OpenLM – the most essential, non-essential software you could ever need

The reliance of engineers and scientists on software applications grows and progresses year by year. We have evolved over the last 60 or so years from the days when a few pioneers started purchasing very expensive computer hardware to run the early CAD software that was available, to the point where CAE software vendors like Solidworks have created “Apps for kids” which children as young as 4 can access on a mobile phone. Today, no industry that requires engineering skills can function without a full range of software tools, whether designing electronics or drilling oil and gas reservoirs. The engineering software market is huge, and while there are major players that offer every conceivable toolset, even mid-size businesses will have different vendors supplying the tools they need to design and compete. 

The right to use such software requires the customer to pay for licenses. Licensing started off as a very simple process where software was sold on a per-user basis, and has gradually evolved through network and site licensing, where an agreed number of licenses are purchased by a company to be shared by its employees on-site, to subscriptions in the cloud. The engineering software portfolio of most companies today will be subject to a variety of license models, some of which are extremely complex. Each vendor usually provides a license manager tool that is used to control license usage and ensure that companies are compliant with the terms of their agreement.

The Evolution of License Management Software

If software is issued by the vendor to manage licenses, why should anyone purchase an application that is vendor-independent to measure and monitor license use and activity? It seems pretty pointless to purchase yet another software tool that duplicates work already being done by free vendor software. What’s more, why purchase a product that focuses mainly on engineering software? Well, there are some compelling reasons, which is why engineering companies, from SMEs through to global enterprises, public and government bodies, and academic institutions have invested in OpenLM. 

  • your vendor’s license manager is not your license manager
  • the administrative overhead puts a strain on your budget
  • you probably have bought too many licenses
  • you keep buying more licenses to reduce denials
  • the period for ROI in OpenLM is usually 6 months or less.

This list is not exhaustive, but is enough to explain why acquiring OpenLM in a scientific or engineering environment is essential. 

Your Vendor’s License Manager is not your Friend

We thought long and hard about the role a vendor-supplied license manager plays in your organization and came up with a parole officer. We are perfectly sure that you have never been in a situation where you needed such a person, but now you have this watchdog in your environment. Like a parole officer, the application:-

  • helps you find work – no license manager, no licenses
  • monitors your behavior – ensures you are keeping to the straight and narrow of your licensing agreement
  • reports on any infringement of your licensing conditions, which could cost you

As if that were not bad enough, you have a whole bunch of them, at least one for every supplier, and more where you have several agreements, as happens when you have branches globally, or a hybrid of on-premise and cloud licenses. You have to manage all these relationships.

It’s a Costly Exercise

While most software vendors purchase their license management from a specialized software vendor, like Flexera or Reprise, there are custom versions as well. Handling all these products becomes an administrative nightmare, especially when it comes to managing entitlements and access to software. So, whether you are on-boarding a new employee, terminating employment or merely moving someone from one business unit to another, you have to go and update each license manager for each piece of software required. Not only is this laborious, it is also error-prone. 

The next problem is in reporting to management. You have reports with different formats and no common look-and-feel, unless you rework each of the outputs into a common format. You also don’t necessarily have the right data to estimate what license numbers you really need when it comes to renewal time, or when a new project is starting. 

This is where OpenLM makes your life so much easier; you can manage everything through a single, easy-to-use interface instead of hopping in and out of a whole slew of license managers. You also can report on one or all of your applications with a comprehensive set of reports that are tailored to supporting renewal and purchasing decisions, as well as overspend and sub-optimal productivity. From our interactions with customers, we are pretty sure you have more licenses than you need, and this could apply to several products. Our reports will help you rectify this situation.

You Bought More Licenses than You Need

This is a very common problem and probably the best reason for purchasing OpenLM, as you can save a lot of money cutting down on unnecessary licenses. Needless to say, your vendor-supplied software is not going to help you here; it is not in the vendor’s interests to have you operating as economically as possible.

Potential savings include:-

  • identifying and getting rid of “shelfware”, software purchased but not being used.
  • high-end licenses purchased when a basic license is all that is needed
  • named user licenses where a concurrent license is all that is needed.

Surprisingly, this is a big problem with subscription licensing. Based on market surveys, the disparity between budgeted and actual costs for SaaS software is generally double to treble the original estimate. So the expectation that “Pay-as-you-go” licensing eliminates the need for license management is unfortunately not true. 

Your Productivity Levels could be Better

Denials are a common problem in any networked license environment. Every company experiences peaks and troughs in license demand and the knee-jerk reaction is to purchase more licenses to keep your users happy. None of the proprietary license managers will show you why you are getting denials and if they are “true” denials (i.e. repeated denials over a period of time) or just a single denial that was resolved thirty seconds later. You also cannot see if the licenses booked out are actually being used or are lying idle. Even where you can identify licenses lying idle, you lack a toolset that can automatically harvest idle licenses according to your in-house software policy. OpenLM lets you tailor an automatic harvesting regime that suits your business and reduces the risk of denials, because only licenses that are actually being used are checked out.

You Achieve ROI in No Time

Engineering software licenses don’t come cheap. Eliminating just one license usually pays for your OpenLM purchase, and some of our clients do precisely that to justify their spend. On average our customers save 15% in their first year of using OpenLM, with year-on-year savings through optimizing their software portfolio. The ability of OpenLM to analyse usage right down to feature level, as well as additional features, such as reporting on custom software and detecting unnecessary spend on time-based licenses make our totally ono-essential software a critical component in your software toolkit.

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Benefiting from PLM in the Pharmaceutical Industry

A recent report by Quadrant Knowledge Solutions, a Massachusetts-based consulting and research firm, on the market outlook for Product Lifecycle Maintenance (PLM), revealed some interesting statistics about industries adopting PLM. While around 80% of the market is still centred around the aerospace, automotive, high-tech and industrial equipment industries, other industries, such as retail and consumer goods, can see the benefit in adopting a lifecycle approach to their product management. The healthcare sector is steadily recognizing the benefits that PLM can bring, both in regulatory compliance and in product development. Quadrant reports on this sector as comprising 3.1% of the overall market, and it is expected to grow by about 7% annually. Pharmaceutical and medical device companies in particular are seeing dramatic improvements in time to market where they have adopted PLM.

Challenges for the Pharmaceutical Industry

Organizations that develop pharmaceutical solutions for both chronic and acute diseases find themselves between a rock and a hard place – the urgent demand from patients and their physicians and the regulatory constraints of bodies like the FDA. Research conducted by the Tufts Center for Drug Development and last updated in 2016, revealed the following statistics:-

  • Costs to bring a new drug to market averages $2,6 billion
  • This excludes an additional $300 million in further R&D when the drug is available
  • The time taken from discovery to launch is 10-12 years
  • Only 12% of new drugs make it through the clinical trials

Although this research was conducted on a sample of drugs developed between 1995 and 2007, the risks and costs incurred in bringing a new drug to market have probably increased rather than decreased. Earlier research in 2003 had a success rate double the 12% of the later findings, and considerably lower costs.

One of the main contributors to the lead time and costs associated with getting a new product to market is the pharmaceutical process and the regulatory constraints built into the process. The process has not changed significantly since the 1980s and has not taken advantage of the changes in technology, although the drug development itself is at the cutting edge of science and technology.

This is where PLM comes in.

How PLM Disrupts the Old Way of Doing Things

What the pharmaceutical industry needs to embrace is something that the automotive industry latched on to over 20 years ago. Product lifecycle maintenance follows the entire lifecycle of product development from conception to end-of-life, and brings transparency and collaboration to the process. Implementing PLM removes many obstacles from the development path.

