“There’s an app for that” used to just mean new third-party software for Apple iOS or Google Android mobile devices (iOS and Android apps surpassed 1 billion downloads in final week of 2011, according to Cnet). But when Siemens PLM Software, a business unit of the Siemens Industry Automation Division, launched the Solid Edge “app ecosystem” in June 2011, it brought a new level of software-creation partnership to the engineering community. The program allows independent software developers to present solutions directly to users of Solid Edge software, Siemens PLM’s 2D/3D computer-aided design (CAD) solution.
Engineering Design Automation (EDA) Inc. in Bellingham, Wash. specializes in the development of custom software for manufacturing companies. A manufacturer in Missouri approached EDA about writing automation software for Solid Edge, a component of Siemens Velocity Series software portfolio that helps manage the complexity of product design and product lifecycle management (PLM). “They [the manufacturer] had highly skilled engineers spending valuable time performing these repetitive tasks,” said Madison Miner, EDA lead software engineer, “and they thought there must be a better way.”
Working with the company’s engineering staff, Miner designed an automated a program called “Revision Maker” that greatly sped up their processes. Revision Maker accelerates the process of renaming or copying complex Solid Edge assemblies or drawings and updating links. The manufacturer installed a copy of the program on each engineer’s computer, and now reports hours in time savings, says Miner.
EDA realized that this application could be of use to others, and could serve as a stepping stone into more powerful automation software for use in connection with Solid Edge. Revision Maker is currently available to the public, and EDA says it will soon announce Revision Maker Premium, which will allow users to easily configure and create new assembly variations of their products.
“Using Revision Maker to modify model variables in-line is very powerful for our processes,” said Nathaniel Golden, engineer at Schaefer’s Electrical Enclosures. “I’m sure [Revision Maker] will further enhance our productivity with wide acceptance from all engineers.”
Revision Maker and Revision Maker Premium streamline file management processes for Solid Edge users, allowing them to copy and rename complex assemblies and linked documents while maintaining all links between files. A 30-day free trial is available.
EDA President Hiroshi Takaki said, “The staff at Siemens PLM Software has been eager to assist us and bring our company in as a new member of their team, and EDA has put considerable resources into expanding our software expertise into the Solid Edge arena.” EDA will soon expand into Web-based solutions that can be integrated for use with Solid Edge, he said.
EDA's Web-based technology allows users with an Internet connection to create custom designs from, for example, an online catalog that lets a customer custom-order a piece of equipment and download an interactive 3D model of it before the purchase. Output from a SolidWorks automation system can drive business functions that streamline sales, engineering, manufacturing and processing, says Takaki.
Renee Robbins Bassett, firstname.lastname@example.org, is managing editor of Automation World.