Archive for May, 2010

An interview with the president

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Today’s interview is with  Todd Majeski, President/CEO of 3DVision Technologies.

Todd Majeski

EDSM: You were one of the first people to sign up to become a VARs for SolidWorks. What did you see in the software back then that made you decide to become a VAR?

TM: In the early days before SolidWorks was known in the industry, I was running a company that was providing Pro/ENGINEER products on UNIX and Windows platforms. Almost everyone of my clients wanted the benefits of parametric 3D design but they wanted to figure out how to lower the cost of obtaining this technology. The easiest way to lower costs was to run Pro/E on a Windows NT box. At that time, Digital had the fastest Windows NT box running the Alpha chip. This box was faster than the current Intel technology, however it was still a Alpha complied version of Windows and many other Windows applications didn’t exactly work right. So what I was seeing in the industry was clients desiring parametric 3D CAD, but not liking the cost associated with Pro/E and non standard Windows platforms. When I went to the annual CAD/CAM trade show called AutoFact in November 1995, I was introduced to SolidWorks by Dan Monet, the SolidWorks Channel Manager. SolidWorks hit the mark at the perfect time. SolidWorks offered 80% of Pro/E functionality at one fifth the price, and it was easier to use by a factor of 10! I immediately signed on as a reseller and introduced SolidWorks throughout the Great Lakes Region.

EDSM: Do you remember anything interesting about your first SolidWorks sale?

TM: Absolutely, the first sale came within 30 days of 3DVision becoming a reseller. The customer was Altair in Troy Michigan. They are a Tier 1 automotive supplier and they are use to purchasing software in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. They called us up and sent us a purchase order. In all my career of selling software, no deal has ever been that quick and easy. The price of SolidWorks was a industry game changer and since my background was selling high priced software, SolidWorks made it easy to sell and support.

EDSM: What is the coolest implementation of SolidWorks you have seen?

TM: That has to be CAE/Ransohoff in Cincinnati. This was a classic case where a company was heavily invested in 2D Autocad and the entire process of designing was done by a large group of designers who would modify existing 2D layout drawings. The best part of the implementation was that all the designers did not take into consideration the fabrication process of the design. The 12-16 designers would funnel all the designs to one manufacturing engineer. We found that the designers needed to design in 3D just as if they were making the product on the shop floor. This process change for the designers helped the company increase drawing productivity and reduced shop floor errors. The implementation took longer than expected because we were changing the design process, not just implementing software.

EDSM: When you think of SolidWorks the company/software throughout the years what are your impressions?

TM: This is a great question that I feel privileged to be one of the few that can answer this due to my longevity of selling SolidWorks. Early in my career, I worked for Computervision the number three CAD company in the world, and then brief stint with startup company Rasna. CV had over 3500 employees and Rasna with 150. SolidWorks is different and better in comparison to these excellent companies. Different in the sense that when the founders of SolidWorks got started, they wanted to make sure the barriers between the top executives and the feet on the street are always communicating (compared to CV). Decision aren’t going to be made in a vacuum and that the relationship between the dealer and the software manufacturer is a partnership. Rasna was small at the time and the current COO, Keith Krach made sure he kept the culture and line of communication very intimate. So as a company, I believe that I am part of SolidWorks. I represent and deliver the solutions just as if I worked directly for the company. Yet as a dealer, I get to stay close to our associates and maintain a company culture of our own. The dealer channel relationship with SolidWorks is unlike any other in the world.

Now to comment on my impressions of the software, the first ten years was the wildest ride in technology development I have ever seen. The release cycle was every 6 months and each release offered more functionality than higher priced systems. I kept shaking my head in disbelief when each release came out and the price consistently remained the same. The price never went up and to this day you can still obtain SolidWorks for $3,995.Simply incredible.

EDSM: You’ve been around Engineering companies for a long time. Have you ever noticed a trend in what makes them succeed or fail?

TM: Companies succeed for a reason, they hire and retain great employees. The companies that have adopted SolidWorks in the early stages are always looking for an edge that will make them better. These companies always have detailed expectations of what they want to do and what their vision of a successful implementation looks like. When we are aligned with these types of companies they are always the most demanding, but they also trust our recommendation of training and on-site support. They know that getting up to speed on a new technology is critical and trying to figure things out on their own usually ends up costing more to the company in lost productivity.

EDSM: Do you have a favorite SolidWorks function?

TM: In the beginning it was the Shell Feature, it always impressed me that it could take almost any complex shape and still make a uniform (or non-uniform) wall thickness. Today it has to be the automatic dimensioning feature. When I see the drawing creation and tedious task of applying the dimensions turned to minutes versus hours, I am literally blown away.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Drag and Drop beats Cut and Paste in EPDM

Friday, May 21st, 2010

When moving directories or files within your local SolidWorks Enterprise PDM vault view, “drag and drop” rather than “cut and paste” them. If you cut and paste, Enterprise wants to bring all files to be moved to your local cache before the move begins. With drag and drop, the directories and files simply move without being brought to your cache. (Witnessed with version 2010, SP2 and older)

Nine “Engineering Data Specialist Man Points” to whoever can tell me why this is so!