Working in Silos

The long lead time in the pharmaceutical lends itself to isolation between the various stakeholders in the process. What is more, during the decade taken to develop the drug, there will be natural turnover of staff and loss of tacit knowledge. Another factor is outsourcing some of the process, where visibility and understanding can be lost. There is a need for all the outputs of the disparate teams and groups to be merged into a comprehensive view. Merck define 3 types of silos :-

  • siloed thinking by people involved in the process
  • siloed processes and workflows
  • siloed technologies – disparate applications that do not integrate

This is where PLM can assist.

Exhaustive Documentation

The need to document every step of drug development is a major constraint imposed by the FDA and other regulatory bodies – it is paper-based and requires up to 100 000 pages of evidence of testing, trials, approvals and every other component associated with the drug being developed. Where participants have been working in silos, the problem of keeping a unified record is exacerbated. Most PLM offerings have  content management features that remove the risk of missing documentation.

But More is Needed

NeoPLM is a specialist vendor, founded by CEO Cathal Strain, who had 30 year’s experience at Pfizer before embarking on this venture. He points out a few pitfalls of most other offerings in the market.

  • PLM is designed around CAD systems, and not batch-based manufacturing, like pharmaceuticals
  • The requirement for documented evidence from the regulatory authorities hampers the ability of companies to streamline their way of working
  • While all PLM suites have maintenance and decommissioning as part of the lifecycle, the ongoing monitoring of drugs once on the market and in use for the lifetime of the drug is far more complex and intensive than for products such as an automobile or a building.

 

This does not mean that PLM products developed for engineers cannot do the job. Vendors such as Dassault have developed and acquired specialist PLMs that are targeted at the chemical and healthcare industries, especially biotech organizations that manufacture medical devices. What is remarkable, however, is how slow the healthcare industry is to adopt a PLM approach. While leaders such as Sanofi and Merck have taken on the challenge, the majority of industry players are lagging behind. The vendors who offer PLM solutions are all leaders in enterprise, scientific and engineering software and every one of them has healthcare customers and solutions. Whether they choose a specialist pharmaceutical PLM vendor such as NeoPLM or MasterControl, or choose products from vendors such as Oracle, Dassault, Siemens or PTC, implementing PLM will accelerate their drug development process, while reducing costs and risks.

What is certain is that those companies that are slow in adopting a PLM vision of their business will have to adapt as their competitors outperform them. Their shareholders will be reluctant to support them if they cannot keep pace. 

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License borrowing and Offline Licenses in FlexNet (FlexLM), IBM-LUM, DSLS and other License managers

License Borrowing is a method of linking a specific workstation to a single license instance from within the license pool. This procedure marks a license as being perpetually used on the license manager (LM), enables users to borrow a product license for a designated time period, and to operate the licensed application without connecting to the license manager.

OpenLM monitors borrowing of licenses on several LM types. This document presents the borrowing methods on three of these LMs: FlexNet (FlexLM), IBM-LUM and DSLS, and the OpenLM advantages in monitoring borrowed licenses.

For a full list of other license managers where OpenLM monitors borrowing, please visit https://www.openlm.com/license-manager-capabilities/

Borrowing licenses in FlexLM

In order to enable license borrowing, the software publisher should issue a floating license file with a FEATURE or INCREMENT line that contains the BORROW keyword, for example:

INCREMENT 3d_to_2d_flattener ugslmd 27.0 06-nov-2012 1 SUPERSEDE \

DUP_GROUP=UHD user_info=”NX 2D Exchange” ISSUED=06-sep-2012 \

BORROW=2880 ck=194 SIGN=”code”

In the example above, the BORROW time was restricted to 2880 hours = 120 days. The maximum value for borrowing licenses in FlexLM is 180 days.

A user specifies the expiration date when a borrowed license is to be returned, which should be equal to or smaller than the BORROW parameter above. This expiration date is set by applying a value to the LM_BORROW environment variable. This is either done directly, by running the lmborrow utility, or by setting it in the application (when available).

The user then runs the application while connected to the network which writes borrowing information on the client computer. The license server keeps the borrowed license checked out. If enabled by the software vendor, borrowed licenses can be returned early, prior to the borrow period expiration.

When the expiration period has elapsed, or after having returned the borrowed license early, the local borrowing data no longer authorizes the license checkout, and the license server returns the borrowed license to the pool of available licenses.

DSLS Offline licenses

In DSLS, Borrowed licenses are referred to as “offline licenses”. The operation of extracting licenses for offline usage is done by the Application’s “Offline Management” tab on the “Local License Management” dialog box. There, a user needs to select a license for extraction and set the duration period for offline extraction. Maximum license offline extraction is 30 days.

When querying the usage of licenses with the DSLicSrv command “getLicenseUsage -all” , offline licenses should be reported as shown in the following example:

internal Id: <Workstation> …

granted since: <Time and date> <workstation> <Username> <Application full path> …

targetId: <targetId> licenseId: <licenseId> …

granted since: <Time and date> hold until: <Time and date>

IBM LUM Offline licenses

The IBM License Use Management (LUM) system refers to borrowed licenses as “Concurrent Offline Licenses”. In order to implement license borrowing in LUM:

  1. The user calls the application.
  2. The application looks for an offline-nodelocked license in its nodelock directory. If a license is found and is valid, the application runs.
  3. If the application does not find a license in the nodelock directory and the portable computer can reach a License Use Management network license server, the application requests a concurrent-offline license from it.
  4. The network license server checks if the license has an authorization for the user, group, or for the target ID of the machine, and validates the password provided by the user.
  5. If the authorization is for a concurrent-offline license, the server creates an offline-nodelocked license and copies it to the nodelock directory of the portable computer. The license is marked as in use on the server.
  6. The application checks that the nodelock directory contains a valid license and the application starts. The application can now run without a connection to the License Use Management network license server (that is, the application can run on a portable computer).

Management of offline concurrent licenses is done in the IBM LUM windows UI:

  • The product authorization must be set to “All Allowed” to enable concurrent offline usage
  • The license offline extraction time is set. It is limited to 120 days.
  •  A password is set for the license instance.

Similar options are available by the lumblt command line.

The OpenLM advantage

Borrowing a license is not the ideal method for license deployment. It is both expensive and hard to track:

  • As borrowed licenses are floating licenses that have been put to work perpetually, they cannot be subject to any license chargeback, and are more expensive than other concurrent license on the license pool.
  • Borrowed licenses are also hard to track. They are no longer marked as part of the license pool. License administrators need to manually revoke such licenses as soon as they are not needed.

OpenLM monitors the usage of license managers, providing insight regarding users’ identity and efficient license allocation. It thus presents several advantages for license administrators, who can:

  • Identify users who draw both borrowed and concurrent license from two different workstations, and alert upon such conditions.
  • Mark specific used licenses as borrowed, clearly presenting the user and workstation to which it is linked.
  • Identify usage patterns, and advise an optimized license allocation policy.

OpenLM has an extension called the Reporting Hub, which is recommended where borrowing is practised. The Reporting Hub allows you to aggregate borrowing data, which is not available in our core product, which only reports on licenses that are being borrowed within a session.

Note: If OpenLM monitors borrowing for another license manager that you use, such as Sentinel Hasp, or one of the others listed at https://www.openlm.com/license-manager-capabilities/

please contact support at openlm.com for advice specific to that license manager.

