Siemens PLM wins the CAD business at Chrysler

27 July 2010: Within a day of seeing the official announcement that Chrysler will use Siemens NX as its new digital development software, I had the opportunity to interview and speak with several Siemens PLM executives to find out more about this big win.

First some background. Currently a Dassault Systemes (DS) CATIA customer, Chrysler is bailing out of CATIA, changing it out for Siemens NX software. Chrysler’s acquisition of American Motors in 1987 netted Chrysler the first North American automotive user of CATIA. Chrysler rapidly adopted CATIA as its worldwide design system. The company was so enthusiastic about CATIA that they insisted all their primary suppliers use the same software to eliminate data transfer issues.

So what happened?

As Siemens PLM Software executive David Taylor, Sr. Director of Automotive and Machining Marketing explained, Chrysler, apparently dissatisfied with DS PLM offerings, began using Teamcenter software in 2008. The company’s failed merger with Daimler Benz, their subsequent bankruptcy, and their partnership with Italy’s Fiat further pushed the company to consider Siemens PLM software. It turns out that Fiat uses NX and Teamcenter.

Taylor further explained that in an exhaustive benchmark, Chrysler found Teamcenter to be more efficient, particularly it and NX’s role based approach. Other factors included synchronous technology, Teamcenter’s proven scalability, and its ability to serve as the PLM backbone for competitive CAD systems almost as well as it serves NX.

When asked whether he could provide some metrics on the win such as numbers of potential seats or dollars involved, Taylor refused, as did Kartsen Newbury, head of the Solid Edge business unit, in a recent interview.

Chrysler plans to implement the software for new projects. As stated in the press release, “Chrysler Group will initially use Siemens’ NX™ software engineering tool for new collaborative Chrysler-Fiat vehicle and powertrain development programs beginning with the Fiat 500, Fiat 500EV, the 1.4-liter Fully Integrated Robotized Engine (FIRE), and the new Chrysler Group C segment vehicle.” That means that CATIA will be around Chrysler for a very long time and no doubt continue to compete for Chrysler business in the future.

Asked about where Siemens stands in the Auto industry, Taylor cited its major presence in GM, Ford, VW, Nissan, Mazda, Daimler Benz, and of course – Fiat.

You can read the press releases at Siemens PLM Software and Chrysler.

SolidWorks World – Day 1

1 Feb 2010: Started the day in the main tent. Shockingly, attendance was up by 20% over last year. In several discussions with others in the CAD/PLM community, it appears business was hot during the last quarter and appears to be holding up. Good news for 2010. SW weathered the storm with no layoffs and an increased R&D investment.

For the first time at a SW event, Dassault Systemes CEO, Bernard Charles spoke about his vision for the company and the tightening of the relationship between DS and SW. This became evident in the technology preview introduced by SW CEO, Jeff Ray. Basically, SW previewed their PDM software and their CAD software operating in the cloud, on almost any platform, including MAC’s, and using browsers. My guess is it was a standard browser.

It appears as if the first items to migrate to the cloud will be both PDM apps, which will use ENOVIA V6 as the cloud storage. My opinion – good riddance to local PDM apps, their servers, and the technology and personnel to install and maintain them. No pricing or migration plans were discussed. Expect to see some cloud apps available late this year!

The speaker, James McLurkin, one of the leading robotics researchers in the US, spoke about robotic swarms, his research interest. He investigates how robot algorithms work by building small limited function robots that communicate among themselves to follow goals. Imagine that instead of two costly robots exploring Mars, that there were a hundred smaller ones with specialized skills, kind of like an ant colony.

Other tidbits during the day: A conversation with Richard Allen, PDM Product Manager at SW revealed that only 30% of their customers use PDM systems, a surprisingly (to me) low number. We discussed the state of Mechatronics with Shaun Murphy, and in our opinion, for managing and simulating electro mechanical control systems, SW is far ahead of their usual competitors. We spoke with Jeff Cope, CEO of Extensible CAD about their InspectionXpert and Office2CAD products, both integrated within SW. Inspection:Expert converts drawing inspection data into more useable measurement sheets for use during CMM inspections. Simple, but a real time saver. Cad2Office adds a tab to Office documents allowing direct saves into SW PDM vaults, another useful time saver. Both seem reasonable priced. KeytechPLM, a German based company, offers one of the most comprehensive, independent multiCAD PDM-PLM systems we have seen. Federated vault servers manage worldwide access. It’s a BMW system at Toyota pricing, with typical German engineering.

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Artizone to maintain and develop Dassault Systemes’ SmarTeam

1 Dec 2009: Rockaway, NJ. Yesterday we spoke with John Squire, Dassault Systemes VP of Industry Marketing for Enovia. Squire reports to Mitch Tellier, CEO of Enovia. We spoke about the future of SmarTeam and the reason and logic behind creating the Israeli based artizone company. The answers and our assessment follow.

To understand artizone, you first need to understand the direction of SmarTeam V5. To put it bluntly, SmarTeam has no place in DS V6! At least not in its current state. The logic being that with the new architecture of Enovia V6, all of the functions performed by SmarTeam are, or soon will be, incorporated in Enovia V6. Further, V6 relies on a single architecture and environment, thus there seems no place for a standalone PLM system.

