Two of the giants of the CAD (computer-aided design) software world have signed a key agreement. Autodesk and Siemens have signed an interoperability agreement aimed at helping manufacturers decrease the costs associated with multiple CAD file formats not working well with each other…in other words, interoperability.
Multiple CAD Formats and the Manufacturing World
In today’s global market place manufactures utilize a wide array of software design tools to design and developer their products, from trains and automobiles, to watches and tennis shoes. Even apparel is increasingly being developed using sophisticated software systems like CAD, BIM and PLM.
However, software system incompatibility increases costs as 2D and 3D CAD data passes between participants in manufacturing. Autodesk and Siemens are two of the global leaders in the CAD industry and their new agreement aims to streamline interoperability issues.
Through their agreement, Autodesk and Siemens’ product lifecycle management (PLM) software businesses will take steps to significantly improve the interoperability between their companies’ respective software offerings.
Sharing Software Toolkits
Under the terms of the agreement, both companies will share with each other their respective software toolkit technology and exchange end-user applications to build and market interoperable products.
“Interoperability is a major challenge for customers across the manufacturing industry, and Autodesk has been working diligently to create an increasingly open environment throughout our technology platforms,” said Lisa Campbell, vice president of Manufacturing Strategy and Marketing at Autodesk. “We understand that our customers use a mix of products in their workflow and providing them with the flexibility they need to get their jobs done is our top priority.”
“Incompatibility among various CAD systems has been an ongoing issue that adversely affects manufacturers worldwide, and can add to the cost of products from cars and airplanes to smart phones and golf clubs,” said Dr. Stefan Jockusch, Vice President, Strategy, Siemens PLM Software. “Siemens has been at the forefront in helping to resolve this incompatibility issue with a wide variety of open software offerings that significantly enhance interoperability. This partnership is another positive and important step in our drive to promote openness and interoperability and to help reduce costs for the global manufacturing industry by facilitating collaboration throughout their extended enterprises.”
The manufacturing CAD market, unlike the AEC CAD market has a much more balanced mix of strong competitors, in companies like Autodesk, Siemens, Dassault, and PTC. There is no one dominant player dwarfing the field, like say Autodesk does in AEC in the United States. Also, the industry has long had “neutral” file formats like STEP and IGES—that have worked—so that interoperability can exist between the players in the market through these industry shared formats.
What will be interesting to see is how these “neutral” formats fair in the future where major giants like Autodesk and Siemens share toolkits and form direct exchange data technologies, and how this affects other players outside of this agreement. With pressures mounting for increased efficiencies, software companies have more pressure than ever to meet customer demands by facing the music that larger companies typically employee rival tools. And this isn’t a declining trend but a growing reality, even for smaller companies as they look to gain every advantage in the marketplace.