May 22, 2006
Mentor Graphics Integrates With UGS MCAD And PDM
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Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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Mentor Graphics Corp., a leading provider of electrical design solutions to the transportation sector, today announced the availability of a range of integrations with its CHS tool suite and key UGS solutions in the area of Mechanical Computer Aided Design (MCAD) and Product Data Management (PDM) applications. CHS is the industry-leading electrical flow for the capture, integration, analysis and interconnection of systems into car, plane and train platforms. The CHS product suite is unique in both the scope of its applications and the sophistication of Capital Manager, the central design data repository supporting them.

Mentor Graphics and UGS have developed a tight integration between UGS TeamCenter and Capital Manager to allow electrical design and harness data to be published into TeamCenter. This integration exploits TeamCenter's role as a corporate engineering data repository and allows it to be used as a conduit for electrical data passing between organizations (e.g. from OEM to supplier) or between applications (e.g. between CHS and UGS NX). Publishing data into TeamCenter also allows customers to generate a complete bill-of-material, both mechanical and electrical, and enables better interaction between domains -- thus reducing errors and allowing early exploration of system architectures and interactions between mechanical and electrical domains.

Mentor Graphics has also developed integrations between Capital Manager and the UGS NX and I-Deas applications to enable rapid exchange of data between these systems. The design of harnesses in complex electromechanical platforms such as automobiles, aircraft and trains requires tight collaboration between the mechanical and electrical CAD applications to reduce the design time, support concurrent engineering and increase design quality. Mentor Graphics has achieved this with a series of UGS MCAD integrations that can exchange wiring, topology and mechanical harness descriptions between the applications.

"Tight interoperability in the customer's electro-mechanical design environment is a mandate for successful electrical CAD applications," said Nick Smith, product director in Mentor Graphics Integrated Electrical Systems Division. "IESD has focused tremendous energy over several years to deliver best-in-class applications across the entire system-to-harness flow and its ECAD data management needs. The UGS-related products which we have released and the strength of our partnership with UGS further enhances our positions as leaders in this field."

If I had to name a major trend that is occurring in the mechanical design space, the Mentor/UGS integration would be a good place to start. Namely, the integration of mechanical (MCAD) and electrical (ECAD) tools, and now PDM is also getting into the act. Several other competitors are also realizing the importance of integrating MCAD and ECAD, including Dassault, PTC, and Autodesk. Is this development surprising? Hardly, because relatively few mechanical designs are exclusively mechanical anymore. There is almost certainly an electrical component involved in the vast majority of mechanical designs. As you can imagine, the integration is not a simple task, making electrical and mechanical systems and their interconnects (wire and harnesses) come together, in complex platforms, such as cars, airplanes, or even computers or production machines.

Probably the biggest challenge is capturing and representing all the MCAD and ECAD data used in a design. This is not an easy task because data can literally be lost or rendered useless if either the MCAD and/or ECAD (or other, such as PDM) system used in the design process cannot properly represent or manage data received from the other systems. The moral here is that it is vital that all systems involved share and understand a common data representation. Just a sampling of the challenges that could be encountered include (and Mentor has a lot of experience here):
  • Wire length data may be read from or written to 3D MCAD systems
  • Electrical designs may be exported for assessment by electrical analysis programs
  • Harness component data may be loaded from PDM systems
  • Electrical design data may be used to drive automated test equipment
  • BOM data may be used to drive wire cutting equipment
  • Finished harness designs may be released to PDM systems.
So, as you can see, things can get pretty complicated pretty quickly. The core of the problem is that different types of systems often have different so-called "structural views" of the same entity in a design. For example, a computer system can be broken down into a physical bill of materials of component parts - enclosure, connectors, circuit boards, power supply, fasteners - as a typical assembly representation in an MCAD system. On the other hand, in an ECAD system, the same computer will be composed of functional/schematic representations that cross over the physical boundaries and structures of the BOM. Representing and using all of this in a comprehensive, yet cohesive, manner is a tall order.

