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Startup develops design project tracking tool

Posted: 29 Nov 2002 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:pragmax? project data management tool? product lifecycle management tool? cad tool?

Design groups can accurately track the progress of electronic design projects with the Pragmax product lifecycle management tool from startup Pragmax Software Corp., the company said.

Though new to the U.S., Pragmax has been selling its project data management (PDM) tools in Europe since 2000. The company is in the process of closing Series A financing and is hunting a location in Silicon Valley to establish its headquarters.

Pragmax is led by Dick Watts, a former Hewlett-Packard Co. VP who is now president and CEO of Pragmax. The company has six employees.

"There are lots of PDM and PLM (product lifecycle management) tools out there, but they are typically built around mechanical design processes," said Watts. "Many of the commercial tools we see today come out of Boeing, Ford and big machine tool companies that have lots of different mechanical components. Those tools do not have the types of attributes an EE needs to describe electrical systems."

The company developed the Pragmax tool with an eye on meeting the needs of EEs. Like other PLMs, the tool allows customers to track mechanical and electrical system designs, but the company also added many attributes commonly needed in electrical design projects, Watts said. "We offer a PLM that accurately reflects the way EEs think and work," he said.

The tool facilitates the handoff of a project from designers to a manufacturing group, but is especially targeted at companies designing for military and medical applications, where the tracking of the design process for later reference is importance, Watts said.

The Pragmax software keeps track of material lists, documents, and engineering changes. While a design manager maintains full control over product data, other personnel can view, interrogate and approve designs as they evolve.

Watts said the key competitive advantages of Pragmax include a unique data structure that allows an object to be recreated and viewed as it existed at any stage in its history. This structure also efficiently manages the relationships between product derivatives, he said. The tool allows users to break down the progress of a design. For example, a user can compare the stages of a design by using the tool to highlight only those areas that have been changed from one revision to the next.

The tool also ensures that changes are threaded and date-tagged, which creates a comprehensive audit trail of revisions. The tool also generates bill of materials reports on the fly.

Watts said the tool links to CAD tools from Zuken, Mentor Graphics and Cadence, as well as to popular enterprise software like SAP and Oracle tools.

Pragmax also has adjustable access controls, which allow users to disseminate reports to appropriate partners without worrying about unauthorized changes being made to the report.

The tool runs on Microsoft's SQL Server system.

- Michael Santarini

EE Times





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