 

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Reaching for the Sky – Cloud License Management

The introduction of cloud software products not only disrupted the software market, but also the licensing and compliance management of such software. On-premise licensing was pretty cut and dried, with most organizations preferring concurrent or network licensing for most of their software purchases. Initially, the concept of subscription licenses for software accessed in the cloud, whether customers wanted it or not, seemed a simple concept of pay-per-use, which appeared to be cost-effective. The reality is quite different. For the last few years, research among small, medium and large organizations found that 30-35% of users  were concerned about their steadily escalating cloud computing costs. There was a general belief that they were overspending on cloud storage and software, but very few companies were doing anything to actually measure and optimize these costs.

Why You Could be Overspending on Cloud Software

There are several reasons why cloud costs are not easy to control; here are some of the key contributors:-

  • Overprovisioning. Where a company moves from on-premise to cloud services, the accurate estimation of the number of cloud licenses required can be quite complex; it’s not just a straight conversion of the number of concurrent and named licenses into the number of cloud licenses required. Furthermore, if you had not completely optimized your on-premise license use, chances are you had too many licenses before. The general tendency has been to acquire more cloud licenses than actually required.

 

  • Pricing Complexity. What makes cloud computing so attractive for vendors, is that there are so many ways to price their offering. Per minute or per second usage, features used, time of day, or a cocktail of costs can be applied. Anything that can be measured can result in a charge, and the user has no visibility as to how they are incurring these costs; the vendor’s license manager will inform them what they owe, without any indication on how these costs could have been avoided.

 

  • Cost of Compliance. There was a belief that using cloud services would reduce the risk of on-site audits. Unfortunately this does not seem to be the case; many vendors have increased their audits. Apart from the financial risk of non-compliance and the need to “true-up” (pay in the licensing shortfall), the cost overhead for an organization in human resources, custom report extracts and other administrative overheads can range from $100 000 to $500 000, depending on the size of the enterprise.

 

  • Waste. Surprise, surprise, idle licenses do not go away when you switch to cloud, in fact, the situation may deteriorate. So license monitoring and harvesting is just as important as for on-premise licenses. Overprovisioning is also a contributor here, where the licenses acquired have a whole lot of features that are barely used, but affect the pricing. The user could make do with a basic or intermediate license rather than the top of the range option with all the bells and whistles. So all the toolsets you needed for monitoring on-premise licenses are still needed, but they must be able to monitor cloud usage.

OpenLM’s New Cloud Monitoring

Following numerous requests from our customers, as well as our own need to monitor our own cloud-based software (who does not use Adobe?), we have developed a cloud monitoring capability. It is limited to only a few vendors initially, but these are the most critical vendors among our customer base. Two are engineering vendors and two are enterprise vendors.

Monitoring Adobe and Microsoft Cloud 365

While most (although not all) of our customers are in engineering and scientific industries, we know the use of Adobe and Microsoft 365 is so pervasive, that the ability to monitor these vendors using OpenLM will be of benefit to them. Although our main focus is on specialized engineering software, we do understand the need to manage other software, and are gradually expanding our capabilities to manage non-engineering software.

Monitoring Autodesk and ESRI Cloud

Autodesk has been very determined in moving its historical customer base to subscription and cloud-based services. It has created many disgruntled customers, who have invested too much training and intellectual property into using Autodesk products to change vendors. SRI tried similar tactics, but there was too much push-back from their customers, so they backed down. However, they are still intending to move customers to the cloud and a subscription service; it will just take them longer.

Many of our customers are heavily invested in products from these two vendors, and need to be back in control of their licensing costs for their cloud portfolio. As many of them are also still using on-premise licenses as well,  the added complexity of a hybrid licensing environment needs to be managed; spreadsheets do not suffice for the cloud software; as indicated above the issues encountered with on-premise licensing still cop up in cloud licensing.

A Brief Glimpse of the Capabilities

There is a lot more to cloud computing that we have not covered here. The growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) and edge computing requires that embedded licenses managing embedded software need to be monitored. Many IoT devices are offline most of the time, but still need attention. We have built capabilities to monitor embedded software, but we will discuss these features in a separate article.

Below are a few of the Screens/reports for monitoring cloud activity and usage. There are several more, such as the license server report, which helps you pick up cloud instances that need configuring into your license environment.

License Activity. This report is familiar to those of you who use our License Manager. It has extensive filtering options, so that you can examine activity for a specific project, vendor, license or even at a very granular level per user and per workstation.

License Usage Chart. This chart (which can also be displayed as a heatmap) shows license utilization for specific features for Flexnet embedded licenses per day for a specified period. Again, there are numerous filters you can apply to get the results you need.

Objectives of Our Cloud Features

We have designed reports to help you manage and optimize your cloud software licenses. You will be able to discover who is using the licenses, whether you have bought too many licenses and identify idle licenses. You may want to build additional limitations into license usage, like introducing an after-hours curfew for specific software (our support team can advise you on how to do this). Cloud license cost containment is a big topic because millions of dollars are being spent on unnecessary licenses. It is estimated that as much as 40% of cloud licensing cost is wasted. Being able to identify these costs in your own organization and remove or reduce them could have a substantial and beneficial impact on your bottom line. A recent survey found that nearly 60% of respondents acknowledged that they were overspending on cloud services, and only 15% were actually optimizing their cloud costs. We are sure you want to be one of the winners in cloud cost management and will be delighted to help you. Please contact sales@openlm.com or support@openlm.com for any assistance or join our webinar with one of our sales engineers.

 

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Shedding the Kilos – Lightweighting in the Automotive Industry

Lightweighting has become a major preoccupation of all transportation manufacturers, whether an airplane, ship or passenger sedan is to be produced. Regulation to reduce carbon emissions affects all these industries globally, and engineers face new challenges in substituting new, lighter materials for conventional ones such as mild steel, and ensuring that these materials can be integrated into the overall design. The reduction in weight cannot compromise the safety and reliability of the vehicle; where possible it should improve it. The choice of materials varies from high-strength steel and aluminium, to organic fibres from plants such as bamboo and kenaf (Indian hemp).Complexity increases where these discrete materials are combined to form a composite material, such as plastic polymers using organic fibres. Understanding how these materials react under stress and how two parts composed of different materials can be joined have been described as “alchemy”, rather than engineering. Replacing heavier parts with lightweight materials is not mere substitution, lightweighting disrupts the whole product lifecycle, from design to end-of-life.

It’s Not a Perfect World

Under ideal circumstances, every manufacturer in the supply chain would be competing to bring the best and lightest product to market, either as a lightweight material, as a component or as a complete automobile. The reality is that cost determines how far an automobile manufacturer can apply mass reduction to any model. Carbon fiber is a vital material in lightweighting, but the slide below, taken from a presentation by Lucintel predicts that only 5% of light motor vehicles manufactured in 2025 will use carbon fibre extensively, while 95% will utilize very little or no carbon fiber due to its high cost. A cost reduction would have a major impact, but this depends on reducing costs. So while Lamborghinis and Audi R8s contain extensive carbon fiber, designers of the Toyota Yaris still have to look at other more affordable alternatives under the current price.

Source: Major Lightweighting Trends Shaping the Automotive Industry – Presentation by Lucintel at Composites Europe, November 2018.

 

Some might question whether the growing electric vehicle (EV) market will not render combustion engines redundant, but the reality is that petrol and diesel engines are still going to be around for the next decade. EV manufacturers are also involved in lightweighting, focusing on ways to reduce the weight of the battery, which is a major contributor to the overall vehicle mass, whether in EVs or in hybrids.

