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Posts Tagged ‘PLM’

Rules And Requirements Changing For PLM

Thursday, March 17th, 2016

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.


Looking At The Remainder: 2016 MCADCafe Editorial Calendar of Topics

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

It’s already mid February, and with two months well on their way to being history this year, it’s not too late to tell our readers about what we’ll be covering for the remainder of 2016. The MCADCafe editorial calendar below reflects what we perceive as some of the most important topics today, as well as feedback from our readers and other supporters with what they feel is important and relevant.

The main theme for each month will be covered in an extended article or series of articles so that the topic can be covered more comprehensively.

We’ll also be covering some of the major MCAD events throughout the year, reporting what we see and hear from vendors, partners, and attendees. All of the events we attend will include daily written coverage and Tweets throughout event days, as well as video and audio interviews.

If there is anything we missed or if you have any thoughts of topics or events you would like to see covered in 2016, feel free to contact me directly at or 719.221.1867. I’m always open to suggestions and new ideas!

We look forward to an exciting 2016 and providing you with the MCAD content you want most for improving your design, engineering, and manufacturing processes and top and bottom lines.

Keep your source for all things MCAD because 2016 promises to be a great year!


Looking Ahead: 2015 MCADCafe Calendar of Topics

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

It’s almost November, so with just two months left of this year, it’s not too early to start thinking about what we’ll be covering in 2015. The calendar below reflects what we perceive as some of the most important topics today, as well as feedback from our readers and other supporters.

The main theme for each month will be covered in an extended article or series of articles so that the topic can be covered in a more comprehensive way. We’ll also be covering some of the major MCAD events throughout the year, reporting what we see and hear from vendors, partners, and attendees.

If you have any thoughts of topics you would like to see covered in 2015, feel free to contact me at or 719.221.1867.

We look forward to an exciting 2015 and providing you with the MCAD content you want most for improving your design, engineering, and manufacturing processes.

Keep your source for all things MCAD. It’s going to be a great year!


Going Mobile with Autodesk’s PLM 360

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

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


PTC Live Global 2014: IoT and PTC Creo 3.0 Take Center Stage

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Along with over 2,000 other attendees, we just returned from the PTC Live Global 2014 conference and exhibition in Boston. It was a very good show at a very good venue — the Boston Convention Center.

The two biggest things we noted at the conference were PTC’s involvment and commitment to the Internet of Things (IoT) and the introduction of PTC Creo 3.0. We also noted a more upbeat crowd attending the show this year than in years past. The attendees we spoke with said the lighter attitude was due to PTC’s announcements, PTC’s corporate direction, and an economy that continues to slowly improve.

PTC Technology Update – PTC Live Global 2014 Keynote


Coming Soon — CAD/PDM Evaluation Series

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

As most of us know who deal with the digital design world, for many years, all of the major CAD vendors have been stressing the vital importance of managing the design and manufacturing data created using their software. Surprisingly though, even after all of the talk of imminent disaster, still relatively few design and manufacturing companies, especially SMBs, have a formal PDM system of any type in place beyond Windows Explorer and Excel.

Some of the reasons we hear for PDM not being deployed include the perceptions (and experiences) that PDM is time consuming and expensive to implement. Also, some companies are perfectly happy with a sort of homegrown approach – Windows Explorer and Excel spreadsheets. In many cases these provide legitimate reasons for not implementing a formal PDM system, but times and circumstances are changing, and reasons for not implementing PDM are becoming weaker and weaker.

While most SMBs have made the transition from 2D to 3D, we have found that many of these same companies are finally exploring how to manage the mountains of CAD and associated product development and project data with a dedicated PDM system. These companies are seeking real solutions that are more capable and scalable than handling just files and folders with Excel spreadsheets and Windows Explorer. For example, PDM systems that connect the design department to the shop floor; will connect to other systems, such as MRP; and are scalable, so the system can grow as the company grows.

Because of the interest shown by our readers in PDM, we are in the process of exploring and evaluating several options for product and project management.

