Accelerate 2015: the PLM way of making things

At the second annual Autodesk PLM 360 users’ conference, The Future of Making Things was the topic for the kickoff keynote presentation.

0 September 9, 2015

In his keynote at the Seaport Hotel and World Trade Center, Scott Reese, VP of Cloud Platforms at Autodesk talked about the “three big disruptors” affecting manufacturers around the world.

First, Reese said, “size is no longer an advantage as even small companies have access to product development technology like 3D printing.”

Second, end customers are becoming increasingly demanding – while “exercising less brand loyalty.”

Third, as more products are connected to the cloud, “designers have think about mechanical, electrical and software – as well as connected services,” said Reese.
For designers, he added, “innovation is always required but we never seem to have the time. There’s a lot of going back to the drawing board, but we (at Autodesk) want customers to stop designing stuff that already exists.”

Reese highlighted an extreme case of one client that had the same bolt having been designed and built at 17 different locations.

“Focus on your revolutionary design, not evolutionary design,” said Reese.

He noted that using a cloud implementation like PLM 360 and algorithms, designers could identify similarly shaped objects using applications to analyze and index shapes.

This would mean, for example, that when an engineer started to design a certain bolt, the smart application would autocomplete the design with an existing part housed on the enterprise PLM system.

The PLM Customer Advisory Board panel session on the main stage took issue with the term PLM itself – product lifecycle management. The board members are all end-users of PLM 360 and often responsible for software enhancements, such as scripting and classification features.

One board member, Rick Noriega from specialty valve and filter maker VACCO, preferred to call PLM an “electronic document sharing system.”

The reasons for implementing a PLM system vary from customer. One user at the conference from the cosmetics industry cited keeping track of compliance regulations as a compelling reason.

Another user, glass composite manufacturer Owens Corning, noted the common problem of losing senior people to retirement. The company’s Global Engineering Leader, Michael Strait, told the conference, “We were operating on tribal knowledge. Processes weren’t documented and we couldn’t train new people.”

Owens Corning does have security issues with supply chain partners and PLM, but has reached a compromise of sorts, according to Strait. “We plan to pull finished project data off of the cloud and bring the documents inside our firewall and our SharePoint internal intranet.”

That PLM 360, a relative latecomer to the PLM platform space, was built with the cloud in mind has proved to offer an advantage at the implementation stage.

Noriega’s company started its rollout with just a few licenses of PLM 360. “We were up and running fairly quickly – at least to evaluate the product – because it was a cloud-based system.”

The future of Autodesk PLM 360 gets boosted when enhancements are announced, too.

The August 2015 release, said Jared Sund, Autodesk product manager for PLM, includes the introduction of Third Party Licenses, and enhanced participant functionality – now users with the participant licenses can compare BOMs and change BOM configurations.

“Autodesk wants to bring people into our PLM product development process,” said Sund. He invited participants into the PLM 360 beta program, an Autodesk feedback community, calling it a “sandbox environment.”

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