Integrating MCAD, ECAD, and PDM is a big deal today, and will only get bigger as the interdependencies become more intertwined. In fact, this is such a major ongoing development, we will devote an MCADCafe Weekly Commentary section to the merging of MCAD and ECAD from the perspectives of several different vendors. Look for this in the early part of June.

The Week's Top 5

At MCADCafé we track many things, including the stories that have attracted the most interest from our subscribers. Below are the five news items that were the most viewed during last week.

Ford's Adoption Of CATIA V5 Increases Product Development Efficiency
IBM and Dassault Systemes announced that CATIA V5 played a crucial role in increasing product development efficiency at Ford Motor Co. CATIA V5 was used on the Body-in-White (BIW) development of the Ford Fusion, helping Ford reduce its overall digital development time. Ford launched CATIA V5 in 2003 and used it for BIW development of the Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan, and Lincoln Zephyr vehicle programs. Leveraging CATIA V5 enabled Ford to take a top-down, functional approach to BIW geometric modeling. This included product & process associativity and integration. The deployment of CATIA V5 within the context of the associative design process yielded a significant reduction of geometric modeling time. This reduction was accomplished while delivering greater design fidelity and completeness earlier in the product development process. All the system/component geometric relationships including detailed transitions, blends, and fillets were delivered earlier and maintained throughout all of the subsequent design iterations. Changes to system specifications are now automatically propagated to the detailed design level across several disciplines, including CAE and manufacturing.

Wipro Acquires Mechanical Design Services Firm, Quantech
Wipro Technologies, the Global IT Services Division of Wipro Limited, announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire US-based Quantech Global Services LLC and the India-based Quantech Global Services Ltd. in an all cash deal. The consideration includes an upfront cash payment on the closure of the transaction as well as earn-outs on achieving agreed financial targets over a three-year period. Quantech is a leading provider of CAD and CAE services to several Fortune 500 companies, particularly in the automotive, aerospace, and consumer goods industries. Quantech undertakes design, analysis, development, and program management of products from concept to the pre-production stage. It has over 500 employees located in India and the US, and the revenue of Quantech for the year ended December 2005 was $12.7 million.

SolidWorks Used To Create Womb-Like Incubator
A leading Norwegian industrial design firm used SolidWorks to design an innovative incubator that nurtures premature infants in an environment second only to the womb. The PremaCare Incubator, designed by 360 Grader Produktdesign AS of Oslo in concert with pediatricians in hospital settings, employs a revolutionary dome that keeps tiny patients away from noisy mechanical parts and magnetic radiation. PremaCare's clear double-walled, temperature-controlled hemisphere gives parents and hospital staff a 360-degree view of an infant as well as five-door access. The device, which won the grand prize in the SolidWorks Design Contest 2005, will soon be mass-produced by U.S.-based Delphi Medical Systems in Troy, MI. 360 Grader Produktdesign last year surveyed health care providers who raised concerns about traditional incubators. The PremaCare incubator will deliver improvements in temperature, air quality, noise, and ergonomics.

UGS Supports Diesel Land Speed Record Attempt
UGS Corp. announced that JCB , one of the world's leading construction equipment companies, is using its NX digital product development system to design and develop the JCB444-LSR diesel engine which will be used by JCB in its attempt to set a new land speed record for diesel vehicles this August. The record attempt will be made in a nine meter long JCB DIESELMAX car, driven by Wing Commander Andy Green. Green, who set the first-ever supersonic world land speed record at 763.035 mph, will make the record attempt on the famous Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. The project will underscore the strength, performance and versatility of the JCB444 diesel engine, originally created for use in JCB's construction vehicles. Two turbo-charged, high-performance versions of the JCB444, developed to produce 750 bhp, will power the JCB DIESELMAX.

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-- Jeff Rowe, Contributing Editor.


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