Keep in mind, these evaluations will be PDM systems only. Although the line between PDM and PLM systems is blurring, we’ll focus and restrict these evaluations to PDM only.

Check out the following video that clearly delineates the differences between PDM and PLM.


NC Software Sales Making a Strong Comeback

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

I recently read some encouraging news from CIMdata contained in its soon-to-be-published Version 21 of the CIMdata NC Market Analysis Report. They estimate, that based on end-user payments, the worldwide NC software and related services market grew by 14.4% in 2011. The estimated end-user payments grew from $1.333 billion in 2010 to $1.525 billion in 2011. The market growth rate in 2011 reflects strong overall PLM spending, continuing the recovery from the downturn in the global economy that manifested itself in dramatically higher machine tool sales into the manufacturing industry. Estimates are that worldwide shipments of machine tools increased by 35% from 2010 to 2011, which is directly related to the volume of CAM software employed to drive these tools. CIMdata projects that in 2012 growth in manufacturing will continue and end-user payments for NC software will increase by 12.4% to $1.714 billion.

Since 2002, the NC software market has shown modest but steady growth as global economies generally improved. There has been worldwide growth in the sale of machine tools and manufacturing output; greater emphasis has been placed on the efficient operation of machine tools as manufacturing firms have strengthened their competitive positions, and the overall PLM market, of which CAM software is a component, has continued on a strong growth path during this period. CAM software purchases are related to all of these factors—particularly machine tool sales.

Alan Christman, CIMdata’s Chairman and author of the NC Market Analysis Report said, “2011 was an excellent year for manufacturers and most providers of NC software. Most firms saw good growth in 2011, and CIMdata expects this growth to continue in 2012 and beyond. The continued strength and growing importance of global manufacturing powers like China and other emerging economies should result in increased investment in advanced technologies like CAD, CAM, and other segments of the overall PLM market. We have seen moves documented in the popular press to bring manufacturing back to the US, which will require still more investment in advanced manufacturing technologies to be competitive with economies with lower labor costs. The next few years should continue to be strong for NC and the broader PLM market.”

This is good news for not only the NC software market, because since 2009, when all engineering/technical software sales sucked, most manufacturing software sectors are today experiencing and enjoying a resurgence in sales. So, is engineering software for manufacturing really emerging from the depths of despair of just a couple of years ago? I’d have to say, yes. Not only are sales stronger, but a number of software vendors have socked enough cash away to make a number of notable acquisitions, making them stronger. Sales aren’t like the “old days” yet, but indicators are definitely moving in a positive direction.

Autodesk PLM 360 — Social PLM For Everyone?

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

This morning, Autodesk presented and launched Autodesk PLM 360 (fomerly known as code name Nexus at Autodesk University).

Participating in today’s presentation and launch were:
Brenda Discher, Vice President, Manufacturing Strategy & Industry Marketing
Buzz Kross, Senior Vice President, Design, Lifecycle & Simulation (new title?)
Steve Bodnar, Vice President, Data Management

The underlying themes for the presentation were “PLM for Everyone” and “Always On.” The presenters consistently stressed that Autodesk PLM 360 is more than just file sharing. It was made clear that PDM (on premise with Autodesk Vault) is for the design department, whereas PLM (PLM 360 and the cloud) is for the enterprise by providing crowdsource capabilities for sharing data and supporting business processes. It was made clear, though, that you do not need vault to use PLM 360 — it will work with any PDM system.

The phrase that kept coming up throughout the presentation was that Autodesk PLM 360 is, “Insanely Configurable.” That borrows pretty heavily from the late Steve Jobs’s product introductions at Apple, and I’m not so sure that PLM 360 is in that league, but time will tell. The fact that it is customer configurable, however, is noteworthy in and of itself. It was also said that no beta user took more than three days to get PLM 360 up and running. No details here, but that’s easy to follow-up on and confirm.

Autodesk claims that its PLM 360 will completely change the PLM landscape, primarily because it costs a fraction (10%) of legacy systems, and requires no special hardware, consultants, or programmers for implementation. Of course, this needs to be proven, but those are pretty heady claims when compared with the competition.