Another constraint is the ability to recycle the materials; the rise of the circular economy requires this, and producers that do not comply could be penalized. So the race is on to discover cost-effective materials, test their suitability under stress and over time and utilize them instead of the materials used in current models.

Concept and Design

The choice of a particular material has a dramatic impact on the design process. Before it can be successfully used, extensive testing must be done, most of which will use simulation software, complementing live testing of the material and prototypes. Providers of simulation applications have recognized that new simulation tools need to be added to the simulation toolkit. Altair, a leader in simulation software, has recently acquired Cambridge Collaborative’s SEAM® software. This software has been used by major companies to test for potential vibrations and noise, especially in the vehicle’s interior.

Autodesk University has training on what types of simulation are needed to test thermoplastic composites that contain fibers, where the testing for short and continuous fibers are different.

Testing of a material does not stop once a decision has been made to use it in the new design. Engineers are including sensors to monitor materials and parts in the field. This real-time data is then relayed back to the manufacturer during the lifetime of the product, usually to a digital twin of the part or even the entire vehicle. Any shortcomings can be identified in the virtual version and corrective action or improvements can be applied to the next model. Ansys, again a leader in simulation, has recently teamed up with PTC with their Teamworx IoT platform to support a digital twin solution.

Another new area of engineering is the discovery and design of new agents for bonding different materials and new fasteners where conventional nuts and bolts are unsuitable. Bonding parts, rather than using fasteners, also reduces vibrations and noise. Recent research has developed bonding agents for thermoplastics that are reversible; heat is applied to form the bond and when needed, for instance during a service, the bond id reheated to remove the bond. To re-bond the part, heat can be applied again. the researchers at Michigan University used nanotechnology for this innovation.

Rethinking the Assembly Line

The traditional linear process of the assembly line may be obsolescent. BMW are shifting to a new paradigm which is more flexible and agile. Rather than having a different assembly line for each powertrain, they have rethought the factory floor, so that a combustion engine, hybrid or fully electric car can be produced via a common assembly line. This gives them the ability to take customization up to a new level. Audi too has redesigned their shop floor to cater for future trends in manufacturing.

Proactive Maintenance

The use of digital twins facilitates proactive maintenance, impending defects and wear and tear are monitored by the various sensors embedded in the car and reported back to the dealer and company. The vehicle owner can be invited to bring his or her car in for maintenance and repairs as a result. This is already happening at Tesla, where each car produced has its own digital twin, and where a software download is the first prize for any problems, rather than the owner having to bring the car in for attention. When it comes to servicing and maintaining a vehicle, workers will need training in the new materials used and techniques like unbonding parts joined with a reversible bond. It is probable that this will be automated as much as possible, but workers who understand the process and materials will still be in demand.

The End of the Line

The days of cars being relegated to a scrap-heap at the end of their life are over. Parts need to be recyclable to reduce the load on the planet. This is where choosing the right materials during concept and design is important. While the parts must be durable and robust during the life of the vehicle, they must also be easily reclaimable. The energy consumed to achieve this should either be very low or should be offset by inherent qualities of the materials used. Indian Hemp or Kenaf is an example of a suitable material, it is carbon neutral, owing to its ability to extract co2 from the atmosphere and its quick growing cycle of 4 months. Malaysia has invested heavily in growing Kenaf, believing that there will be a vibrant market for kenaf in lightweight manufacturing.

The guesswork and research involved in understanding the new composites and their properties has been reduced by specialist organizations doing the research. Research giant Fraunhofer has created digital twins of materials, which are stored in a materials database accessible to manufacturers making a decision about what materials would work best for the problem at hand. While the intention was to support the additive engineering environment, it is equally effective for other manufacturing challenges.

The developments in lightweighting are not limited to automobiles and airplanes, any manufactured product, from domestic appliances to wind turbines, can benefit either from a reduction in weight and the associated risk for rotor blades. to new composite materials that are superior to those currently used. The reduction in the cost of sensors stimulates the use of digital twins to report on products in the field and creates a continuous improvement cycle.

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Announcing our New Release – OpenLM 4.5!

We know you always look forward to our new releases and the improvements they bring to managing your licenses. We are delighted to announce new capabilities both in product management and operations. 

Product Administration Enhancements

Reaching for the Sky – Cloud License Management

While many are under the impression that license management for cloud products is not necessary because it is pay-per-use software, this is not strictly true. For those of you who have been grappling with usage and licenses for ArcGIS Online and Autodesk Cloud, this new release will help you manage these products in tandem with your other more conventional licenses. Then, while it is not strictly engineering software, but is found and used in every organization, we now offer license management for Adobe Cloud and Microsoft 365.

Autodesk Token Flex


While we were working on Autodesk Cloud, we also devoted time to providing a complete solution for Autodesk Token Flex. You will now be able to

  • audit usage from your point of view as a comparison against Autodesk’s calculations
  • identify potential double charge situations based on license and user time of day discrepancies
  • Identify idle licenses and harvest them

all supported with comprehensive reporting.

Embedded License Management

Embedded licenses are becoming more and more common. Following requests from you, our customers, we can now support Flexnet Embedded (FNE) that has XML API enabled such as Avid or Nvidia.

Tighter Control of Oil and Gas Software

For our oil and gas customers, we are pleased to tell you that you can now save and close instances of Harmony, Kingdom and Petra applications. We would welcome any organizations who want to be beta testers for this enhancement.

Operational Improvements

Performance

  • We have cut down on that tedious wait at start-up and while performing certain analyses, which will make everyone happy.
  • You do not have to restart any more to apply configuration additions or changes for license managers

System settings & configuration

  • System configuration is much slicker, now that it has been moved to the web UI (user interface)
  • We have also made email notification less clunky by moving it to the web UI

Security and Integrity

Security threats are growing daily, so we have tightened up on access and usage by

  • Enforcing passwords and improving compliance by introducing password expiry
  • preventing use of previous passwords and
  • limiting the number of login attempts, and blocking access after several failed attempts.
  • All OpenLM components now require login, even when working server-side

LDAP Synchronization

Some of our customers were experiencing synchronization problems when using LDAP and Active Directory. These problems were volume-related and we strengthened the application to support LDAP synchronization for over 10 000 users.

We invite you to sample Release 4.5 and see how it assists you!

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Changing the Dynamics in Healthcare Research with Ansys Software

Scientific breakthroughs in healthcare are increasing daily. However, the costs of new drugs and devices are prohibitive and making them available can take years before they are approved by authorities such as the FDA. Traditionally, to gain approval for a new healthcare drug or device, it had to undergo comprehensive testing in three disciplines; bench tests (in vitro), animal tests (in vivo) and finally, clinical trials (in situ). This process can take a decade before a new drug or device is regarded as effective and safe enough to be brought to market. What is more, a large number of new products fail 90% of the way through the journey.

The development of scientific software applications that can assist in and accelerate the process is bringing a new dynamic, helping to bring down costs while reducing the risk of failure of a drug or device. Simulation software provides a new means of testing any prototype healthcare device, and is becoming increasingly important in biomechanical research and is commonly referred to as in silico testing, referring to the silicon chips that are integral to any computer. Software vendors such as Ansys have collaborated in integrating their software in healthcare modelling and simulation, assisting in breakthroughs in healthcare device development.

