How software is making the Aerospace and Defence Industry beautiful and sturdy

They look like flying fortresses in the sky. They are huge, have intricate electrical and electronic systems and they have captivated us for decades. But do you know how much does aeroplanes weigh? A Boeing 747 weighs as much as 183,500 kg!

Just imagine the amount of ingenuity it takes for a team of engineers, craftsmen and support staff to put together tons of Aluminium, plastic, glass and electronics so as to build a huge machine that would ultimately fly!

The size of the industry

With a trillion dollars in sales revenue in the United States only, the Aerospace and Defence (A&D) industry is responsible for the design, advancement, and manufacture of aircraft, space systems, and defense utilities. This industry has always been in the forefront of research and development and has generated spin-offs which have laid the foundation for telecommunication, modern computers and many other modern-day inventions.

Since the Wright Brothers’ first powered flight in 1903, the aerospace industry has become a behemoth in terms of the value of the output it generates. More importantly, this industry has had a socio-political impact all over the world. Generations have aspired to be a part of this ‘movement’, new schools of industrial design have come up and the globe, at large, has shrunk because of air travel.

Software and the art of building

Imagine putting 183,500 kg of material together and then failing to make an aeroplane? Wouldn’t it be a huge waste of resources, time and most importantly, money?

It is here that CAD plays a huge role. One of the earliest adopters of digital technologies, the Aerospace and Defence industry depends on CAD from the design phase until the deployment and beyond. CAD platforms ensure that multiple prototypes need not be produced for testing, thus saving an immense amount of resources. These platforms also help in speeding up the product design cycle and increases operational efficiency, reducing production cost in the process.

The latest enhancements have come in the form of 4D CAD solutions which greatly help the execution strategies and operational performance of the final renders. To understand this better, software today is able to predict how a propeller (or any other machine part) will behave with time, thus saving the company the trouble of actually making the part and testing it in real situations!


What are the generic steps for using a CAD software?

Conventionally, the production cycle starts with a conceptual design, which shows how the final prototype may look like. A preliminary design phase follows afterwards wherein the designers give shape to the major subsystems. In almost all scenarios, several changes need to be made till the final design is achieved. There are times when design engineers cannot anticipate the different production issues and this leads to major rework. In spite of the apparent simplicity of the initial conceptual design phase, as much as 80 percent of the aerospace product’s cost is determined in this stage.


A list of CAD software applications for the aerospace and defense industry

Catia by Dassault Systèmes

Catia is one of the most widely used applications in the aerospace and defense industry. Some of its notable clients include government contractors in the US, like Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, and Lockheed Martin. An all-weather application, Catia can be used for everything from prototyping to digital analysis to simulation. It allows for real-time concurrent design and collaboration across all stakeholders.

SolidWorks by Dassault Systèmes

SolidWorks by Dassault Systèmes is a high-end CAD software application, which was first released in 1995. SolidWorks utilizes a parametric feature-based approach and empowers designers and engineers with an integrated suite of tools that helps them get the job done faster and better. It was designed for the Windows operating system and competes with PTC Creo, Solid Edge, and Autodesk Inventor

 NX by Siemens PLM Software

NX by Siemens has been around for a long time and several global manufacturers, like GE Aviation, are its loyal users. This high end software has several built in tools for documentation and drafting.

Solid Edge by Siemens PLM Software

Solis edge is a powerful CAD suite – it allows for from mechanical and electrical design to simulation, manufacturing, technical publications, data management, and beyond.

Creo by PTC

Creo, earlier known as Pro/ENGINEER is a parametric, integrated 3D CAD/CAM/CAE solution. Created by Parametric Technology Corporation (PTC), this powerful software platform is used by several organisations including Lockheed Martin. Be it advanced modelling and design or simulation and analysis, Creo is often the go to choice for organisations. It is also capable of smart connected design, additive manufacturing, and model-based definition.

Inventor by Autodesk

Inventor is a powerful CAD platform that allows 2D and 3D data integration in a single environment, creating a virtual representation of the final product. Without even starting the production process (and therefore having a product!), Inventor enables users to validate the form, fit, and function of the product.

OpenVSP (Vehicle Sketch Pad) by NASA

OpenVSP has been maintained by a group of developers after NASA released it as an open source project under the NASA Open Source Agreement (NOSA) on January 10, 2012. OpenVSP is a parametric geometry tool that can create a 3D design of an aircraft according to engineering parameters. 

Notable software platforms from other vendors include ADS (Aircraft Design Software) by Optimal Aircraft Design, TurboCAD by IMSI and SharkCAD Pro by Punch!CAD.


What are the main features that an aerospace/defense firm looks for in a CAD tool?

The most important capability of a CAD platform is its capability to create 2D/ 3D objects with the help of tools such as extrude, cut, and revolve. CAD applications used in the Aerospace and Defence industry are parametric, which means that designers can change the calibration of the objects according to the specifications.

