History-free and feature-based: Siemens PLM Software unfurls its Synchronous Technology banner

Eager to keep market interest whetted following its $3.5-billion acquisition of UGS early last year and subsequent announcement of its Project Archimedes manufacturing initiative last summer, Siemens PLM Software heralded its April 2008 announcement of Synchronous Technology (ST) as “the next big breakthrough” in digital product development.
By Frank O Smith, senior contributing editor (fosmith@thewritinggroup.com) June 1, 2008

Eager to keep market interest whetted following its $3.5-billion acquisition of UGS early last year and subsequent announcement of its Project Archimedes manufacturing initiative last summer, Siemens PLM Software heralded its April 2008 announcement of Synchronous Technology (ST) as “the next big breakthrough” in digital product development.

Synchronous Technology is said to enable radical productivity gains in design by automating all the associated alterations in a component’s parametric geometry necessary to accommodate any desired design improvement. Gains are achieved by freeing designers from having to sequentially revisit and revise the geometry of all surrounding elements.

“Synchronous Technology will revolutionize what we see in digital product development, enabling up to 100 times faster productivity,” says Dr. Helmuth Ludwig, president of Siemens PLM Software.

Cambridge, Mass.-based research firm Daratech, which specializes in PLM, CAD/CAM, digital product simulation, and related technology, finds Synchronous Technology particularly compelling because it promises to meet the needs of today’s mainstream and advanced CAD users. For advanced users, says Daratech, it promises to break through the limitations and complexity of today’s feature-based parametric CAD modeling software. For mainstream users, it offers ease of use.

At every level, ST promises to remove barriers to closer collaboration between engineering disciplines, as well as between manufacturers and their subcontractors. Equally important, says Daratech, is ST’s promise of facilitating feature-based solids modeling.

“Synchronous Technology will revolutionize what we see in digital product development, enabling up to 100 times faster productivity.”

—Dr. Helmuth Ludwig, president, Siemens PLM Software

Synchronous Technology was in development when Siemens acquired UGS, but additional R&D funds were pumped into the project to accelerate delivery. The new capabilities will be an integral component of releases of both Siemens CAD suites NX and Solid Edge, due later this year to customers as a part of system upgrades.

Dick Slansky, senior analyst with Dedham, Mass.-based ARC Advisory Group , says the significance of Synchronous Technology is found within its inference system, which “has the intelligence to determine what’s needed, how everything else around a certain design change needs to change to accommodate it,” he says. “This ‘geometric awareness’ will greatly improve redesign and reuse.”

Slansky says others are pushing into this area, including CoCreate , which was acquired by PTC in December, as well as SpaceClaim . “But if Synchronous Technology can do what was shown in the demo—that is, grab a part from another vendor’s CAD system, like [ Dassault ‘s] CATIA, and import it and begin to work on it—that’s pretty significant,” Slansky concludes.

A design problem like this example would normally require a designer to mark up the image and feed it back to the original designer to find a solution. Siemens PLM Software’s Synchronous Technology allows the reviewer to suggest possible model changes to fix the design. The reviewer uses cross section curves to drive the model. The change is made and the model updates.