Dassault Systemes discusses their Intercim acquisition

Recently I had a chance to speak with both Dassault Systemes (DS) and Intercim about the acquisition of Intercim by DS. On the call were Patrick Michel, Vice President, Solutions and Marketing, DELMIA and Romain LaVault, Vice President Strategic Development, Intercim.

About Intercim

Intercim provides software to help customers in advanced and highly regulated industries with real-time Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) and Predictive Analytics for Discovery, Design, Manufacturing, and Operations. Intercim enables the supply network to better define manufacturing processes, execute shop orders, manage non-conformance and ensure quality. One of the benefits is that real-time control and intelligence on Manufacturing Operations helps Intercim customers achieve their Lean Manufacturing goals quicker and accelerate time-to-market.

Their software, the Pertinence Suite, provides manufacturing execution modules, manufacturing intelligence modules, and is already well integrated with CATIA and Delmia.

Background

In 2007, Intercim acquired Pertinence, a French company with technology for using real time production data to analyze potential quality issues. In 2009, Dassault Systèmes announced a minority position in Intercim LLC and in 2010 announced a global reseller agreement. The idea was to use the DELMIA – ENOVIA Manufacturing Hub or the DS V6 environment to deliver manufacturing process plans and work instructions to the shop floor via the Intercim Pertinence MES system.

Intercim is a US based company in Egan, MI, with French connections; revenue in the last fiscal year I estimate at between $7 – $10 million; DS is purchasing the company for 36.5 million USD. The company employs 70 people worldwide. Its customers include Boeing, BMW, Airbus, Ball Aerospace and Honeywell.

Details on the acquisition

Q. Why is DS making this acquisition?

A. To show our serious commitment in the Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) space. DS expects to integrate Intercim into the Delmia framework, possible for the creation of a Delmia Shop Floor module.

Q. What is the value in “closing the loop” between manufacturing planning and execution?

A: Faster turn around time in case of a problem and it improves the ability to work on and deliver engineering or manufacturing initiated changes.

Q: Give me some idea of the size of Intercim.

A: We have outstanding about 100,000 software licenses focused on the integration of PLM and Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES). We are widely used in the US, particularly within the aerospace industry. Only 10% of our target market are equipped with an MES system from any vendor, thus offering a huge market potential.

Q. How is the software used for regulatory compliance?

A. I can give you several examples. We are used for NASA’s space shuttle for the cargo tracking and have replaced mountains of paperwork. Obviously, for aerospace, individual part serial number control is required; Intercim software accomplished that. In the pharmaceutical industry, the process is important. Such items as temperature, time stamps for dating, operator and machine usage are important and can be captured and fed back to the engineering department as well. In the case of creating flu vaccines data can be read real time to enhance rapid build up of the vaccine. Many data points can be read with no need to wait for later batch analysis results.

Q. What about any potential existing OEM contracts?

A. Our only OEM arrangement is with DS.

Q Tell me about the analytics aspect of Intercim.

A. Analytics allows access to as built data for the PLM system. Decisions can be made as to whether the as-built is the same as the as-designed. Further, we can analyze the reasons for generating scrap and even to understand the commonality of scrap.

Q. Does DS envision major changes in the Intercim management?

A. No, the people in Intercim are very important to our plans and we hope for a high retention rate.

My take

This appears to be a natural extension of DS plans to extend Delmia throughout the enterprise. The two companies were already very close for the last several years and this fills a gap in shop floor control, as well as data analysis to predict potential quality problems. On the shop floor side, it brings DS closer to Siemens Tecnomatix offering, their archrival in aerospace and automotive companies. In shop floor analytics DS now has the edge.

I admit that I have been wrestling with the idea that shop floor control (SFC) is driven by a manufacturing production release system, namely material requirements planning (MRP) and ERP systems, which generate the manufacturing plans that SFC tracks. DS never likes not being in the driver’s seat. Could there be some exciting possibilities for this in the future? Hmmm. I doubt it, but one can never tell.

www.3ds.com

www.intercim.com

think3, the company, officially out of business

Here is the latest posting on the http://www.think3.com website:

BY MEANS OF THE DECISION NO. 69/2011, LODGED ON 14 APRIL 2011, THE COURT OF BOLOGNA DECLARED THINK3 INC. BANKRUPT. AS A CONSEQUENCE, ALL ASSETS OF THINK3 (INCLUDING THIS WEBSITE) ARE MANAGED BY THE APPOINTED TRUSTEE, DR. A. FERRI OF BOLOGNA.

THIS WEBSITE IS THE ONLY OFFICIAL AND AUTHORISED WEBSITE OF THINK3 INC.

EMBEZZLEMENT OF GOODS OF THE BANKRUPTCY (INCLUDING COPYING THIS WEBSITE OR OTHER INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OF THINK3) CONSTITUTES A CRIMINAL OFFENCE.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT MOC.3KNIHT@EETSURT.OFNI  call center: 051/597111

This is the last gasp for the original think3 company. Their intellectual property was acquired by the US company Versata last year. (www.versata.com)

Since then there has been wide unrest among their user base. As far as we can determine, Versata has released virtually all its developers since acquiring the software and appears to be focused on maximizing its service revenue, while delivering very little service. My sources tell me that the bulk of their marketing effort is involved with milking the last drop of maintenance and license revenue from existing users.

The industry has seen this done before. In the early 90’s Gores Technology acquired Applicon and its Bravo software in a bargain sale, and immediately eliminated all development. It took a few years, but the Bravo sales dwindled rapidly, while Gores gorged on the high margin profits from software maintenance. Deja vu all over again!

We have had several notes from think3 customers, particularly of consumer products, that just love think3’s GSM (global shape modeling) and are willing to give Versata the benefit of the doubt and hope that some new enhancements are coming.

Users would be wise to examine alternative products. Excellent shape design products are available in Inventor/Alias, Creo, Catia, and NX.

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Latest update 24 Apr 2011: Not only is the think3.versata.com link down, but a search of the versata.com site for any mention of think3 comes up blank. A bit odd if Versata truly owns the think3 IP!

Fascinating: sneakers, welding, brittle analysis

Just browsing new product announcements today, and I discovered three that fascinated me. I think you will find them interesting also. They involve sneakers that feel and act like running in bare feet, a new method that GE is using to weld even thick metals in one pass, and the publication by an Alabama professor of a new math model for analyzing brittle Materials under High Speed Impact (especially useful for aircraft windows). Here are the links:

Reebok bare feeling sneakers: http://bit.ly/fANF0N

Sensor sneakers feel like bare feet

Brittle analysis: http://bit.ly/fAIoYK

GE welding: http://bit.ly/h1xghD

GEs Hybrid Laser Arc Welding (HLAW) System

GE’s HLAW system welding a steel pipe. At 20 kW, GE’s system is one of the largest HLAW facilities in North America. It wields enough power to weld steels nearly one-inch thick in a single pass versus the up to a half dozen passes required with current welding technologies.

I found the GE welding video at the link above to be particularly interesting.

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