Will AutoCAD lose market share? — Bob Moeller points to untapped market.

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  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA — With MicroStation’s new release of Athens, the battle of MicroStation versus AutoCAD is heating up. Bob Moeller, suggests a plan that could give MicroStation a strategic victory in the marketplace.

    With over 30 years in the drafting and design industry, Moeller knows what it takes to capture a market sector.

    MicroStation Today: As a veteran in this industry, I’m sure that you’ve run into your fair share of problems. What has been your biggest frustration?
    Moeller:It’s been frustrating that there’s not more support for machine design from MicroStation. This especially impacts a whole industry of smaller manufacturing plants. MicroStation is a great CAD system and they could be taking away market share from AutoCAD if they focused on this area more.
    For an example, Bentley used to supply a “NUTS.CEL” cell library with each MicroStation software package. However, the last couple of upgrades did not include it. I’ve learned to keep my old cell files when upgrading or purchasing another seat of MicroStation. Providing some basic, standard parts in a cell library like nuts, bolts and fasteners would be a good sign that Bentley was interested in this area.

    I have been using MicroStation for machine design since 1987 and it’s a great software package. But Bentley doesn’t seem to know that there is a whole industry of small businesses that use MicroStation to design a variety of products such as assembly machines, drill fixtures and welding fixtures. If you go to Bentley’s site, there’s little if anything to support this market segment.

    MST: What are some of the most interesting projects you’ve worked on over your 20 years of working with MicroStation?
    Moeller:There have been two that really stand out. On one, I was given $100,000 to design and build a plastic-lined, pipe-flanging machine. [Editor’s note: A “flange” is a “rib” or “rim” used for strength, guiding, or attachment to another object.] It tightened a flange on a pipe to proper torque, left the proper amount of liner protruding out the end and aligned the flange holes up with the flange holes on the other end of the pipe. Prior to building this machine, all that was done by hand, using a pipe wrench.
    The second was a washing machine that washed window glass. We had looked for a glass washing machine on the market but couldn’t find one that would clean the glass to our customer’s specifications. So, I was given the job of designing one. One of the problems that we needed to address was to prevent water from spilling on the floor as that creates a wet, slippery and dangerous environment. The glass needed to be able to enter a wall of liquid, stay submerged while being washed then leave the washing machine tank without spilling any liquid on the floor. The other problem was that the glass had to enter, move through the washing machine and come out the other end all on a horizontal plane. This was quite a trick to do.

    MST: How did you first hear about Axiom products and how have they helped you?
    Moeller: I found Axiom years ago when I was looking for a program to prevent the MicroStation manager window from coming up in the gutter. That’s when I found Dual-Screen Window Manager. [Editor’s note: When using two monitors, the “gutter” is the space between the monitors. Dual-screen Window Manager not only handles the top level “parent” application window, but also adjusts the “child” windows used by an application — such as multiple documents opened by a word processor or multiple views displayed by MicroStation. The program works with MicroStation and most Windows-based programs.] I then saw that Axiom had a lot more to offer. For instance, I now use FileFixer when I import pesky AutoCAD files. It is amazing how many errors there are that FileFixer is able to completely clean up after importing or attaching these files.

    MST: Over the last 30 years, I’m sure you’ve seen quite a few companies come and go. What would be your advice to companies that want to get ahead?
    Moeller:A company’s life-blood is the cash-flow generated through customers. No customers means no cash-flow! So, treating customers right is paramount and that includes vendors and supplies. I know of one company who always paid their invoices the day after receiving them. If there’s ever a shortage of material, their supplier always makes sure that they receive their shipments on time. When I asked the supplier about this, I was told, “They always pay their invoices. We never have to ask for payment.” Because they pay their invoices promptly, this company had favor with the supplier and always had finished product to ship even when the competition didn’t.

    MST: If you could trade places with anyone for a day, who would it be?
    Moeller:If such a position existed, I’d trade places with the person who had the authority to fire all those in Washington that stand in the way of drilling our own oil so the USA would no longer be dependent on the middle east. That would bring down the price of gas at the pump.

    MST: What do you think MicroStation (or AutoCAD) should do to win the hearts of engineers and CAD designers?
    Moeller:Well, a big step has already been taken when they both agreed to read and write each other’s formats. The next step would be to have one CAD software package that would have an on-screen button that would switch from MicroStation to AutoCAD look and feel and then back again. This would minimize or eliminate the training required to learn the other CAD program when new employees come on board. Think of the training dollars that would be saved by engineering departments. Companies would also have the advantage of having a larger pool of candidates to choose from.

    MST: Thanks, Bob.

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