Forging ahead to total integration

The move towards increased total life cycle interoperability and collaboration is gathering pace, as Tom Shelley reports

Note: Article published in "Design Your Future" supplement to the May edition of "Eureka". Electronic version forms last part of Eureka May edition PDF.

With its acquisition of UGS, Siemens believes it has opened up the path to fully integrated design, manufacturing and end-of-life disassembly.
“Every night, we send 50,000 models across to Parasolid in Cambridge to validate the next release we are working on,” says UGS’s NX product line vice president Joan Hirsh. “We have all these workstations doing nothing during the night, so might as well use them. We do automated tests, and so does Parasolid, to make certain that the models re-play and that fidelity is preserved.”
According to Hirsch, interoperability between users of NX and other software packages hinges on the Jupiter Technology (JT) backbone. Within NX5, JT is also the key to the lightweight loading of very large models. Models with 50,000 to 70,000 parts are no problem, with up to 250,000 in the real world, “pushing the envelope at one million”.
It is noticeable in NX5 that large models load very quickly, displaying only the most prominent parts, but more and more details appear on the screen as the user zooms in.
“With JT technology inside, we have the performance to better simulate assembly and disassembly, tool path planning and the display of motion envelopes, once you have defined the path,” says Hirsch.
UGS has a company philosophy of true concept to grave, right up to the “retiring and sunsetting of products” to use her words, and as well as fully integrated CAD.
“I still think there is a lot of room to squeeze efficiency into the engineering process and remove the CAD overhead,” Hirsch continues. “I also think the disciplines are coming together – design, simulation, and tooling – all as parts of the same whole. People want to value CAD more than just for shape.”

Software synergy
So how is the synergy between UGS CAD and Siemens manufacturing software going to work in practice? Recently, Eureka gained some insights when attending a briefing on German-developed 3D vision systems, designed to ensure that robots are stopped, should workers enter unsafe working areas.
Once the digital mock-up has been defined, that geometry is to form the basis of all subsequent manufacturing and simulation, including the design, running and reconfiguring of manufacturing plant, and also the plant that will take products apart for recycling at end of life.
“All these applications will plug into the managed environment,” says Hirsch. “The challenge is to keep everything in an open database to ease this. We are publishing interfaces to help integration. Jupiter Technology is also key as regards data sharing.”
So what about the gulf between the ability to integrate different IT functions, such as CAD, analysis and CAM, and what actually happens in most businesses?
“There is a lot of lip service paid to it, but, when you look into it, they are not really doing it. I see engineering managers, mostly in automotive, being given data re-use quotas,” she says.
One of the barriers to re-using data has always been the problem of finding it. While SoldWorks has announced a Google-type text search engine, UGS has gone one stage farther and embraced model shape searching.
“We purchased Geolus recently – a company we believe has one of the best facilities for shape searching,” says Hirsch. “In the past, the fidelity of shape searching was not that interesting”. (Geolus Shape, developed by the Germany’s Software Design & Management, has been renamed Geolus Search, and searches by text phrases and geometric similarity.)
Another way of re-using data, especially for products that are all variations on a common theme, has been to develop product configurators, a number of which have described in these pages down the years, and whose origins go back to the earliest days of CAD.
UGS does not have a specific package for this purpose, but has developed such facilities for key customers. such as Iggesund Tools, which makes knife systems for saw mill and pulp mill chipping and saw mill debarking. They have developed their own configurators with UGS tools, says Hirsch, who also mentioned California company Interpore Cross (see, which, she said, make web-like devices that bone forms around. “It’s complicated stuff,” adds Hirsch. “We worked with them over four months, using Knowledge Fusion, and completely revolutionised their business into double digit millions.”
According to Hirsch, among the 400 enhancements in NX5, “the two big things are role-based user interfaces and block based dialogues, so that instead of a thousand things you have to learn, you now only have to learn about 60.”
Users can attach or ‘clip’ most dialogue boxes to a ‘rail’ running along the upper edge of the graphics window to reduce clutter.
Another important advance to improve ease of use is that users clan click on, and manipulate, features on a model, without having to pay any attention to how the model was built. Regardless of history tree, or even whether an imported model has one, faces and bosses can be picked up, and moved in and out.
A library of industry-standard parts has been added that includes bolts, screws, nuts, washers, pins, bearings and profiles. In NX 5 Sheet Metal Design, applications embrace a materials database that enables designers to apply material thickness automatically, bend radius, neutral factor and other characteristics on application of the material.
Significantly, NX Response Simulation is a new add-on to NX Advanced FEM and Nastran that provides an interactive, visual environment for the evaluation of the structural dynamics response of a system when subjected to various types of complex shock and vibration loading conditions. And NX Advanced Flow is a new add-on module to NX Flow that extends the CFD simulation to highly compressible flows and offers additional turbulence models, non-linear fluid properties and transport of specials, including humidity and condensation. NX Advanced Thermal extends the range of thermal simulation capabilities to include material transformations – phase change, thermal ablation and charring. Integrated manufacturing modules have also been notably enhanced, including Mold Design, Progressive Die Design, Electrode Design and High Speed Machining.

* NX 5 is focused on greater ease and speed of use
*There has been considerable enhancement of the various associated simulation modules
* The acquisition by Siemens is expected to allow complete integration of all aspects of design and manufacturing, and even end-of-life disassembly

Tom Shelley

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