Pro/User 2000 Conference|
June 20, 2000
This newsletter brought to your desktop by Sun Microsystems and Dell ComputerPeter Nurkse
Subjects for this newsletter:
Dick Harrison this year shared his overview slot with Jon Stevenson, VP of the newly formed MDA (MCAD) business unit, but promised to come back tomorrow for the management panel session for more detailed questions and answers.
Dick said that PTC has over the last 2 years been making the transition from a one product company, based on Pro/E, to a two product company, based on Pro/E and PDM (product data management). He said that during this time PTC management did "take our eye off the MCAD ball a little bit", while building up the new PDM business based on Windchill. He further said that this situation was "unfair" to some PTC executives, like Jim Baum, because they were being asked to allocate resources between both Pro/E and PDM product lines. Dick said that he and others in the management team were guilty.
Dick said that the transition in product lines is now complete, after these two years, and that the company should now be focused equally on both product lines, MCAD and PDM. He expects that PTC should now be able to eliminate the self-imposed stress and pressure of the transition, and introduce new applications calmly and comfortably---which should be more comfortable for PTC customers too. He said that PTC actions wouldn't be dictated by the stock price and Wall Street, and the audience reacted with widespread applause.PTC now has 3 product divisions:
Jon Stevenson spoke next, the new Pro/E and MDA VP. That's his title, but like Dick before him Jon said 'MCAD' instead of saying 'MDA'. So, should be OK for users too to say the good old MCAD instead of the less familiar MDA (mechanical design automation).
Jon said that his MCAD business unit has 1900 people, including 870 in programming (probably that includes about 250 or 300 programmers at the old Computervision development center in Pune, India). His total R&D budget is over $90 million.
Jon emphasized several times that Pro/E is fundamentally "a feature based solid modeling system", and that the competition is still trying to catch up. He pointed out that Euclid and Applicon Bravo and Sherpa have all been acquired and then discontinued recently, but that PTC has continued to support all their acquisitions.
PTC will be opening an Online Store on the Web next month (July), to make it easy for anyone to evaluate PTC products. Ease of use is going to be further developed (certainly seems that ease of use is a constant struggle, it just never is perfected). And another major initiative is 'Multi-CAD Openness', recognizing requirements among all customers (regardless of size) for heterogenous data formats and associativity. Last major innovation is Webcentric collaboration (with Windchill).Jon listed the following six specific new capabilities for Pro/E in the coming year:
Leo Greene from PTC gave a presentation on large assemblies. But some Computervision users at the conference remarked that his example, a race car transmission, was far smaller than the assemblies which they were designing in production mode on CV ten years ago, with ten years old hardware. Perhaps if PTC can incorporate some of the large assembly expertise from CV, then Dick Harrison might be able to find still another Christmas present in that CV purchase. Large assemblies haven't just been a constant theme at Pro/E user conferences for the last 10 years, they've also been a major reason why the largest automotive and aerospace companies have chosen other CAD systems over Pro/E in competitive benchmarks.
Leo said for example that "to put everything on the screen is very limited value", and that you usually want to step back, for less detail, and "you may never need to bring up the whole assembly". Seems that didn't much impress some users of other CAD packages, who're used to bringing up much larger assemblies than the transmission in any level of detail they want. PTC's competitors are said to lick their chops when they see a benchmark with large assemblies, they figure they'll win there. That type of benchmark test probably excludes companies like Caterpillar or Deere, who started with Pro/E on smaller parts and assemblies long ago, and have followed a long route since then to get to larger assemblies.
Couple of years ago, PTC was said in the press to be working on a new CAD package, called Newton (apparently named after the Boston suburb, near Waltham). Could be by now Newton is no longer, or is folded into Pro/E. But a new package would make some sense, to break away from Pro/E and try a new approach. And a new approach might be most needed, and give the most benefit to PTC, in large assemblies. This new approach could be something that's developed from the ground up for large assembly work. Could be it sits on top of Pro/E, Pro/E still needed for the piece parts and smaller subassemblies.
Enough of this speculating. Back to Leo's presentation. But it sure seems that large assemblies are a constant source of interest to Pro/E users, to PTC (remember Dick's mention of a collaboration with Hyundai), and also PTC's competitors.Leo had good specific tips:
Shrinkwrap on 2000i2:
Shrinkwrap was the biggest theme in Leo's talk. Perhaps this might be how some of those other CAD competitors got their advantage with large assemblies, they just aren't as ambitious as PTC, didn't try to include so much information in a large assembly. Shrinkwrap is an easy to use way to gut your assembly of as much information as you don't need to work in your area.
Large Assemblies and Drawings
More on this perpetual large assembly theme from Ted Rzasa, of Hamilton Sundtrand Space Systems, but this time a user point of view. Like all user points of view, it depends on the company and their business. HSSS produces one of a kind space hardware, that's already a difference from many companies. And Ted uses parts that he designed on the drawing board 25 years ago now today, there's another possible difference.
A good part of Ted's valuable contribution was a table of Options for Faster Models. Here are some conclusions from that table:
At Hamilton, they have a refreshingly simple approach to layers: they view layering as more work with minimal gain, those words. So they use just exactly four layers, and that's that.These are config.pro options they use specifically for large assemblies:
Hamilton does generate fully constrained assemblies for release. But seems unlikely that PTC and Hyundai will manage to generate a fully constrained ship, with millions of components. Probably will be limits to fully constrained assemblies. Even among users comparing assemblies with the same number of components, whether fully constrained will be productive or not may depend on a lot of other factors---the business, the customers, the role of drawings, etc.
Ted shared with us this valuable information on retrieval times for a test assembly:
So the geometry rep without accelerator files is dead last, when working on the local disk, but same rep with accelerator files is about 1100% faster, and first in speed.And here are retrieval times for an assembly drawing:
Well, that's going to have to be it for today. In a few minutes I'll be meeting with Ed to send this newsletter out. Perpetual problem of these user group meetings, there's so much to report. Hope this newsletter helps give you some of the flavor and the contents of what's happening here. Writing on a laptop in the hotel lobby has probably helped me keep the flavor, better than writing in some empty room or suite.
Couple of today's topics I'll cover when I have time (this could be a longer series of newsletters, but then they might be easier to read, less of an information dump):