The Builders Philosophy

I have considered for some time that there is a philosophy that directs how programs are focused and who determines or how this is determined. You have people who are convinced that the design of something is paramount and all that happens around after and before is just what follows this most singularly important event. Then there are the guys on the shop floor who know that if it does not work well there it can impact the bottom line of a company far more than the design ever did. Then there are the PLM types that figure it all hinges on them and rather than making the collator organizer type thing PLM is supposed to be they make it the chief entity and all other programs have to be shoehorned into it. Then you have the customer who judges the end result and finds themselves wondering on occasion what genius came up with this mess. Most of the people contacted through my business fall primarily into one category with perhaps another as ancillary to the primary. They may design for instance and they may walk out onto the shop floor and look at parts being cut or talk to the machinist so they have some knowledge of what goes on there but no real knowledge like they have for designing.

I remember about four years ago starting an argument with the SE guys about thread data that would go with a part file. My complaint was the only reason for SE to exist was so someone could manufacture something from it and in order to do this efficiently the right manufacturing data had to be in there. It was not until last year that SE began to fix this so that manufacturing data would be reflected in the actual dimensions on the CAD file. Prior to this point in time for instance none of your surface data could be used in the part. For instance a 1/4 20 thread would not show a .2010 drill hole size but rather a silly .25 hole size. Decisions made by programmers who just could not understand why this was a big deal. Had they been made to deal with the problems this created on a shop floor or CAM program they might have had a better appreciation for the thought that no software meant for any part of the manufacturing process truly is an island by itself. By the way ST7 finally has this fixed right for the first time ever in the history of SE. Why did this take so long? I wonder if it was because they finally decided to consider manufacturing or whether it was the fact that the US military will soon require all correct and actual part conditions and tolerances to be incorporated in the actual part files in design software used for things they consume. But this is a perfect example to me of the divide perpetuated by management and coders that see themselves as the primary entity and not as a part of an integrated system which as an aggregate is in reality the primary entity.

I find very few individuals who have the knowledge that I have and an appreciation for the how it all must work together. When something is done here I design the part, go and program the CAM paths and cut the part, weld the sanitary tubing or sheet metal assemblies. Assemble the product to the degree required and then deliver this and make sure the customer is happy. Every single aspect of the complete manufacturing process I have hands on experience with. I go to the SE Universities and am in awe of the skill level there with some of these guys. They are so far ahead of me in design abilities and I never expect to be their equal in that area. But I am an expert in shop floor procedures and I am good enough at design to create all I produce. I actually create the idea build it and guarantee it and so I have to deal with every aspect of the part. Very few people do. This leads me to the idea of what philosophy determines the content and capabilities of the software that you use.

I have a builders philosophy. I just want what I use to work well and competently with all the other aspects of building real things so I can, well uhh so, well so I can build real things and my living depends on ALL of it working together. This is one of the things that really excited me about Karsten Newbury being in charge of SE. He had an industrial degree and he grokked the importance of how it all must work together. Miss you Karsten and hope you come back some day and they give you the free rein you and the SE customers deserve. It is this world view of software I find missing so often from people who work with software programming who have a tunnel vision and everything else is below them in the “real” world they live in. So these types of people build little compartments where each thing is separate and the manufacturing ecosystem has to go from room to room to work with dividing walls everywhere hindering efficiencies. And heaven forbid the upper management of these companies getting this in most cases.

Last February Autodesk ran an ad during the Superbowl. Well yes it really was an ad but so cleverly done. The dynamics of air flow around a football and showing how it was done. I was floored with the originality of this presentation and it started the wheels spinning. For some time Autodesk was #2 bad boy after Dassault in my view based on my utter loathing, which I still have by the way, for being forced to work on the cloud. Carl Bass had been accumulating essential and best in class components for A to Z manufacturing for a while by then and it dawned on me what he was doing. He was assembling a comprehensive integrated manufacturing ecosystem. He was also laying the foundation to create interest in design/building/engineering amongst the future and existing workforce. Those who just might be inspired by this and end up using Autodesk products while learning in schools and universities and expect to afterwards to when they were in the private sector as employees. So here I was as an SE user watching Siemens cut SE off at the knees and looking over the fence at Autodesk who had a plan and was implementing it. I wondered then and still do wonder if the companies that compete against Autodesk have any idea of the peril they are in with small to medium or perhaps even larger manufacturing ecosystems? I just have this idea of a juggernaut that was being assembled as people watched in shock apparently incapable of reacting in any meaningful way. The really good CAM bits left on the market get snapped up by Autodesk as part of a plan while others who could have done something elected to relegate the idea of complete manufacturing ecospheres as secondary. I was in admiration of Carl Basses plan at that time and said so. Still not convinced though that the cloud was unavoidable with them. But he and they had my attention and I ask questions.

