13 Replies Latest reply on Aug 25, 2011 4:43 PM by Aaron Moncur

    Profitability of SolidWorks Simulation Professional

    Aaron Moncur

      Hi All,

       

      Let me start by saying I know there will not be a "yes" or "no" type answer for these questions, and that the outcome will be to some degree situational.  That being said, I am considering purchasing a license of SW Sim Pro and am hoping to get some feedback from current users regarding the profitability of such a purcahse.  Here is my situation:

       

      • I am a mechanical engineer working predominantly on product design (anything from iPhone cases to solar power equipment to medical devices). 
      • Many of my projects benefit from at least low level FEA (some of which can be accomplished with Simulation Xpress, included in the core version of SW), but increasingly I am finding the need for more sophisticated simulation capabilities
      • Most of my sim needs are mechanical in nature, but I occasionally run across the need for thermal simulation
      • I work for myself and have leveraged my engineering rate about as far as it can go; at this point (short of hiring employees and leveraging additional manpower) the only way to increase my margin is to offer a service for which I can bill higher rates - I am hoping Simulation Pro will allow me to do this

       

      Here are some of the questions I have.  Any advice or experience you can share would be greatly apprecaited

       

      • Have you found you can bill higher rates when doing mechanical or thermal simulation work (not flow, I wouldn't have this in Sim Pro) than product design work?
      • What rates are reasonable for the types of simulation work listed in the previous bullet?
      • Have you encountered resistance from customers due to the perception that SW simulation is perhaps less powerful/capable than others such as ANSYS or Abacus?
      • What ways have you found to optimize the Simulation software's capability to pay for itself?
      • Anything else I should be considering as far as whether or not I can justify the price of the software against the simulation work I hope to receive?

       

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read through this!

       

      Aaron

        • Re: Profitability of SolidWorks Simulation Professional
          Aaron Moncur

          I'm guessing the reason there have not been comments on this posting is that the majority of folks in this forum are engineers working for a boss, and the boss is the one that can answer profitability questions, not the engineer.  That being the case, perhaps I can get some comments on a different question: Is most of the simulation work you do for internal projects?  Or is it dedicated simulation work that has been specifically outsourced to your company?

           

          Another question: What modules do you use most frequently?  Static structural analysis?  Thermal?  Drop testing?  Vibration?  Other?

           

          Thanks in advance.

          • Re: Profitability of SolidWorks Simulation Professional
            Loic Ancian

            Purchase Sw Premium (it includes static simulation and motion (of parts AND assemblies)) and will be sufficient for 99% of your work.

              • Re: Profitability of SolidWorks Simulation Professional
                Aaron Moncur

                Thanks, Loic.  I've been thinking the same thing lately.  Static simulation will cover 80% or 90% of anything I've had to do to date.  I just kills me, though, that it'll cost me $5k to upgrade to SW Premium (I'm currently using Standard), but for only $2k more (i.e. $7k total) I can upgrade to the Sim Pro bundle which includes SW Premium as well as all the simulation modules in Sim Pro (e.g. thermal, frequency, drop test, buckling, etc).  To date, I have not had much of a need for these additional modules, the question is if I were to acquire them, could I find work to justify the purchase.

                 

                Ideally there would be a way to acquire JUST the static simulation module for a thousand bucks or something, since I really don't need the other bells and whistles that come with SW Premium.  Alas, there doesn't appear to be a way to do this...

              • Re: Profitability of SolidWorks Simulation Professional
                Harold Brunt

                Aaron - Your questions are interesting to me as well as we are considering the SW Simulation package for thermal simulations of LED designs. One consideration that I can offer since there seems to be a lot a similarities between our businesses (engineering consulting) is that some potential clients will suffer "sticker shock" once your price increase comes online. We do not offer different prices for different levels of CAD work since the work occupies the same station and software. A client needs to understand that we can be working on a project that requires all or most of the Add-Ins we have purchased for another client if we were not working on their project. This tends to make potential clients, that need basic CAD work, take their projects elsewhere. We actually recommend it now and then. So my point is this: if you are going to upgrade your services without expanding your manpower, it will be difficult to balance your workload and to justify to a client the different rates for different projects. Overhead is overhead no matter if it the station is being used to run complex simulations or to design basic parts. Those clients that need your expanded capabilities over the other available CAD service providers will gladly pay for it (the Add-Ins are expensive as are the skilled operators).

                 

                You might need to choose if you are a simulation specialist or a CAD house unless you can have seperate cost centers / engineers for both. If you choose to become a simulation specialist and your prices reflect that, expect to have to dig deeper to find clients that need those services. My opinion anyway.

                 

                Harold

                  • Re: Profitability of SolidWorks Simulation Professional
                    Aaron Moncur

                    Harold, thanks so much for the reply.  It's a good point that you bring up regarding pricing of CAD vs simulation.  I've actually talked to a few of my customers about this.  I'm a one-man operation, and the general concensus seems to be that clients are okay paying a higher rate for the simulation work.  Their alternative is to go to a company that does only simulation and charges a premium for it.  My increased simulation rate would still be less than most FEA/simulation companies charge, so I think I still have a business advantage, even with a higher rate specifically for the sim work.  Thanks again for your reply.

