Go for a hard drive and…..crash!

By Jonathan


Whilst flying back from a business trip in Germany, I was reading an article in my “fly-by-wire” Airbus from the Global NY Times by James Carroll. It was all about the great American romance for cars being over, mentioning eco issues, and Toyota’s probs, etc. I particularly loved the play on words with “hard drive” and “crash” saying they used to be physical things to do with cars,  but now it’s all about the on board computer gadgetry crashing.

I can understand.  Back when I was 18-years-old and was messing around with modified cars down the back lanes, a hard drive was always needed to test my latest tweeks.  I was lucky.  I never crashed any cars – and I still have my tuned SAAB 96 V4 now 20 years later.

Would today’s cars last 20 years?

Then I thought, it must be a generation thing – the NY Times journalist is older than me after all!!  He comes from a generation where low tuned big engines were the solution to reliability.  Fuel consumption and pollution weren’t issues.

Today, as we all know, it’s a completely different story. I for one couldn’t go to work every day in my beloved 1972 SAAB.  It’s just not safe enough, fuel efficient enough, quiet enough, and easy to drive in traffic jams – I have to turn the heating on in the summer to stop the engine from steaming!

But for a lot of people the romance of cars has changed, if they ever had one.

Believe it or not most people just want to get from A to B efficiently, safely and in comfort. Ask most people what they hate about cars and they’ll say: purchase prices, reliability issues and running costs.

As the Chinese proverb goes “May you live in interesting times”. Well, I can safely say that the Automotive Industry is certainly going through its biggest moment since Henry Ford.

Remember how confusing it was for us to grow into adulthood from that awkward teenager?  I think the automobile is going through just this.

The child car was a mechanical car, fashioned from a good 100 years of mechanical excellence…just think of those magnificent steam trains, bridges and the Eiffel tower!

The teenage car was a bold and innovative if not reckless car, but the mature adult car is not yet upon us.

We still have the young adult trying to find his way in the jungle of regulations, demanding customers, ultra urbanisation, altered usage patterns, … and now to make things more complex he/she’s got a baby, and the baby’s called “multi-discipline engineering” but it nickname is “mecatronics“!

So in my opinion the Automotive Industry is on the verge of a phoenix like rebirth, where we’ll see a change akin to the iPhone made to mobile communications. We do truly live in interesting time…

What’s your take?

Sustainably yours,

The 3 Faces of Semiconductor

By Rick

In her blog entry,  “Synopsys Likely to Roll up the EDA Sector” , Sramana Mitra does a great job in summarizing the current state of the EDA industry. She does a particularly nice job of reviewing the moves that Synopsys has made in taking the leadership position in the industry and how its competition have been developing their own strategies on where their companies (and the industry) should evolve. I had some thoughts that I wanted to share that bring a bit of a different perspective.


It’s interesting to think about where the EDA space is headed and how the rules of natural selection have gotten us to where we are today.  Sramana Mitra does a nice job in summarizing the current state for the EDA leaders. Others can better talk about technology or about how the startup companies made money for a lot of people in the past.

But I think that EDA needs to see that the semiconductor industry today really has three personalities:three-faces

  1. A technology industry driven by innovation and creating the “next cool thing” that will drive the latest products in many different industries. IC products provide the intelligence within the latest innovations across multiple markets; automotive/transportation, A&D, medical devices, consumer products and, of course, high-tech computers, communications and entertainment products.
  2. A manufacturing industry. It’s one of the world’s largest manufacturing segments and puts the latest technologies in the hands of consumers at commodity pricing.
  3. An emerging growth industry. Although it’s been around for generations, the IC domain is very dynamic. Both technology and manufacturing changes allow the market to reinvent itself and bring innovation to different end-user markets. As opposed to industries where there is a finite number of applications for their products, semiconductor companies continually opens doors in new markets.

EDA has been focused primarily on the first two of the semiconductor market personalities—addressing the technology needs of the design teams and the ability to help manufacturing continue to produce products at a nearly impossible scale with cost structures that make those products accessible.

But what did we see when the tough times rolled around?