To ease the transition, DS offers, or will soon do so, migration tools to support moving to either V6 PLM Express or directly to Enovia V6. V6 PLM Express is the pre-packaged tool for SMBs. It includes pre-defined roles, data types, and typical data flows. Today, Enovia V6 can be configured to appear very similar to SmarTeam V5. In the future, Squire promised auto-mapping tools to convert SmarTeam even more easily to V6 PLM Express. No prices were forthcoming about what such an upgrade might cost.

Thus, a careful reader can see that there is NO future for SmarTeam within V6 as an external database system. One might wonder why DS dismissed modern tools for synchronizing databases such as XML?

Given that there is no future for SmarTeam in V6, the question arises as how best to support their 8,000 existing customers, some 60% of them using CATIA as their primary CAD system, 20-25% used by SolidWorks and multi-CAD customers, the balance being used by enterprise users, BOM management, and ERP integration.

Earlier this year DS began to consolidate V6 development into fewer sites, closing down 3 or 4 former development sites, one of which is DS-Israel, the primary developers and maintainers of SmarTeam. Apparently few were willing to transfer out of the country and DS felt that to maintain a DS site in Israel solely for the maintenance and future support of SmarTeam V5 would risk losing the best and brightest developers. Thus was hatched the idea to form an Israel based, independent company (artizone) that would have an exclusive contract with DS to maintain and develop the product in the future. DS maintains all contacts with customers for sales, revenue, and maintenance support.

Rather than maintaining the outmoded SmarTeam software as a portion of DS, Artizone employees would have now an ownership stake in the company and could also begin to develop non-competitive (with DS) software. Several press releases suggested that one new area for artizone would be retail shopping software, however, any other areas that are non competitive with DS are possible growth opportunities.

So, artizone starts life with about 75 ex-DS highly skilled database employees, some funding from DS (the amount was not divulged nor was the DS ownership portion, if any), a long term contract with DS loaded with strict performance measurements, skilled executives from DS, and on-going good will from DS.

I asked Squire what message he would like me to tell you. Here is what he said:

  • The future of SmarTeam is secure
  • SmarTeam is not a dead product
  • SmarTeam is still a DS product
  • SmarTeam has an enhancement plan
  • DS will support it far into the future (not defined as to how far)
  • When the time is right there will be a smooth migration to V6.

Are there risks for SmarTeam users? You bet. Artizone software developers might soon discover that their future is in new products, not maintaining a system set for extinction. Future enhancement plans for SmarTeam were not discussed, however, one might assume that DS will spend most of its efforts on enhancing V6. Squire would not discuss whether there are or might be any revenue sharing plans between DS and artizone; such plans might greatly affect artizone development plans.

At least, in the short term, SmarTeam customers will see little difference in sales or support for the product. However, SmarTeam customers would be wise to soon begin planning a migration from SmarTeam, especially if new function is desired. CATIA customers should not delay; other customers should evaluate all options for moving to either Enovia V6 or to another PLM system. Why wait, even though, there appears no reason to worry about short-term disruptions.

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Dassault Systemes acquires IBM PLM business

I participated in a conference call with Bernard Charles, CEO of Dassault Systemes (DS), this morning.

Basically, for $600 million cash, DS is acquiring the IBM sales and sales support organization supporting 1000+ large and very large customers, along with all the assets (700 people, customer relationship, customer revenue). The annual revenue is estimated at $550 million USD, looks to be very profitable. All of this is recurring license revenue!

DS / IBM will maintain a relationship, but a very loose one, focused on cloud computing, middleware, consulting from IBM Global Svcs, and with IBM financing.

My assessment: It looks like a great opportunity for DS and should finally unify sales to all size customers. Large customers like a direct relationship with the software developer and this eliminates one step. For a profit and ongoing revenue it looks like a good deal for everyone – reasonable payment for IBM for building the channel and great revenue and profit opportunity and possible expansion for DS by dealing directly with the very large customers.

Risks to DS include: integrating the 700 people and not taking their eye off the ball by only engaging with large customers.

IBM PLM customers should be happy with this new arrangement.

The press release can be found at http://www.cad-portal.com/articles/pr_details.php?ID=104

Dassault Systemes cuts Israel SmarTeam development

SmarTeam, a PDM system that originated and was developed in Israel in the mid to late 90’s, was specially configured as an add-on PDM solution for SolidWorks, which at the time had only a limited PDM capability.

In about 1999, Dassault Systemes acquired a 75 percent interest in Smart Solutions, the Israeli company that developed and marketed SmarTeam. Dave Weisberg in his book entitled The Engineering Design Revolution noted that “This package was particularly well suited to users of SolidWorks although the two Dassault subsidiaries operated independently of each other. The SolidWorks version of SmarTeam was called SmartWorks.”

With the interest in and the growth in PDM (PLM), SmarTeam over the years migrated from an independent company with its own sales force, to one falling under the sales umbrella of SolidWorks, to a multi-CAD software organization, and finally, with DS’s multifarious PLM offerings, has now been submerged into Enovia.

From recent press announcements we infer that most development within Israel for the newest versions of SmarTeam has been eliminated. V6 development (the new technology) moved out of Israel to Paris and Boston. Israel continues V5 ENOVIA SmarTeam (the old version) development.

The ENOVIA SMB version, of which SmarTeam is a part, is called ENOVIA Express in V6 R2010, the most recent announcement.

Alas, SmarTeam suffered the fate of so many products. It became so popular that it became bloated trying to support higher and higher end accounts. Its simplicity was lost, and over time its technology became outdated.