DFM Summit #12 – Cloud Manufacturing Panel

September 25, 2015


I had a chance to attend DFM Summit in Brooklyn, NY yesterday afternoon. More information and program can be found here. You can browse program and recording from previous summits. I hope video recording should be available later, so bookmark the link for your record.

The panel discussion called – Cloud Manufacturing. I was delighted to join and moderate the discussion together with Jeremy Herrman from Plethora, Carsten Hochmuth from aPriori and Jonathan Schwartz from Body Labs. You can see more details below.


One of my observation is related to the growing number of companies providing online services to help companies of all sizes and individuals to manufacture products. Think about globalization, connectivity and growing eco-system of manufacturing services. This is where company like Plethora is coming with a service available for engineers inside their CAD system to validate manufacturability and order a part. This is where aPriority cost management system can be helpful to validate cost online. And this is where 3D modeling services like Body Labs can help to create a realistic representation of humans that can be used by manufacturing to support variety of mass-customization scenarios highly demanded by customers today.

My presentation from the panel is here. Below, you can find few slides from my deck speaking about changes in manufacturing, growing trends of globalization, connectivity and cloud services. Together, it creates a potential future for something I call manufacturing network – an online eco-system of manufacturing companies, contractors, suppliers and individuals.



What is my conclusion? Small is a new big. Manufacturing is changing together with growing demand for mass customization and online services. What was possible only for large manufacturing companies 10-15 years ago becomes available for small manufacturing companies. The number of such companies is growing. Navigate to the following Bolt.io blog speaking about growing investment in hardware startups. And the demand for connected cloud manufacturing services will grow too. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM and New Manufacturing in a Networked World

September 22, 2015


For the last decade, many industries learned lesson or two about disruption and how internet and other technologies can change the reality of their businesses. It happened to publishing and newspapers. The way we consume news is radically different (although we still can see printed newspapers around). Uber and Airbnb are leading the trend of changes transportation and hospitality business.

I think changes are coming to manufacturing too. For the last few decades, manufacturing became global with companies leveraging market, design, engineering and manufacturing facilities located around the globe. The growing specialization in specific manufacturing verticals created industry of contract manufacturers and suppliers. Most of these companies are acting like independent entities, obeying some rules and trying to optimize their behavior.

Small is a new big. You don’t have to be a large company with established manufacturing facilities to manufacture things today. New production technologies and global manufacturing environment created a new opportunity for small teams and companies to innovate to create new products. But these small entities have to be organized in a different way. Hence an increased demand for collaboration, communication and optimization.

Next month, I’m going to learn more about new manufacturing and innovation at CIMdata workshop – A CIMdata Collaborative Innovation & Product Development Workshop. The detailed agenda is here. I’m super excited to join an group of innovation leaders Taylor Dawson of FirstBuild, John B. “Jay” Rogers of Local Motors and Dr. Svetlana Dimovski of BASF and to share my thoughts and learn about future of manufacturing in a new connected world.

Here is a short passage from CIMdata workshop introduction:

With rapid advances in digital technology and hyper-connectivity around the globe, the early 21st century has all the signs of a transitional time with no clear pathway to the future. Complexity is increasing as familiar boundaries are being altered forever and information is growing exponentially. While PLM has been embraced by many as a successful business strategy and more recently has emerged as a platform for innovation, significant challenges remain. Companies want to embed business processes with intelligent workflows in the tools to help easily identify experts, get close to customers, collaborate externally with partners, and reduce operational cycles with better internal collaboration, yet they struggle with strategic, cultural, and technology questions.

It made me think about future relation of manufacturing and networks. The dependence on networks in our lives is growing every day and is not just limited to communication. Manufacturing companies are going to have a lesson of networked world. It will be impossible to optimize the performance of single manufacturing entity without relevant network information. It will not happen overnight. Companies will try to get connected and operate more intelligently. Those companies that will be able to transform into new connected reality and leverage the power of network will create a significant competitive differentiation for themselves.

