Thinking About PLM on the Planet PTC Live -Day 1

June 14, 2011

I’m attending PTC Live 2011 event these days in HOT Las Vegas. Actually, you have no chance to feel Las Vegas weather when you are on the conference. Hotels and huge casinos environment are hiding windows, sunshine and the feeling of time. I’ve been doing live tweeting during the day, so if you want to feel a live pulse of PTC event, you can follow my tweets and Planet PTC tweet stream on PlanetPTC11. In addition to that, I’ve been sharing my photo stream via tweeter. You can get the access to this photo stream by navigating to the following link.

What is on the table?

PTC rocked the event with 3 major announcements – Creo 1.0 general availability, MKS acquisition and Windchill 10.0. Each of these events are significant enough. Creo 1.0 is long awaited and pre-announced before during PTC Lightning Event last year. MKS is a huge step towards the ability to manage a software development process. Windchill is “the biggest in the history” Windchill release. Now, some more details and thoughts.

Creo 1.0

Long anticipated release of Creo 1.0 was announced. Subset of Creo Apps became available today. Here is the list of Creo 1.0 apps and few screenshots I made during the presentation. I recommend you to take a deeper review about Creo 1.0 Apps by navigating on SolidSmack blog.

Creo Parametric –For “history-based” modeling with direct and free-form modeling capability.
Creo Direct – For “history-free” direct modeling to interact directly with the 3D geometry.
Creo Simulate – A simulation app for thermal and finite element analysis.
Creo Illustrate – An technical illustration app for communicating model info graphically in 3D.
Creo Schematics – An app for creating 2D routed systems diagrams, like cabling and piping.
Creo View MCAD – An app to view, interrogate, and mark up MCAD geometry.
Creo View ECAD – An app to viewer tailored for electronics.
Creo Sketch – An app to capture design ideas in 2D. (available July 2011)
Creo Layout – An app for early concept layout work in 2D, used for 3D. (available Nov 2011)

PTC is laying down few interesting concepts together with Creo 1.0. One of the most significant is Creo Common Data model. I had a conversation with Mike Campbell about Creo Apps and some aspects of Creo 1.0 architecture. Common Data Model (don’t be confused with anything related to databases) is about common infrastructure to handle CAD models and interoperability between Creo Apps. According to Mike, PTC is planning to release Creo common data model later in next coming releases to allow 3rd party developers to access Creo Apps data and making some manipulation.

Windchill 10.0

The original date of Windchill release was about 10 months ago. However, PTC was talking a lot about the significance of this event including significant (~$100M) R&D investment, lots of code re-writing and completely re-designed user experience. PTC surprised me by saying that they had a chance to discuss and review Windchill UI with some authorities in the world of UX (User Experience) – Steve Krug. Take a look on the following few pictures showing the Windchill UI compliance with Windows User Interface concepts.

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I will try to provide more examples and links to high-resolution pictures later on.

Mobile, Cloud and more…

PTC lands few surprises in this space of mobile and joined the race of PLM iOS mobile application announcements. Two mobile apps were presented today – Windchill and Arbotext mobile apps. By doing this PTC completely disconnects from Windows Application stack and movement to the future Win8, iOS and Android devices. In addition to that, PTC made minor announcement about availability of Windchill on the cloud platform – Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure.

The Atmosphere

If you like Las Vegas, you can find the environment of the event very enjoyable. Caesars Palace is one of the biggest hotels can entertain you 24x7x365 days for the rest of your life (or until your pockets will be completely empty. I’m not a big fun of gambling, so can say nothing about that experience.

What is my conclusion? PTC made rock solid show today. The team shows integrity and was well orchestrated. I was impressed by a keynote and demo provided by Brian Shepherd. It was clean and except of some problems with PTC Social Links was running smoothly. Some of live demo were very impressive. PTC execs were achievable and schedule was flexible. High speed internet can be a big plus and can improve the quality and streamlining of the information. I’m going to blog later today and tomorrow and share my thoughts about PTC strategy. Especially interesting for me was everything related to the Windchill 10 and associated presentation of “single point of truth”.

Best, Oleg


Design To Manufacturing Process: Bumpy Road?

June 12, 2011

Integration between design and manufacturing is one of the topics that normally hits a lot of discussion in the product development and PLM space. To support this process becomes more and more important in a modern enterprise manufacturing organization. You can ask me why? Let me put is simple – this is one of the most important processes that can drive cost optimization in the companies. Everything a company is making need to be first designed and later manufacturing. If it breaks – nothing can help.

