UGS has new designs on widening its data base

Design and manufacturing software specialist UGS has unveiled ambitious plans to get millions more people using its digital data.

At a media and analysts event in its home state of California, UGS detailed plans for the first time since it announced a $1bn merger with former rival SDRC.

UGS believes advances in data management and visualisation technologies – plus the power of the internet to share information – are poised to give its software a role far beyond the engineering design team.

The company – known until recently as Unigraphics Solutions – has allied itself firmly to the concept of product lifecycle management (PLM). This aims to give everyone involved in the life of a product access to critical data, whether they are designing, manufacturing, servicing, selling or using it.

UGS claims the 3D digital information created using its software will form a key part in turning PLM from just another three-letter acronym into a reality. Tony Affuso, UGS chief executive, said: ‘For every one person currently using our products we believe there are 25 others who need the data.’

Affuso claimed UGS had the opportunity to move from 1.6 million users to more than 40 million over the next eight years.

In the shorter term, Affuso and his team are contemplating the major task of integrating UGS with its former competitor SDRC.

UGS reassured engineers using products from either company that there would be no nasty surprises when the two combine. It said planned upgrades to SDRC’s I-Deas CAD software would go ahead on schedule and the software would be supported ‘for years to come’.

UGS will develop ways to allow its own Unigraphics CAD software to share data withI-Deas. Eventually the company envisages an integrated Unigraphics ‘master series’.Similarly, UGS is looking to build bridges between its I-Man product management software and SDRC’s successful Metaphase product.

Subject to regulatory approval, the merger between UGS and SDRC will be the biggest ever in design software.

Under the deal, IT giant EDS – which already owned 86% of UGS – will take full control of the company and SDRC, merging the two into a new business division under the UGS name.

Affuso, who will run the enlarged business, claimed the tie-up with SDRC and closer links with EDS would give his company the critical mass to compete with rivals Dassault and PTC. The merger leaves each of the three software companies neck-and-neck with annual sales of around $1bn.

‘We were number three and SDRC were number four, and we both wanted to find a way to be bigger players,’ said Affuso.

He said the previous smaller scale of UGS had sometimes hampered efforts to sell its technology to major manufacturers. ‘They have found our technology to be superior but were worried about our size,’ he claimed.