One of the remarkable things I have since found out is that unlike any other CEO or major corporate officer of any other design software company I know of Carl Bass personally owns CNC machinery himself. He makes things and he writes the programs to do this and I have concluded that out of all the corporate executives out there in design software land he is the only one with a builders philosophy. I am completely fascinated with this and regard Autodesk today as the most singularly exciting place there is because the builders concept is being put into place there by a builder.

So far unlike some past acquisitions by Autodesk things are now being handled in exemplary fashion. The fears the HSM users had have never come to pass and they were treated with respect and courtesy and I don’t know anyone who has left. Not that I know many but of those none complain or leave. Delcam is being integrated but not subsumed and don’t hear squat for complaints on the web from Delcam users about all this now. What I am saying is that by all the information I can dig up there have been no stumbles and no duplicitous garbage forthcoming from all this. I was for some time quite angry over the cloud issue and the lack of information about how the future was to be shaped regarding it but this fear has left for me now and I am today a customer. I am seeing a company that is the most transparent about what they are doing amongst their peers and making prices right to be a player with small to medium-sized and above companies who make or design things.

For me with a builders philosophy I am certain you can find singular programs outside of Autodesk that are much better like SE is compared to Inventor. But for the driving philosophy behind what is being implemented and the future roadmap being planned there is nothing else that touches the potential of what I see unfolding today at Autodesk.

Ray of Sunshine For Geometric’s CAMWorks for Solid Edge

While yet to receive my email CW4SE 2015 is finally out. Exactly what is in there and what has been improved and fixed I have no idea as my download is not done. Suffice it to say though that this is good news. Apparently Geometric is also going to extend all current customers subscription for an additional six months as an apology for the huge delay which is also good news for more than one reason. Hopefully this means a change in how Geometric operates and will be proven over time as evidence of a sincere desire to make things right for their customers.

What I have been told is that there are some of the promised improvements in the TDB and I would hope a far more aggressive process of QA implemented that will catch most of the bugs before customer’s end up with them in their daily work lives. As time permits I will have a look and a few words to speak which I really hope for the first time in quite a while will be complimentary.

Hey Geometric, I am not blind nor one-sided and if you have good things to talk about I will do so. Once again I open up this blog to any comments you wish to make. Remember that if you leave a void of information from your end by way of updates and information regarding the future you lose your opportunity to determine what is said. The information void will be filled with something whether you like it or not so speak up.

On the Solid Edge side of things I hope the support for ST7 and CW4SE 2015 is more robust than it has been. Perhaps out of all this will be a determination by both Siemens/SE and Geometric that the right things have to be in place first in both software and support and that being proactive about this becomes the new paradigm. I regard Solid Edge as hands down the best mid range MCAD program out there and hope for the day when the ancillary things to the program itself work as well as does SE.

As a passing comment here about SE. Maybe some people think is wrong of me to not get more actively behind SE like I used to with videos and parts creation/editing posts but this is what has happened. First off it is no mystery as to what I think of Siemens Corporate endless do-nothing meetings culture and Publicity and Marketing dictated by those same people. I am done talking about the reality as I see it of things and situations they have created. I have also reached a decision that as an unpaid blogger that writes about what it pleases himself to write about I am not going to help overpaid and apparently severely unqualified Siemens people to do their jobs. They are on their own and in the bed they have made for themselves so don’t look for much from me in this area unless I have a change of heart for some reason. Do not however doubt my sincerity when I say SE is the best. I can’t imagine designing without it and quite frankly don’t see any possible equal in capabilities replacing it any time in the near future. I will also say that somehow the technical side of SE has been sheltered from this Siemens corporate killer miasma. All the people I have met down there are top notch and dedicated talented individuals and they deliver the goods year after year. Oh and they actually listen to their customers to, imagine that!

