Nexus for Developers: Empowering developers to build connected and collaborative workflows

By Subbu Vishnubhatla, Director, Product Management, Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division

Nexus for Developers Empowering developers to build connected and collaborative workflows

Engineering Reality 2024 volume 1

Accelerate Smart Manufacturing

Built on the founding principle of providing customers with the “Freedom to Innovate,” Nexus for Developers is an OPEN platform that empowers teams to accelerate development processes through transparent, standardised access to a critical mass of developer resources. Between open APIs, data, and the open platform, customers can now have solutions integrating Hexagon technologies and other technologies of their choice using Nexus platform services.

Designed for Hexagon engineers, 3rd party developers, and system integrators, Nexus for Developers is a centralised source for required tools, Software Development Kits (SDKs), sandbox environments, documentation, and infrastructure. Teams can utilise Nexus to develop new cloud-native applications more efficiently. They can modernise existing desktop applications through cloudification, facilitate real-time collaboration, obtain advanced visualisation, and gain reporting analytics all in one platform.

Nexus for Developers empowers teams to unleash their full potential by removing the information silos and synchronising data with other data generation entities (software, processes, machines, operators, etc.) upstream or downstream in the product life cycle. It can deliver more value to all Hexagon customers and partners by integrating with the growing ecosystem of Hexagon products. By leveraging open, transparent, and standardised data produced by Hexagon and 3rd party tools, teams can simplify their workflows, address feedback more quickly and unlock hidden insights across the manufacturing lifecycle.

Nexus for Developers modernises the developer experience while enhancing team connectivity by tapping into swift and current data flows. By aggregating and contextualising data from different sources through integrations, developers get real-time visual insights and increased agility when working across tool, team, and discipline boundaries.

Now, let’s see as a use case how Nexus for Developers has solved a complex challenge for Applied Solutions Group: One of our internal teams not only used Nexus to develop modern cloud-based tools that improved efficiency but also created a path to digitise their end-to-end workflow.


Bridging simulation and reality: The unique challenges of Applied Solutions’ in-house calculators

Applied Solutions, an in-house engineering team specialising in designing and optimising electro-mechanical systems such as electric drive units, aircraft gearboxes, and actuation systems; they are the “Proof is in the Pudding” for Hexagon’s design and engineering (D&E) tools. Applied Solutions team generates new concepts, creates engineering drawings, builds prototypes, and carries out testing.

As with any design and development team worldwide, Applied Solutions has various specific calculation needs and custom reporting requirements. Typically, Applied Solutions’ engineers write such custom tools in Python, Excel, or MATLAB. These are not heavyweight numerical software that Hexagon develops into commercial offerings such as Nastran for finite element analysis (FEA), Adams for multi-body dynamics and many other leading engineering software brands. These tools still embed high-value in-house know-how, experience, and benchmarks. For Applied Solutions, we assembled a list of over 60 in-house calculation tools including the following:

  • Calculations for Electric Drive Unit performance requirements based on vehicle parameters
  • Time-domain simple vehicle simulation for multi-speed vehicles
  • Concept Motor Sising
  • Motor Efficiency Estimation 
  • Inverter Efficiency Estimation 
  • Vehicle gear shift simulation 
  • Synchroniser engagement simulation 
  • Concept Design Iterators “Quick-E” according to in-house design rules and limits 
  • Planetary gearbox design iterator for wind turbine drivetrains “QuickWIND” according to in-house design rules and limits
  • Wind turbine cost modelling 
  • Rapid fatigue calculator 
  • Order plotting tools
  • Concept down-selection plotting tool 
  • Time history data pre-processorLubrication network sising calculations
  • Limits and Fits spreadsheet
  • Gear train backlash calculator
  • DFMEA spreadsheets
  • DVP plans

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Unfortunately, these stand-alone calculators come with an array of challenges:

  • People who write these tools leave or retire without passing knowledge or data on to the next person
  • Controlling spreadsheets and Python scripts across teams of specialists unfamiliar with UIs, repositories, or programming languages is prone to errors
  • Everyone in globally distributed teams not using the same calculations and traceable versions (Applied Solutions, for instance, have staff in the UK, India, and China), which creates silos and inefficient use of resources and bandwidth by rewriting the same tools
  • Traceability of inputs and outputs versus other software definitions — for example, a bolted joint standard calculation is based on geometry from CAD, material properties and FEA-derived load distribution results

Nexus for developers: Redefining engineering workflows for the modern era

Nexus for Developers offers a unique way to solve these challenges. By leveraging Nexus platform services, teams can drive productivity and convert these different calculation spreadsheets into a unified cloud-native application accessible to everyone on a modern user interface (UI).

Nexus for Developer integrates these calculators into the ePower train workflow (see picture on page 85) and adds a collaboration element for engineers to automate data analysis and real-time sharing — the result: huge time savings and productivity gains.

By leveraging Nexus for Developers, the Applied Solutions team could develop the cloud-native application and run it on the Nexus cloud platform with only minimal support requirements from the Nexus team.


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“Nexus for Developers enabled us to automate and customise our own workflows to drive productivity and keep us competitive. We can connect different solutions in a data-centric way and collaborate with geographically dispersed teams.”
Chris Halse
Head of Engineering
Applied Solutions Group

An Applied Solutions engineer can now open a new document (i.e., SDC) in Nexus, collaborate with a colleague on the calculation anywhere in the world and utilise the same traceable input data. They then could easily store and share the outputs for sharing through upstream and downstream apps throughout the workflow.

Furthermore, other technology vendors and customers can integrate into the Smart Data Contract (SDC) that already has multiple feature-rich Hexagon products. Developers can access or contribute to the critical mass of software component data and utilise the Nexus platform services computing and visualisation capabilities to further amplify the value of their solution offerings.

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Nexus for Developers offers the best of both worlds: Access to Hexagon’s open ecosystem of products and the capabilities to constantly enrich their offerings, thereby accelerating development and shortening time to market.

The next step in this example and the framework can then be taken on by Applied Solutions and used to implement more tools so that it has its own internal “app store.” These “apps” do not need Hexagon MI developers. The Applied Solutions team can build the tools with the Nexus for Developers toolkit and deploy them on the cloud with only a general engineer-level programming background — you do not need to be a full-stack software developer.

“We’re taking the first steps by putting some common calculations into cloud-based tools all engineers can access. In the future, we plan to implement many of our processes into Nexus to use models and data from multiple sources effectively.”
Chris Halse
Head of Engineering
Applied Solutions Group

Engineering Reality 2024 volume 1

Accelerate Smart Manufacturing