PLM This Week: News from Siemens, Arena, PTC and Aras
Felix Nilsson posted on November 23, 2016 | 7766 views

Siemens Acquires EDA Developer Mentor Graphics

Siemens is set to acquire the leading Electronic Design Automation (EDA) software developer Mentor Graphics for $ 4.5 billion.

Mentor’s solutions are centered around an area of product development that has experienced an exponential increase in demand in recent years, which includes design and simulation solutions for things like electrical systems, integrated circuits, printed circuit boards, embedded systems and automotive electronics. Siemens will pay $37.25 per share for the company, which is a 21 percent premium over it’s closing price the day before the deal was announced. This price tag says a lot about the attractiveness of Mentor's product portfolio.

The deal, which received the support of Mentor's board of directors, is conditional and will be completed during the second quarter of next year.

With this acquisition, Siemens (and the Siemens PLM division) will acquire one of the main players in the fast-growing EDA software space. Mentor is headquartered in Wilsonville, Oregon, but is represented in 32 countries, and has a total of more than 5,700 employees. The company has sales of roughly $1.2 billion and a profit margin of slightly over 20 percent.

The company has about 14,000 customers worldwide in every industry from communications, computers and consumer electronics, to aerospace and automotive industries. For these reasons, the company is usually regarded as a global leader in strategically important industrial development areas such as integrated circuit (IC) design, testing and manufacturing; electronic system design and analysis; and automotive electronics.

No stranger to the world of simulation

Speaking of acquisitions, it has been barely a year since Siemens bought CD-adapco, strengthening its portfolio of solutions for analysis and simulation of fluid dynamics.

While there are significant differences between the two companies and their solutions, there is a clear kinship when it comes to Siemens’ strategy behind the acquisitions. Mentor is no stranger in the simulation world; in fact, the company has its own flagship platform in this category in the form of the 3D CFD solution FloTHERM.

FloTHERM is a software that utilizes advanced CFD techniques to study and predict airflow, temperature and heat transfer in components and systems, including things such as computer racks and data centers. The program is usually regarded as one of the industry's best solutions for the integration of MCAD and EDA software. Furthermore, it is considered the world leader in electronics thermal analysis.

In addition, Mentor’s portfolio also contains the CFD-in-CAD solution FloEFD and the 1D CFD software Flowmaster.

Facilitating the creation of digital twins

However, it is primarily solutions for designing printed circuit boards (PCB), and simulation, which one associates with Mentor. This includes the Veloce emulation platform, which reduces the risk associated with the verification of today's complex system chips, or systems on circuits (so-called SoCs). Veloce is the core technology in the Mentor Verification Enterprise Platform (VEP). Other solutions in this complex realm are HyperLynx (signal and power integrity analysis) and systems for MEMS (microelectromechanical systems), not to mention the solution for RF design (RF) Tanner EDA.

“The addition of Mentor solutions for electronic design automation (EDA) and the competent team behind the development of these will radically improve our core capabilities in terms of product design. Thus, we can create highly precise digital twins of the smart product or production line anywhere,” said Siemens' member of the board, Klaus Helmrich.


Altium Releases New Version of Flagship EDA Solution

Speaking of leading EDA software developers, one of Mentor Graphics’ biggest competitors, Altium, recently launched the latest version of its PCB design software Altium Designer 17. Specific for this release is a significant focus on new technologies that reduce the time engineers spend on non-design-related tasks.

“It is a continuation of our ongoing pursuit to shift the focus back onto what engineers are passionate about: designing electronics.” said Henry Potts, Chief Operations Officer at Altium. “Altium Designer is all about the engineer, and we want to capture what inspired our customers to start designing electronics in the first place by automating as much of the process as possible, and putting the focus on creative solutions to engineering challenges.”

So, what new technologies has Altium added to make designers’ lives easier? The main selling point of version 17 is a solution called ActiveRoute, which sets out to make the connection routing of printed circuit boards quicker and less tedious, without sacrificing quality. It straddles the line between an automatic and a manual routing system, letting designers interactively guide their routes across the entire circuit board in minutes.

Altium also claims that engineers will be able to save a lot of time, as well as accurately communicate their design intent, with the automated documentation technology in PCB Draftsman. This solution was added in the 16.1 release, but has received some updates in this latest version.


CREO 4.0: Designing For The IoT 

Software developer PTC recently announced the release of a new version of its CAD software Creo.

At version 4.0, it has become clear that PTC's strategy surrounding the Internet of Things has become deeply ingrained into its core products. The new version introduces not only a range of new IoT-centric capabilities, but also extended support for additive manufacturing, augmented reality and model based definition (MBD), things that are central to PTC’s vision of “smart, connected products.”

