The CAD industry is maturing, and many of the most advanced software packages are in a permanent pilot phase because engineers and others haven't been able to get the corporate funds to adopt the advances and spread them throughout their companies.
Those unsettling words were among the messages conveyed to software industry leaders at the fourth annual Congress on the Future of Engineering Software (COFES), held in mid-May. Nearly 200 industry representatives, including leaders of the major CAD companies and users of their software, attended the event, which many say is joining the Daratech Conference and National Manufacturing Week as among the most important meetings of the year on engineering-software issues.
Joel Orr, chief visionary of Cyon Research Corporation, and conference organizer, reminded attendees that engineers can get a good CAD solution today for about $10,000 versus $125,000 twenty years ago. David Weisberg, Cyon's chief industry strategist, told attendees they should help engineers move toward more comprehensive software suites.
Among those suites, many speakers agreed, are products and services related to product lifecycle management (PLM). Said Ken Versprille, research director at consulting firm D.H. Brown Associates, "PLM can have a big impact on companies." Versprille asserted that manufacturers already do PLM but use different names for the process of monitoring products from birth to retirement. But, added Marc Halpern, research director for design and manufacturing strategies and applications at consulting firm The Gartner Group, PLM doesn't get enough mindshare in manufacturing companies, especially among information technologies departments. "Yet, the well-being of the company depends on PLM." Halpern said that manufacturers have to manage product definition because everything in the company derives from that.
Also at the conference, Dennis Nagy, principal of Technology Business Consulting and former vice president at MSC.Software, told attendees that simulation technology can drive PLM efforts within manufacturing companies. "Engineering gives birth to products, and products are central to PLM," he said.
Nagy advised his audience to find ways to get more out of their existing software before buying the next big thing. Attendees agreed that on average they use only 2% to 5% of the CAE (simulation) capabilities of their current software.