Use your smarts.
That's essentially what EDS PLM Solutions is telling engineers as it prepares to release the latest version of its flagship Unigraphics CAD software.
NX 2, due out by the end of August, incorporates knowledge-management capabilities that EDS says will enable engineers to innovate by harnessing manufacturing and system knowledge they have already developed and using it to validate design decisions. "Our strategy isn't just about better models; it's about using information, and making downstream data available upstream," says Dave Primrose, vice president of NX Business Strategy and Marketing. "We call it digital decision making."
Indeed, that knowledge orientation is one of the main differentiators in the product, says Ken Versprille, research director at analyst and research firm D. H. Brown. He says that EDS is making a major push to give engineers the capability to reuse existing information, much as Dassault Systemes is doing with its new CATIA 5 CAD software.
Enabling that knowledge reuse is a methodology EDS developed called Knowledge Fusion. It includes a series of process wizards, pre-packaged applications that incorporate industry best practices and present them in a step-by-step format. In NX 2, there are wizards for mold, strength, and optimization, among others.
Additionally, says Versprille, EDS is creating a framework for data sharing among many different applications. "They have separate pipelines for visualization data and geometry data, among others," he says.
The tight connection between NX and EDS's Teamcenter Engineering collaboration product enables the data sharing, says Primrose. "It's the tightest integration between data management, BOM capture, CAM process management, tooling, and visualization tools," he says.
One engineer who likes the integration is John Whiting, corporate director of engineering systems at B/E Aerospace. He says his company plans to eventually create all data from conceptual design to downstream applications such as publications, tooling, and NC programming in NX. B/E Aerospace recently used an earlier version of NX in the redesign of "lie-flat" passenger seats for Japan Airlines. Among the keys to that project: use of a single data format for mechanical and industrial design, among other tasks.
B/E Aerospace Industrial Design Manager Glenn Johnson says the team saved about a day a month in the project in file translation. Engineers and designers can easily modify models, he says. "The software has made the industrial designers more precise," he adds.
Whiting, who plans to convert to NX 2 next March, says the best feature of the software is the common geometry thread from mechanical to industrial design to tooling. "We used to have several different CAD systems for different tasks and it was impossible to share data," he says. "Now we can do it."