Accommodating the New Market

Traditionally, software such as Ansys was developed for the engineering industry and is known as computer-assisted engineering (CAE). While CAE software that can perform functions such as finite element analysis (FEA) and computational flow dynamics (CFD) is what is needed for in silico testing, healthcare researchers are generally untrained in these disciplines, especially in the pharmaceutical industry. Ansys themselves speak of the need to “democratize” their software tools, making them accessible to all, not just the few researchers with the necessary training in mathematics and engineering. They have already made inroads on providing a product that can be used by anyone in healthcare. Surgeons can use simulation before an operation to assess the effect of a particular approach on a patient. Sales and marketing can demonstrate how a product functions via simulations. Even executives can use a simulation model to secure funding from potential investors.

Ansys has collated a portfolio of case studies where the use of their products has brought benefits to healthcare organizations, primarily via reduced costs and shorter timeframes as well as risk reduction. The ability to show a simulation as opposed to describing it has an impact all along the value chain:-

  • investors can visualize what the innovation does
  • regulatory authorities get a clear view of how the product works
  • potential customers, such as doctors and hospitals, are likely to adopt the new product from a demonstration
  • insurers are presented with visual evidence to help them make a decision about a patient procedure and how likely it is to succeed.

From Cardiac Interventions to Better Pills

  • Heart Disease. The medical world is focused on combatting cardiovascular disease, because it is the leading cause of death globally, according to the WHO. The traditional procedure of open-heart surgery is steadily being replaced by less invasive remedies, such as inserting a stent to regulate blood flow. CFD is invaluable in this field, from making more accurate diagnosis of the state of a patient’s arteries to manufacturing new stents that work more effectively than current models.
  • Pulmonary Applications. New drugs can cost as much as $1-billion to develop, and those for respiratory diseases are the most expensive, because of the difficulty of testing the drug’s effectiveness in the field. Researchers are turning to CFD to simulate the movement of air through the respiratory passages. In silico simulation can reduce the cost of development by as much as 30% and halve the time to complete the testing.
  • Dietary Supplements. It goes without saying that if a pill is too large and difficult to swallow, it will not be marketable. The ideal shape is as round as possible, but this affects the hardness of the pill, which in turn compromises the machinery punching out the pill and reduces the lifetime of the parts. Asahi in Japan have expanded their product range from brewing beer to providing dietary supplements. They used Ansys Mechanical to come up with a solution that saved them hundreds of thousands of dollars.

There are many more examples of the use of simulation in healthcare available on the Ansys website, but these few give an idea of the diversity of applications that can benefit from CAE.

So How Does this Affect the License Administrator?

Up to now, CAE software has been used by specialists and experts, even in engineering, so there are usually only a few simulation software applications on site. Now that Ansys is “democratizing” its product and making it accessible to people who are not skilled in modelling and simulation, the need for the product across the organization will increase, and so will the number of licenses required. Ansys provides FlexLM as a license manager, as do most of their competitors, notably Comsol and Dassault. While FlexLM reports salient information on license usage, it is for the benefit of the vendor, rather than the customer.

This is where OpenLM can play an important role, as it can provide all the control and visibility required to manage other licenses, such as MatLab, as well as Ansys, through a single graphical interface (GUI). What is more, OpenLM’s core product can manage licenses for Nvidia GPUs (graphical processing units), which are being used by more and more organizations running simulation software, because of the reduction in time taken to process the information. Ansys has cooperated with Nvidia to make their software very scalable, for instance, for performing simulations, Ansys Mechanical can scale up to 1 000 cores as opposed to the industry standard of 100 cores, and can solve up to 2 billion DOF (degrees of freedom). Ansys’ CFD tool, Fluent, can scale up to 129 000 cores.

OpenLM can also manage the Ansys “pay-as-you-go” licensing model, the “Elastic License”. This license can be used as a supplement to the regular Ansys agreement. It allows the customer to “top-up” where required, for instance, where there is a peak demand for a new project. It is a much more customer-friendly license model, in that it has reporting that supports departmental and project chargebacks.

Where Ansys is leading currently, its competitors will surely follow suit. In a few years time, it is likely that specialized and rare CAE software will no longer be used by only a handful of finite element specialists, but by resources across the organization. Managing software such as the Ansys Workbench is just as easy as managing Autodesk products with OpenLM, as well as the GPUs required for the necessary processing power. One of our consultants can advise you on your unique situation.

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How Solidworks Enables Innovation in a Bionic World

The design and manufacture of medical devices has changed dramatically in the last decade. The advent of 3D printing and software applications that enable simulation for testing concepts and prototypes enables organizations in this field to bring safer products to market more quickly than ever before.  Versatility and flexibility is also possible; it is physically and financially feasible to design and fit devices that fit perfectly for an individual patient, such as an artificial hand. Many of the engineering software vendors provide invaluable software to make the job easier. Solidworks, a subsidiary of Dassault Systèmes, has developed and built a range of products which are available as a portfolio, that enable and support the medical product value chain from concept through to regulatory approval.

An End-to-End Toolkit

While there are many vendors offering some or most of the software applications needed to produce 3D designs, run simulations and create bills of material, Solidworks claims to be the only company that provides a complete solution, as opposed to point solutions and PLM (product lifecycle management) software. The Solidworks Product Portfolio is a PDM (Product Development Management) solution, and they are confident that its contents will satisfy two critical success factors in medical device development; regulatory requirements and time to market.

Parent company Dassault Systemes are recognised as the world leader in 3D systems, so much so that they call themselves the “3D Experience Company”, abbreviated to “3DS”.  While the Portfolio offers every possible 3D engineering aid, from CAD to visualization and preparation for 3D printing, its real strength is in the documentation that it generates. Every step of the journey is recorded and traceable, which is vital if regulatory approval is to be granted.

Factors that Affect Outcomes: Regulation

It is understandable that medical devices require far more rigorous testing and approval than most products, after all, a poor quality shoe may be uncomfortable and give you blisters, a sub-standard stent could kill you. Although the average total cost for bringing a new medical device to market is much less than the $ 1 billion required for a new drug, the cost of regulation can be as high as 77% of the overall cost, especially when you are dealing with the FDA and the device is a Class III device. The FDA’s Class III device is regarded as high risk and is any device that needs to be inserted into the patient’s body, such as a hip replacement or a stent and requires a special and costly PMA (pre-market approval). A 510(k) approval for lower-risk devices takes just a big chunk out of the total product budget as illustrated below in a figure from an article in Medical Product Outsourcing Magazine, discussing a report published in 2010 by Price Waterhouse Coopers.

regulatory cost as a component of medical product development in the US

Illustration of regulatory cost as a component of medical product development in the US

(Source: https://www.mpo-mag.com/issues/2017-09-01/view_columns/medtech-price-strategies-who-is-going-to-pay-for-it)

The report examined the impact of regulation on new medical devices in the US and Europe. It was found that US patients would generally have to wait an extra two years after a device was approved in Europe before they would be able to benefit.

One of the challenges in getting a PMA or a 501(k) is the compilation and presentation of all the relevant documentation to the FDA. This is where Solidworks offers a clear advantage, because every detail of the workflow is automatically recorded, from design to final prototype. Without this functionality, the R&D staff is tasked with compiling all the data from disparate systems. The manual overhead adds time to the project and is error-prone. Having all the necessary documentation collated and integrated saves many hours both in the lab and in negotiations with the FDA, bringing down costs as well. Many of these costs are salary related: approximately 1/3 of employees are tasked with quality control and adherence to regulations. Superior documentation should reduce the headcount required as well as reduce hours spent in compliance activities. Improved delivery times are also vital when it comes to competition.