                  • Re: Profitability of SolidWorks Simulation Professional
                    Billy Wight

                    We are currently using Altair HyperWorks for 99% of simulation needs, pretty much our default unless the customer specifically requests SW simulation. The reasoning for this is first of all the advanced capabilities of the software and the quality control you have over the mesh. If you're doing 90% basic linear static analysis, the SW package with premium will handle most of your needs.  If you have a critical part with low margins, though, you need to be really careful about the mesh quality with SW as it can be difficult to create a good quality mesh and you will always be limited to Tets and Trias.

                     

                    Though the overhead is there no matter what, we charge different rates for different services. This is because we don't want to scare off the CAD only customers, but still want to get the higher rate for the analysis customers. If you can be busy all the time charging various rates for various services, you end up coming out better than being busy part time and charging a higher rate across the board.  I have a "standard rates" list that details the various rates for various services, for example mechanical design, analysis setup, analysis runtime, CAD and drawings, prototyping, and administrative.  With this the customer gets an understanding of the rates in addition to seeing that you offer these other services.  If you stagger the work correctly, you can be running an analysis while you're doing CAD or something else (another reason for using a separate package for analysis) and essentially be working double time.

                      • Re: Profitability of SolidWorks Simulation Professional
                        Aaron Moncur

                        Billy,

                         

                        This is very interesting.  I had not heard of HyperWorks before.  It looks very capable, and their pay-per-use model is intriguing.  I couldn't find any pricing on their website, but I submitted their information request form. 

                         

                        Do you find that the lack of direct SW integration presents efficiency challenges (since you need to export SW model, import into HyperWorks, and repeat that process if changes are made to the model's geometry)?

                         

                        It would be great to find the linear static simulation capabilities in a standalone product so I'm not paying through the nose for feature sets I won't use (i.e. SW Premium).

                          • Re: Profitability of SolidWorks Simulation Professional
                            Harold Brunt

                            Aaron - You ask a question of Billy that I have had to deal with myself so I'll stick my nose in here again. One of the features that I value the most about the Add-In I use is that I do not need to exit or export a file or translate data in anyway in order to run a simulation. All simulations take place within the SW environment. Pretty powerful tool. The down side is that I cannot run a simulation on a seperate machine (just like I cannot run SW on a seperate PC) while operating my system unless I purchase a second set of softwares or a network license. I would love to unload my simulations on a render farm and continue working but that's not going to happen!

                             

                            I understand wanting the flexibility to do CAD and simulation work so that you are never having to turn work away. The cost of simulation software for lighting is significantly higher than SW Simulation Pro so that model doesn't work for us.

                             

                            Harold

                              • Re: Profitability of SolidWorks Simulation Professional
                                Aaron Moncur

                                Harold, I really appreciate all of your feedback here.  It's very helpful.  I can certainly see how having the simulation package full integrated with the CAD package would be valuable.  To your other point, it would be nice to run Simulation and do CAD at the same time...tradeoffs are always present, I suppose.  Regardless, thanks again for your comments.

                                 

                                Incidientally, it's interesting that you're doing optical design.  I've been working on a big optical project this year (the mechanical side of it, anyway).  It's been a great project, as I've learned a lot regarding optical-specifc design considerations that I previously knew nothing about.  A fun space, anyway. 

                                 

                                Back to the simulation, while it would be nice to have the extra bells and whistles associated with Sim Pro, the feedback I've received reaching out to current clients and on forums is leading me to believe that the linear static module in SW Premium will cover me 95% of the time.  I'm still interested to hear what HyperWorks can offer as far as price on that specific module, though.  If it's significantly less expensive than the $5k upgrade price to SW Premium, it may be worth pursuing.  Incidentally, why is it that a seat of SW Standard is $4k, a seat of SW Premium is $8k, but an upgrade from Standard to Premium is $5k?  The SW reps in my area don't have an answer for this, and it really makes me mad that SW jacks the price up for those of us who want to further invest in their software.  Not customer friendly, in my opinion. 

                              • Re: Profitability of SolidWorks Simulation Professional
                                Billy Wight

                                It is very quick to import the geometry into  HyperWorks as either a parasolid or using the SolidWorks translator (currently only works for SW 2010 and earlier though).  Minor design changes can be made with the mesh morphing tools quickly and easily in HyperWorks, but major changes require a re-import of geometry and a remesh.  SolidWorks is the same way really, any design change and you have to re-mesh.  In SW, there's no translation so it's a bit quicker and the automesher makes for a quick turnaround in mesh time (although at the expense of mesh quality).  I can't speak to the pricing of HyperWorks as I'm bound by NDA, but they've always been really helpful and their pricing structure makes sense.  If you get the full blown package you get access to all of their partner products as well (fatigue codes, CFD, design tools, etc there's a lot of them).