Solid Edge, Solid Works and the Future

There was a survey on the Siemens BBS this week inquiring into various aspects of software use and pondering this brought a few comments and thoughts to mind. So some reflections on the status quo and the future.

It is rare to see two things happen in conjunction that could totaly alter the face of CAD as we know it. One has been in my mind the advent of Synchronous Tech with SE and NX. A remarkable way of doing things that appealed to this user the very first time he saw it. Indeed it is the tool of choice for 95%+ of all my geometry creation and I would have it no other way. The implementation here with live rules is the industry best. I think programs like Space Claim for instance may do certain things in Direct Editing better but for all around useability and power nothing else touches SE in mid range cad and NX in high range. So we have the innovative paradigm disruptor in place in ST.

The other is the self imposed destruction of Solid Works by Dassault. I think many of the SW users are ignoring the nature of the tremenously destructive and disruptive things heading their way. I base this on the amount of outcry by users over what is going on. I also see the talk about what happened in SWW 2012 which was basically non-existant. Principle bloggers and commentors had very little to say this year and I think the reasons are two fold. One, there were few new things to talk about and Dassault still does not have much to say about this grand future they haven’t been able to make work yet. Two, the things that they are finding out are very discouraging and so the silence brought on by the betrayal of long time SW users and advocates by Dassault who is throwing their future in the dumpster. The serious denial by many users is soon to be adjusted by reality and it won’t be pretty for those who stick around.

( Preface to the following paragraph added after publishing. It appears with further information that there is a lack of coordination between VAR’s and Siemens and SE so each may have different lists. This in and of itself stymies complete coverage of users for the survey and indicates another rough edge to be fixed. )

SO, we have this little survey of SE users. As of yet it is only on the BBS forum. This brings me to a sore point of topic. Why is Solid Edge/Siemens taking this once in a lifetime opportunity to aquire market share and new partners for integrated products so lacadaisically? I mean it seems that way to me. This survey stuff was talked about a year ago and nothing much has happened. There has been no concerted effort to reach out to EVERY SE user and just find out what our needs and desires are.  Here we sit with the best CAD program but feet mired in clay in every other area. It benefits me and every other SE user if SE grows. It means more work and more clients who use common tools and that has to be beneficial. Look at SW and tell me I am wrong. Furthermore it benefits SE/Siemens in a big way with better cash flow from new customers. This myopia  by SE/Siemens to their own detriment is the most puzzling thing to me and I just don’t understand.

I get it that it is not possible to develop a strategy without planning. I also get the idea that endless debates about what should happen and committees and blah blah blah will kill bright futures as surely as no planning will. Time waits for no one and it won’t wait for SE either if they choose not to capitalize on this current short lived golden egg. So here we go into ST5 and Nashville this June.

Everything here depends on SE and Siemens to take the ball and run with it. They have the capital and the users lists. THEY HAVE to be the ones who provide plentiful publicity to promote both the product and the convention in June. I don’t know where this preppy name of “University” came from but they had better start getting in gear to get users there. The ground work to create user excitement is not done with a last minute barrage but is done by sustained efforts to create and keep user interest. AND to create interest in potential customers. At this time as far as I can tell there is no single person with ability who has been assigned the postition, one I have just created by the way, of user community and publicity liason.  It requires an individual I think has been at some point in time an actual user in his daytime job and UNDERSTANDS the important things we have to deal with from useability to integration. This has not happened and we see a disjointed kind of academic non user oriented and haphazard communication with poorly directed publicity as a result.

From where I sit here is an example. We have this car building thing that SE is promoting. That is all well and good but kind of remote to CAD users who are allready doing this for a living. SE’s biggest single potential for new customers is SW. They are allready cad users and don’t need a free or whatever seat of SE. What they need is concrete examples like the one from Billy Oliver of Helena Labs. He switched from SW to SE and he was part of a half hour video explaning WHY the move benefited them and HOW it benefited them. Yeah, something a real SW user faced with the trash Dassault is getting ready to dish out needs to see and I bet you he does not give a flip about that car stuff. He has problems on his day job that need fixed. He is your single largest group of new clients if you care to go harvest them. Real case studies as to why it will benefit you day by day is a lot more compelling to users than some basically irrelevant car thing. The car thing is good for the academic outreach, reality is good when you want customers from your competitor. They are TWO seperate efforts and should be handled that way.

This survey has yet to do more than scratch the surface. They are omiting questions on there that could address very important things. No let me rephrase that. Some critically important things. For instance on a scale of 1 to 10 how important would integrated CAM be to you? Remember guys that the whole reason for the existance of SE is to create something to be, drum roll here please, something to be MANUFACTURED. Very little has been done here to even find out how important this is to existing customers although this last survey finally did ask what you were using for CAM. This manufacturing disconnect has been a puzzle to me for some time. Listen, the job is only partly done when the cad design is finished and now begins the actual manufacturing which by the way involves a lot more time and money than design did.

