ENOVIA V6 Multi-CAD: Do Everything!

April 1, 2012

Note, this is NOT 1st April post :). Multi-CAD and PLM. Endless story… Few weeks ago, I published my post The Anatomy of MultiCAD-PDM integrations. I recommend you to have a read before you continue with this article. Another blog, you probably want to review is the story about Autodesk Vault and Multi-CAD. This blog is also continuation of the discussion I started in the following posts – Immersive CAD management: is it the CAD/PDM future?, CAD Strategies: Unified or Diversified and CAD, PDM and PLM diversity.

So, this week, I’d like to make a next step and talk about Dassault Enovia and multi-CAD. Again, as before when I talk about Autodesk Vault, my focus is on the integration between PDM/PLM platform and CAD. I’m not focusing on CAD data translation, visualization. Don’t take me wrong- data translation is important. However, I’d like to keep my focus on how data-management platform interact with CAD applications.

A week ago, I sat down with David Segal of Dassault Systemes to talk about Dassault Enovia and MultiCAD. This blog gives you some ideas about how Enovia presents their Multi-CAD integration and openness. He kindly provided me with some slides about Enovia V6 multi-CAD and gave me explanations about how Dassault Enovia supporting different design applications.

In my view, the usual complexity, every CAD/PLM vendor has is about how to separate their own CAD solutions from "other vendor CAD" solutions. Dassault is calling it "authoring applications". So, on the following slide, you can see how ENOVIA V6 chart pictures about data-management strategy. I had hard time to go and understand the difference between "comprehensive collaborative solution" and "collaborative data-management solutions" for MCAD and ECAD. What was important to understand is that Enovia is not limiting their offer to Dassault CAD applications only. In addition, interesting to see that CATIA V6 and SolidWorks are positioned on this slide in the same box.

ENOVIA multiCAD data management

Another aspect is related to mechanical and electronic design applications (so-called MCAD and ECAD). The complexity of products is growing. You can hardly limit yourself to only mechanical aspects of the design. In that context, Enovia V6 supports both MCAD and ECAD spaces. You can see a chart below explaining MCAD solution offering.

MCAD Data Management

Another one related to ECAD options.

ECAD Data Management

I’ve got mixed feeling about these slides. The simple message is clear. Whatever CAD you do have – Enovia supports it. At the same time, what I learned the user experience and functionality of the integration are very important. The level of diversification in design scenarios and practices is very high. So, to see what is supported is something that important to understand. It is always interesting to see some performance in action. Take a look on few videos below for more examples.

NX Collaboration

ProE Collaboration

ProE ECO Implementation

MCAD-ECAD with Cadence

What is my conclusion? I made my short conclusion in the title of the post – Do Everything! I can hardly find the name of design system / CAD not covered by the slides. It is a good sign, since it allows the flexibility for user to choose tools and don’t lock customer on DS tools only. However, don’t take it blind and compare functional details in case you decide to go to one of them. Blog post is a wrong place to make functional comparison, but details are important. Remember that. Moreover, to support different versions of CAD applications is as well important. I can see how Dassault is doing a lot to make ENOVIA capable to be connected to any design applications and looking forward to learning about your experience. Speak your mind…

Best, Oleg

Disclosure: This post was reviewed by David Segal (DS) before publishing.


Multi-CAD & PDM integration: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

March 7, 2012

I’d like to continue my discussion about multi-CAD and PDM started few weeks ago. If you want to catch up on my earlier posts about the same topic, please navigate to the following link to read my previous post – The Anatomy of MultiCAD-PDM integrations. Some other articles you might be interested to read – Autodesk, Vault and Multi-CAD and Multi-CAD and PDM: Dead Lock? The story of Multi-CAD and PDM is not new and complex. It mixes multiple topics – product complexity, customer environment complexity, software vendors business strategy, development complexity and many others. The solution to solve MultiCAD / PDM integration requires software vendor commitment to openness in general and to open APIs specifically. Here is the conclusion I made in my last post:

Let’s face the reality, because of the absolute importance, companies [ software vendors ] easy can get provoked to use it as a competitive advantage. In addition to “openness” in general, the ultimate way to solve this problem is Open API. I believe Open APIs is the most important strategic factor for companies to be competitive in the future.

Today I want to continue my Multi-CAD / PDM discussion and propose possible alternatives for MultiCAD / PDM integration strategy. I can see three possible options: Multi-CAD PDM, Multi-PDM CAD, CAD-PDM bundle. Let me put some analyzes below.

