A Conversation with Jennifer Herron at SOLIDWORKS World 2019
At SOLIDWORKS World 2019, in Dallas, Texas, Jennifer Herron, CEO and founder of Action Engineering, was interviewed regarding her thoughts on the conference, the state of the CAD industry in general, and the impact of MBD and MBE.
Q: What are some of your major takeaways from SOLIDWORKS World this year, soon to become known as 3DEXPERIENCE World, and is there anything that would be significant to share with your customers?
Jennifer Herron: I think that SOLIDWORKS is following the path of PTC with their MBD rollout. They put some good capability out there. We’ve got a lot of customers actively engaging us right now in SOLIDWORKS, and want to take it on, but now there’s a business-gotcha in there, about they don’t have the ability, or the capability, or the vision to push it forward into the next step. They’re not rapidly developing it. I see them backing away from it to see how it goes at this maybe initial adoption phase for SOLIDWORKS, and then pushing it to the next level. And so, I think they’re a little bit behind PTC’s Creo in that respect.
Although SOLIDWORKS is a little bit behind Creo with regard to MBD, I think they’re going to pick up the pace. Like planting a seed and watching it grow, I think this is just an evolution. It’s a journey that not only do the customers have to go on, but the CAD companies as well — this evolution of MBD into the next phase. That’s my initial takeaway from what I heard at SWW19.
Q: I’ve noticed this year at SOLIDWORKS World that there are a lot of presentations and classes surrounding MBD, ranging from very basic to advanced. With your background and experience, that’s got to be a good sign for you.
JH: I think it is. I think it’s especially interesting because I think we’re moving from early adoption phase into a surge of adoption occurring across the board, including a lot of our SOLIDWORKS customers. I think it is good news and a sign of people are buying into Model-Based Definition, and the fact that they know that the 3D information can be used in machine-readable ways. What we bring to the table is the balance of machine-readable versus presentation for human consumption information and how we balance that as we go down the path to the Model-Based Enterprise.
As an interesting aside, at 3DCIC last year, we had a speaker who was a third-party vendor for theme parks whose company builds all the Universal Studio rides. That company is looking at how can they use their 3D models in a stronger way, in a way that can be leveraged to maximize safety. One of his questions to the audience when he gave his presentation was, “Would you rather have a roller coaster that was built with 3D models, or would you rather have a roller coaster built on 2D drawings?” We polled the audience during that conversation and, of course, the answer was 3D models because it’s a conference of like-minded folks. So, I think that’s interesting that MBD and MBE are breaking out of the DOD, aerospace and defense world and more into the commercial side where this is a bigger deal. We’re also starting to see more medical clients, as well.
Q: What we’ve been talking about so far is what’s out right now is SOLIDWORKS 2019. Looking ahead to the fall when SOLIDWORKS 2020 comes out, let’s address some things you’re hoping you might see.
JH: Well, there’s a couple of things. Specifically, from the Model-Based Definition side, we want to see enhanced usability for applying PMI, or applying annotations. That’s a big deal. Individually, What we’ve experienced when we train users is the fact that they can’t yet show and hide an individual annotation on an individual 3D view. That would be a great enhancement.
Q: And you’d like to see that available on any view you choose?
JH: Correct. You want to be able to pick and choose any annotation on any view. We’ve worked with it in Creo and in NX, and Inventor where that capability is there where you can pick and choose the annotation onto any view rather than collect them on an annotation view. That, too, would be a big game changer for SOLIDWORKS.
Q: Let’s talk about tolerances. Is it feasible in the next release of SOLIDWORKS that they could be both machine-readable as well as human readable? Or is that even farther in the future?
JH: I’ll address it from the SOLIDWORKS DimXpert side and the user side — the authoring side and the consuming side. DimXpert has a really great machine-readable capacity, and has a pretty decent human readable capacity with the exception of the 3D view show/hide that I mentioned earlier. There are also a couple usability issues I think that could be addressed in SOLIDWORKS from the human readable perspective that would enhance things.
Machine-readability is actually leveraged through QIF, and if I pull in Origin International in this, they have a great SOLIDWORKS implementation to do automated CMM programming. We ran a pilot last year from a customer who produced an NX file, and then ran it through Capvidia’s MBDVidia, and then published that to a QIF file. The QIF file was then read into SOLIDWORKS via Origin International’s technology, and that was used through the remainder of the product development cycle.
I think there is a huge use case, especially from NX to SOLIDWORKS for OEM to supply chain usability that is really important. From a machine-readable perspective, it’s there. Third party vendor interoperability requirements are needed. It would be great if all standard parts had the unique machine readable information and tolerances that could aid tolerance stack up analysis — now we’re really starting to get to the holy grail of Model-Based Definition, really where the key ROI is.
It all comes back to back to that multi-CAD interoperability that will always be there. It’s a never-ending scenario.
Q: How does this machine/human readability issue affect you and your customers?
JH: The levels of details are actually quite good, because it goes in line with our “reuse your CAD” strategy, which is you need a low- and a high-fidelity model. You especially need the two model fidelities at the part detail level.
High-fidelity models take up a lot of file space, so I appreciate that vendors, such as CADENAS PARTsolutions, have part model libraries with low, medium, and high levels of detail. There’s a lot of thought that’s really gone into that so that you can maximize the performance of your assembly as you tree it up into the part, but still maintain that visual component of presentation or human readability.
Q: Does that protect both IP and what you call low fidelity, some other people might call lightweight?
JH: Lightweight, exactly. Low fidelity, lightweight, bring it up fast, high performance.
Q: eDrawings has been one of the more popular aspects of SOLIDWORKS for years. Do you think for the 2020 release of SOLIDWORKS, they’ll enhance it for greater MBD usability?
JH: I hope so, and the reason is I like eDrawings for in-house manufacturing. There’s a lot of capability and functionality that they can maintain from the native SOLIDWORKS model onto their shop floor. We recently worked with a company that does weldments. Weld beads in SOLIDWORKS assemblies do not translate out into a 3D PDF, but they do translate out into an eDrawing. If you’re designing and manufacturing in house, just keep it all in that one tool suite. I think that’s a great functionality for 3D work instructions, especially welding if SOLIDWORKS is your tool.
Q: Do you have any closing thoughts on the direction of MBD with SOLIDWORKS and how it could affect your business and customers?
JH: I think I’ll tie it back into my original comment, which is that the adoption for MBD within SOLIDWORKS is growing but is going to have a little bit of a rough road with the MBD product managers at SOLIDWORKS for a while. But, on the other hand, it’s sort of a natural evolution of things that really resonates with Action Engineering since we’re in the business of awareness, training, and support for bringing people up to speed on the details of MBD and implementing them.
If you attended SOLIDWORKS World 2019 and have additional thoughts, or simply want to pose a question or comment, share those with Jennifer Herron. Next year we’ll see a complete rebranding of this long-time event as: 3DEXPERIENCE World. See you in Nashville, February 9-12, 2020.