For many years all of the major CAD vendors have been touting the importance of managing the mountains of design, engineering, and manufacturing data created using their software. Conversely, most manufacturing organizations, large and small, have made the transition from 2D to 3D and are finally investigating how to best manage these mountains of CAD and associated product development data beyond files, folders, Excel spreadsheets, Window Explorer, and FTP servers.
It is estimated that approximately 70% of commercial CAD seats today still are not connected to any product data management (PDM) system, and the CAD/PDM/PLM companies are very aware of this situation and are doing everything possible to change it. It has come down to an aggressive SMB-marketing of existing “scaled down” or “right-sized” PLM solutions, as well as introducing of new opportunities by leveraging cloud and open source solutions.
The biggest challenge in the SMB space is promoting an answer to the question, “Why change?” At the end of the day, if a company can get things done by using Excel, Office and email, a very compelling alternative solution to change is needed. Small doesn’t necessarily mean simple. Small- and medium-sized business is complicated and competitive. Cost and implementation challenges are still two key elements that every vendor struggles with when trying to provide a viable PDM solution for SMBs.
Various sources claim the following benefits of PDM, including:
30 percent to 70 percent shorter development time
65 percent to 90 percent fewer engineering changes
20 percent to 90 percent faster time to market
200 percent to 600 percent higher quality
20 percent to 110 percent higher productivity for engineers
While these are impressive figures, many SMBs are still not convinced of the benefits of PDM and remain on the fence as to whether to implement it or not. This indecision presents both a challenge and an opportunity for making believers of SMBs in PDM.
Generic Product Data Management Overview (From Wikipedia)
Organizations implement PDM for many different reasons, but virtually all implement with common goals, including:
Securely controlling product-related information
Sharing product knowledge for collaboration
Searching for and reusing product information.
The two biggest words and phrases that resonate with SMBs regarding PDM are “preconfigured process workflow” and “design reuse.”
As much as I have tried to resist the temptation to gush all over myself, I’ve had a tough time restraining my enthusiasm for the myriad cloud-based computing and storage options that have come online in the recent past and their potential. OK, it’s time for a reality check – facts, fallacies, myths, and risks.
Keep in mind, though, that Onshape is online only and always requires a Web connection to be functional. With connectivity so universally ubiquitous, this shouldn’t pose a problem for a majority of prospective users. At this time, the company has no plans for making Onshape available offfline, so if this is an issue or concern, then Onshape may not be a design tool for you. However, that said, I’d encourage you to check out Onshape.
Also, I pointed out that as interesting Onshape is, it is by no means the first or only cloud-based technical/design/engineering software offering. As a matter of fact, it turns out there are quite a few, including:
Admittedly, this is not an exhaustive list, and is not meant to be. I just wanted to provide some of the cloud-based tools currently available. I also realize that the above have different features and capabilities, so it’s not an “apples to apples” comparison.
While the following video is a few years old, and some of the technologies discussed have been superseded or retired, it provides a good overview for novices of what cloud computing is about.
San Francisco is always a great destination, but even more so when the weather is sunny and warm as it was this week while we attended the REAL 2015 Summit, Autodesk’s initial foray into making sense of a term it coined – reality computing. In Autodesk’s vernacular, creating data is what ultimately is used to create reality, but more about what that actually means later.
REAL 2015 was nothing like any company-sponsored event I had ever attended. It was all about 3D capture (scanning/sensing), computing (modeling), and creating (additive/subtractive manufacturing). It was more like a sophisticated maker faire than a traditional trade show. I’ll admit that I was a bit skeptical about coming to REAL 2015, thinking it was going to be a 2 ½ day Autodesk sales pitch/advertisement to a captive audience, but was pleasantly surprised that it was nothing of the sort, and was more analogous to a TEDx event, which is a very good thing.
Capture was put into the context of sensing that is becoming ever more ubiquitous (think smartphone cameras); Compute was about the cloud, mobility, social media, and analytics; and Create was about the increase of accessible fabrication. These three branches were talked about going from feasible to transformational, as well as Autodesk’s initiative as a company of then transforming implications to applications.
With what seems like forever, we have witnessed the ongoing and perpetual consolidation of the CAD industry as companies continue to get swallowed up by others. Some of the acquisitions have been successful and some, well, not so much. We’ve witnessed CAD companies acquiring CAD companies, simulation companies acquiring CAD companies, and other types of technical software and service companies acquiring CAD companies. With all the attention seemingly focused on the CAD side, it’s sometimes easy to forget that there also has been a significant consolidation through acquisition on the CAM side, as well the past several years. Let’s take a quick look at a few of these acquisitions as the CAM circle continues to get smaller.