Apart from creating the prototypes, the CAD platforms should help the designers to simulate and verify the assembly of different parts, test the functioning of the electrical system and help with the manufacturing of the fluid systems. Most importantly, a CAD software helps in ironing out flaws and helps the perfection of the prototype till the last possible moment. 

When an iteration can cost millions of dollars, a minute miscalculation of less than one-tenth of a millimeter can cause a catastrophic accident, it is indeed prudent to have a perfect design ready in the first place. 

Out of a lot of factors, two parameters mainly help organisations select the CAD platform that they are going to use. Cost being the obvious first, organisations also look at the acceptability of the CAD platform across the industry before considering it. It is prudent to go with the more widely used applications as developers are more frequently available for these platforms. An aeroplane or a missile system is a huge piece of engineering and some of the parts required may be procured from third party vendors and producers. It is indeed helpful if the vendors also use the same CAD platform, so that compatibility is maintained.

CAD/ CAM licenses are costly. Do you monitor your licenses properly? OpenLM helps you keep expensive software assets under control and forecast how many licenses you actually need. OpenLM provides software license management solutions for CAD, CAM, PLM, FEA, CAE software. It empowers you to achieve improved efficiency and maximize usage of your software. For accessing a full featured 30 day trial version of OpenLM visit here.

Why is now the right time to manage your engineering licenses efficiently?

Business getting affected by COVID19

Chances are high that you are reading this during a break you took from your office work, which you are doing from a desk in your living room, in your house. You have been working on assignments, having online meetings and even giving presentations to team members – all the while sitting at the same desk!

A large portion of the working population across the globe has been displaced from office cubicles, conference rooms and even shop floors and are working remotely, from their home (with very few exceptions like pharmacists, doctors and other emergency service providers) due to the global pandemic caused by the Novel Coronavirus. Historically business has not fared well in the face of pandemics – the 1918 influenza pandemic, also called the Spanish flu, had a devastating impact on the businesses across the US and Europe. It is estimated that the current and accrued losses with regards to the Corona virus incident has already crossed a trillion USD globally.

How businesses will react

But, as they say, the show must go on. Some of us are finding the change challenging, and several organisations have come forward with tools and solutions for collaboration across geographies.

With time, however, organisations will start looking at their balance sheets with more scrutiny. It is expected that revenue growth across the next few months might be sluggish across industries. The leadership and the top management of engineering and other manufacturing firms will have to evaluate their existing infrastructure and make it leaner, if possible.

Designing, automation and other software account for a big part of the expenses for an engineering company. An IT Asset manager can save the organization a lot of money by stopping the purchase of unnecessary software. Apart from discovering “shelf” (unused) software and finding the equilibrium between the number of users and the pool of licenses, he can achieve additional savings by validating that there is no need to acquire additional licenses for a new project.

It is time to stretch software licenses to the fullest

As users, we are often guilty of “hogging” software – it is much easier to check out a license and hold on to it all day, whether we are using it or not, at the same time possibly depriving other users access because there are no free licenses. While this is indeed an inconvenience in the normal world, in times of crisis it is cardinal.

Asset managers can intervene, by saving and closing the software hoarder’s work and putting the license back into the pool.  Harvesting licenses this way is very effective and improves productivity. However, license harvesting cannot be implemented as a manual process, which is where license management software, like OpenLM, comes in, supporting an automated approach to harvesting based on the company’s software policy.

A detailed reporting structure, provided by a license management software like OpenLM, also helps an organization with exact numbers during renewals. The management gets clarity as figures pertaining to usage, peak demand and eventually how many licenses are actually needed, are arrived at.

ROI of a monitoring system for Engineering Licensing

We, at OpenLM, firmly believe that this is the right time to invest in a system which monitors your engineering licenses effectively. Engineering licences are expensive. OpenLM’s robust reporting and monitoring mechanism pays for itself the moment one such license is eliminated from the pool. Of over a thousand clients using OpenLM, a majority have ended up saving more than 15% in their first year itself of using OpenLM, with year-on-year savings through optimizing their software portfolio. For a detailed analysis of how OpenLM is a must have as far as your ROI on license management is concerned, please use our ROI calculator and learn more about OpenLM for Engineering Licensing on our website. 

Is it possible for an application like OpenLM to monitor licenses when the uses are working remotely, or are ‘working from home’? The answer is yes! For accessing a full featured 30 day trial version of OpenLM visit us here.

Whiteboard Video with Oren Gabay – Bentley Select License Manager Described

In this whiteboard video I described SelectBentley software license manager. Select is a network license manager that implements a special licensing approach called “Trust Licensing”.

I am looking forward to hear your comments and feedback about my video. You can contact me directly using email address:

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OpenLM Server v4.8.0, Broker v4.8.9 and License Parser v2.6.0 released – What’s New?

This month we have 3 new important product releases which fix some high priority bugs and add integration for the upcoming OpenLM Cloud (SaaS) release.