Multi-CAD PDM

This is a traditional option used today by most of the vendors. The integration plug-ins need to be developed between PDM and multiple CAD systems. In that configuration, PDM normally provide an integration framework – environment that allows CAD systems to interplay with PDM environment. Some CAD operations are replaced with PDM operations – Open / Save. Additional operations added by PDM environment in order to manage changes of files and access specific PDM functions. The main assumption of this approach is that it reflects the situation majority customers have- single PDM system and multiple CAD systems.

multi-cad-pdm

CAD / PDM bundle

This is an option that became more popular for last 3-4 years. Because of CAD/PDM integration complexity and high demand for vertical integration, software vendors are trying to solve this problem for their own CAD and PDM systems. As a result, stable bundles became more popular. It solves the problem CAD-PDM version compatibility, updates as well as functional richness. These are most popular bundles – Inventor / Autodesk Vault, SolidWorks / EPDM, SolidEgde (NX) / TeamCenter, CATIA / Enovia, Creo-Parametric / Windchill. The high-end systems like CATIA, NX and Creo-Parametric becomes even more complex. CATIA was the first system that requires Enovia functionality and cannot work without data management backend.

cad-pdm bundle

Multi-PDM CAD

This is an interesting option, in my view. The idea behind is that CAD system openness and Open API will be available ad-hoc to integrate with any PDM system. Sounds like a dream? Maybe… Nevertheless, I believe this is one of the forthcoming ways to create a stable integration. With the future migration of CAD systems to cloud, CAD API will move to web infrastructure, which can be used to higher standardization of integration mechanisms.

Multi-PDM CAD

What is my conclusion? In order to solve CAD / PDM integration complexity we need to move towards higher level of decoupling and openness. It includes open API and standard protocols. Smart vendors will be moving towards this direction. It will simplify system usage from end-user standpoint as well as from the side of system administration and updates. Just my thoughts… What is your take?

Best, Oleg


Autodesk, Vault and Multi-CAD

February 21, 2012

I’d like to continue my "multi-CAD and PDM" story. If you had no chance to read my yesterday post The Anatomy of MultiCAD-PDM integrations, please do it before continue. I want you to take some initial context from there. I’ve been talking with Brain Roepke, director of PLM and "father of Autodesk Vault". My interest was to learn more about Autodesk Vault PDM in the context supported CAD systems, Open APIs and openness.

Autodesk, Multi-CAD and Integrations with other PDMs

According to Brian, Autodesk is investing a lot in multiCAD capabilities. It comes in various capabilities and different applications. I’d like to to strict my coverage purely to Autodesk Vault. So, this post will not cover multiple translators and ability to read different CAD formats by various Autodesk products and for variety of purposes – visualization, simulation and many others. Autodesk Development Networks (ADN) allows you to have the ability to develop applications using AutoCAD, Inventor, and other Autodesk products. In addition to that, you may use 3rd party tools that allow you to access Autodesk files and formats. I found integrations with Autodesk Inventor, and AutoCAD developed for Windchill, Enovia, TeamCenter, SAP PLM and others. Some of the integration developed by vendors and some of them, by partners.

Autodesk Vault- foundation and APIs

Let me start from core capabilities of Autodesk Vault to be integrated with other applications as well as providing a platform for development. Navigate your browser to the following link – Autodesk Dev Center. Here is what written about Autodesk Vault there:

Vault makes use of Web Service technology, which greatly simplifies client/server communication. Fundamentally, the Vault API allows a program to interact with the Vault server component, also known as ADMS. In fact, Vault Explorer and the CAD plug-ins are built on top of this API. So you have the same level of access to server data that Autodesk clients have.

Following this you can learn that Autodesk Vault SDK is installed automatically with Autodesk Vault. According to Autodesk you don’t have to be ADN (Autodesk Development Network) member to use APIs.

Another interesting functionality I learned about was Vault Attachments. Navigate to the following link to learn more. What was interesting is that Vault Attachments can be used in order to have Vault to use rules based on the association between files. The following passage, actually, explains this capability:

You can add attachments between any two or more files within the vault. Attaching a file to another in Autodesk Vault creates an association between the two files in the vault. Using attachments, you can check out all the files that are linked together and work on them as a unit, regardless of the applications that created the files. For example, you may want to attach a set of images to a Microsoft Word document if the images are linked to that file. In a design environment, you may want to assign a relationship from a document that represents assembly instructions to the actual CAD assembly files.

I can recommend you the following blog post – 6 hours of videos of Vault API, which contains quite good collections of videos you can use for training. It includes presentations and code samples by Doug Redmond.

Autodesk Vault and Other CAD systems

I’ve been searching for integrations of Autodesk Vault with major CAD systems of competitive CAD/PDM providers – SolidWorks, CATIA, Pro-E / Creo-Parametric, SolidEdge and NX. Here are few videos shows examples of these integrations.