What is my conclusion? Networks made a transformative influence on the way we live, work, and conduct business. Increasingly manufacturing companies are leveraging market, design, engineering, and facilities located around the globe. The networking paradigm will apply to manufacturing companies and will be transformative. The growing specialization in specific manufacturing verticals will create a new type of manufacturing company, one that is capable of leveraging networks, allowing them to optimize performance, improve collaboration, and reduce cost. Intelligent PLM software with a networked mind can provide a competitive power to future manufacturing. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of watcharakun at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


PLM 101: Product Lifecycle for Hardware Startups

September 21, 2015


If you’re in manufacturing business, I’m sure you’ve heard about PLM (Product Lifecycle Management). And the thing you probably heard are “PLM is for large companies”. As far as you are concerned about your hardware startup business, you might think PLM is not important and you can do it later. This is can be a true when you work in your garage on some prototypes. However, as soon as you start thinking how to bring your product to at least handful of users, you can find that following some basic PLM principles can save you time, money and help to bring product with right cost and quality.

Why PLM is important? The nature of new hardware project is very intense. The team is rushing the schedules between working on the prototype, kickstarting a fundraise program and planning how to manufacture at scale. It is hard to setup a fully fledged product lifecycle solution at this stage. Last year, I shared some of my thoughts in the article – Why Kickstarter projects need PLM? I’ve been learning how manufacturing companies and especially hardware startups are using different engineering software – CAD, CAM, CAE tools, data management software (PDM and PLM).

I have some bad and good news for you. The good news – the chances are you are already doing product lifecycle management. Because, without that you cannot design, engineer and manufacturing stuff. I’m sure you do some design, save it in some locations, backing it up, managing versions, producing Bill of Materials, collaborating with contract manufacturers, planning QA and setup your testing and compliance processes. The bad news – you are doing it in a poor manner. The ugly situation can be in case you don’t do it at all and hope it will magically happen. Here is the thing – it will hit you at a moment you don’t expect. I’ve heard many stories about lost copies of CAD files and sending wrong versions of design and specifications to suppliers. I can add odds that you miss some information in your bill of materials and, as a result, the estimation of product cost is far from realities.

The challenge for product development team – how to balance between the need to setup product data records, manage baselines of your design, bill of materials, make an assessment of product cost and inability to create fully fledged product lifecycle management solution. After all, your hardware company is barely few months old and are running out of time to deliver product on time and with projected cost.

The last one is one of the key things. What are two most important questions you ask before developing any project? (1) How many items I can sell and (2) what is the cost to build it. These two things are absolutely fundamental in manufacturing regardless on the size and scale. The same holds true for any hardware project you do. Without estimation of product development and manufacturing cost, you can make your manufacturing enterprise not profitable or just run out of money.

What is my conclusion? It is hard overvalue the importance of establishing your PLM strategy at early stage in your hardware startup lifecycle. But how you can do that? The important thing to learn about data management and PLM – this is not a project you should implement and forget. Product lifecycle management is a vital part of engineering and manufacturing activities. Once you are setting up it right, you will be able to expand and make it more sophisticated as far as your business will be growing. In the next blog posts I’m going to share some of my thoughts about basics elements of product lifecycle strategy and possible ways to implement it.

Best, Oleg

Multiple views of product lifecycle

September 17, 2015


One size doesn’t fit all. This is very true for engineering and manufacturing. Product lifecycle is a term that I can hear a lot these days in conversations with industrial companies of any type and size. It is a thing manufacturing companies of different sizes are comfortable with. There are many reasons for that. One which I hear a lot is the fact manufacturing is moving from product into services business. Thinking about cost, compliance and global manufacturing are also can bring you to think about overall product lifecycle more.

Product lifecycle is an attempt to look over the full scope of stages related to the business of product business – business models, sales, customer requirements, engineering, manufacturing, support, retirement, recycle. There are many variations of these phases and this is where it starts to be very interesting. Especially when it comes to the point of thinking and implementing about product lifecycle management.

So, how different is product lifecycle? Is it possible to come to a universal view of product lifecycle that can be adopted by manufacturing companies of all sizes and different industries? These are questions I asked myself when talking to different companies – large OEMs and small hardware startups. To be honest, I don’t have answers on these questions today. Maybe tomorrow… Or never… Who knows? At the same time, I wanted to share with you few examples of how people in engineering and manufacturing are thinking about lifecycle.

A very generic view of product lifecycle can be found on Wikipedia here. The good think about such example – it certainly fits all. But at the same time, it is almost useless from a practical standpoint. The best use of such diagram is to provoke a product lifecycle strategy discussion within your companies and partners.


CIMdata – a well know PLM analytical and consulting company shared an interesting perspective of circular economy and product lifecycle. This is something I found very useful for global and innovative manufacturing brands, but not only. I like this big picture – helpful for global OEMs strategically thinking about innovation and manufacturing.


