Two-year-old Los Angeles software company 3Ga Corp. has designed a breakthrough product – called 3G.web.decisions 2001 – that it says will help dramatically lower the price of a wide variety of industrial products.
With technical assistance from Intel Corp., Microsoft Corp., and auto parts manufacturer Delphi Diesel Systems, 3Ga has created the product to streamline the engineering design process, thereby accelerating the time it takes to get a product to market.
“We are excited to be in a position to set the pace for collaborative engineering,” said Yuri Kizimovich, president and co-founder of 3Ga. “Customers using 3G.web.decisions will shrink design cycles and enhance communication, which represents a significant paradigm shift in enterprise computing as we know it.”
Kizimovich expects sales of 3G.web.decisions to reach $2.5 million by the end of the year, with sales ramping up to $7 million in 2002.
The company has financed the development of the software through two financing rounds that raised $2 million from a number of investors, including Zone Ventures, a Los Angeles-based venture capital firm.
“We are expecting to close our third round of funding by summer,” said Sandra McIntosh, 3Ga’s director of marketing. “We plan to use our next round of funding to expand the company from 25 employees.”
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By putting plans online – and allowing users to overlay 3G.web.decisions over existing design software programs – teams across the country and around the world can work on a design project simultaneously.
3Ga’s technology, based on languages Java, XML, and the Microsoft.NET platform, “will allow designers to change their plans or communicate with other designers online instead of over the phone or by overnight mail,” said Tomi K. Mossessian, 3Ga’s executive vice president of engineering. “Approximately 70 percent of a product’s cost happens in the design stage. This software will save about 50 percent of that cost by putting it all online.”
Taking the product to market
With the initial test phase of 3G.web.decisions concluded, 3Ga recently began to market its product specifically to the automotive, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, and heavy machinery industries. No deals apart from those struck with Intel and Delphi are yet in place.
The cost of 3G.web.decisions is based on installation, said Mossessian. 3Ga charges each client a $10,000 annual subscription for the base software, along with a $5,000 fee per user, per year.
“We are targeting small to medium companies within these industries,” he said. “We have also entered into a marketing agreement with Intel and have been testing our product with Delphi Diesel Systems.”
Both 3Ga and Intel officials declined to comment on whether the Santa Clara-based chipmaker would eventually seek to take an equity position in the L.A. company. But Intel clearly recognizes the potential of 3Ga.
“Being able to collaborate on a design in real time is something that is important to us and our customers,” said Bob Knighten, Intel’s peer-to-peer evangelist. “It also allows for several corporations to work together while protecting property rights,” by locking portions of a file not necessary to a collaborator’s engineers.
John Milroy, the principal engineer with Troy, Mich.-based Delphi, said the company’s initial testing has found the software to be more than a collaborative tool.
“My team can easily compare and collaboratively evaluate more design alternatives in a dynamic Web environment,” said Milroy. “Now, we have the ability to dramatically improve workflow, have an information base for product synthesis and accelerate our time to market.”
Testing functional behavior
From a common server, any remote member of the product design team can use three-dimensional designs to simulate the impact of engineering changes on the functional behavior of a design.
According to Kizimovich, the software is easy to use.
“ Users simply move a slider bar to scroll through hundreds of design alternatives in real time,” he said. “Team members then collectively determine which configuration is the most cost-effective, highest quality and easiest to produce.
Users optimize models by applying constraints to keep several dimensions unchanged or stress levels below a specified value, said Kizimovich. Other features permit engineers to work with suppliers and mold makers; manufacturing considerations also can be studied.