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Manufacturing Intelligence: Hexagon’s CEO is the New King of CAM

Manufacturing Intelligence: Hexagon’s CEO is the New King of CAM

He is building a “manufacturing intelligence empire”. The goal is to cover major aspects of the smart factory and manufacturing concepts. In fact, Ola Rollén, chief executive officer of Hexagon, owner of CAE player MSC, could be considered the new global king of CAM.

With the purchase of the CAM developer Vero Software in 2014, Rollén laid the foundation for an expansion. Previously focused on Hexagon's particular field, hardware and software for industrial metrology, the company began to create an entire system for broad manufacturing capabilities overall.

“The short story is that Hexagon’s manufacturing intelligence is about creating ecosystems for manufacturing processes that are autonomous, self-learning and with zero errors,” the Swedish manufacturing leader said to Hexagon Group’s 2017 revenues were around $4.0 billion.

Step by step Rollén scanned the relevant parts of the product lifecycle management (PLM) business and invested heavily outside of Hexagon’s traditional areas. The result is that the group now owns several PLM- and production-related businesses.

Many within PLM primarily associate Hexagon with the purchase of MSC, acquired in 2017, and American CAD and GIS software developer Intergraph, bought in 2010. There’s a lot more to Hexagon, however, and the CAM and NC code generation side of the business demonstrates this fact most distinctively.

Today, Hexagon is one of the world-leading players for non-bundled (“non-PLM packaged”) CAM and NC solutions. Bundled, PLM-packaged applications refer to platforms such as Dassault’s 3DEXPERIENCE or Siemens’s Digital Innovation Platform. Hexagon’s brands in the CAD/CAM area include AlphaCAM, Cabinet Vison, EDGECAM, Machining Strategist, PEPS, RADAN, Smirt, SURFCAM, VISI and WORKNC, together with the ERP and MRP systems JAVELIN and WORKPLAN.

Related to this collection of software, Rollén recently announced the integration of Vero Software, FASys and SPRING Technologies into Hexagon, which means that they are now part of the firm’s rapidly growing Manufacturing Intelligence division.

Overall the extensive number of CAM/NC tools combined with ERP and MRP solutions gives Hexagon one of the leading roles on the non-bundled CAM market. MasterCAM is still the individual brand leader with approximately 250,000 seats trailed by Hexagon’s EDGECAM with around 75,000 seats, but the rest of the brands in Hexagon’s portfolio—such as RADAN, with plus 50,000 seats and VISI with just under 50,000—brings the company’s total market impact up considerably.

Generally, the CAM market segment has had its share of mergers and acquisitions, with many of the leaders “swallowed” or merged with, as in the case of Vero. Other examples are Delcam (now part of Autodesk), Cimatron (now part of 3D Systems), and NTT Data Engineering Systems (NDES).

The market growth has been in the 5-7 percent range and in 2017, according to CIMdata, (non-bundled) CAM market growth represented a revenue total of $1.368 billion and 3.1 percent share of the PLM investments. If you add the “PLM bundled” CAM software and services (based on the estimated end-user payment), the market grew from $1.94 billion in 2016 to nearly $2.1 billion in 2017. On the PLM-packaged side, Siemens´s NX CAM is the market leader with around 125,000 installed seats.

Furthermore, CIMdata projects that, in 2018, growth will have continued and end-user payments for CAM software will increase by 8.1 percent to $2.26 billion.

This makes CAM and NC toolpath generation solutions a promising market for growth and, with a broad portfolio like Hexagon's, the company has moved into a good strategic position related to subtractive technologies. The challenge is to expand the 3D printing side of the business, to create sharp and robust bridges between additive and subtractive technologies, and develop easy to use hybrid solutions. This product development process has already started with the hybrid capability introduced in the recent 2019 R1 version of EDGECAM. With the support of the "Direct Energy Deposit Method", EDGECAM now offers a manufacturing cycle that controls a laser to apply new material to build a shape. Then the mold is machined with EDGECAM milling cycles to create the final component.

Despite its portfolio diversity, Hexagon’s software have one thing in common, Ola Rollén said: “They handle all of the challenges associated with manufacturing efficiency, especially when it comes to processing subtractive techniques.”

What role does Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence play in this? “It is the umbrella under which most things are placed that relate to smart manufacturing and intelligent factory layouts,” asserted the Hexagon CEO.

Powering smart factories is something that Ola Rollén and his coworkers have aimed at. And anyone who views the portfolio under the Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence umbrella is likely to agree. The various brands and applications include specialized packages for generating, managing and optimizing tool paths in a number of different industrial and material applications.

“The formation of the production software business complements our operations in design, construction and measurement technology, which makes it possible for us to build unique solutions for our customers in the manufacturing industry. As we develop this strategy further, we will be able to use our experience of utilizing data from all phases of the manufacturing process to create the autonomous, connected ecosystems (ACE), which will enable smart factories,” said Norbert Hanke, who is heading Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division.

An Important Step on the Road to CAM Leadership

Since the purchase of Vero, Hexagon has continued to expand and diversify its range.

“Vero represents a unique suite of manufacturing software solutions. The company has the expertise, knowledge and resources to deliver even higher levels of productivity to our customers,” commented Ola Rollén. He added, “The acquisition strengthened Hexagon’s offerings, and provided us with the means to close the gap on making quality data fully actionable by extending the reach of the newly developed MMS (metrology planning software) to include CAM. The synergies from what we had in our portfolio has leveraged our global footprint, and advanced our strategy, supporting the growing need to integrate all data and processes across the manufacturing lifecycle.”

It's not an easy job to move manufacturing technologies like CAM, NC programming and additive manufacturing into an Industry 4.0 world. It’s as tough for large OEMs and an even bigger challenge to provide capable and affordable manufacturing intelligence solutions for smaller companies. But Hexagon has maneuvered itself into a good position to handle the job. They have the financial muscles, the intellectual resources, and the necessary trade experience. And they have Ola Rollén.

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