Factors that Affect Outcomes: Competition

Despite the hurdles to be overcome with regulation and compliance, competition is fierce in the medical product world. So speed is of the essence, balanced with uncompromising quality. A single, integrated stream of applications that moves from concept through 3D rendering, iterative testing of the model using simulations such as FEA and CFD, as well as a comprehensive standard parts library, optimizes the time taken to get to approval and into the market. It is also possible to decompose the product into smaller parts and test them independently and then together, accelerating testing by simplifying what has to be tested, rather than deal with the entire product every time. The ability to customise a product for an individual patient is also simplified with the Driveworks application, which takes a pre-existing model and adjusts it according to a set of criteria specified by the engineer.

Any competitor who is using a range of different products will find it difficult to match the speed to market that the Solidworks tools provide.

Some Success Stories

While some medical devices require stainless steel for manufacture, plastic is used wherever possible. Plastic design is specialized and requires a specific toolset to design the plastic part to be manufacture-ready, for instance, when injection molding or 3D printing is required. As Dassault and Solidworks are experts in 3D modelling, they are the first choice for companies producing devices that can be printed on a 3D printer.

  • One example of where 3D printing is a lifesaver is in the manufacture of devices that can be inserted in newborns with birth defects. One infant had a very soft windpipe that kept collapsing: a splint was designed and inserted to protect and strengthen the windpipe.
  • Tensys Medical Inc attributed the use of Solidworks tools in shortening their design process by 60% when they designed a non-invasive arterial blood pressure management system. This enabled them to get their product out ahead of their competitors.
  • Exoskeletons for assisting hemiplegics, paraplegics and quadriplegics to move independently are becoming a major subject of biomechanics. At Solidworks World 2018, Korean professor Kyoungchul Kong revealed 2 exoskeletons designed to assist his fellow-workers, one for paraplegics, called WalkON, and one for hemiplegics and people with walking difficulties called Angelegs.

There are hundreds more examples of designs, ranging from more ergonomic pill bottles to artificial arteries, all of which have been designed using Solidworks tools. The cost of the software is easily recouped, whether it cuts down on regulatory costs, accelerates time to market, cuts down on prototyping via simulation, or all three. Licensing for all products can either be on a subscription or perpetual basis. There is also a 3-month subscription option available for some applications, specially tailored for small companies who need the products for a short-term project. The license management is provided by Flexera, and OpenLM can manage licenses for all all Solidworks products.

 

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Fake news in the software industry

We got a surprising email from a customer this week. A long time very loyal customer that received an offer from a competitor, as following:

Over the years OpenLM has provided exceptional support and a product that has met my needs.

I was approached by a competitor and have no idea how they discovered we are your customer but they knew.

As part of their sales pitch, they sent me the attached “White Paper. I would never refer to such as a “White Paper”. White papers are scholarly factual descriptions of how a product or process functions to provide service or meet it’s goal. Most of what they sent is a potentially libelous slam that uses semantics to phrase claims in a light that benefits their product. If you have not seen it, you should look it over.

You can find the document sent to our customer in the following link.

The paper was written by Guy D. Haas, BS, MBA, President, TeamEDA, Inc.

While I got an advice to seek for a legal assistance we thought that we better let you judge. Unlike the writer of the paper we value our customers as being smart and professionals – not naive. The only cure we know for Fake news is Fact-checking and this is what we are going to do in this article. We are looking forward to getting your feedback about it.

In total I collected 38 claims from the document and decided to stop at this point. All the claims that can be categories with Incorrect/Correct are shown in the following table. In total 3 out of the 38 claims are correct, in total 90% are incorrect claims. After the table I will discuss claims that can’t be categorized by a simple Incorrect/correct (you can skip to this part using this link).

 

Fact-checking table:

# Claim Correct? Fact
1 OpenLM does not support Asset/Inventory Management Incorrect We provide comprehensive inventory management – links
2 Contact Management Correct We don’t provide contact management
3 OpenLM does not support mapping of features to products Incorrect Fully supported – link
4 OpenLM does not support Feature Name Aliasing Incorrect Fully supported – Link
5 OpenLM does not provide support for Concurrency or Heatmap Graphs, or Zero Use or Group Usage Tables Incorrect Fully supported – link
6 OpenLM does not provide Batch Reports Incorrect Fully supported – link
7 OpenLM release new version 3-4 times a month Incorrect OpenLM transparently document each software release in our site and one can easily see that this is incorrect.
8 OpenLM is low quality due to lack of testing Incorrect OpenLM holds an inhouse QA team of 4 people and also employs automatic QA software
9 OpenLM customers are required to upgrade monthly Incorrect OpenLM customers get a very stable product and need to upgrade based on resolved issues/new functionality needed. OpenLM is using Agile development methods that allows us to provide fast response to customers.
10 OpenLM support is only in Israel Incorrect OpenLM has support centers in different timezones to provide global 24/6 support – see further discussion bellow
11 OpenLM does not provide support in English Incorrect OpenLM US support team are English native employees of OpenLM Inc. (US company) – see discussion
12 OpenLM support is only accessible by email Incorrect OpenLM support is accessible by phone (toll free US number:  +1-866-806-2068, Online chat (Link), Support online form (link) and email
13 OpenLM cannot and will not provide any on-site support Incorrect OpenLM does provide on-site support, not only in the US but also worldwide
14 OpenLM cannot support a Dashboard Incorrect OpenLM does have a dashboard and it can be configured using our role based security system – Link
15 OpenLM reports are not accessible using a hyperlink Incorrect OpenLM provides links into specific reports – see discussion
16 .NET does not allow URL-based report creation. Incorrect A claim about .NET technology which is totally wrong. “URL based report” can be implemented with almost any development language
17 OpenLM can’t support big companies with best practices Incorrect OpenLM has more than 1000 customers with thousands of employees. 10% of our customers are in the Fortune 1000 list. We also have prominent customers in the public sector and academia.
18 OpenLM only offers a cheap solution for basic usage monitoring. Incorrect Companies who use OpenLM to monitor Catia, Siemens PLM, hundreds of CAD licenses and advanced simulation software are looking for a lot more than basic monitoring. – link to case studies
19 OpenLM is cheap and can’t invest in development Incorrect OpenLM’s development team has more than 20 full-time developers
20 OpenLM is cheap and can’t invest in support Incorrect OpenLM support team is 6 people strong and provides 24/6 coverage worldwide. Most customers call on us only occasionally for support, because of the stability of our core product and they find it very easy to use
21 Idle license harvesting is not legal Incorrect It is the customer’s right to close the software when it’s not in use
22 Harvesting an idle license is dangerous Incorrect The term “dangerous” does not seem to be valid here. Note that OpenLM provides the option to save before closing the application.
23 OpenLM requires an agent Incorrect OpenLM Agent is an optional software component
24 OpenLM Agent is required to be installed on servers Incorrect OpenLM Agent is an application for end users workstations not for servers
25 OpenLM must be installed on each workstation Incorrect OpenLM Agent is an optional component which many of our customers choose to install thanks to the huge benefits it brings them
26 OpenLM Agent must be installed on each license server Incorrect OpenLM Agent for the license manager (OpenLM Broker) is optional and the system can function without it. By installing it, the customer is getting advanced functionality
27 Installing OpenLM “open up your network, License Servers, and Workstations to a company in Israel?” Incorrect Installing OpenLM on-premise does not expose our customer’s information to us. Our software does not send anything outside the organization, and we respect all data privacy legislation globally.
28 There really is no way to monitor usage of node-locked licenses Incorrect OpenLM has supported this functionality for the last 8 years
29 OpenLM License Allocation Manager uses FLEXlm Options Files capabilities to manage allocations Correct Correct, we are utilizing and enhancing the built-in functionality – link to product page
30 OpenLM (does not have) any daemon management capability other than maybe editing Option files, and that is questionable. Incorrect OpenLM provides: reread, start, stop, upload license files, download any logs and more
31 Software architecture is determine by development language Incorrect There is no tie between development language and architecture
32 Java  and PHP is a more flexible framework compare to .NET Incorrect If I purchase an application, the coding is irrelevant in most cases, as a customer I want a working product. OpenLM does use Java, check this article
33 Java and PHP allows url-based report generation while .NET does not Incorrect This capability is not related to the development language but to the software architecture (OpenLM is using the SPA concept)
34 .NET is only Windows Incorrect This claim is against Microsoft and inaccurate.  The new version of .NET – .NET Core is platform independent and we are switching to it.
35 OpenLM does not offer Linux solution Incorrect From the beginning, in 2007 we fully supported license servers running on any platform either by direct query or by cross platform agent
36 OpenLM does not have offices all over the world Incorrect OpenLM has physical offices in Israel and Europe.
37 OpenLM main location for development is Israel Correct We are proud to have our main development center in Israel
36 OpenLM’s main location for support is Israel Incorrect We would be proud if that was true  but in order to provide best quality support we have more representatives around the world
37 OpenLM website links don’t go anywhere Incorrect We hate dead links with a passion and if you are unlucky enough to encounter one, on our site, please let us know!