This excludes the second floor guy for those of you in the know. He is still an idiot an he caint hep it.

Seven Months Since Last CW4SE Update

As of 12-6-14 Geometric has now reached seven months since any sort of update for CW4SE 2014. ST7 was available the week of 8-15 for download and the major parts of all the coding done well before SEU2014 in May in Atlanta and still nothing for CW4SE 2015. So any way you want to look at it there has been nothing for a lonnnnng time. I am hearing that SE may be to blame for a bit of it where the API is concerned. However I have experience with the actual program in day-to-day use and I think this API complaint from Geometric is primarily just a smoke screen. They are good at offering reasons for why things don’t happen instead of getting in there and making them happen. I still get a chuckle out of Geometric’s initial response to serious 2015 CW4SE bugs as “intended behavior”. Which it is if you consider the idea that ignoring program flaws IS intended behavior. As an aside here words mean things. I’ve heard from Geometric guys in the past year and a half that the SE developers were great to work with. Now they aren’t. Considering these conflicting comments from Geometric I tend to categorize their words as BS and think show me something concrete with working software.

If you buy into CW or CW4SE when you run into those bugs that will impact your bottom line be prepared for a long wait before the solution arrives if it ever does.

The problems with CAMWorks go back to at least 2003 and include the Tech Data Base, Access Runtime failures, Feature Recognition and stability of releases. This is on the SW side of things so you would think these might have been fixed some time back. Instead every year variations on old problems surface in major ways and complicate the days of any user. These are things that also occur with new and improved CW4SE and while I am not a programer it seems to me that the majority of the problems with CW4SE are not API/SE related behavior but rather Geometric no desire to check and fix their own software behavior.

So I go to the Geometric web site looking in vain today for ANY kind of update for SE users. As is typical we are not worth getting any update info and so we don’t.The disdain for customers from Geometric is pretty ingrained no news once again is no surprise. I do get one chuckle out of their bold new claim for 80% reduction in programing and machining time. By the way, don’t get excited SE users the 2015 is not for you.

ScreenHunter_56 Dec. 06 10.50

My practical experience with CW4SE would provably make the claim that CW4SE takes far longer to generate tool paths and consumes more cut time on the mill based on an actual comparison I did recently with the same part, same jig, same mill and end mill CW4SE VS Inventor HSM. It was in fact what caused me to walk away from CW4SE and buy another complete program.

I listen to some of the things the Siemens people are being told where Geometric’s dedication to problem solving and quality assurance is concerned. These are the same things I have been hearing. My conclusion is that Geometric has perfected the art of stonewalling until complainers have gone away and they can go back to what they do best. Deliver mediocre CAM software.

Who knows what all is in the legal agreements with Siemens and Geometric. It took around seven months to hammer out the details and some of the SE corporate guys had fond thoughts of kill all the lawyers. I have no idea what recourse Siemens has when an integration partner fails to deliver quality to a degree like Geometric has done and the apparent lack of oversight for integration partner problems from Siemens/SE has been exposed through this sad chapter. It would have sure been nice if Siemens/SE had had a mechanism in place to keep partners feet to the fire on standards so we CW4SE users could have been spared all this mess. Perhaps this will push Siemens/SE into some sort of permanent oversight arm which would have direct input into what is done by vendors in the future.

I don’t have to be privy to the numbers to know sales for CW4SE stink. I can tell by the presence of SE users at Geometric’s forums which now has perhaps five total all time posters who use CW4SE. I can tell when good VAR’s for SE and Siemens products don’t even have ST7 and the beta of CW4SE loaded and read between the lines that doing so is considered by them a waste of time. I can tell when my VAR’s CW4SE expert can’t answer some tool path questions. He is a good support tech. The problem is there are just not enough users for him to sit down and dedicate lots of time to learn the ins and outs of CW4SE. I think the VAR’s are just as disappointed as we are and wish this mess would just go away.