As impressive as it is, last month we gave 3D printing a bit of a dressing down based on personal experience. The blog post was a reality check and a look at the technology not through rose-colored glasses. That’s not to say, though, that 3D printing is still one of the biggest innovations on the manufacturing front, if not the biggest, in recent memory.
Even with the major advances that have transpired in 3D printing, there are still a number of skeptics who view the technology as little more than a promotional stunt or gimmick.
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2015 took place this week. It’s an annual tech festival that began in 1967 that today attracts more than 160,000 attendees checking out about 3,500 exhibitors. Over the years, some of the more significant technologies first released at CES have included:
1970 – VCR
1981 – CD player
1985 – Nintendo Entertainment System
1998 – High-definition TV
2000 – Satellite radio
2003 – Blu-Ray DVDs
2015 – 3D Printing(?)
We didn’t attend CES this year, but we have been monitoring the activities in a pavilion dedicated to innovative technologies, including 3D printing.
Next week, along with what is expected to be over 9,000 attendees, we’ll be in Las Vegas for Autodesk University (AU). Yes, it’s an Autodesk vehicle, but it’s also much bigger than that.
AU is analogous to a big box store (ironically, it starts on Cyber Monday – December 1) with one-stop shopping for technical software for a broad range of industries – manufacturing, media/entertainment, GIS, AEC, and so on.
If you’re coming to Las Vegas for AU, it’s always a good idea to know your objectives for attending and what you hope to get out of it. In other words, come with an agenda based on asking the following questions on behalf of yourself and your company looking ahead five years:
What are you working on now and what do you want to be working on?
What will be the core competencies of our company and our competitors?
What technologies are our competitors acquiring and implementing, and are they new or complementary?
What technologies will emerge and be vital to our business?
Will our company be able to use methods and technologies from other industries?
Will our company grow strictly by organic means, or through partnerships, mergers, and acquisitions?
How will our company’s staff differ from todays and what skill sets will be required?
How will we deal with data – interoperability, legacy, management, etc.?
These are all important questions, because regardless of position today, no company can afford to remain complacent if they hope to remain competitive.
AU is always a good place for monitoring industry and technology trends, market direction, future requirements, industry rumors, and R&D within Autodesk and many of its partners.
AU, like other live software/technology events are great for meeting with Autodesk folks, exhibitors, peers, and potential customers. It’s also an opportunity to learn at the myriad industry-specific classes that are offered, as well as unparalleled networking. With all that we do via email, texting, phone calls, Skype, Web meetings, etc., AU is a great venue for face to face discussions and conversations before, during, and after each day’s formal events. Some of the best inside “dirt” (ranging from successes to frustrations) we pick up on is outside the confines of the conference itself, and we always look forward to catching up with old friends and meeting new ones.
Always expect the unexpected at AU, because you might just hear, see, or learn something that will drive a solution to a problem, or a new direction for you, your company, and your career.
So, if you are going to AU 2014, don’t just go for the sake of this year, but also for considerations down the road.
Autodesk, Inc. announced that it will be investing up to $100 million in 3D printing companies over the next several years. The Spark Investment Fund, which will be operated within Autodesk, is the first of its kind for the 3D printing industry and will invest in entrepreneurs, startups, and researchers pushing the boundaries of 3D printing technology and accelerating the third industrial revolution.
Check out the video below from May 2014 at the MakerCon Bay Area event where Carl Bass, the president and CEO of Autodesk, announced the company’s first venture into digital fabrication hardware:
Autodesk Spark Demonstration With Carl Bass, Autodesk CEO
Coming about six months after its major Windows releases, Autodesk, Inc. announced today the releases of AutoCAD 2015 for Mac and AutoCAD LT 2015 for Mac.
Although Autodesk estimates that only 1-3% of all Macs run CAD software, this is still a significant milestone for AutoCAD for the Mac platform, now in its fifth release. Significant because in the five years since the first release of AutoCAD for Mac, the Mac platform base and presence has expanded from about 15 million to today’s approximately 80+ million. A nice increase in potential market.
We just returned from one of the most interesting events of the year for us and one that we always look forward to – SIGGRAPH 2014. SIGGRAPH (short for Special Interest Group on GRAPHics and Interactive Techniques) is the name of the annual conference on computer graphics (CG) convened by the ACM SIGGRAPH organization.
The first SIGGRAPH conference was in 1974, and this year’s event was held in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia.
As usual, we found the most interesting aspects of the conference to be the SIGGRAPH Emerging Technologies program and the exhibit floor.
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.