Design to Manufacturing Connection

One of the numbers that always amazed me is what percentage of product cost is defined actually early in the design process. Do you want to guess this number? Well, it is around 70%. I think, this is an amazing number. At the same time, the initial cost planning is something that poorly can be done without getting information about manufacturing, supply and other related elements. Efficient transferring of the information between a design system (CAD, PLM) and manufacturing system (MRP/ERP) is an important element of streamlining of manufacturing processes.

Integration Challenges

Despite the high importance of the integration between design and manufacturing, the reality of many companies shows that few of them can show successfully implemented integrations. There are several reasons for that. The top three, in my view, are as following: 1/ high diversity of engineering and manufacturing processes; 2/dependencies on CAD, PLM, ERP and other home grown systems; and 3/ significant cost of implementation and changes. Each vendor develops his own strategies and relies on multiple technologies and partners to deliver that.

Design to Manufacturing Integration Examples

To illustrate the need and the level of complexity, I decided to pull together few videos that present some elements of integration solutions. The first one is the integration solution between Autodesk Inventor and SAP. The solution developed by Autodesk partner – CIDEON Software.

The next one is the solution developed by CORDYS, Holland based company, which focuses on the development of business process management middleware and tools. What is interesting in this solution is complete Independence of CORDYS from both software vendors manufacturing solution CORDYS integrates.

The following video presents TeamCenter 8 integration with Microsoft Dynamics AX developed by Microsoft’s partner To-Increase. This is another example of "a process like" integration between two packages – engineering and manufacturing.

The last examples show a different approach of integration. Dassault 3DLive solution is providing an interesting approach to access manufacturing information from ERP and other systems via the native 3DLive user interface.

What is my conclusion? The space of design to the manufacturing solution is complex and not covered well, in my view. The demand from customers is significant and the same time the requirements are complicated and solution in a most situation needs to be tailored for every customer. Most of the software vendors are talking about design to manufacturing processes and, at the same time, moving integration to partners, service providers and 3rd parties. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


RSS, PLM Collaboration and Activity Streams

June 9, 2011

Do you know what is RSS? I’m pretty sure a large amount of casual internet users are not aware about what is RSS and what is RSS readers (Aggregators). I even believe there are people that using Google Reader without actually knowing they are using RSS. On the other side, RSS is a technology that in my view can be very efficiently used to improve collaboration.

Enterprise RSS Hub

Time ago, I wrote about Enterprise RSS as an interesting opportunity. Navigate your browser to the following link -How to improve collaboration and information delivery with RSS. You can also take a look on the associatedForrester research paper from 2007 written by G. Oliver YoungEnterprise RSS Tackles Information Worker Overload.

Vuuch – Better Collaboration via RSS?

I was intrigued to read Alex Neihaus comments on Vuuch 4.5 release mentioned Vuuch support RSS as one of the most exciting features. Here is the passage:

A new Home page with activity streams and RSS feed capability. Vuuch 4.5 features a redesigned home page that now offers an activity stream. The Vuuch 4.5 activity stream is a time-ordered list of changes to the projects and deliverables the user is involved with. Unlike consumer social networking sites and their business-targeted clones, Vuuch 4.5 activity streams are specific to the projects and people that the user is currently working with. By “narrowing the focus” to just the things the user cares about, Vuuch 4.5 eliminates the need for users to manually filter the social system’s content to get value from it.

Here is Vuuch video presenting how it works. Take a look an make your opinion. The idea of providing information about changes is not a new. However, to make it RSS-compliant is interesting, since it leverage proven technologies and improve system openness.

What is my take? I think RSS is a good and reliable technology. Web relies on this technology for years. As 2 years ago, I still hold the opinion that this technology is undervalued by vendors in enterprise space. RSS can help to make systems more open and interoperable. The fact Vuuch decided to use it a good sign. On the other side, RSS is probably too “geeky” to become a feature for end users. Many people I talked to are still preferring email simplicity and reliability instead of RSS Reader.

Just my opinion.
Best, Oleg

Freebie.


Corporate iCloud, iPLM Future and Google’s Apps?

June 8, 2011

Well…It happened. The marketing machine of Apple meets the cloud and cloud marketing. The result is predicted – iCloud. If you haven’t had a chance to watch Apple shows this week, you can do. Spend 7.5 min and enjoy the remarkable presentation made by Steve Jobs, including statements “it just works” and lesson learned from mobile.me experiments.

Corporate Cloud

The obvious question I was asking myself was about what is a potential influence of coming iCloud to enterprise software in general and specifically for engineering and manufacturing companies. Some of the scenarios and challenges presented by CAD and PLM vendors can be (with a bit oversimplification) presented as a synchronization of the content from iCloud to multiple places. The first obvious scenario is synchronization of libraries and content between OEM and Suppliers. Other scenarios are possible as well. I read the following article on PC Word – ICloud and IOS 5: New Challenges for Business. Take a time, have a read and make your opinion. I found the following passage resonating:

Lion Server delivers wireless file sharing for iPad. When you enable WebDAV in Lion Server, you can access, copy, and share documents on the server from applications such as Keynote, Numbers, and Pages.