On the 19th of March, 2020, OpenLM Server v4.8.0 was released featuring numerous bug fixes and improvements. Some minor features that were added:

  • Users of the Reports Scheduler extension can now schedule reports to be saved locally without specifying an email recipient
  • The Cleanup Manager now displays a more descriptive notification, advising users to backup the database before running the cleanup

Full log of bug fixes and enhancements.

Download OpenLM Server v4.8.0 from here.


On the 16th of March 2020, OpenLM Broker v4.8.9 was released. This is a hotfix release to address some bugs that were reported by customers regarding the DSLS / CATIA license manager. It is recommended that this release be used in conjunction with Server v4.8.0.

This release also features integration with the upcoming release of OpenLM Cloud, so customers who use Broker with OpenLM Cloud will be able to transition to the new version of OpenLM Cloud without any interruptions.

Full log of bug fixes and enhancements.

Download OpenLM Broker v4.8.9 from here.


Also, on the 11th of March, 2020, the OpenLM License Parser product was updated to version 2.6.0. This release features bug fixes as well as a number of enhancements such as:

  • Single, one-month payment option is now available through PayPal
  • Design has been updated for usability and to be in line with the rest of the OpenLM branding
  • Support has been added for DSLS logs that use the USGTRACING (license usage tracing) category

8 elements of a successful engineering licensing management system

Oren Gabay, OpenLM CEO Podcast


With time, engineering systems are evolving and they have complex licensing needs. The licensing norms for these systems are often different from other traditional software. This brings us to the question at large – What are the most important elements of a successful licensing system? Let me take you through eight of the most important features of a good licensing system today.

In this context, we should understand what the utility of the licensing system is in the first place. The product of a licensing system is licensing – allowing engineers to have proper access to software they need while keeping the organization compliant. The other, and arguably more important, benchmark for a licensing system is its ability to help the management optimize cost.

Therefore, a successful licensing system provides a scope for sufficient availability of licenses while minimizing the cost overhead.

A good licensing system should:

1. Consolidate your license servers.

2. Closely monitor your license servers and user activity.

3. Reduce idle time to the minimum.

4. Control all procurement channels of new licenses.

5. Closely control access of users and groups to licenses.

6. Charge cost centers for license usage.

7. Expose license usage information to all stakeholders, including users.

8. Take decisions regarding license maintenance solely on data.

Let me take you through these points in a bit more detail:

Consolidate your license servers – While working with several clients we realized that in many cases organizations do not know what license servers they are in possession of. Many of these license servers were purchased in different periods. At times, branch or nodal offices purchase licenses separately so the central team remains out of the loop. In many cases license servers were used for a specific project and after the conclusion of the project, they remained unaccounted for.

In another instance, organizations were seen purchasing licenses while license servers with the same exact specifications were laying idle with another division or branch of the same company.

Closely monitor your license servers and users’ activity – Collecting continuous license usage information from all license servers is critical to the management of a healthy licensing system. The information allows your organization to make the right decisions, both in the short and the long term. In the short term, the current usage data allows the management to manage the system and allocate licenses to groups, release idle licenses and solve license managers’ problems. In the long term, this data allows the management to make decisions on the structure of the licensing system, procurement of licenses and license allocation to projects.

Reduce idle time to the minimum – Utilization of the license pool is reduced when users have licenses idle on their workstations. Ideally, a provision of license harvesting helps in situations like this – when idle licenses can be allotted to other users in real time. A good licensing system does just that and every license can be utilized to the fullest.

Control all procurement channels of new licenses – An effective licensing system allows for centralized approval for all procurement requests. This effectively increases utility, as it is indeed difficult to make the most out of software if uncontrolled purchases care being made.

Control access of users and groups to licenses – License servers typically allow the license managers to allocate a license to specific users and groups of users.  Options FIle in FLEXlm (FLEXnet publisher) is a classic example. In most of the cases the implementation of this useful capability is based on text files and is designed for small user groups. In order to implement it for large systems, a dedicated platform is necessary.

Charge cost centers for license usage – With data at their possession, the top management can charge cost centers for license usage. This is an extremely important method to increase productivity. It is often observed that when department managers are paying from their budget for license usage, a significant improvement in the utilization of licenses is observed.

Expose license usage information to all stakeholders, including users – When license utilization data is made available to all stakeholders, including the end-users, this provides clarity and increases efficiency.  This can be done by providing the data on a dedicated webpage, a user utility or in periodic reports. Several organizations implement a dashboard to make this data available to all relevant users.

Make decisions regarding license maintenance solely on data – An engineer or the department head may not be able to take financial calls – like discarding or not renewing licenses that are no longer in use.

Such decisions need to be made by people that are looking at pure economic factors and not the functionality of the software. When the management is armed with data from an ideal licensing system they can easily instruct some other department, especially finance, to take over.

I hope I have been able to illustrate the nuances of a good licensing system to you in brief. You can always check our blog and my video channel for updates about engineering licensing.

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