CAD and other software packages give engineers a great deal of
flexibility, but companies using the software are demanding accountability.
Design News: What do customers want from CAD companies?
Weyand: First, engineers want software that is easy to use, that can do their whole job and enable them to work in a concurrent product development environment. Second, customers are looking for a single source to supply their CAD/CAM/CAE/PDM needs. They don't want to be system integrators--they want their software partners to provide the total integrated solution. But software is only part of what they need and want. They also want services. They know they need software implementation services and integration in order to save time, and saving time to market is the great driver. They're looking for a design-automation solution, and they don't care if it comes from design or manufacturing.
Q: What does software do for engineers?
A: It enables them to reach their true potential in product design. It does that by taking away the drudgery from the design process so engineers have more time to do the experimentation with different design approaches that they were trained to do. In that sense, software makes the engineer's career more fulfilling.
Q: What's the key measure of software effectiveness?
A: Of all the benefits, the key measure of success in CAD and its implementation is, as it is for most things, return on investment. There are lots of CAD products for engineers to choose from. They want the one solution that gives them the quickest time to market and highest return on investment.
Q: Why did Ford decide to standardize on your I-DEAS Master Series software?
A: There were several reasons, but primarily they wanted someone to partner with who could provide a software product for complete vehicle design. Ford's objective is to accelerate time to market, but they know that the advantage of software is as much in the implementation as in the technology. Software companies today need to understand what it takes to help global companies and their suppliers be more successful. In the case of our partnership with Ford, we have built a staff of more than 160 people in Dearborn, MI, dedicated solely to supporting Ford and its suppliers in the implementation of I-DEAS Master Series software.
Q: On another level, what is the status of the UNIX platform vs. the NT platform?
A: The NT platform is growing, but manufacturing companies won't abandon UNIX rapidly. There is a heavy investment in UNIX, including companies investing in developing their own languages for UNIX.
Q: What are the barriers to success in using CAD?
A: The barriers are not in the technology. The technology behind our software and many others is excellent, and easy to use. The barrier to success is in the implementation of CAD. To implement CAD properly, most users need help in integrating their current engineering activities and existing engineering data.
Q: What part of the world will see the greatest CAD ?
A: The Asia/Pacific region represents the biggest opportunity for growth. In Japan, a huge number of users currently use 2-D tools. During the next few years, many will be transitioning to 3-D tools to further increase productivity. China also represents a sizable opportunity. By the year 2000, all design there will be done electronically.
Q: What do CAD developers have to do to increase CAD usage?
A: The key is to make tools that help engineers get their jobs done better and faster. Customers want tools that contain innovative and productive user interaction technologies, and that deliver the breadth and depth of functionality to enable companies to develop complete digital prototypes. They also want those tools to facilitate an environment where all team members can work concurrently. Today's design environment is often globally distributed, and it's critical that CAD tools effectively support these global product development teams. Finally, firms large and small are working more and more closely with suppliers.