November 21, 2011
Siemens To Acquire Vistagy
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Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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Siemens expands its industrial software portfolio with the acquisition of Vistagy, Inc., Waltham, Massachusetts, USA, a leading supplier of specialized engineering software and services with emphasis on designing and manufacturing structures made of advanced composite materials. An agreement to this effect was signed in early November. This acquisition allows Industry Automation, a Division of the Siemens Industry Sector, to continue to enhance its position as the world’s leading supplier of industrial software. The parties agreed not to disclose the terms of the acquisition. The transaction is subject to customary approvals, and is expected to close before the end of 2011.

Companies that use composite materials like carbon fiber components in their products are faced with the task of further reducing costs and time-to-market in order to sharpen the competitive edge composites offer. With their unique combination of low weight, high strength, and durability, composite structures are already used extensively in the aerospace industry and for rotor blades of wind power turbines. Composite materials will continue to experience more widespread use – primarily in the automotive and marine industries – as the complexity and time required for developing and producing composite structures is reduced.

This is precisely the aim Siemens is pursuing by adding industry-specific engineering software to its industrial software portfolio for Product Lifecycle Management (PLM). Already today, Siemens is among the technology leaders for the automation of production lines for carbon fiber components. With the acquisition of Vistagy, Siemens will become the only company worldwide to support the whole value creation for carbon fiber components with its software tools – from product definition and development to manufacturing and service.

“Advanced software solutions tailored to specific industry requirements are vital for companies to achieve the next level of performance in their products. This type of industry focus will be the differentiating factor for success in the industry software market”, said Anton S. Huber, CEO of the Siemens Industry Automation Division. “The planned integration of our PLM Software business with Vistagy’s universally acknowledged expertise in industry-specific software, such as composites, will make us the partner of choice in this market today and well into the future.”

Vistagy, Inc., is based in Waltham, Massachusetts, USA. Around 300 customers worldwide are applying Vistagy’s software products for a variety of applications ranging from composites engineering and design and manufacture of complex assemblies and large aerostructures to design and manufacture of transportation seat systems and interior components. Siemens is planning to integrate the software supplier and its products, services and support into its PLM Software Business Unit, a part of the Siemens Industry Automation Division. Siemens PLM Software is a leading global supplier of software and services with the capability to optimize the entire lifecycle of products and radically reduce their time-to-market. The company’s well-established open business model that serves the needs of all customers regardless of their mix of IT solutions and CAD platforms will help ensure the ongoing support and satisfaction of all Vistagy customers.

“Vistagy has spent the last 20 years supporting the engineering and production work of its customers by providing robust solutions and excellent service,” said Steve Luby, Vistagy, Inc.’s President and CEO. “We have been working successfully in partnership with Siemens PLM Software for a long time. And now we are looking forward to becoming a part of Siemens’ comprehensive offerings and to significantly expand our current customer base.”

Recent years have seen a number of acquisitions by the Siemens Industry Automation Division, in each case involving leaders in their respective field of industrial software: UGS in the United States (2007), Innotec in Germany (2008), Elan Software Systems in France (2009) and Active SA in Brazil (2011).

Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor

Well, the acquisition march continues with Siemens’ acquiring Vistagy. Siemens seemed particularly interested in Vistagy’s composite material design expertise, saying that, with the purchase of Vistagy, “Siemens will become the only company worldwide to support the whole value creation for carbon fiber components with its software tools.” That’s a pretty heady statement, but an important one because composite design, analysis, and optimization can pose extremely tough problems to solve correctly, and should be a good fit in the Siemens PLM mix.

Vistagy will be assimilated into the PLM software business unit of Siemens, a part of the Siemens Industry Automation Division. Vistagy was founded in 1991, and has approximately 80 employees and 300 customers worldwide. Not exactly huge numbers, but the company is at the top of the heap when it comes to dealing with the complexities of composites. Since the company is headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts, home to Dassault Systemes new HQ, I was surprised that DS didn’t make a play for Vistagy, especially with its emphasis on aerospace and automotive, but I guess you can only acquire so many companies in a short span of time (See our coverage of Dassault’s recent acquisition of Elsys in the previous edition of MCADCafe Weekly).

The bulk of Vistagy’s customers are in the aerospace, automotive, and wind energy industries, and include Bombardier Aerospace, General Motors, Lotus Renault GP and Sinomatech Wind Power Blade Co., among others.

Although it has a number of products, Vistagy’s most renowned product is FiberSIM. FiberSIM has become the world’s leading software for composites engineering—used by numerous leading manufacturers in the aerospace, automotive, marine and medical equipment industries. The FiberSIM suite of software supports all of the complex design and manufacturing methodologies necessary to engineer composite products and parts.

As far as I know, it’s also the only software suite that addresses the entire composites engineering process, from conception, laminate definition and ply creation through simulation, documentation and manufacturing. FiberSIM is integrated into most major CAD systems (CATIA V4, CATIA V5, NX and Creo Parametric) to help capture a complete digital product definition.

VISTAGY’s composites engineering environments support every step of the composite part development process including:
  • Specifying laminates and selecting ply creation methodologies including ply-based, zone-based or structure-based design to utilize the best process for the job
  • Automatically creating ply geometry by defining transitions with sequence, drop-off and stagger profiles that automatically populate the CAD model, as opposed to the tedious process of manually creating the CAD curves for each ply
  • Generating variable offset surfaces and solids, including mock-up surfaces for interference checking, mating surfaces that model where two parts join together and tooling surfaces for manufacturing
  • Verifying and communicating design requirements and details through the generation of engineering documentation and/or Microsoft Excel tables
  • Simulating part manufacturability by providing feedback early in the design process to streamline development efficiency
  • Defining extended boundaries and other manufacturing details such as splices, darts and tape courses in order to reduce time-to-part and costs
  • Creating manufacturing documentation for factory floor instruction that verifies all data is correct
  • Automatically generating manufacturing data—such as flat patterns and data to drive automated cutting machines, laser projection systems, fiber placement machines and tape laying machines—and sharing it downstream and across the enterprise.

VISTAGY created the FiberSIM Composite Engineering Environment (CEE) to help engineers realize the potential of designing and manufacturing products and parts made of advanced composite materials. The FiberSIM CEE is specialized engineering software that transforms a CAD software system into a high-performance tool specifically for designing and manufacturing composites.

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-- Jeff Rowe, Contributing Editor.


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