One of the main ideas behind this vision is the ability to take advantage of sensor data from the IoT to better understand how products are used in real life, then feeding this information back into the product development process to improve design decisions. In Creo 4.0, PTC has added support for this way of working, as well as adding processes to make it easier to design proactively by integrating sensors into the design process.

The new version also makes it easier to print production-ready parts with additive manufacturing techniques. It promises "design for additive manufacturing," enabling designers to design, optimize, validate and run a print-check in the Creo environment. With the ability to create parametrically controlled lattice structures, it enables designers to optimize models to meet multiple design objectives or constraints.

Making augmented reality useful

While AR so far has seen the most use in gaming and marketing, there is no doubt that there is much to be gained by using this technology in other areas. With the acquisition of Vuforia, one of the leaders in the field, PTC has gained a leg up on the competition when it comes to the efficient integration of these experiences into its other products.

With Creo 4.0, designers can seamlessly reuse CAD data to easily create engaging and informative visual augmented reality experiences of a design with a realistic sense of size, scale and context.

Model Based Definition

Another important new feature in the version 4.0 is an increased focus on allowing designers to successfully implement Model Based Definition and increased efficiency in product development by reducing dependency on 2D drawings.

Creo 4.0 enables designers to reduce the errors that result from incorrect, incomplete, or misinterpreted information by guiding and educating designers in the proper application of Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerance (GD&T) information. Creo 4.0 also validates that the GD&T is captured in the 3D CAD model in a fully semantic way, that the model is compliant with ASME and ISO standards and that it constrains model geometry to enable efficient and error-free downstream use in manufacturing and inspection.

Will PTC’s Vision Pay Off?

In the last few years, PTC has made an all-in bet on the Internet of Things, acquiring companies for over half a billion dollars while also investing large sums in further development. In certain ways, it has already paid off. For instance, a recent report by the analysis firm Forrester Research (The Forrester Wave: IoT Software Platforms, Q4 2016), placed PTC’s ThingWorx platform at the absolute top of the heap.

But it hasn’t been all roses during this phase. Sales have been mediocre, and the company is also in the middle of the switch from selling licenses to selling cloud subscriptions.

One thing is for sure: the man behind the plan, PTC CEO and president, Jim Heppelmann, is certain that it will work. If you’re interested in learning more about his reasoning, don’t miss Verdi Ogewell’s exclusive interview with Jim Heppelmann, which will be posted on ENGINEERING.com in the coming weeks.


IBM Offers Aras Innovator to Complement IoT Platform

IBM and Aras have entered a partnership agreement that sees IBM offering the Aras Innovator PLM platform as a complement to the IBM Internet of Things Continuous Engineering solution to deliver an end-to-end Internet of Things (IoT) product development environment.

While there is no specific mention of integration, Aras Innovator is known for its flexibility, scalability and upgradability in product data management (PDM) and PLM solutions —even when heavily customized—relative to traditional PDM and PLM systems.  Aras Innovator is designed to be used either as a full PLM solution, or to extend an existing PLM/PDM solution.

The IBM IoT continuous engineering solution supports systems engineering and software development activities throughout the product development lifecycle, helping engineering teams to predictably deliver high quality results and to respond with agility to change.

By using these solutions together, IBM claims that companies can manage systems engineering, hardware development and software development activities throughout the product development lifecycle. Companies will also be able to better understand and manage the dependencies between hardware and software configurations to help break down the barriers between engineering disciplines and ensure better outcomes in the ‘new normal’ of constant change.


Arena Adds Requirements and Defect Management to PLM Platform

Arena Solutions has added a new piece of software to its 2016 fall release. The new solution is called Arena Verify, and adds requirement and defect management to Arena’s cloud-based product development platform, which already contains fully fledged, integrated solutions for PLM, ALM, supply chain collaboration and QMS.

According to Arena, Verify will play a key role in bringing the platform together. The reasoning goes like this: when Verify discovers a defect, the entire process is captured within the product record. Instead of trapping the information in a silo the way many stand-alone solutions might, the integrated nature of the solution allows information to flow to the right people, both internally and within the extended supply chain. Requirements management is also integrated within the product record, so that this critical information can be shared with all relevant stakeholders.

“Our goal is to provide OEMs with complex electronics an all-in-one platform for product development, because there’s no reason these systems should live in separate silos,” said Arena CEO, Steve Chalgren. “Engineers, designers, quality managers, operations, manufacturing and stakeholders throughout the extended supply chain all need access to product data so they can work together to produce the highest quality product in the shortest amount of time. The introduction of Arena Verify brings together this unified solution.”

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