together with Solid Edge, of course, provide a full PLM solution - Velocity.
Teamcenter is widely used throughout the industry to manage product development and manufacturing, ranging from the auto industry to industries such as electronics, and even the clothing industry! Teamcenter Express retains the ability to handle check in/check out and revision control of documents, proposals, Product specifications, RFQs, and also the results of analysis or simulation testing. UGS has ensured that Solid Edge and Teamcenter are closely integrated, using SolidEdge functions to access Teamcenter information, including metadata searches.
The rationale behind the launch of Velocity is pretty straightforward. Companies at this level of the market may have numerous CAD seats (design engineers, analytical engineers, etc.) but they don't have a large IT staff. Consequently, any form of document management, collaboration with suppliers, production of BOMs, reports and production of manufacturing information is handled from within the design engineering departments. And very often they don't have a recognisable documented process for handling all of their data either.
This is normally accompanied with a lack of funds to set up a complex PDM or PLM process as well, and the companies concerned come from a low total cost of ownership process. Larger companies often find it easier to implement PLM solutions because they already have best in class working processes in place.
SMEs, therefore, according to UGS, need help in setting up their PLM solutions, and don't want to get involved in 5 years defining and re-engineering their work practices, followed by 5 years or so implementation periods.
UGS set out to deliver a portfolio of products that will instil best practices within a company that didn't break the bank, or unnecessarily disrupt, the core functions of the company. It also had to be totally scaleable - capable of being used by 1 to 1000 users within one environment, and capable of providing a total solution, cutting out the need to import or export data from other applications. Based around UGS' mid-range PDM solution, Solid Edge Insight, the solution had to be easy to learn and easy to use; as easy, according to UGS, as using Word!
Each of the disciplines come in separate modules based on SQL, and which come with predefined workflows. Users can choose which of these they implement first - CAD, PDM, CAM, FEA - bringing in other modules when they are required. All of the modules are integrated and associative, with modified data being used to update models in each environment. UGS staff reckon that a typical implementation, covering installation and configuration, will take around two weeks.
FEMAP is a surprising inclusion, not because engineering analysis is not, now, an integral part of any product design, but because of the emphasis that UGS places on its inclusion. In fact, the company was surprised at how successful the inclusion of FEMAP was within SolidEdge. Users were initially inhibited by its perceived difficulty, but once the principles have been learned, it is easy to use within SolidEdge, even for occasional users.
CAM is similar. UGS is a leading company in the CAM market, according to CIMdata, with CAM tools well integrated within NX. The launch of Velocity, though, provided it with an ideal opportunity to take this to a new market - a combined PDM and CAM solution for the mid-range market, providing designers with access to the latest CAM technologies - 5 axis milling, multi-function machining and so on.
Developments in Solid Edge version 19 fill some of the gaps that users may require to provide a total solution - specifically, the means to use the design data even beyond the design and engineering studios, factories, collaborators and suppliers. SolidEdge can be used to present product data in a suitable format for technical publishing software, with annotated exploded views in 3D, animations, and Acrobat 3D output. UGS is also one of the main proponents of JT, a widely used lightweight format for sharing 3D product data, which also assists both CAD and non-CAD users to view, manipulate, inspect and mark-up design information.
Solid Edge 19 comes with hundreds of other customer-requested enhancements, some of which are heavily involved in the Velocity solution, such as motion simulation - to define the relationships between different motion drivers - assembly and disassembly videos, 3D design annotation, as well as other visual collaboration tools that leverage the open JT data format. It also provides a new suite of manufacturing solutions, that can co-ordinate product design, tool design and NC programming.
Re-use of Design Data
SolidEdge also encourages the re-use of data. This is a complex subject that is a vital part of a company's aim to optimise the knowledge base of its design engineers, increase productivity, and improve the quality of design. Whether it deals with geometry, toolpaths or FEA models, the company can ensure that the most successful components and designs, or families of parts, are retained, and are available for re-use in new designs. Inventories are reduced, designers don't have to waste time inventing something that has been done before, and the company is assured of the integrity of its products. To help design engineers find these parts, Solid Edge provides thumbnails of drawings and models that can be searched using common browsers.
And (with an eye to the future) SolidEdge 19 now provides support for MS Windows 64 bit OS architecture, enabling users to develop massive assemblies and their associated drawings - for which users will definitely need the full services of Velocity!
UGS, like other software developers, has been chasing the 2D to 3D market. It is even going after AutoCAD's vast army of 2D users (mainly AutoCAD LT users, providing a smoother workflow for them to upgrade to SolidEdge, rather than going for Inventor). It is still a major issue, with many designers still unable to commit themselves to making the transition.
The company now clearly believes that 3D is no longer the end game - the end game is now PLM. Companies selecting a company that will enable them to go to 3D should now look at a supplier that can take them all the way!
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