Allow me to demonstrate this. I am a small business. My cad expenses were around $7,500.00 for SE. My yearly expenses $1,500.00. My new mill I am ordering will be at least $85,000.00. My CAM software will be probably at least $13,000.00 initialy and at least $1,600.00 yearly. My 44″ x 78″ building with my old Haas and lots of other equipment probably has run me well over $200,000.00 since the begining. I just spent $6,250.00 on a digital phase converter for the new mill, as much almost just to get good clean power as I did for SE.  So in my world, which is a pretty common one with CAD users if you think about it, just what is most important Hmmmm? Please get on the ball here, it is important to users and therefore SHOULD be important SE/Siemens

I know all that stuff about big companies and how it takes time for change to happen. I know there are foot draggers who have a vested interest in the way things were for whatever reason who will fight good changes. I know that with limited budgets this economy brings there can be a fear of making wrong choices. I also know however that when a priceless opportunity arises you had better jump on it or forget it. We have gone from Huntsville last year to Nashville this June and instead of building the user community and creating a manufacturing ecosphere and creating excitement with existing and potential customers we have created, well, I don’t know but not enough thats for sure.

My suggestion would be for Management Synchronous Technology. A way of doing things that would cut right through history based management and get right to the creation of success for us all from corporate to user.

11 responses to “Solid Edge, Solid Works and the Future

  1. Just a clarification that the survey was not limited to the newsgroup but went to all Solid Edge users within the boundaries of privacy/spam constraints. The survey does not dive deeply, as we want to keep it short enough to get responses. However, one of the questions is how often would you mind responding. If we can get enough “twice a year”, then our intent would be to use the first one to then derive detailed questions for the next in the Fall/Winter.

    • I understand the desire to get real user feedback. No one wants to use fictional users like “JB” etal to plan by for sure. Experience seems to show that lots of users fall through the cracks and I suspect that unless SE makes them not all VAR’s send it out and not all users are contacted. Maybe a question on there like would you be willing to answer a detailed survey would help. I know with the Cyon Research survey it takes a half hour to fill out and not all are willing to do so.
      I said four times a year by the way but then I am always willing to express an opinion;-)

  2. “history based management”. That one took a second to sink in.

  3. Steven Lussier

    What about NX cam ? I thought that was made to work with SE. I’d like to see tighter integration between NX cad and SE. And more of autocad killing 2d functions. Most companies still have tons of legacy data and have to keep seats of AC.

    • NX Cam Express has a link to SE on the tool bar. However once the .par file from SE gets to NX it is converted into NX native cad or .prt files where it is then worked on by Cam Express. There is a degree of associativity there but no more so as I understand it than a program like Featurecam. The difference here though is for instance with Cam Express I have to learn elements of NX Cad to do the CAM. With Featurecam I don’t have to learn elements of another CAD program to work. There is no truly integrated CAM with SE right now.
      I can’t really answer your Autocad questions with certainty because when I started modeling I went straight into 3D and never did any straight 2D programs. All mt 2D work has been in the form of drawings from SE or VX/ZW3D for production or customer approval and derived from 3D parts. My understanding however is that SE has no problems dealing with Autocad files. There is a way for you to check this out for free by the way and here is a link to the Free 2D SE program from Siemens.
      If you download the program let us know what you think in a future comment.
      Hopefully someone who has used both programs will chime in here to.

  4. Just a point on the survey you mention. I question Dan’s comment that this went to “all users”. It did not come across my desk at Ally PLM Solutions so it only went to a subset of our customers. We support one of the larger sets of Solid Edge users in the US. I’m confident that our customer database contains many, many contacts that Siemens does not have in their system. Siemens didn’t ask for our help in getting this survey out to “all” our customers and could have missed hundreds of individuals that we know about that they don’t.

    • Hi Kim,
      You remind me of a comment made by Mike Paludin when we were setting up a user group. He indicated at that time that the VAR lists and the Siemens list were indeed different. Perhaps this would be an appropriate moment for the two lists to be correlated and allow more accurate information to be generated. See you in Nashville.

  5. Hi Dave,

    For the $20k+ you’ll have invested in CAD/CAM plus the annual fees I’m fairly sure you could have had a seat of NX, which is fully integrated and even more powerful. Just a thought…..



  6. Hi Neil,
    Yes I have thought about this. I like SE, it does all I need in CAD and I know it. If the pricing for NX is like it is for Cam Express the yearly fees are 22% of purchase price. I know that for CE this is a deal stopper as I am NOT going to pay double + yearly fees for what I can get in more than adequate cam programs like Featurecam for. Really when you add up the upfront costs I am not spending any more to do the CAD CAM combination with SE and whoever. And I am going to save a bunch each year forever after. NX CAM is stuck on stupid when it comes to yearly fees as far as I am concerned.

  7. I agree that the fees are a little crazy however last time I checked it was possible to get a seat of NX CAD/CAM for under $20k so even if you take into consideration the the higher annual fees the extra cost is less than $1k a year extra for a much more capable package. Now I understand you like and understand SE, and tbh the NX interface is a little quirky but once you get to know it there is no comparison. Anyway just throwing it out there as it surprises me so few people know what good value NX can be compared to SE, SW, Inventor + a decent CAM package.

    • OK Neil I will bite. I figure around $3,100.00 per year for SE and Featurecam. Cam Express alone will be around $3,600.00. What is the cost of the CAD side of the NX package and is the level of NX CAD ( Mach whatever) the equivalent of SE Classic? Now I will surely agree with you that NX CAD is a lot cheaper depending on what level you get than many may think. I have been told however that to NX costs you will have to add in some significant training as it is not a program that lends itself well to self training.

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