The manufacturing “factory” personality became dominant. The technology teams were reduced to focus on core products and mandates were delivered to make those products more flexible so that they could have longer lifespans. On the manufacturing side, troubles brought a focus on the supply chain and bottom line, resulting in the common factory response of cut, reduce, eliminate.

What is required is someone that thinks of the market more holistically.

Leaders in this market have to not only be aware of the bottom line, but also be focused on creating new opportunities to grow the top line.  At some point, you can’t cut anymore—but you can always grow if you have the right vision. Companies that “emerge with advantage” from the downturn are those that are working closely with customers in new markets to grow their position, not just cut costs. Synopsys is a perfect example of a company that has a vision to grow its position through working closely with customers, being more critical in the design chain and increasing its offers to be ready for whatever need customers will have. I’ve seen the same with IC companies. While many have spent the past couple of years looking to cut costs, some were working on how to best work with their customers, enable sales and marketing to streamline new opportunities and better bring products to market. Those are the companies that you’ll be hearing good things about in the coming year.

I think this evolution will continue beyond what we know as EDA today and into a more encompassing product design and experience offering. In time, you will see the blending of EDA’s target semiconductor market both down deeper into manufacturing and up into the end market application.

When you design the “brain” (chip), you will also have to design the “body” (application product).

If semiconductors are replacing the steel and wires within transportation systems, doesn’t it make sense that the design of the products also change? Much of that change will start with how to work more closely with the customer, how to capture ideas, how to share the huge amount of information available and how to eliminate the proverbial walls over which each functional discipline has to “throw” their contributions.

EDA companies are already starting down that path today with common database formats (OpenAccess), product portfolios that encompass orders of magnitudes of more diverse offers in multi-domain design, behavioral modeling, embedded software content, simulation, predictive analysis, test, manufacturing preparation and packaging—and with consortia that brings together both design chain and supply chain partners.

EDA is still evolving. They have fire and the wheel. Imagine all that will come next.



PLM in the Kitchen

By Francois Bouffard

Francois Bouffard_PLM in the Kitchen

Last week I had the opportunity to participate in a team building activity at DS Campus in Vélizy, France.  Participants were grouped into small teams to cook desserts for the rest of the group. This was an interesting proposition as most of us knew how to cook (eggs and toast!!!) but not French cuisine sweeties.

tuile chocolatAfter dressing up like a real chef with the apron and hat, we received instructions from the pastry chef, mainly explaining the order of mixing the ingredients to make ‘’Tuiles’’ (tiles). Being francophone but from the other side of the ocean, I had no clue of what the end result was supposed to look  like!

The mixing part went very well as my partner melted the butter perfectly. However when the time came to spread the mixture on the baking sheet, we did it with too much thickness. The pastry chef got upset because we put on too much batter, saying the result would not be great.

preparation on cooking plate-1He was right.  After being cooked, the  ‘’Tuiles’’ were all mixed up into one big tile. We had to rework and correct the result by hand cutting the right portion to finally giving the acceptable shape. Overall they tasted good but the shapes were original and probably could have been  called New Cuisine!!!

After this nice team building exercise, I thought that this experience could  have been an excellent opportunity to use some of Dassault Systèmes’ PLM  solutions to get better results.

In fact, if the pastry chef would have showed us the virtual representation of the ‘’Tuiles’’ before we started,  using 3DVIA per example, then we would have a better idea of  the expected end result. (See What You Mean!). In addition, we could have used ENOVIA to manage the ingredients, tools and equipment to be used and thus creating a little BOM.  Work instructions, which were sometimes difficult to understand, could have been showed using 3DVIA Composer, and finally DELMIA  for simulating the work process in its entirety.

You may think that I am exaggerating by pushing the use of PLM in a kitchen. Maybe . . . but this is a simple example that demonstrates that if we could use it there, then we could and we should use it  everywhere.

Francois headshotBon appétit!


Francois Bouffard works for Dassault Systèmes North America and specializes in the Consumer Goods, Consumer Packaged Goods and Retail industries.

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