Stay tuned for the upcoming launch of our new even “more comprehensive” website !

38 OpenLM makes a lot of false claims about functionality and performance Incorrect OpenLM stands by its word regarding functionality and performance. We support the world’s biggest configurations – link

More Claims

Few of the claims that I am not able to answer with a Incorrect/correct answer so I would like to refer to it here:

Claim: “OpenLM is a small Israeli company, who seems to cater to small naive companies, where low price is the #1 consideration. Not sure how long they have been in business, or if they are profitable. Hard to imagine since they can’t be generating that much revenue.”

There are multiple claims here:

OpenLM is a small Israeli company: The term small is relative, you can be small compared to another company. Yes, we are small compared to Apple. OpenLM is actually a group of three companies: OpenLM LTD, OpenLM Inc. and OPENLM SOFTWARE S.R.L.. The groups employ more than 40 workers worldwide at the time of writing this document, and we are currently expanding our workforce.

OpenLM seems to cater to small naive companies:  “Small” is relative and size is no indication of company expertise, skills and market share. Everyone has to start somewhere and we recognise and value our SME customers just as much as our large corporates. Our customers are also very worldly wise – naive companies would not be investing in license management software, as they understand the risks of compliance.

We are very proud of our loyal customer base, which includes some of the leading organizations in the following industries:-

  • Aerospace
  • Automotive
  • Construction and Architecture
  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing
  • Oil and Gas
  • Research
  • Technology

to mention a few.

We also provide services to the public sector, from local authorities to government entities, including US Defense bodies.

Through our University Program, we have a strong academic customer base, with at least 20 of the global top 200 universities that we are delighted to have as customers, as this is where our customers of the future are being educated in the use of engineering and scientific software.

As to size, we have customers who employ thousands of employees globally and whose brands are instantly recognizable.

Not sure how long they are in business: OpenLM has been in business from 2009 as a company. The operation started 2 years before incorporation as a project within another company. As of 2019, we have been in the market for 12 years.

Not sure if OpenLM is profitable: Thanks for your concern, we are doing well.

 

Other claims I would only want to refer to briefly (these are not a Incorrect/Correct response):

  1. It does not make sense to monitor node locked licenses – Read the following articles, links 1 2
  2. OpenLM Agent is capable of monitoring keyboard, mouse and cpu, which degrades system performance – Any software that you might install on your workstation will degrade performance. Taking it to the extreme, if you don’t install anything, you will have the best performance and security but no functionality, so perhaps you should also turn off the power as well. Many of our customers decided to implement OpenLM Agent because of the value it brings to the table and they feel that any performance degradation (which is minimal) is worth it. By the way, OpenLM does not directly monitor keyboard, mouse activity.
  3. Idle license harvesting is intrusive/not legal/dangerous – There are many limitations that companies impose on their workers, and have written policies stating these limitations. They are not allowed to install any software they want, to access any site, to store content and more. The equipment of the company is dedicated to work and companies expect their employees to use it as such. Although these actions are intrusive most people agree they are reasonable. Our customers view the expensive engineering software as a company resource, that should be used as such. When it’s not in use, they expect it to be released to another user that needs it. This is a feature we support. It is not a default, it is up to the customer to implement it or not for one or more of their software applications. I assisted many companies to implement this functionality and most end users are thankful for implementing it, it improves the availability of the applications they need and saves money for their companies. Installing OpenLM Agent and harvesting idle licenses is legal and implemented by OpenLM customers worldwide. In Europe, Germany has the most restrictive legislation regarding user privacy and for them, we introduced a specific functionality that addresses any possible privacy concerns.
  4. Software release policy – OpenLM typically releases two major software releases per year. We do also release minor software releases based on new functionality and software issues we are resolving. Typically most software issues don’t affect every user and most users can skip a few releases and only install software releases that are relevant to them. Our quality system is constantly developing and consists of both automatic and manual testing. We also have a load testing infrastructure that allows us to mimic real customer loads up to 400 monitored license server ports, 25,000 concurrent users and query activity via the user interface. I think that a company that releases new versions of its software shows that it is constantly evolving and that it cares about its customers.

In general, a software comparison written by a competitor himself is always biased so most users will read it carefully. OpenLM also drafted one as per the request of our customers but we did that with a very careful approach, consulting the competitor website and users. We always invite users to correct us if we are wrong, and immediately implement comments we receive. I invite you to examine the result.

There is also another white paper from the same author comparing his software to FLEXnet for Engineering Applications. As a service I also share it with you.

Before I summarize this long document I would like to refer to the main claim of the author of this white paper. When  you buy expensive software you get high quality. Cheaper software will give you lower quality, functionality and performance. This is a very simplified view of the market, most people understand that pricing policies are much more complex and involve many different considerations. Most companies check the software offered to them, comparing functionality, performance and pricing and looking for the best ratio – value for money. It also applies to other fields as well, take Ikea as an example, you get very high quality items if you are willing to compromise on the uniqueness. When you do, you get the best value for your money.

We in OpenLM, decided we would like to bring our technology to as many companies as possible, introducing a very aggressive pricing model. Mr. Haas is not the first competitor that complains about our policy, another competitor came to our offices and explained why he thinks this is not good for the market, and had an offer for us. We listened, discussed and decided to refuse but we have respect for this person and the company that he represents.  

 

Summary

I have nothing to say about author’s company or software. In general we prefer that the customer himself will do the evaluation and make the decision. I just have to mention that in 2013 he contacted us and asked our permission to use OpenLM Engine to extract the data from the license servers. His plan was to replace the engine he was using as white label until then. This deal did not happen but knowing this I was very surprised to read this document.

Since we released the first version of OpenLM in 2007 we decided that we will allow everyone to download and install our software and let the best company win.