Another view on a lifecycle I captured two weeks ago at Autodesk PLM360 conference in Boston. Autodesk made it part of their “Future of Making Things” presentation keynote and this is part of Autodesk Product innovation platform vision. In my view, it helps to think about many things that important for manufacturing these days – mass customization, collaboration, flexibility, cost and services.


Another view on product lifecycle is hardware startup lifecycle. The number of small manufacturing companies is growing these days. You might remember my blog last year – Why Kickstarter projects need PLM. I captured the following diagram from Upverter website and twitter stream. Upverter is software outfit developing cloud-based electronic design system. This lifecycle diagram is good because of represents an important and specific milestones of hardware project delivery.


What is my conclusion? To think about product lifecycle is absolutely important for every manufacturing company. But product lifecycle is different based on the size and type of a company and business. Product lifecycle management can give you a good strategic framework to think about your business regardless of your size. Then implementation stage come. This is where one size doesn’t fit all. What is important for hardware startup is different from small manufacturing supplier and, at the same time, different from manufacturing OEMs. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of Feelart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Will Autodesk PLM360 make a difference for SME?

August 31, 2015


SME was always a different nut to crack for PLM vendors. My last year article “Why PLM vendors stuck to provide solution for SME” shares some of my ideas why it happened. PLM vendors attacked smaller manufacturing companies with flexible platforms and out-of-the-box solutions. But it was though. Many implementations failed. Even more went completely out of budget. The PLM implementation project usually is the most complicated part.

It seems to me, cloud is the last refuge of PLM vendors to increase an adoption of PLM by SME companies. Autodesk was one of the first large vendors that took cloud technologies as a central part of their strategy. Among variety of cloud products Autodesk developed for the last few years, Autodesk PLM360 is the one that offer new type of PLM solution – SaaS application available via subscription from public cloud.

Over the weekend, my attention caught by Engineering.com article Is PLM an Option for SME’s? by Verdi Ogewell gives an good check mark on what is happening with Autodesk PLM 360. It brings a perspective from analysts (CIMdata and Gartner) as well as testimonial from one of the long time PLM360 customers (Roulunds Braking) originally started to use PLM 360 when it was Datastay (company and product that provided core technology for what is current called PLM 360).

Cloud is clearly solving the problem to ramp up PLM system quickly. Stan Przybylinski of CIMdata explains why is that:

“For the small and medium sized enterprises (SME) targeted by Autodesk with PLM 360, the Cloud is an easy, low cost way to get started on PLM. There are really no services required, which is a stark contrast with the legacy on-premises leaders.”

Integration is remaining a very painful thing in PLM implementations. Which confirms some of my thoughts that future of manufacturing will depend on solving old PLM-ERP integration problems. The following passage can give you some idea how and why it is hard for manufacturing companies to decide about PLM-ERP integrations:

The connections to the ERP-system are often surrounded by manual work involving spreadsheets.How did Roulunds solve this problem? Mark Lawrence tells me that they have been pushing this issue during the last three years. “But these things take time, and it’s still on the table. The whole idea that I’ve raised is to integrate it with SAP via SAP’s own integration software. There are no connections right now, but that’s what we’re looking to do in the future. When we update information in Autodesk it would update SAP automatically, and if we update SAP it would update Autodesk,Then the system will track which information was updated and at what time, whether it goes through an approval process in the meantime or if it is fully automated. These things have to be decided.”

But, it is wrong to think that cloud is a silver bullet that will change PLM world for SME companies overnight. Autodesk is growing PLM 360 use base and revenues. Engineering.com gives a data point for $72M revenues for Autodesk cPDM, but didn’t provide a product breakdown Autodesk is selling in cPDM segment. One of the conclusions that SME customers are still remaining a tricky problem to solve even for Autodesk.

But nothing comes easy in the world of PLM for product realization processes among SMB companies. “Even cloud-based software comes with investments and necessary planning. For example, it is vital to plan for migrating data, organizing content within the application, and structuring the user environment for easy content access and change management,” Gartner’s Halpern concludes.

What is my conclusion? Cloud is an important element to change PLM from heavy weight on-premise projects into agile and lean solutions. PLM360 provides a very interesting solution that done a lot things to create modern browser based user experience and leverage public cloud infrastructure for PLM projects and implementations. Still PLM implementations and integrations are remaining though problem for PLM. Will PLM360 found a magic formula how to crack SME segment? This is a good question to ask. I’m coming to Accelerate 2015Autodesk PLM360 conference in Boston this week and hope to learn more and share it with you. Stay tuned…

Note: you can register to Accelearte 2015 keynote presentation streaming online here.

