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.