Looking through the crystal ball: five years down the road: here's what some predict: T&P asked a group of well-known individuals in the software industry the following question: What do you see as the biggest changes occurring in your software product in the next five years and how will that enhance manufacturing? Their crystal ball responses follow.

Position:Software industry insight - Cover story - Company overview

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Mastercam software will continue to get intuitively smarter, more flexible, and remain open to add-ins. In the area of automation, Mastercam will continue to combine the front-end automation that helps programmers work quickly, yet it will be unrestrictive. As users' skills grow, they will be able to go even deeper into the software to gain precise control over every aspect of tool motion.

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As such, software will become increasingly flexible, with a unique combination of intelligent automation and meticulous user control with less interaction with menus and more interaction directly with the model and the tool paths.

The open architecture of Mastercam allows for a variety of add-ins--utilities which increase its power and vice versa. Within five years it will be even easier for outside developers to integrate with Mastercam. Robotics and computerized gaging are growth areas in manufacturing, and we are partnering with many of these equipment builders now. We're also developing future Mastercam versions to be more closely tied to CAD products than they already are. We are modularizing our programming so that Mastercam toolpaths are readily available to run within CAD packages, and to seamlessly open and program native CAD files. Further, we continue to advance our tools, giving programmers the design tools they need. CNC Software (Mastercam), www. rsleads.com/ 711tp-154

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The biggest change for the IQS quality-management software in the next five years will be the creation of a Global IQS Ecosystem and application of mobile devices. This is the logical extension from just helping within a company to extending out to customers and suppliers. Just as the automotive industry pioneered electronic data interchange (EDI) to streamline accounting and inventory transactions, IQS R&D has been working on enabling several supply-chain communications, including, but not limited to, engineering changes, nonconformance reports, part submittals, corrective action requests, et cetera. The fundamental driving force of the ecosystem is that process-driven business improvement cannot be optimized using non-integrated, stand-alone point solutions. Therefore, enterprise applications like IQS are required before we start the electronic communication (just as ERP was needed for accounting and inventory transaction). IQS leads the industry with its ability to support global deployments with a single instance, multi-site, multi-lingual framework. Two major forces drive the system: cost reduction and information flow. The IQS Global Eco-System provides rapid information flow across the supply chain using web services.

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The second area the IQS will be dedicating R&D efforts is toward the application of mobile devices. IQS has been accepted into Motorola PartnerSelect Program. Quality management is a data-intensive process. At IQS, we have optimized our clients' business by centralizing and linking all data associated with quality--from engineering to post production. Motorola's mobile offering takes our streamlining to another level by accurately and reliably capturing data fight at the source. The combination of the mobile data acquisition, and centralized, enterprise quality management will provide tremendous value...

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