Siemens PLM backs into design space exploration through CD-adapco acquisition

Siemens PLM will at last join its principal PLM and CAE rivals in owning design space exploration technology once Siemens completes its acquisition of CFD leader CD-adapco, thanks to CD-adapco’s ownership of HEEDS developer Red Cedar Technology.

Early last year we speculated:

After 2013 saw Red Cedar Technology acquired by CD-adapco and FE-DESIGN by Dassault Systèmes, mergers and acquisitions in the design exploration and optimization software industry took a breather last year. What could drive M&A activity in 2015?

Of PLM’s big three, Siemens PLM seems much the most likely to contemplate a major acquisition in this area. Its LMS Virtual.Lab Optimization design exploration and optimization offering is based on technology licensed from Noesis Solutions, a relationship that naturally could lead Siemens eventually to seek to buy Noesis. Besides eliminating the risk of Noesis being acquired by a PLM or CAE rival, the move would secure ownership for Siemens PLM of a class of technology where arch-competitor Dassault Systèmes has arguably held an edge due to its early, farsighted acquisition of Engineous Software. There would also be some cultural fit—Noesis began in 2003 as a subsidiary of LMS (itself acquired by Siemens in 2012) and operated as such until being sold to Japan-based Cybernet Systems, a major Noesis distributor, in 2010.

Of course Siemens PLM also has integration partnerships with ESTECO, Phoenix Integration and CD-adapco’s Red Cedar Technology, and could well pursue an acquisition of either of the first two, especially if it judged one to hold a compelling technological advantage. Needless to say, it could equally well leave its current strategy unchanged for the time being.

Only that last sentence turned out to have much predictive value. Across 2015, the company appeared satisfied with its existing geometry optimization and finite-element parameter optimization solutions, and happy to rely on partners should customers want more advanced design exploration technology. Now, instead of directly acquiring a standalone design space exploration vendor, Siemens’ acquisition of CD-adapco gives it two-in-one, as it were—not only the market leader in CFD, but also Red Cedar Technology and its HEEDS MDO world-class multidisciplinary design exploration and optimization solution. As an added bonus, Siemens gets the non-parametric shape optimization tool HEEDS NP.

As noted, Siemens PLM already had an integration partnership with Red Cedar Technology. As for how this may evolve, Siemens PLM has an unsurpassed track record of carefully planned, successfully and robustly executed integrations of technology acquisitions into its NX environment, including such major undertakings as the NASTRAN product and SDRC’s I-DEAS. On that score, we will be watching to see if Siemens elects to bring HEEDS more tightly into the NX environment, or to leave it more or less PLM-neutral.

Or to do both, somewhat similar to what CD-adapco did. Before it acquired Red Cedar Technology, CD-adapco had partnered with the company to deliver two STAR-CCM+ add-on modules for design exploration and optimization based on HEEDS: STAR-CCM+ /Enabling Optimate and STAR-CCM+ /Enabling Optimate+. Then, after it acquired Red Cedar Technology, the standalone HEEDS product continued as well, as was logical.

As Siemens works through digesting all the parts of its superbly chosen CD-adapco acquisition, we look forward to seeing what it does with the HEEDS technology. If history is a guide, whatever decisions it makes will be sensibly thought through and robustly carried out.

Revolution in Simulation

Revolution in Simulation is a new online resource center for news, information and educational materials surrounding Simulation Apps hosted on Comet Solutions’ web site. Content includes recorded webinars, videos, papers, articles, case studies, blog posts and related materials contributed by leading industry authorities. “The Comet web site with its new Revolution in Simulation section is devoted to providing timely and useful information on real-world use cases and the benefits of Simulation Apps,” Comet founder and CTO Malcolm Panthaki said. “The site contains contributions from many of our industry’s recognized experts and will be updated regularly to ensure that information is timely and relevant. We invite those employing CAE at all levels to find out more about SimApps and how they may be custom-built and used within your global organization.”

Cloud-native CAD will disrupt the PLM platform paradigm

Onshape Follow Mode. Source: Onshape

An illuminating blog post by Onshape engineering team member Ilya Baran reveals some fundamentals of how the new cloud-native CAD system works: “We are careful to distinguish several types of data: the User Interface (UI) state—e.g., selection, camera view, current tab; the Part Studio definition—e.g., feature list, part names and colors, import data; [and] Regeneration results—the ‘b-rep’ (bodies, faces, edges, etc.), triangles for display, regen errors.”

