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Altair expands its horizons in South Africa

Altair, the US-based engineering company, recently acquired two engineering software developers: EM Software & Systems, the company behind the FEKO electromagnetic field analysis software; and Visual Solutions, the developers of VisSim, a visual language for mathematical modelling, simulation, and model-based embedded system development.

FEKO software will be integrated into the HyperWorks suite of CAE software but the acquisition also gives Altair a local presence in South Africa, enabling the company to expand its operations. Personnel in Stellenbosch, situated about 50 kilometres east of Cape Town, will be responsible for all Altair sales and support activities in the region.

Dr Detlef Schneider, Senior Vice President of EMEA at Altair commented: ‘We are very excited to offer local sales and technical support to existing Altair customers in South Africa, and are convinced that there will be many opportunities for new business in the region.’

FEKO is based on the accurate ‘full wave’ Method of Moments (MoM) which is fully hybridised with several other techniques including the Finite Element Method (FEM) and efficient high frequency approximation techniques (PO, GO and UTD) to provide users with software that can solve a wide range of electromagnetic problems.

The acquisition of Visual Solutions, the developers of VisSim, will provide HyperWorks users with a tool for model-based embedded development. A rapidly growing practice, model-based embedded development uses a single tool chain for modelling and simulation of the controller and plant being controlled, along with automatic code generation of the controller.

Peter Darnell, President and Owner of Visual Solutions said: ‘Partnering with Altair will bring current and future VisSim users many benefits, including integration with a world-class engineering organisation and software portfolio. Moreover, Altair’s steadfast commitment to elite customer service and technical support mirrors our own and bodes well for the future.’

The automatically generated C-Code can be targeted to specific microcontrollers like Texas Instruments C2000 and ARM Cortex. Use of automatic code generation shortens software development time and lowers project cost by removing or reducing the need for a C programming staff.

VisSim's uses simple block diagram notation combined with OMG 2.0 compliant UML State Charts designed to make it easier to create high-fidelity nonlinear dynamic simulations. VisSim provides built-in optimisation methods for simulations allowing users to you experiment tuning controllers, optimising parameters and performing what-if scenarios for critical large-scale projects. VisSim also includes an extensive library of hydraulic, electro mechanical, digital power and communication blocks to speed simulation creation.

VisSim add-ons for OPC, CAN, RS232 serial, UDP, and National Instruments-based analogue and digital I/O are aimed at helping users to develop real-world control systems. To facilitate collaboration, the free VisSim Viewer lets anyone open and run a VisSim diagram.

‘I have always been impressed by the performance of VisSim. Compared to other simulation tools on the market, I can create and validate my control system designs more rapidly by flawlessly transitioning from initial, simple concept simulations to higher fidelity versions and then to hardware-in-the-loop simulation. No other tool has been able to match the versatility and simplicity of VisSim,’ commented Mike Borrello, Principal Controls Engineer at Philips Healthcare, Hospital Division. ‘I’m really looking forward to seeing how Altair’s math and system simulation capabilities will complement VisSim functionality in terms of a complete, integrated design environment. I’m excited to get my hands on the next release.’

The acquisition of Visual Solutions is expected to be completed by the end of July.

HyperWorks users also have access to a broad range of complementary product offerings from independent software vendors through the Altair Partner Alliance. Software covering areas such as composite modelling, plastic injection moulding as well as project- and complexity management, durability, fatigue, noise, vibration and harshness are just some of the solutions available.

‘Altair’s flexible software licensing model replaces traditional licensing plans with a pay-per-use system, which means that users can use multiple applications for a unit-based flat rate rather than paying for each license,’ explains Gronum Smith, newly appointed country manager for Altair South Africa. ‘This approach leads to higher software utilisation, making companies more productive while reducing costs and resulting in a higher return on investment.’


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