At this rate I don’t rule this out either. With the huge and fundamental problems CAMWorks has and has had for some time I question whether Siemens is going to be able to force Geometric to do right. I can see Siemens having to decide to cut their losses over this black eye they have given themselves by not paying attention to Geometric’s problems and declaring a dissolution of the partnership. I don’t know how that would work out for existing customers but there aren’t many of us right now. It would be better for Siemens to just deal with a few unhappy customers now rather than continue to create new irate customers with a product that flat-out does not deliver on the promises.

SE user’s my best advice would be do not buy CW4SE right now. If you would like integrated CAM, and who wouldn’t by the way, wait for a while and see how all this works out. It is possible all these problems will be solved if enough pressure is brought to bear. As it is right now though you can’t afford to take the severe hit against shop floor efficiency CW4SE represents. Stay where you are or go anywhere else. Anywhere but here.

Inventor HSM Professional Now Out

Today I went by the web page for Inventor HSM http://cam.autodesk.com/inventor-hsm/ and lo and behold Inventor HSM professional is no longer grayed out. For those of you interested it is now available. I have not finished downloading it yet so obviously I have not had a chance to play with it. Other than the bells and whistles and all those things most users I bet will never use that the top-level of Inventor brings we have the top-level of HSM too. Things are still a work in progress so some of the goodies the SW side has are not here yet. Most however are and I look forward to loading this thing up. It may take some time with my internet speeds however. Autodesk has a download helper that at first looked like it was going to be quick. I average around 70 to 80 KBS on my typical downloads. The Autodesk helper was giving me up to 1MB and averages around 350KBS which is huge for my DSL. I don’t know what they are doing to make it work this way but the speeds are amazing. Still for me though the fly in the ointment was it failed three times to complete for reasons it did not specify and I am back to my download helper in Firefox which seems to be far more resistant to glitches but dog slow by comparison. Hopefully by tomorrow I will be done.

One of the things that I found of interest was on this page and it is about tool libraries. http://cam.autodesk.com/get-inventor-hsm-pro/

I like the idea of being able to import libraries from manufacturers that can be incorporated into user libraries. Now I have not talked to anyone about this yet nor have I tried it to see how well it works. I suspect though if it is in the press release it has been proven to work with libraries from companies that create them to the necessary standards required for integration. HSM is not the only company looking to do this.

I like all the methodology of tool creation or selection here, it is one of the things that caught my attention. Simple quick and easy and set up sheets are well laid out if you care to print them and send it with the file to the operator. What is even better is the data automatically generated in the post header regarding tools.
Tools in NC file

It is very nice to be able to take a last glance at tools in the carousel and check them against the order in the post file right there at the mill controller before punching start. These are the kinds of things that let me know real machinists had a part in what made it to the final product. A common sense safety check that will save you grief down the road. Gotta love it.

Today is a New Dawn

Today I become an official member of the Inventor HSM community. As everyone who knows me is aware my primary purpose in doing this is to acquire a CAM program that is straight forward and intuitive to learn and use and also has if not best in class tool paths certainly up there with the best. One that would not cripple my days with hard to implement strategies that quite frankly cost far more time than they could have ever saved me. One that worked without complications out of the box. One that generated tool paths that saved me time and money both in creation and execution on the mill.

My interest in HSM is not new and they were the ones I wanted to be integrated with SE to begin with.

http://solidedging.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/solidworks-and-hsm-works-and-why-not-hsm-edge/

I have watched in my friends shop for over three years how well HSM has worked on a tremendous variety of parts. I have watched in the last year or so with envy as I struggled with CAMWorks for SE to get much done in an expeditious way. I am tremendously happy to finally be with a program that I desired to use some time back. My big holdup had been lack of integration with SE and I was not interested in buying SW just to get HSM.

Today my values on integration have changed. I have through this most painful experience with CW4SE determined that a great CAM program that is not integrated with SE is far better than an integrated CAM program that is but does not work at all as billed. Yes I would like it if HSM was integrated with SE and it would be a near utopian scenario as far as I am concerned. I doubt highly that this will happen though and lack of integration is the least of my worries after this past year of grief with Geometric.