Autodesk Vault and SolidWorks

Autodesk Vault and Pro-E

Autodesk Vault and Bentley Microstation

What is my conclusion? I found multiple ways to develop Vault PDM integration with CAD systems. Some of them requires API and development. Some of them can be done just by product configuration. I believe in such a thing as "integration", devil is in details. It sounds like Autodesk has an intent to be open. More APIs and Web Services approach supported by Autodesk Vault provides a good foundation for that. Just my thoughts… I’m looking forward to learn more from comments and discussion.

Best, Oleg

Disclosure: This post was reviewed by Brian Roepke before publishing.


The anatomy of MultiCAD-PDM Integrations

February 19, 2012

After posting my last blog multi CAD and PDM- dead lock?, I’ve got quite many emails and calls. It again proved to me that the topic is painful and require clarification. I’ll be setting up few follow up conversations following weeks. Today, I want to provide some background and clarify few basic things related to Multi-CAD and PDM.

The scope of Multi-CAD PDM

One size doesn’t fit all. Companies are using multiple CAD systems. Functional specialization, acquisitions, mergers and existing skill set. All these factors lead to the questions of how CAD systems exchange the information. It is about formats and interoperability. PDM multi-CAD is not about it. Since PDM is largely about the control and data share, multi-CAD PDM is about how to organize an environment in which engineers (and other people in your organization) will be able to use PDM will all CAD systems and files.

CAD-PDM: Immersive integration

Immersive integration is the trend in CAD/PDM which was formed for the last decade. It allows CAD users to interact with PDM within CAD environment. It simplified a lot design interaction and helps PDM to have a better control over the design process.

CAD-PDM plug-ins

Plug-in is a piece of software normally written using CAD API that allows PDM functionality inside of the CAD system. It includes functionality related to PDM control – open, check-in, check-out, release, etc. In addition to that it allows to support multiple CAD functional areas (I’m trying to avoid word ‘feature’ in order not to interrelate it with CAD parametric design features).

CAD complexity and PDM plug-ins

The growing complexity of CAD systems made PDM development quite complicated for the last 5-7 years. CAD systems made lots of functional enhancement, which made development of CAD-PDM in a nightmare. Add to that CAD releases, and you understand why CAD vendors got an ultimate advantage to provide a better CAD-PDM integration for their own CAD and PDM systems. It happens because of availability of internal knowledge, specific APIs and release process.

Customer needs and MultiCAD – PDM

MultiCAD environment is a reality of many companies. In such situation, customers are following two possible strategies 1- to follow dominant CAD + PDM strategy; 2- to form multi CAD/ PDM environment. The availability of a specific CAD-PDM integration is an ultimate deal/no-deal requirements in many situations.

Openness and API

In many situations, basic PDM and CAD integration can be achieved by using open API and system customization capabilities. These are important characteristics both PDM and CAD side. Availability of such instruments can decrease the pain around MultiCAD -PDM plug development.

CAD and PDM software releases and upgrades

Last, but now least- this is another pain point of Multi-CAD ODM plug-ins. Most of CAD and ODM releases are following one-year cycle. At the same time, customers are not always following all upgrades. To support multiple CAD releases in a single PDM is another place where precise synchronization between CAD and PDM development process is required.

What is my conclusion? The topic of MultiCAD PDM isn’t new. Let’s face the reality, because of the absolute importance, companies easy can get provoked to use it as a competitive advantage. In addition to "openness" in general, the ultimate way to solve this problem is Open API. I believe Open APIs is the most important strategic factor for companies to be competitive in the future. Just my thoughts… I’m looking forward to your comments and future discussions. Stay tuned for more posts about that.

Best, Oleg


Multi-CAD and PDM: Dead Lock?

February 17, 2012

This post was provoked by twitter conversation between me, Jonathan Scott of Razorleaf and Brian Roepke of Autodesk. Let me give you a context. During SolidWorks World general session yesterday, Jonathan commented about comingSolidWorks EPDM integration with DraftSight – free CAD software for your DWG files. I thought, it might be beneficial to have DraftSight integration with Autodesk Vault. However, it appears to be a mistake. Watch that…

This conversation made me think again about what happens in the space of integration of product data management products and design software. Time ago, I posted – Immersive CAD management: is it the CAD / PDM future? Another post related to the same topic was – Back to basics: Multi-CAD and PLM. Last year, I posted CAD, PDM and PLM diversity. What I found common between all these cases is that I can see more and more stable bundles between CAD and PDM systems.

I can see an increased demand for better data-management functionality in CAD systems. The integration of data-management applications increased over the past 2-3 years. Vendors started to think about PDM functionality like revision management and vaulting as a standard function in CAD applications. Dassault V6 took this process even future and introduced CATIA V6 bundled with ENOVIA server.

