In late November 2012, Dassault Systèmes, a world leader in 3D design software, 3D digital mock up (DMU), and product lifecycle management (PLM) solutions, announced the latest release of its 3DEXPERIENCE platform. Dassault Systèmes provides individuals and businesses with a set of software tools to create so-called “virtual universes” to imagine and create sustainable innovations and transform the way products are designed, produced, and supported. The company’s collaborative solutions foster social innovation and aim to expand possibilities for the virtual world to improve the real world. Dassault Systèmes has more than 150,000 customers of all sizes, in all industries, in more than 140 countries.
On a higher level, V6 Release 2013x includes the general availability (GA) of Dassault Systèmes’ Simulation Lifecycle Management (SLM) capabilities, improved access to “Big Data” sources, new composite materials design capabilities, secured exchange workspaces for suppliers, and support for new Standard for the Exchange of Product Model Data (STEP) standards. The release also covers a strong set of industry solutions enhancements for consumer packaged goods (CPG), energy, aerospace and defense (A&D), transportation and mobility, marine and offshore, and high tech. For a detailed listing of new enhancements in V6 Release 2013x, see here.
What’s Really Newsworthy Here?
If one has to pick some of the chockfull of enhancements, it would be the GA to all customers of the aforementioned Simulation Lifecycle Management (SLM) application. By managing simulation data, deploying best practices, and sharing simulation results, customers can improve collaborative decision making and maximize their return on investment (ROI) in simulation. SLM is reportedly the result of Dassault Systèmes’ extensive work in partnering and co-innovating with many customers in the A&D, transportation and mobility, and CPG industries.
Product design simulations though an important area, is traditionally understaffed and left to last-minute decision making. Needless to say, product simulation software is not cheap and requires that users be knowledge workers or domain experts (most engineers are the knowledge experts for, say, fluid dynamics or physics). An improvement in the productivity of the analysts or the elimination of some or all of the required work for redundant simulations (via sharing) would be a big value proposition. The completion of more simulations at an earlier stage in the design process would be a real game changer. Microsoft’s Xbox “Red Ring of Death” recall in 2011 is a cautionary tale of the need for simulation. What’s more is that some products cannot even be recalled after the fact, e.g., buildings or tankers. Simulation is instrumental in helping designers move from the “I don’t know” situation to a “Let’s find out” one.
Simulation is often a personal experience. A simulation exercise that can be viewed by a group of experts provides the opportunity to examine the product in action and resolve any potential technical and functional issues. The earlier on in the development of a product one can have this collaborative, multidimensional approach, the more likely that the finished product will do what it’s supposed to do—with no glitches. Dassault Systèmes’ SLM is a solution that has reportedly been generating a lot buzz in the market. The product is based on ENOVIA V6 and is marketed under the SIMULIA group. Competitors are Siemens Teamcenter Simulation Process Management, ANSYS Engineering Knowledge Manager (EKM), and MSC SimManager. To provide a good solution for SLM, a vendor needs to have strong expertise in both the simulation business and the backbone PLM business. Obviously, Dassault Systèmes is well qualified in these two areas. It will be worth watching Autodesk’s novel cloud combination of Simulation 360 and PLM 360.
Traditionally, Dassault Systèmes has not often been known for its products’ openness. To that end, some platform enhancements along the openness and interoperability lines are eye-catching. For example, there is support for the STEP AP242 standard, an automotive and aerospace standard that allows import and export of ISO standard BREP and tessellated data to enable engineering, exchange, and visualization for the adoption of a 3D master process. There is also secure access to Supplier Exchange Workspaces. PLM software has generally lagged in collaboration. True product design collaboration and supplier design participation, rather than just mere data integration with suppliers, should further strengthen the products’ capabilities and purpose.
Finally, there is better access to Big Data sources owing to a new connector for Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS), improved performance for IBM WebSphere, and Microsoft SharePoint connectors, as well as new navigation and visualization options for data search, exploration, and analysis. Many of these enhancements reverberate the actions of PTC or Siemens PLM Software. 3D data collaboration will eventually become the standard, and Dassault Systèmes’ commitment to Codex of PLM Openness (CPO) is certainly encouraging and a good step toward that interoperability nirvana.