Geometric did a pretty good job of promising things and had a good-looking program to begin with. Since I was one of the ones really pushing to see CAM integrated with SE I was also morally obligated to support this when it did finally happen. This I did not mind since the promise for the future at that time looked pretty darned good. Alas the promise was not the same as what was delivered and I finally had all I could take of this situation.

There is a differing philosophy between HSM and Geometric. HSM has sought out real machinist input for years and actually incorporates it into the software. Oh, and they fix the problems that do on occasion arise quickly from what I have seen. Geometric on the other hand does what they want how they want and the mess they deliver has a very slight resemblance to the desires of actual machinists. Problems linger for years at Geometric and judging by what has gone on this last half-year they don’t much care if you like what they produce.

There are a lot of “I’s” in this post today. Normally I (there – go again) think it is bad form to sound like Obama and use I every other word. In this case though it is my money, my company, my bottom line and my future. So I am writing this purely from my perspective.

I am glad this Geometric chapter of my life is over and I look forward to working with people who actually care about my profitability and efficiency.

Geometric’s CAMWorks for Solid Edge Announcements for CW4SE 2015

In an effort to reach out to their customers and keep them fully informed about the huge time delay for CW4SE 2015 and the status of ongoing technical issues there are some things to say. First off the official Geometric CAMWorks web site has undergone a revamp. In order to help calm the rough waters they have created by their neglect of cash paying customers who have the quaint idea that they should know what is being done with the software that affects their bottom lines the site has been updated. To make you feel better they have added NEW to the 2014 May 6TH release download page of 2014. So, now you have new software to use because it says so. They have also limited users access only to areas they have to so you can’t see how bad it is on the other side with long time SW users. They want your days to be trouble and worry free and don’t want to needlessly introduce information that might disturb your serenity. They know the sanitized public face they present to users is important so they are doing as best as they can to improve your website experience.

Update for 12-2-14

Regarding the above paragraph. It looks like Geometric may have been in the middle of a web site makeover rather than censorship. I am not going to take it down however because this is once again typical of Geometric. Do something and or do nothing and tell no one about it. They read this blog and I have invited them to make comments as they wish and I will run them verbatim. Had they corrected me I would have pulled the paragraph and written another to be inserted in it’s place. They may not like my followup comments but I have offered them space here. In the hallowed Geometric tradition of disdain for customers who might like to know what is going on they have said nothing again. They are firm believers in the mushroom philosophy for customers where you are kept in the dark and fed groaty things to grow on.

On the software front and in regards to CW4SE 2015 and the ongoing tech problems they are concerned for your opinion of them and wish to give some updates at this time.

On the release date of CW4SE 2015 and what it will entail and the fixes there was this to say.

In regards to the increasing rates of problems with the Tech Data Base, licensing problems, geometry recognition problems, assembly machining problems, API integration between SE and CW4SE that does not work right and overall lack of updates in a timely fashion they had this to say.

In regards to committing themselves to diligently seeking answers to the ongoing tech problems this was said.

In recognition that people who spend lots of money with them and whose livelyhoods depend on a reliable and predictable workflow from CW4SE they had this to say in regards to their promises to keep you updated with CW4SE on a regular basis in word and deed.

And finally they express appreciation for your money. They really like it when you send money. They are glad you are patient when you send your money year after year. They appreciate the high degree of patience you manifest when you send them money even though there are ahem some hiccups with the software. They promise to take some of the money you send them, which they really like by the way, and fix what they author. And finally they wish to say regarding future and reliable software generation commitments to their customers that they really like their customers money.

Update 12-1-14
It seems as though the SW forum is available again. I have not gone there yet but a link provided for this is http://www.camworks.com/customer-support/support-forum/ You will still have to be a current customer or past customer to gain access. It is not open to the public.

Celebrate Thanksgiving With a Turkey

The traditional bird of the holiday served up hot with all the goodies. I know you can just smell it if you try. So why don’t we have a seat at the table and dine. I have a picture of Turkeys in my blog header. The original intent of this was amusing myself and thinking about how all the city slicker hunters get dressed up and sneak around to hunt the elusive wild Turkey. Those of us who live out here know better of course. It was also a favorite comment of mine to make about the Turkey traffic jams I had to face on the way to work across the yard. It is also a reflection of a dream and a goal to have a self-sustaining business in a rural area because I just happen to like that environment. Having left the human cesspool of Detroit years ago I determined to never live around a large city again.

