Archive for March, 2012

Software ‘cloud’ helps molders monitor production

March 31st, 2012

Cloud computing is not just a buzzword for a molder’s tech services department. It is also for molders that want to get the most out of their presses in day-to-day production.

“[The cloud] removes the barriers that were there because of computer hardware [limitations] and makes it so that you can study more things,” said Bob Williams, solution marketing manager, simulation at software company Autodesk Inc. (Booth 49009). “There were all of these things that could have been done in simulation before, but nobody had the time or the computer space.”

Autodesk’s Moldflow analysis has been a go-to resource for companies designing molds and new products. By creating simulations, those firms can make sure the geometry and material flow will work in production. But Williams said Moldflow’s potential has been much greater than that. The capabilities exist for adding details about press size, melt temperatures and cycle time — right alongside its more familiar use for testing complexity in part and mold development.

The problem, traditionally, is that all that information took up a lot of space on a computer’s hard drive, and companies had to prioritize and ration their use of Moldflow. The cloud changes that, Williams said.

Cloud computing has been around for a while, but recently it has received greater attention and emphasis. Apple Inc., through consumer advertising, has brought wider recognition to the cloud and cloud-based services for storing and accessing music, photos, videos and apps — such as its iCloud.

The cloud itself, however, is not simply an Apple creation, nor as ephemeral as the white fluffy things floating in the sky. Cloud computing is a phrase to describe off-site data storage locations — or server farms – which holds massive amounts of files for everything from email to highly detailed renderings of complex parts, Williams said. Users then access that information from anywhere with a wired or wireless connection, using anything from a smart phone to a desktop computer.

What this means for Moldflow users is that they no longer need to have all of the schematics and geometry and software loaded onto their own hard drives. Instead, using a secure log-on, a mold designer could set up a program with all the data needed, but the intensive calculations are done at a remote server, keeping their own systems free to run other programs.

Autodesk began offering the cloud for its Inventor level of Moldflow 18 months ago, and expanded it to its more complex full Moldflow simulations in late 2011.

“What we’ve seen is people are uploading gigantic models that their local computers couldn’t handle,” Williams said. “They may have 10 to 20 different variations that they’re looking at, and running it all at the same time, where before they would have had to do one after another on their computer.”

Users also are discovering the availability a cloud-based Moldflow analysis has on picking the right press size to use, the correct pressure and cycle time. They can run simulations that will check what tweaking one gating alternative would make in manufacturing the part, then use that information to see which presses are the best for that parts – or even if they have the right presses on the floor to bid for a part in the first place.

“We have a customer who uses the software as part of the quoting and bidding process so he knows whether it’s right for them in the first place,” Williams said. “That’s the biggest benefit to the shop floor. It should make it much more clear for what the processes should be like (in simulation), as opposed to having to do things where you do one thing, see how it turns out, then make adjustments and see how it turns out after that.”


Interactive Features Make New Kindle Fire Software Appealing

March 31st, 2012

The Amazon Kindle Fire has been a pleasantly surprising success story since launching last year. It’s no Apple-beater, as the iPad series continues dominating tablet market shares, but the Kindle Fire has tapped into unchartered territory, catering to users who may not afford or need something as flashy as an iPad. Just recently, Amazon proved its commitment to users of the Kindle Fire by updating its software.

Version 6.3 of the Kindle Fire software focuses on the social networking aspect of reading and sharing e-books. Through this new update, users can share lines or passages from e-books on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, or share them to other Kindle Fire users.

All they have to do is highlight the passage or perhaps make notes about them then share the information. Book Extras gives users a chance to delve deeper into the e-books they read – character dossiers and handy glossaries are among the extra information provided by this feature.

However, there are even more neat features available on Version 6.3. Print replica textbooks are now available on the Kindle Fire, thus giving students and teachers a chance to save a great deal of money on the textbooks they need for school. Moreover, the Amazon Silk’s reading view feature can help readers scan through Internet text without being encumbered by banner ads or other superfluous content.

These are just a few of the key features on the software update, but we have highlighted those that may turn out to be the most useful. Kindle Fire owners can find downloading instructions and a full list of features on the official Amazon Kindle web page.


Oracle to snap up clinical study software-maker ClearTrial

March 31st, 2012

Oracle ($ORCL) has struck a new buyout deal in the growing market for clinical trials software. The tech giant has an agreement to gobble up privately held ClearTrial, which has made its mark in the biopharma world with software that enables drug and device developers to forecast budgets and other operational elements of clinical investigations.

Oracle and ClearTrial aren’t saying what the financial terms of the deal are.

ClearTrial, a FierceBiotech IT company to watch in 2011, has been building momentum over recent years with scores of drugmakers such as Abbott Labs ($ABT), AstraZeneca ($AZN) and Sanofi ($SNY) buying its software. Those companies are combating the rising costs of clinical development, and ClearTrial’s software has algorithms and built-in intelligence that enable trial planners to more accurately estimate study costs than they previously could.

Neil de Crescenzo, senior vice president and general manager, Oracle Health Sciences, stated: “Adding ClearTrial to the Oracle Health Sciences Cloud will help our customers streamline the clinical development process and help them bring therapies to market with greater predictability and at lower costs.”

Oracle in 2010 bought Phase Forward, which was one of the most successful players in electronic data capture (EDC), which helped biopharma and device outfits abandon paper-based methods of managing trials data. Yet neither Phase Forward nor Oracle have the financial-forecasting tech that ClearTrial offers.


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