While Apple specifically references its iWork apps here, it seems pretty clear that the company is using them merely as examples. That makes sense because Apple used them to demo iCloud’s document capabilities. But it seems clear that this feature will extend to other apps as well.

Some of the features mentioned by PC Word article as well as some announcements made by Apple in the context of new Lion Server can be interesting. Wireless file sharing on the iPad is probably a feature that can become a favorite among managers in every manufacturing (and not only) company.

The future of iPLM?

I tried to marry iCloud to PLM. So, it turns out my experiment was bad. Actually, iPLM already exists and eventrademarked by Dassault Systems. So, without knowing if Steve Jobs is planning to come to manufacturing companies, the place already taken Enovia V6 iPLM. I wasn’t able to find much about Dassault iPLM strategy and development, except of the following picture.

iCloud and Google Apps

When I was listening to Jobs’ demo (which was obviously brilliant), I tried to find what features of coming iCloud strategy cannot be realized today using Google Apps. Here is my net-net: I can access mails, calendars, documents from any devices. The notion of push synchronization promoted by Apple is important. It solves many scenarios related to content access.

What is my conclusion? The key word for the next revolution in enterprise belongs to “device” and “mobility”. iCloud seems to solve the key problem available everywhere – synchronization. The situation was bad on a single computer (i.e. Mac). However, the synchronization is really bad behind the firewall. The solution that solves this problem can provide a significant leapfrog in the corporate IT and engineering and manufacturing applications. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Revisions in CAD/PLM/ERP: Old Problems or New Challenges?

June 7, 2011

I want to talk about the topic, which is actually is not very new – revisions. I was reading Autodesk Manufacturing Community blog – Vault 2012 Revision Block Integration. It made me think about the problem of revision in engineering software, how different software engineering and manufacturing disciplines solve it.

Revisions in CAD

The support of revisions in CAD has a long history. From the early beginning of CAD systems, engineers had a need to maintain revisions and changes in drawings and later in 3D CAD models. Because of CAD reliance on the file system, revisions where originally considered as something that “file system” can do. As a result of CAD files’ complexity, it wasn’t as simple as managing of Word file revisions. Companies were developed multiple strategies how to manage CAD file revisions. At the same time, revision must be part of every released drawing. Because of this need, CAD systems started to provide the support for automatic reflecting of revisions (and revision history) inside of CAD files and drawings. You can take a look on the How to make a Custom Revision Table? blog article to get an example of advanced revision reflection in SolidWorks. Other CAD systems can do a similar job from the conceptual standpoint. However, revisions are complicated. To handle them right manually is not a simple job. You can see the following SolidSmack Blog – How To Kill All Previous Revisions on a SolidWorks Drawing? as a good example of problems customers are facing on a daily basis. The last (and not only) led companies to develop advanced tools to manage revisions. It was the beginning of PDM.

Revisions in PDM / PLM

At the time PDM system started it was about a “vault” and “revisions”. The idea of documents (CAD) control was dominant. To put CAD files into the electronic vault (so called EDM, TDM or PDM) was a simple task, in my view. However, it raised few problems very fast – 1/not everybody in an organization can/want to use these DM technologies; 2/the output drawings (2D and printed in many cases even today) need to contain the information about revisions. Even if industry of PDM systems passed last 20 years of evolution, it is still about to solve revision/drawing update problem. You can take a look on two videos from Autodesk and SolidWorks presenting the same challenges and scenarios.

In parallel, the evolution of PDM into PLM raised the new set of problems. Product Lifecycle Management introduces an additional set of information. In addition to Documents, you are management Parts and Part lifecycle almost in 100% of PLM implementations. The problem now becomes not only how to find a right revision of CAD assembly, but also to find relevant revisions of Parts/Items. At the same time, Parts lifecycle is completely different from Document revision management. Connection between them creates another set of challenges for every company- how to relate a right drawing version to the right Part Number and how to manage these relations.

Revisions in ERP

ERP systems have a different pattern of the data and revision modeling. ERP is not actually managing versions. The fundamental difference is that ERP is managing “effectivities”. Revision is not something that makes a lot difference to ERP, except one small elements – ERP system needs to have a reference to a relevant version of document/drawing with the right information inside of drawing. It creates another set of challenges. The following videos present examples of integration between CAD/PDM to the ERP.

