Siemens PLM says there’s new wind in the Velocity sails

Now known as the Mainstream Engineering group, the Siemens PLM division responsible for Solid Edge says business is booming. A reference customer says SolidWorks should be worried.

Last week at the Siemens PLM Software annual customer conference the company painted a rosy scenario for the Mainstream Engineering Software group, AKA Velocity, since its recent re-organization. The focus remains on the individual market as opposed to the enterprise market where Siemens is doing so well with the NX and Teamcenter product lines.

“Siemens has a quarterly focus,” deadpanned Karsten Newbury, senior vice president and general manager of the Mainstream Engineering group, “but it is a quarter of a century, not a quarter of a year.” Nonetheless, since the announcement of the re-org last year, Newbury says R&D staff is now 25% larger and the sales and marketing department has also grown considerably. More than 85% of the division’s revenue comes from indirect sales; Newbury says “our focus on the channel is paying off; we are committed to the reseller ecosystem.”

An iPad viewer for Solid Edge is one of two new products coming from the Siemens PLM Mainstream Engineering group next month. (Source: Siemens PLM Software)

The division is busy building an “apps ecosystem” in which third-party developers as well as Siemens PLM R&D can bring new products to market that support Solid Edge, CAM Express, Teamcenter Express, and Femap. A new product announced by the Mainstream Engineering group is an updated document management program. Siemens PLM created a SharePoint-based document management product in 2001 which sold to “thousands of customers.” Coming next month is SharePoint for Solid Edge Insight XT, a next-generation engineering data management program. A recent poll of Solid Edge customers by Siemens found that 60% use nothing for data management, 20% use the existing Insight product, 10% use Teamcenter or Teamcenter Express, and 10% use some PDM from another vendor. “The marketplace is wide open,” Newbury noted.  Also to be released in June 2012 is a Solid Edge iPad viewer.

It is one thing for a company to tout its success, but quite another when a customer does so. Siemens brought in Billy Oliver, who manages CAD technology at medical devices manufacturer Helena Laboratories. Oliver was hired in 2007 to manage a transition from 18 years of using a 3D wireframe CAD program to a modern solids modeling product. Oliver was hired specifically for his SolidWorks expertise, and was given the challenge of bringing 18 years of product data—for products still on the market and selling well—into SolidWorks.

Helena Laboratories makes a variety of specialized clinical laboratory instruments, and has switched its CAD software from SolidWorks to Solid Edge. (Source: Siemens PLM Software)

After years of working with a variety of data migration headaches, a local Solid Edge reseller challenged Oliver to try Solid Edge for the conversion process. Oliver says he was shocked when Solid Edge brought over a sheet metal file “nearly instantaneous and perfect.” His team needed to do this “thousands of times with hundreds of parts … it just can’t be done in most history-based CAD products.” Oliver said the difference in Solid Edge is Synchronous Technology, the novel workaround invented by Solid Edge R&D to make solids modeling more competitive with contemporary direct modeling CAD products such as SpaceClaim, PTC Creo Direct, or Autodesk Inventor Fusion.

Oliver says he is convinced the current version of SolidWorks will never offer direct modeling, and he is concerned that Dassault Systemes is not sharing with users a roadmap of what to expect with the coming transition from today’s Parasolid-based SolidWorks to a next-generation “V6” version based on Dassault’s CGM solid modeling kernel as used in Catia. “We didn’t want to continue with a software program in flux,” Oliver said, noting that Siemens PLM Mainstream Engineering has a roadmap for the future and its Parasolid kernel is “stable, and not going anywhere.”

Pushing on the apple cart

One user story does not a revolution make, and SolidWorks could no doubt find a customer that has moved in the opposite direction from Helena Laboratories. But, as we have reported before, the SolidWorks user community is uneasy with the current transition going on with SolidWorks, despite assurances from Dassault Systemes that “V1” SolidWorks (the current generation) will be available as long as users want it to be, side by side with the “V6” SolidWorks which might debut in 2013. The Solid Edge team seems to be eager to pick a fight.

The Siemens PLM Mainstream Engineering group might not knock over the SolidWorks apple cart, but they get points for enthusiasm. The core development team, formed when the technology was owned by Intergraph and known as Project Jupiter, is more excited than they have been in many years. When Newbury was put in charge of the division, Siemens insiders said he would make things happen, and so far he certainly has.


Posted in: BIZ, Blogs, Featured, MFG & PLM

About the Author:

Randall S. Newton is the former Managing Editor of GraphicSpeak. He has been writing about engineering and design technologies for more than 25 years.

5 Comments on "Siemens PLM says there’s new wind in the Velocity sails"

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  1. Jon Banquer says:

    Billy Oliver traded one set of problems for another. Neither the Siemens Parasolid geometry kernel nor the Siemens D-Cubed 2D and 3D constraint solvers used in Solid Edge ST have multi-core processor support. While the Siemens Parasolid geometry kernel is thread-safe, thread-safety is only a prerequisite to concurrency. Concurrency is what provides true parallelism when paired with multi-processor/multi-core architectures. SolidWorks V6 is going to use the Dassault CGM kernel that Catia uses. The Dassault CGM kernel has demonstrated concurrency that Siemens Parasolid geometry kernel doesn’t have and that the Siemens D-Cubed 2D and 3D constraint managers don’t have. For many more specific details see:

    Solid Edge is built on top of old software components. There is very good reason that SolidWorks is starting over with V6. Current SolidWorks is very dated and it’s built on legacy code with legacy software components like Siemens D-Cubed 2D and 3D constraint managers and the Siemens Parasolid geometry kernel. Dassault is making the right move to build a new SolidWorks. Any CADCAM application not making full use of multi-core processors will be in deep trouble in the very near future.

    Jon Banquer
    San Diego, CA

    • Imre Szucs says:

      What you say is funny for me! 🙂 Yes CGM is “new” with full of bugs! 🙂 Enjoy your point of view!

      • Jon Banquer says:

        The Dassault CGM kernel is used in both Catia V5 and V6. “CGM is the industry’s first commercial 3D geometry kernel made available to the market in over ten years; opening a new set of opportunities for application providers to deliver more advanced industry solutions. The 3D modeling kernel is the same robust innovative technology used in Dassault Systèmes’ V5 and V6 products. The modeling engine has been the foundation of V5 products for over ten years, proven in the most challenging application environments and in use by some of the world’s largest manufacturers.”

        Jon Banquer
        San Diego, CA

    • Ken says:

      From the article link:,0,w

      “Thread-Safe Parasolid
      Parasolid has extended its support for Symmetric Multi-Processing (SMP). In addition to full internal SMP pioneered by Parasolid in the kernel modeler market at Version 11.0 (April 1999), V23.0 is now fully thread-safe, allowing all functionality to be called safely by multiple application threads in order to maximise application performance running on multi-core processors.

      Thread management, session management, memory management and error reporting are optimized to allow Parasolid functions to execute simultaneously wherever possible. When functions require exclusive access in order to modify the in-memory model, locking mechanisms are employed transparently to queue and sequence function calls.

      The greatest performance benefits are seen, in approximate proportion to the number of processor cores available, in applications that perform intensive enquiry operations, such as facet generation for visualization or intensive positional enquiries for kinematics.”

  2. Dave Ault says:

    Yawn, Jon boasts of CGM prowess on one hand and then tweets griping that they don’t provide any proof. Logic is not a salient feature of Banquer-Babble.

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