What a difference a few days make. Last week I was in Denver teaching math to middle schoolers and this week I was in Boston with about 4,000 others attending PTC’s LiveWorx 16. The spotlight at the conference shone on the Internet of Things (IoT) and PTC’s commitment to it.
So, you think that the Internet of Things (IoT) thing is still just a fad? Based on my experience at PTC’s LiveWorx 16 in Boston this week, IoT is becoming an increasingly big part of the future – not only for PTC, but for all of us.
Still not convinced? Just the attendance figures alone from this year over the past couple might help convince you – LiveWorx 2014 (~350 attendees); LiveWorx 2015 (~2,300 attendees); LiveWorx 16 (~4,000 attendees). Attendance numbers don’t lie and that shows the growing interest in IoT. (more…)
Like many of the ingredients in a manufacturing organization’s computer technology alphabet soup, such as ERP, SCM, CRM, not to mention CAD, CAM, and CAE, product lifecycle management (PLM) for years has been touted as being the final frontier for integrating all manufacturing IT functions. Honestly, though, can it truly provide all that the various vendors are promising? I have asked myself that question for several years now: Is PLM a great hope or just another great and continuing hype?
It seems that every vendor defines PLM in a manner that best suits their respective existing product lines and business practices, and not always necessarily the processes of the customers they are trying to serve. Therein lies a big part of the PLM problem. PLM should address processes and not just products, especially the vendors’. Too few vendors still stress the processes they are claiming to improve over the products (and perpetual services) they are selling.
It also seems like everybody (yes, now including just about every CAD vendor big and small) has at least tried to get into the PLM act, regardless of whether they should or should not based on their development and integration capabilities or the needs of their customers. Even database giant, Oracle, has said for years that it wants to be a major PLM player, although the company has eluded that it doesn’t want to dirty its hands with traditional CAD/CAM stuff. Oracle wants to look at the bigger picture, although it has never elaborated on what that picture is.
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.
Autodesk President and CEO, Carl Bass, led a conversation about “Engineering the Future” for the manufacturing industry at Develop3D LIVE 2013.
In a keynote address, Bass demonstrated how a series of major technology trends are shaping the way product designers and engineers work, and how these trends paved the way for Autodesk to create its cloud-based design platform Autodesk 360, which has been accessed by nearly 15 million users since September 2011.
Additionally, Bass announced that pricing for Autodesk Fusion 360, Autodesk’s comprehensive cloud-based 3D CAD offering, will range from $25 to $200 per user, per month. Originally unveiled at Autodesk University 2012, the cloud technology behind Autodesk Fusion 360 offers universal access where design data is the center of the design process. It also supports an open design environment, allowing designers to incorporate and modify CAD data from virtually any source and share it.
Carl discusses the Cloud and how it is transforming design:
In the following video, Carl discusses how Autodesk is solving tough design problems with Fusion 360, and provides examples of how Fusion 360 provides designers and engineers with clear choices on not only what they want to use, but also how they can buy it, and what it costs.
This is interesting news because I’m about to go hands-on with Autodesk Fusion 360. I’ll tell you how it goes.
Regardless of the weather, San Francisco is a great city on many different levels and I just returned from an event there with a wide variety of weather. The city just hosted the annual event that Autodesk uses to present and demo its next-generation products for all of the industries it serves — MCAD, AEC, Civil, Games/Entertainment, etc. — known as the Autodesk Media Summit. It was two days, but my favorite part of the event was when the new products were discussed and actually shown.
Throughout the event, Autodesk had a lot to say about a lot of new products, technologies in the works, and trends. We heard a number of interesting things from several Autodesk executives on many topics, ranging from cloud and mobile technology initiatives to the DIY movement. The cloud was touted throughout the presentations as the enabler for democratizing design and technology. This point got a little tired after being repeated several times by different presenters, but the point was well taken, nonetheless.
The various industry product suites were introduced and Autodesk stressed the integration of workflows with the products that comprise the various product suites. Autodesk also pointed out that it has made a real effort to make suite more cohesive so that they lok, feel, and behave in a similar manner. On the MCAD side, although Inventor and AutoCAD got their due, it was PLM 360 that was the center of attention and the star of the show. Buzz Kross also said that PLM should and will apply to more than mechanical design, engineering, and manufacturing. In other words, don’t be too surprised to see it move to other industries, such as AEC, civil/infrastructure, and others.
I’ve just barely scratched the surface of what was covered at the Autodesk Media Summit 2012, but will provide comprehensive coverage of the event in the next MCADCafe Weekly e-Magazine that will be published and available on April 9, 2012.
Last time, based largely on vendors’ marketing language, PLM was defined as a comprehensive system and process that integrates, interfaces, and interacts with every other IT system within an organization, including CAD, ERP, CRM, etc. While this occurs at a peer level, the PLM oversees and, to a certain extent, controls all data exchanges.
I think, however, there is a better definition and model of what PLM actually should be. Unlike many vendors’ definitions, PLM is not a peer system to other systems, such as ERP, SCM, and CRM. Rather, PLM is the intellectual property backbone of an enterprise. While the other subsystems deliver indirect cost-reducing improvements, none of them have any measurable impact on delivering top-line, revenue enhancing results and only a minor impact on lowering direct costs. The only way to positively impact top-line revenues is to develop and build innovative, higher-quality products, and PLM is the only system of the four that addresses these issues.
In this context, PLM transforms ideas to profits, capturing customer experiences, and generating ideas for new products. Along the way, the intellectual property undergoes several transformations (such as ideas to concepts, concepts-to-prototypes, prototypes-to-products, and so on) and interacts with the other systems. Ideally, a well-implemented PLM system provides a comprehensive framework that lets all the other systems and disparate groups of users to easily interact with an enterprises’ intellectual property so anyone can add value to it.
I think the revised definition and vision finally get to the heart of what a PLM was always envisioned to be, but thus far, executed and implemented by only a few PLM vendors – an intellectual property asset manager that can be used universally within an organization.
Ultimately, the success of PLM is dependent on two things. First, it is imperative that vendors communicate comprehensively and truthfully what their PLM offerings can do and integrate with, as well as what their customers can reasonably expect in terms of gains and ROI. Second, customers must educate themselves to the true needs of their organizations and how they expect PLM to fit in with the rest of their existing and future IT infrastructures. Only then will customer expectations and vendor promises meet for improving processes and resulting products through intellectual property asset management.
Can vendors pull off what PLM was truly meant to fulfill? I think so, and more and more vendors will do so, increasingly with cloud-based services that are just beginning, but should decrease implementation costs and increase productivity through being available to anyone anywhere.