Collaborating technology

Event Report

A first hand report of Delcam’s Asian Technical Summit in Gyeongju, South Korea | By Indira Rao | Delcam, one of the world’s leading suppliers of advanced computer-aided manufacturing (CAM)software recently held its Asian Technical Summit (ATS) in Gyeongju, South Korea from September 23-25, 2014. Hosted by Hankook Delcam, this was one of Delcam’s first big events after the acquisition by Autodesk.

The ATS is held every year in an Asian country to update journalists, industry analysts and customers from various countries about the latest developments of the company. This time around the focus was on updating the market on what the acquisition entails for Delcam, its customers and the industry as a whole. It also was a forum for the company to showcase its high end technology and portray how they were gearing up to address future developments. Clive Martell, president, Delcam said, “Our product plans are broadly on the same track like they have always been. With Autodesk collaboration there will be different sets of customers we haven’t dealt with, which will be interesting.”

Acquisitions form one of the core competencies of Autodesk and they generally acquire the technology when they want to get into a new industry. A similar philosophy was also applied when it came to acquiring Delcam. “Delcam is a very unique, stable company with its diverse senior management team. Most of the NC companies are smaller, less stable and generally lack discipline. Delcam had a coherent product line and hence they became an obvious choice for us,” averred Buzz Kross, senior vice president, Design, Lifecycle and Simulation, Autodesk.

The event kick-started with Martell, taking the audience through the latest technological updates happening at Delcam. Talking on how the two companies would work together, he avowed, “The big change for Delcam was becoming a part of Autodesk. We will continue to work as an independent subsidiary within Autodesk, which means we can retain manufacturing of our customer’s requirement in order to ensure that they are getting the best of both worlds. Our’s will be an incremental growth rather than something dramatic.”

Presenting an overview of Autodesk was Kross who took the audience through how the acquisition would help both the companies fare better. Another interesting presentation was by Mark Forth, AMS Product Manager at Delcam Plc who spoke on the skills gap present in the manufacturing industry and how using Delcam’s PowerMILL CAM software for high-speed and five-axis machining will benefit the industry at large. He also highlighted on what options can be used in 3+2 and in five-axis machining.

The software has some of the most important additions for five axis machining. Some of them are a new dialogue to track the position of the machine tool, and a new toolbar to simulate and adjust the configuration and tool axis of a 3+2 machine or any equipment with incremental rotary axes.

Another presentation was on clay milling for automotive styling. The PowerMILL Clay-MILLING software was developed by combining machining technology from Delcam’s PowerMILL CAM system for high-speed and five-axis machining with CMM connection technology from the company’s PowerINSPECT inspection software. The package has a simplified interface that gives it the same look and feel as PowerINSPECT. The combination of CMM and software for machining is intended primarily for use in automotive styling but could also have applications in other sectors, such as the marine industry, that use clay models for design reviews. When operated with PowerINSPECT and the new clay-milling software, the CMM can be used as a multi-purpose tool for measurement, digitising, marking out and milling.

Customers of Delcam too took to the stage and elaborated on how they were benefitted using Delcam’s products. Talking of customers, one of the features unique to the ATS is the facility visit. Every year the company takes its event attendees to the facilities of a couple of its biggest customers. This year around it was to Hyundai Motors and SL Corporation. While everyone was excited about going to Hyundai, it turned out to be a complete disappointment with the company having gone on a strike on the day we were to visit the plant.

SL Corporation, however, was a big surprise in terms of its manufacturing unit. I have never seen a factory/shopfloor as clean as that of this company’s. The company is recognised world over in motor parts industry and has most of the OEMs around the world as its customers. Delcam has always been at the forefront of technology when it comes to software developments and also compliments that significantly with people. And the customer visits proved just that.

As seen above, Delcam has always had integrated solutions. With Autodesk coming into the picture, the aim is now to collaborate and get better and improved solutions. Seconding, Vineet Seth, MD, India and Middle East and ASEAN Business Development Director, Delcam Plc said, “The Autodesk portfolio consists of CAD and analysis. At the moment, I believe, integration between any Autodesk analysis and CAD is pretty seamless.

But at the moment we do not have a seamless correlation between PowerMILL and Inventor, for example, and that is where developments will come. That will widen our customer base.” Elaborating on how technology has evolved, Kross opined, “We are going through a revolution in manufacturing in terms of exotic materials, composites. It is unthinkable to design anything without a connected network today. The idea of a mechanical design barely exists anymore. Software makes up as much as design and mechanics. That means the skills set of a designer has to be much higher than before.”

He further added, “We insist upon designers to experiment with designs. With innovation comes failure and our work culture allows for discontinuous innovation. Delcam is a much more traditional engineering company where they work on what their customers tell them. We would gradually be bringing our culture into the company.”

On asking Martell, his take on the developments going forward, he asserted, “Autodesk has the philosophy of digital prototyping from the initial design process stage all the way through to a model, which will be simulated in the virtual world and is ready to be taken to the manufacturing stage. In Delcam, we traditionally worked with customers on receiving the design models and then taking it to the manufacturing stage. We realised there are two elements that are completely complimentary and hence was an ideal fit. Both the companies will now collaborate and make sure we have the best in class tools built into our products for our customers.”


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