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Jeff Rowe
Jeff Rowe
Jeffrey Rowe has more than 40 years of experience in all aspects of industrial design, mechanical engineering, and manufacturing. On the publishing side, he has written well over 1,000 articles for CAD, CAM, CAE, and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the … More »

Going Mobile with Autodesk’s PLM 360

August 6th, 2014 by Jeff Rowe

In just about any industry or market segment you can think of, the words “cloud,” “mobile,” and “app” are about as ubiquitous as it gets. PLM is proving no different, although acceptance and implementation seem slow in coming. However, the tide is beginning to turn.

PLM, of course has received considerable support from large organizations, and is finally being embraced by significant numbers of SMBs. To date, the two biggest obstacles for SMBs considering PLM, much less implementing it, have been cost and complexity – whether real or perceived.

Although hardly the first or only one, a couple years ago Autodesk launched a major effort to bring PLM to the SMB masses with the introduction of cloud-based PLM 360. More recently it launched a PLM 360 app for iOS and Android mobile devices.

Autodesk PLM 360 Mobile App Overview

Autodesk provides the benefits of PLM to companies of all sizes. Implementation is not exactly a “no-brainer,” but is far easier than many more conventional PLM systems. As with most software-as-a-service (SaaS) models, some of the key benefits of cloud-based PLM are low up-front costs, no capital expenditures, and no installation/implementation. There is, however, the issue of the perpetual payment cycle that turns some prospective customers off. On the other hand, the pay-as-you-go scenario seems to be becoming more accepted.

The Autodesk PLM 360 SaaS model simplifies purchasing for getting started with PLM quickly. The subscription model also enables companies to start small and expand incrementally as their needs grow, which adopting companies appreciate.

Some the applications for PLM 360 include:

  • Program management
  • Engineering
  • Operations
  • Supply & procurement
  • Quality
  • Sales & marketing
  • Service & support
  • Classification & reference

PLM 360 is available and priced in two different environments – Pro that is priced at $75/user/month; and Enterprise at $150/user/month. In addition, Participant users ($25/user/month) have a limited set of capabilities including the ability to approve workflows as well as search and view records and attributes, associated documents, and report builder.

In an online presentation I saw earlier today, a quick poll showed that approximately 20% of participants said they had at least downloaded and worked with the new PLM 360 mobile app. Not a bad uptake rate for an app that has only been available a few days and weeks. I can think of some technology uptake rates that weren’t that good even after a couple of years, although we won’t name names.

I downloaded the PLM 360 mobile app (it’s free) on my iPad and iPhone and connected it to my already established cloud-based account. A very simple process. As a matter of fact, the only cumbersome aspect of starting to use the app was wading through and accepting the license agreement.

Admittedly, the preliminary experience was OK, but as you would expect, quite a bit different than the Desktop. For starters, the obviously smaller screen real estate can make viewing a challenge, but not terribly so. I couldn’t view attachments that were CAD drawings, but I’m sure that is easily solvable. PLM 360 mobile app functionality also seems limited compared to the desktop version, but I think the app would be fine for viewing/reviewing project and product data.

It just so happens, I am in the beginning stages of a trial evaluation of Autodesk’s PLM 360. I’ll be evaluating the cloud-based side of the offering, as well as the mobile app. I’ll be discussing my experience (good and bad) sometime early this fall.

As I evaluate PLM 360 desktop and mobile, I’d welcome any feedback you may have had with it so we can compare notes.

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