Much to my amusement the readers of this blog assumed the symbolism was one of me hunting CAD CAM Turkeys. In a way this is true so why don’t we proceed to the bird of the year in my world. If you have been following the commentary regarding Geometric’s CAMWorks for Solid Edge here and at the related links there is more. “But WAIT, there’s MORE!!” It is almost amusing now that my workday and income no longer depends on making CW4SE work and so it was with that frame of mind I go to Geometric’s web site today. They have been busy doing things there and I can no longer log in to the SW users side of things. I also can’t login to the resellers side of things where you could do stuff like download beta programs or releases typically a couple of weeks before actual RTM. Apparently the black eye they have gotten there has prompted them to fix the site to reflect correct user permissions. Perhaps desperation to get at least one thing associated with CW to work right could be another reason. They can’t be happy over there right now.

Even with the wonderful site makeover that was more important than getting CW4SE fixed there are still funny things to see. There is a new release for CW4SE and it says so right at the top.

CW4SE new release

On a serious note now I am coming to a conclusion about CAMWorks and I now have a theory about all this mess. What if it is not just gross inability from Geometric for whatever reason that prevents Camworks from working? What if this is an impossible concept to mathematically solve in a reasonable way with any level of effort you as a company are willing to do? The way they sell it is this wonderful thing that all you have to do is set up this really neat Tech Data Base and CW will automatically do wonders for you. How about the reality is that the TDB has numerous problems, does not reliably carryover from version to version, and still will not do many of your parts without you getting in there and over-riding this TDB technical wonder. That presumes you are willing to spend a whole month to get that far to begin with. It is the idea of it all though that CAM users fall prey to. The idea that you can just throw a part in there and stand back and CW will take care of it from there. That is a powerful and compelling concept. But year after year the elusive goal of doing this moves down the road and is never achieved.

What we just might have in CW is a combination of two things. There is first off a lack of desire from Geometric to make CW right. I have documented this here in the past few weeks with comments from users and personal knowledge from conversations I have participated in with Geometric employees. They absolutely know their stuff has gobs of problems but send it out anyway. Combine this with what may well be a Holy Grail math paradigm to make all of it work right and you have a staggering continuation of systemic unsolvable problems. How do you solve this dilemma as a company? You can’t admit defeat publicly on the concept that is your only real claimed differentiator from other programs. You can hardly tell all your customers you can’t deliver on the promise either. But what you can do is limp from year to year hoping to get lucky enough to solve the problems before they all blow up in your face. I am concluding this to be the case.

Thought for the day.
Consider the fact that the USA leadership of Geometric’s CW and CW4SE answer to the tool library in the TDB was first to only hire someone who was willing to work for a free seat of their lovely software. I know the guy they made this offer to. Their second answer was to fob this additional burden off on to an existing employee who already has a full-time job. When the additional burden can’t be met because there is only so much time each day then the same management that made these decisions would then ask for your understanding that things are not going to go as quickly as once thought. But time only has value to Geometric and yours is not important, right? That would be words from Nishant Siani. So the tried and true Geometric management policy of making promises but not keeping them occurs once more. Question, if you take a hundred cheapo in per hour wages programmers and throw them at a problem does it solve the problem or does it give you a current living rendition of the Keystone Cops? Another question might be if you are too cheap to hire top qualified programmers what might your results be and what does this say about your regard for your customers?

I don’t expect to post much more on the topic of Geometric’s problems as they are just not that important anymore. What you are now reading is two things. Fascination with how large companies get into problems they can’t or wont solve and watching them flounder around. It is also resentment for the fact that the first integrated CAM program for Solid Edge has been under the auspices of a company that talked big and delivered garbage. Because of this there may never be another attempt while I am working to integrate CAM with SE again and regarding what I see with Geometric probably no will or ability or both to fix it there. So this Thanksgiving remember that it is far better to carve up a Turkey on your dining room table rather than to be carved up by one like Camworks/CW4SE.