If you are not already a user of OpenLM Software I personally invite you to download our software and judge the claims for yourself. We are offering a wide variety of options to interact with our technology:

  • Download our on-premise installation
  • Open a SaaS account with minimal install of OpenLM broker on the license server.
  • OpenLM Parser premium provides the ability to receive usage data with zero installation

OpenLM Support will provide full support during the evaluation process of the software. We are available to support you by email, chat and phone. I invite you to try our software and service and share your experience with the community.

There is one claim that I fully agree with: by implementing a software assets management for your engineering licenses you can save 20% of your expenses, furthermore, some of our customers who also implemented some of the advanced functionality, like software harvesting, managed to save a lot more.

Are you an OpenLM Customer? I will be grateful if you drop a response here. We are willing to get both positive and negative feedback and improve accordingly. If you prefer not to comment here our customer success representative will be happy to speak with you in person (click here to leave a message).

Oren Gabay – CEO, OpenLM

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The Many Dimensions of BIM

Building Information Modelling, or BIM, seeks to break down the silos between all the participants engaged in the design and build of a building, by providing an integrated, virtual model of the structure in 3D. One of the main challenges in erecting a large commercial building is that there are so many players and different companies involved. The software they use differs from company to company; the architects could be using Autodesk’s AutoCAD, while the structural engineers use Bentley Microstation. With the thousands of engineering software products out there, it is to be expected that this will occur, and it adds time and risk to any project. Any approach that promotes a common view of the structure for everyone working on it is to be welcomed.

3D BIM modelling is used, not only by the architects and structural engineers, but also by the MEP (mechanical, electrical and plumbing) engineers. Traditionally, MEP design is only incorporated into a building once the architectural and structural model is in place. Conduits for cabling and wiring and ventilation shafts are included in the architectural drawings, but whether they are adequate or suitable for the MEP engineering is often only found out once construction is underway. If there are problems, the participants have to go back to the drawing boards (literally) to accommodate any MEP design such as the HVAC system. Using a BIM model enables the MEP engineers to sort out any problems before the first foundation is poured or the first brick is laid.

While this approach is a great improvement on traditional CAD design, and provides a common virtual platform for collaboration (the CDE or Common Data Environment), more was needed and extra dimensions were added to the model, resulting in 4D, 5D, 6D and even 7D, with each dimension enriching the model and enabling better delivery within time and budget. Although 4D and 5D BIM are clearly defined, there are different schools of thought as to what constitutes 6D and 7D, and we have taken the approach that 6D is about “greening” the building, its sustainability and energy efficiency, while 7D focuses on lifecycle management.

3D BIM – Design for All

3D BIM is the anchor and the focus for everyone who has a role in taking the building from concept to completion. Once the building is completed, the BIM takes over the maintenance and lifecycle management responsibility. The model is constantly updated and refreshed to ensure that maintenance is proactive rather than reactive. The power of having a 3D model of the building  at concept stage is in the opportunity it offers to everyone to check and test that their contribution to the project is integrated and does not clash or collide with other parts of the design. If there is a conflict, this can be resolved before construction and not in mid-stream.

4D BIM – Rethinking the Schedule

If there is a requirement that must be changed due to one or more conflicts as mentioned above, it may impact the project schedule. An unexpected delay because of some relatively minor structural problem can have a domino effect, affecting the start date for the various MEP companies, drywall contractors and shopfitters. To integrate the project schedule within the BIM added another dimension, 4D. The transparency that 4D adds to the model enables participants firstly to be aware of how they are impacted and secondly to be able to suggest mitigations and alternatives that will prevent the project falling behind.

5D BIM – What are the Costs?

Changes to the schedule imply that there will be additional costs. It makes sense to integrate both the estimated and actual costs as well as the history of all changes applied to both the estimates and actuals. This has given rise to 5D BIM. It is also useful for assessing different scenarios, for instance if there was a delay in the project which has resulted in the original lighting contractor being fully committed to another project, determining alternative contractors and comparing proposals/quotations.

One might argue that 4D and 5D BIM are catered for by project management, however, with large projects it can happen that certain activities or scope changes are overlooked, which should not happen when they are integrated into the building model. Any engineer who has worked on a very large project will empathise with this; a typical example was where a dam was being built and there were three project teams monitoring the project on Primavera, Microsoft Project and Excel. Depending on which plan you consulted, the project was running at a $5 million loss, breaking even or making a $7 million profit, and each team was adamant that they were using the same data.

6D BIM – Going Lean and Green

We are all aware of the pressures we are exerting on our planet’s limited resources, and the focus in this century is on long-term sustainability over short-term gain. Old buildings need to be retrofitted to minimize energy consumption and collect waste heat; Europe has many of these projects running under the aegis of the European Commission. New buildings need to be designed and built to be as energy-efficient as possible. The goal is to obtain LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, or at least build in conformance with LEED requirements.6D BIM is both about the original design and about maintenance going forward, which introduces the final (up to now) dimension of 7D BIM.

7D BIM – Building Life Cycle management

Traditionally, once a building was completed, it was handed over to the owners together with copious electronic and paper files covering all the aspects needed for facilities management. With 7D BIM, an elegant and integrated model of everything that needs to be known about operating the building is presented in the Common Data Environment.  Everything from contact details to user manuals and guarantees is accessible in one place. Any subsequent changes to the building are recorded in the model. For instance, for the lighting of an auditorium:-

  • the original lighting design using Relux could be included, as well as the design company’s details
  • the details of each lighting product used
  • the suppliers from where it was sourced
  • the company that did the the installation
  • the expected life of the product
  • and any warranties.

Armed with similar information for every aspect of the built environment, the facilities manager can manage the building efficiently, scheduling required service visits, keeping a watchful eye on products that are reaching the end of their useful life and attending to the day-to-day issues that ensure he is never idle.

Can one Justify Adopting BIM?

As can be inferred from the many dimensions of BIM, there is a path to BIM maturity, and it is a long journey. 3D BIM is achievable; it may require purchasing or upgrading to another product in your current vendor’s portfolio, for instance, moving from Bentley Microstation to AECOsim Building designer, or from AutoCAD to Revit. This change brings a learning curve and resistance to change, but the benefits outweigh the disruption and costs. Moving up the curve to 4D and 5D BIM can then be contemplated once 3D BIM is in place.

It is not an easy path for any company to successfully adopt and use 5D BIM, and some of the prerequisites are integrating the different technologies and software, acquiring and learning how to use some of the BIM software and, most difficult of all, accepting the change in approach. There are substantial costs to be incurred and plenty of teething problems, but once mastered, overruns, rework and other problems that plague the AEC industries, and the risks they bring, are considerably reduced, if not completely eliminated.

McKinsey cites 5D BIM as one of the 5 biggest disruptors of the construction industry, along with the Internet of Things and predictive analytics. They pointed out in a 2016 article that large construction projects typically are up to 80% over budget and take 20% longer to complete than original estimates.

Source: McKinsey and Co – https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/capital-projects-and-infrastructure/our-insights/imagining-constructions-digital-future

They also note that productivity in the AEC sector has been declining rather than improving. Working collaboratively will reduce both risk and uncertainty for architects, engineers and those commissioning the buildings.

There is no doubt that BIM is the way to go, all it takes is convincing the executive to take the risk and provide for the additional costs to be incurred. It is important to recognise that this is a change in thinking, not a software buying spree – there is no single vendor that has all the answers for all the dimensions of BIM.

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