How do these data types differ? “The UI state generally doesn’t persist (except for things like named views),” Baran writes. “The regeneration results are cached, but they can always be rebuilt from the definition. The Part Studio definition is what we store in the database and that is where collaborative editing happens.”

Then Baran explains something that begins to suggest why we believe Onshape is not only a breakthrough in CAD, but also poised to disrupt the established paradigm for PLM platforms. Continue reading

modeFRONTIER International Users’ Meeting 2016

UM16 | The Speed of Change—7th modeFRONTIER International Users’ Meeting, May 17-18, Trieste. Dedicated to users of ESTECO technologies, the meeting is expected to draw more than 200 participants and over 40 speakers from innovative international companies and research centers including Whirlpool, Mahindra, Ford, Volvo and others. This biennial event has emerged as a key technology forum for all design optimization enthusiasts. Call for Papers and Registration are now open.


Summit_logo_238x150What are the key challenges in expanding the use and benefit of software tools for model-based analysis, simulation and systems engineering? That question was posed to 40 ambassadors from the analysis, simulation and systems engineering software industry at a summit hosted by the Santa Fe Institute in January 2015. The ambassadors put 104 issues up for discussion, and ended up with 24 key challenges. After much discussion, eight issues stood out:

Continue reading

Simulation Apps: Simulation for Everyone webinar

Simulation Apps: Simulation for Everyone Simulation is complicated, limiting it to a group of experts. However, democratization of CAE would improve a product’s development cycle. This webinar, hosted by, demonstrated how simulation apps can target a larger audience through simplified user interfaces, be created using five tips, and be used in real-life use cases. The presenter is Malcolm Panthaki, founder and chief technology officer at the simulation application company, Comet Solutions. View a recording of the webinar here.

System-level optimization

When engineers hear the term “optimization,” the first thing that comes to mind is usually structural (geometry) optimization—most likely the type called topology optimization. But for any product with a sophisticated functional architecture, optimization technology offers great benefit when used early in product development to optimize the functional systems models that are created and refined before geometry definition begins. Continue reading

Design space exploration outlook 2016

Core trends in design space exploration and design optimization that we’ll be tracking this year:

Driving adoption and impact

  • Increasing levels of built-in intelligence to let design exploration software choose the best search algorithms and solution methods autonomously, based on the user’s description of the problem in engineering terms.
  • Appification of simulation—the embedment of design exploration and optimization technologies inside easy-to-use, product- and customer-specific simulation apps.
  • Full-cloud solutions that expand accessibility, affordability and usability of design space exploration.
  • Continued vigorous marketing and sales activity by large CAE vendors that own premier design exploration and optimization technology.
  • Compounding pressures on engineering organizations to find new ways to do more with fixed resources, for example meeting automotive CAFE and emissions mandates.

Holding back adoption and impact

  • Design exploration and optimization are still not part of the standard work process at enough engineering organizations.
  • The technology remains too often implemented at only the workgroup or department level, instead of as an enterprise competency.
  • Many small software developers offering highly capable technologies continue to struggle under marketing/sales resource constraints.
  • Some PLM vendors have yet to embrace design space exploration, fearing it a troublesome complication in an already complex CAE sales process.

Wild cards

  • Market-development ripple effects from the growing democratization of topology optimization?
  • More acquisitions of design exploration/optimization software developers by major CAE and/or PLM vendors?
  • New startups fielding breakthrough technologies?

We look forward to seeing what 2016 brings, and analyzing it here.

Will auto industry cost crunches spur optimization uptake?

Could the unholy trinity of costs, competitive pressures and regulatory mandates spur auto makers to accelerate their transition from physical prototyping and testing to digital simulation and, beyond that, automated design space exploration and design optimization? Continue reading

Design space exploration of combustion engine yields response surface model of fuel economy for varying engine configurations. Source: Noesis Solutions



ASSESS 2016: The First Congress on Analysis, Simulation, and Systems Engineering Software Strategies, Jan. 20-22, Potomac, MD.  ASSESS is a broad-reaching multi-industry initiative that began with the goal of expanding the use and benefit of software tools for model-based analysis, simulation and systems engineering. ASSESS is centered on two intersecting domains: (1) the domain of design and engineering of products and the Internet of Things, and (2) the domain of complex decisions, not just about products, but also strategies, politics, infrastructure and other difficult areas that justify taking a long hard look at the consequences of setting a direction. The role of the ASSESS 2016 congress is to guide and influence software development and strategies to the capture of value of, and to enable, expanding the use and practical scope of software for model-based analysis, simulation and systems engineering. Apply for an invitation to ASSESS.

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