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Enumerations to save the world!

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Enumerations are great little tools designed to make working with your API code easier. In SolidWorks API, enumerations are often used to collect constants together in groups.

As an example, this line of code is perfectly acceptable:

swFeature.GetType = swSelBODYFEATURES

However if later you want to change the type of feature you are looking for you have to look up all of the constants “GetType” returns. This can take some time.

If you use enumerations, VBA’s IntelliSense provides you with a droplist to make selecting the proper constant name easier. Type the enumeration name, the period then…

droplist

Thus I am recommending the above code should have been written like this:

swFeature.GetType = swSelectType_e.swSelBODYFEATURES

It’s the same thing, just easier to work with. (Enumeration names can be found in the help file.)

ReturnValue

Once last super cool enumeration tip. Declare your variables using enumerations.

Continuing the above example, say you want to store the type of feature you found in a variable. If an enumeration is available, don’t simply declare the variable as a generic type, use the enumeration instead.

Dim intFeatureType As swSelectType_e

Now whenever you work with this variable, IntelliSense is there to help you along the way. Hit the equal sign and…

if
Better, faster, easier to read, more accurate code.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Windows 7 Tips and Tricks for Engineers

Monday, May 10th, 2010

If you’re lucky – unlike me. You’ve been using Windows 7 for a while now. SolidWorks has posted some great tips showing how to make an engineer’s life easier using Windows 7.

http://files.solidworks.com/Screencasts/ENG/Windows7.html

Don’t cry for me. They tell me I’ll be able to upgrade to Windows 3.11 sometime next quarter. (I hear they finally got Winsock support working correctly in this version. I am quite excited.)

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

A crystal ball on your desktop

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

The following was an actual conversation at ABC Company. Only the names,  sentence structure and content has been changed:

Purchasing Agent: Whoa geez, I just received this BOM from Jeff, our best engineer. This BOM calls out just one ACME Jim-Dandy Wagon. <sigh> Ordering just one is going to cost an arm and a leg. I don’t get a price break until I order ten. Our ACME sales rep is going to be able to buy a new boat with this order. Wait a minute! I’ll do a quick search in my SolidWorks Enterprise PDM program to see if any other engineer has the Jim-Dandy wagon on an assembly he plans on requisitioning soon…or maybe I’ll look at some of my new dashboard reports Engineering Data Specialist Man produced for me. Wow! There are eleven more Jim-Dandy wagons on assemblies Jimmy has scheduled to be released next week.

Purchasing agent dials Jimmy’s extension.

Jimmy: Hello

Purchasing Agent: Jimmy, I see you have eleven Jim-Dandy wagons on assembly 112568 that is scheduled to be requisitioned. What is the likelihood that this will happen?

Jimmy: Pretty good, the customer just approved everything in our last design review. I expect to get this job off of my desk by tomorrow morning!

Purchasing Agent: Thanks Jimmy. <hangs up the phone> Wow, now that we have all of our engineering data stored inside of a database, I have a lot more data available to me and I can make smarter purchasing decisions. It is like having a window into the future. Thanks Engineering Data Specialist Man!

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

SolidWorks looking good with Toolbox 2010

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

So how good is the SolidWorks 2010 toolbox integration?
toolbox
Is it possible that they finally have it right? Yeah, maybe…2010 has some huge improvements over old grandpa 2009.

[For my Enterprise PDM friends, you've certainly heard from many people talking about we no longer the issue with remote locations trying to access the single Microsoft Access file. Fixing that issue is crazy huge. Replication of your toolbox to multiple sites is now possible.]

We’ve all always had the issue of what happens when you open an assembly with toolbox fasteners that are not part of your toolbox. Today I ran this little experiment.

  1. I created a new assembly and added a SHCS that I received from a customer to this assembly. For this fastener, I chose a configuration that was not in my toolbox’s SHCS
  2. Saved and closed both files
  3. Opened the assembly
  4. SolidWorks recognized that the assembly had the SHCS at a different configuration than what was already in my toolbox and it asked to create the configuration in my toolbox part
  5. I answered yes
  6. Now the assembly referenced MY toolbox part. My toolbox part now contains the new configuration. [Pretty cool! So I continued:]
  7. In the assembly I manually swapped back my toolbox fastener, with the original fastener
  8. Saved/Closed the assembly
  9. Opened the assembly
  10. SolidWorks automatically replaced the SHCS’s file path to my toolbox path, without asking me anything.

Looks like SolidWorks and the Toolbox are working hard to ensure you are always looking at fasteners from YOUR toolbox, not fasteners from external directories. As Martha Stewart says, “This is a good thing.”

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

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