Even though it admits it’s entering the PLM market late, Autodesk is hoping to take advantage of current PLM customers who are dissatisfied with what they have. The company also is claiming that, “The cloud is the perfect technology for PLM” and “If you can use a browser, you can use Autodesk PLM 360.”

As far as pricing goes for PLM 360, the first 3 users are free for all access, and this will resonate well with really small businesses. Additional regular users are $75/month/user. What Autodesk calls participants (casual users) are $25/month/user — although it’s a little unclear what distinguishes a participant over a regular user.

Regardless of price, security has historically been one of the biggest barriers to wider PLM acceptance. Autodesk assured us that that piece has been thoroughly addressed, as well as data backup, and disaster recovery. All good things.

Autodesk PLM 360 is available now and cocnsists of ~140 apps (modules for specific functions?). According to Autodesk, it spent a lot of time and effort maximizing the user experience and minimizing the learning curve. Kross said, “The user experience is key, because the UI for most software [including PLM] has not really progressed since 2000.” I’ll agree there.

When asked what distinguishes Autodesk PLM 360 and other competitive cloud offerings, Kross responded, “Ours is real and we are in the market.”

So, will Autodesk PLM 360 fulfill the promise of “PLM for everyone?” Will it be where business apps meet social apps for social PLM? That’s hard to say at this early stage, but it seems like Autodesk has a lot of the pieces in place. I’ll reserve judgement, though, until I actually experience PLM 360 hands-on myself.

I’ll let you know how it turns out.

For More Information:

Virtual Prototyping and Manufacturing Simulation – Obstacles To Acceptance

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Like all aspects of the product development process, to justify its existence, simulation and test productivity are becoming an evermore pressing issue. Vendors say that in many cases, customers are demanding significant tangible proof of ROI in months, not years.

A major obstacle to wider acceptance of virtual prototyping and manufacturing simulation is a persisting lack of interoperability between CAD, CAM, and digital prototyping in the bigger PLM scenario. In this context, working toward data interoperability is not regarded as a value-added activity. Overall, however, one of the primary goals of digital test and simulation is to make the overall engineering activity sequence more of a value center and less of a cost center. Another goal is the ability to simulate the entire product lifecycle – from concept through production through sustainment to retirement.

Integrating the analytical, virtual, and physical is disruptive and is an obstacle to acceptance because the integration forces people to work differently than they had done previously. This integration only works through evolutionary implementation, and not necessarily everything all at once.

Many of the digital prototyping tools are still too difficult to use, and vendors need to pay more attention to ease of learning/use. Ease of use is important because vendors, even Tier 1 automotive suppliers, with their low margins cannot afford to hire and employ Ph.D.s to run their digital prototyping software.

On the other hand and in their defense, though, these same vendors are not interested in simplifying (“dumbing-down”) their software so much that they can solve only relatively simple problems. This is a big issue, and one that is even bigger than CAD, where ease of learning/use have made great strides for most vendors the past couple of years. Conversely, many vendors feel that the legacy workforce is not well-suited or qualified for the digital prototyping tools available today.

One way to address the ease of use issue is to provide a scaleable user interface on test/analysis applications to suit different user needs and skill levels at different times.This is tough to address because it requires flexibility and adaptability.

Finally, there is the trust factor that can be an obstacle. In the simulation/test arena, there is an adage that roughly goes, “Everyone trusts test results except test engineers, and everyone trusts analysis results except analysts.” Just about everyone agrees, however, that even with the best digital methods, physical testing will never go away.

The decision of whether to use physical versus digital prototyping is a delicate balance of tradeoffs. In fact, many companies employ virtual testing and simulation as a decision-making tool for conducting physical testing.

So how will digital prototyping ultimately succeed? It’s not hardware or software that makes or breaks digital prototyping, it’s people. While great people can overcome marginal or bad hardware and software, marginal people can cause the best hardware and software to fail. In this context, digital prototyping is no different than any other technical endeavor with regard to the absolute importance of the “people factor” for success.

PLM 2012 Part II – Can Vendors Pull It Off?

Friday, January 13th, 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.

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