In my view, CAD-PDM integration played a significant role in the first wave of broad PDM adoption. Multi-CAD support was (and still is) considered as an important function of PDM (and sometimes even PLM) system. To support heterogeneous environment, pure play PDM/PLM vendors must include multi-CAD support. It happened almost to all vendors in PDM/PLM space. On the opposite side, CAD/PDM vendors decided to strength their bundles and prefer to integrate data-management systems only with their own CAD systems. In my view, Multi-CAD integration is a painful issue for pure-play PDM/PLM vendors like Arena, Aras and future others. The complexity of CAD integration with PDM and PLM systems create a significant competitive advantage for CAD vendors to bundle their own PDMs right. At the same time, PDM providers from CAD vendors are less interested to provide support for "non-home-based" CAD systems.

What is my conclusion? I can see a certain dead-lock between the need for multi-CAD PDM systems and interest of CAD/PDM vendors to protect their business. Customers are demanding PDM systems like TeamCenter, Autodesk Vault, SolidWorks EPDM to support Multi-CAD features. However, it looks more and more like a dead-lock. PDM system will be embedded into CAD environment and will become part of the whole design environment. It doesn’t mean new innovative companies won’t try to break this dead-lock. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


CAD, PDM and PLM Diversity

October 20, 2010

The following message on twitter from Jonathan Scott of Razorleafmade me think about the future of vertical integration in Engineering Software.

In my view, this is the old, but very interesting topic. I want to refer few of my previous posts that discussed this or related topics:3DLive, HD3D and Demand for CAD/PDM immersivity and Future CAD/PLM and Assembly Version Management.

Data Management and CAD

I can see an increased demand for better data management functionality in CAD systems. The integration of data management applications increased over the past 2-3 years. Vendors started to think about PDM functionality like revision management and vaulting as a standard function in CAD applications. Dassault V6 took this process even future and introduced CATIA V6 bundled with ENOVIA server.

Multi-CAD, Multi-PDM, Multi-PLM

So, where we are going? To diversify or to consolidate? CAD vendors will follow demand of customers for better vertical integrations. Problems in integrations of CAD systems and other vendors PDM/PLM systems are the most critical. It will push customers to buy vertical PLM suites. However, it will not solve a problem, since it will require consolidation of CAD platforms. However, this is another story – you can catch the conversation here – CAD Strategies: Unified or Diversified.

What is my conclusion? The integration problem between elements of PLM portfolios, including CAD remains one of the biggest factors slowing PLM implementations and making them very sensitive for version changes and upgrades. Bundle of data management in CAD environment can simplify integration, but can make a customer’s decision more complicated. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg



Back to basics: Multi-CAD and PLM

December 15, 2009

How many CAD systems do you have in your development organization? I do believe more than one. And if you will think about your Product Lifecycle Management future, the obvious need is to connect your multiple CAD environment in the way allows you to manage all your design records, reference your design information in processes, allow downstream design usage in ERP and manufacturing systems. Today, most of the systems claims support for multi-CAD environment. So, what is the deal? I’d like to outline the following characteristics and vendor’s trends in this space:

1. My CAD vs. other CADs. For PLM vendors with origins in CAD space, own CAD systems will be always a priority. This is natural for business and much easy for development to support CAD system that making the same product development release cycle as PDM/PLM environment. Vendor’s “my CAD” interfaces may have additional features that will not be available for “other CADs”.

2. CAD/PDM bundles. Due to previous trend, I can see forming of stable CAD/PDM bundles that provide tuned functional characteristics. Autodesk/ProductStream; SolidWorks/PDMWorks; SolidEdge/TeamCenter; NX/TeamCenter; CATIA/ENOVIA etc. Such bundles can be best in class solution for a specific CAD.

3. No CAD files. This is a very new trend. Introduced in CATIA V6, this trend represents technological morphing of CAD and PDM/PLM environment into a single entity. (Note: With future of Cloud/SaaS, this type of software architecture, can be potentially a very interesting approach, but I will discuss it in separate post).

So, what can be the possible strategy for a company to support multiple CAD in PLM environment? I can see two possible and very obvious options.

Option 1: Focus on PLM vendor selection, choose your PLM environment and maximize usage of multi-CAD interfaces provided by this vendor. If you also thinking about possible reducing of CAD system usages and/or you shifting from multi-CAD environment to “primary CAD” option this can be a good option, in my view.

Option 2:
Implement best in class CAD/PDM bundles and think about separate provider of PLM products, services, environment. You can find more appropriated to use PLM system provided by your ERP vendor or use some alternative technologies to build your PLM environment. I posted about this option earlier this year (Which Technology Can Convert Multiple PDMs into a Single PLM).

So, what do you think about these options? Can you share your experience? I’m interested to get your comments and thoughts.
Best, Oleg


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