What is my conclusion? In my view, after all years of CAD/PDM/PLM, the issue of “revision” is still unsolved. Why do I think so? It is because the simple question like “where is my last revision?” or the question like “Where is the up-to-date document, which belongs to the product X?” are still not answered in many companies. Each system in the whole engineering and manufacturing software world has sort of a revision / version notion. However, the new challenge is probably the interplay of revision in different systems. It doesn’t really happen and PLM systems don’t seem to have a reliable solution these days. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM: Work-in-progress vs. System of Records?

June 6, 2011

Recently, I’ve been in a very interesting conversation with one of my industry buddies. It was about a role PDM and PLM systems are playing today manufacturing organizations. To summarize our discussion in few sentences, it was sounded like that: all data management systems (PDM, PLM, ERP) are used as a system of records. People keep in PDM/PLM/ERP information about released products. However, people never used these systems as Work-in-Progress systems. I read a AIIM blog post – Is it ever okay to copy "final" documents to a separate system? I learned that problem of system split is not unique in PLM world. Here is my favorite passage from there:

Both organizations have mature ECM implementations and in both cases have had their ECM programs in place for more than a decade. The original mandate of their programs was to manage all information through its entire lifecycle, following AIIM’s advice to capture, store, manage, deliver and preserve all unstructured content.

But a funny thing happened on the way to ECM nirvana. Both organizations decided to pursue a "parallel" strategy; one system for collaboration and work-in-progress documents and one for "official records" or final versions (often copies) of documents that have completed the collaboration cycle (and yes, the rise of SharePoint plays a part in this decision, but that’s a discussion for another day).

It made me think about relationships between work-in-progress and released documents a bit more.

Vaulting and System of Record

In the early beginning, PDM/PLM started as vaulting systems for CAD. The straightforward need was to "vault" all revisions of design (CAD files and others) and maintain their changes. The main objective was to manage traceability of design decisions. The original ideas, strated as CALS (Continues Acquisition and Lifecycle Support) and Configuration Management (MIL-973 and EIA-649) explored to what we know today about PLM. The notion of WIP (work-in-progress) vs. Formal Control was all the time there. In my view, it developed a notion of "system of records". In parallel, the role early PDM/PLM tools played in the organization and their relationships with ERP also favored ERP as a final system of record that disconnected from engineering and R&D in every manufacturing organization.

Design Collaboration

At the same time, CAD vendors continuously developed the tied connection of CAD and PLM tools. This connectivity helped to establish more efficient engineering work and helped engineers to collaborate online. This collaboration tool helped engineers, but becomes complicated and made designers and engineering life really complex. So, justification of the deployment of these tools created a stigma of complicated and expensive PLM environment. However, when established, these systems helped to make engineering information available across the organization and improved the way company worked with engineering and product information.

Downstream Problem – what is the right tehnology?

One of the most complicated problems in manufacturing organization related to engineering, and product development is the availability of information downstream. It initially defined as 3D information availability, this problem is much broader and related to many other aspects of engineering information. Recently, CAD/PLM vendors recognized the problem. Examples of investment in this space are Dassault acquisition of Seemage and 3DVIA Composer product, Autodesk Inventor Publisher release earlier this year. You may be also interested to watch what Lattice Technology is doing in this space. They pioneered the idea of lightweight 3D format’s proliferation. At the same time, the problem is unsolved and lots of engineering information is still not available and not connected downstream in manufacturing organization.

What is my conclusion? In my view, the time when you can split the problem into the two independent problem is over. Last 10 years we split work-in-progress problems with the system of record problems. Engineering was throwing released engineering information to manufacturing and were fighting tons of ECOs. It is still happening. To develop a new way to work is probably the next challenge. What is your take? Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM User Experience, Windows 8 and the End of Desktop

June 5, 2011

Some time ago, I wrote about future user experience – PUI: Not PLM UI. Future User experience. One of the fundamental elements of user experience for the last 20 years was the desktop. The organization of desktop didn’t change since first was invented together with file system and first versions of Windows.

The Microsoft announcement and preview of Windows 8 made me think about fundamental changes finally started to happen. This is the first time for the last time Microsoft made me think – the game is not over. Yes, lots of things may happen until the release of Windows 8, but I can definitely see – some folks in Redmond are thinking outside of the box.

The Windows 8 preview made me think again about what changes are expected soon of user experience in CAD/PLM world. The following two videos present some ideas. The first one – Autodesk Sketchbook Pro for ipad. You can see a full absence of a mouse as well as touch user experience.

The following one is Numbers for iPad. Many PLM apps have intensive data processing elements. What can be a new paradigm? I think Numbers are a decent example of the directions.

What is my conclusion? In coming years, we will see a growing set of examples of new user experience. Mouse and Keyboard are phasing out. Touch and new forms of user interaction are coming. A good place to innovate… Just my thoughts.

Best, Oleg


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