Best, Oleg

Why “collaborative change” can challenge PLM platforms?

August 27, 2015


The only permanent thing in life is change. The same is very true for engineering projects. We are changing things all the time. New products are introduced as a modifications of existing ones. Customers are demanding improvements. Mistakes can happen. There are many situations when change is required.

Teamcenter blog introduced an interesting classification of changes in the article – The Future of Change Management. One of the issues mentioned in this classification caught my special attention and it is related to concurrent or collaboration. Here is the passage explaining specific "collaborative change":

Since products can have many interdependencies, it is not always good to stay isolated. Engineers must be able to coordinate their changes. Change systems will support several types of collaboration. If changes are tightly coupled, they will have the ability to work on the same branch, always seeing the latest working versions of content in that branch.

In other cases, more ad-hoc collaboration is needed. An engineer is working on a change when the system identifies that some reference content (maybe a connected component) has an open change. The engineer will be able to pull the contents of that change into the current working context to ensure there are no conflicts.

There is also need to share working content among several changes. Engineers will be able ‘promote’ their working content into a sharable space, where other users may access all shared content. This can be used for virtual reviews, where the latest working content of the product or a system must be integrated.

Collaboration is such an interesting word. We apply it to some many situations and it comes in so many flavors. The technologies for collaboration developed intensively for the last few years and it was driven by multiple factors. One of them is the demand for more connected application behavior – our life is getting more connected. We are applying modern web and social network behavior in our business scenarios. At the same time engineering and manufacturing business is demanding better collaboration between silos – engineering, manufacturing and supply chain to improve product cost and quality.

It made me think about some potential challenges for PLM platform in supporting highly demanded collaborative scenarios. A traditional data management approach assumed data locking that prevented data from being changed by more than one users. It is an efficient technique, but it potentially can result in not very pleasant user experience or limitation on how people can address changes collaboratively. Many applications in such situations are ending up with brutal "synchronization" buttons or similar behaviors.

Another complexity aspect is related to notifications. We like to be notified about changes. Notification is a challenge for many PLM developers trying to make it user friendly. However, in a highly collaborative environment, notifications can become a nightmare of users. Who wants to get thousands of notifications every day?

What is my conclusion? Business environment is demanding higher level of collaboration and coordination. It can improve business workflows, product quality and lower product cost. At the same time, it can create new challenges to PLM platforms that historically designed to work in a transactional way and can be not ready to support new collaborative application nature. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

BOM and global manufacturing options

August 10, 2015


Everything becomes global these days. The same applies to manufacturing. It comes in variety of forms. To compete in a global market, manufacturing companies are looking how to leverage global locations for low cost labor, bringing manufacturing closer to customers across the globe and many others. These and many other things are creating demand for engineering and manufacturing software to support engineering, manufacturing and supply chain processes in a distributed global environment. Some of my earlier thoughts about that are in earlier posts – Product Lifecycle, Supply Chain and Data Networks; PLM and manufacturing in networked world.

Over the weekend, my attention was caught by CIMdata commentaries publication – Collaborative Manufacturing: Critical for Success in Today’s Complex Heavy Equipment World. It speaks about complexity of manufacturing products in global environment using multiple plants. To solve this problem better collaboration between engineering, product planning and manufacturing is required.

Article brings examples of Siemens PLM solution to solve the problem of engineering and manufacturing collaboration. One of the key elements is so called – Global Manufacturing BOM. The following passage can give you short description of what is that:

Global Manufacturing BOM supports the ability to automatically author an MBOM from an Engineering BOM (EBOM) based on sourcing information. A plant-specific MBOM can be created from the EBOM or another existing plant-specific MBOM. The product configuration is automatically ported to the manufacturing structure during creation, with each plant getting a unique manufacturing structure. The solution maintains a link between the manufacturing structure and the product structure. This also enables the ability to automatically track and apply design changes over time. Siemens PLM Software’s Teamcenter solution provides the capability to automatically create a manufacturing structure for each plant based on the product structure and the advised fabrication and supply strategy (e.g., supporting make/buy decisions).

Global Manufacturing BOM supports deviations for individual plants so that companies can leverage local low cost sourcing opportunities. It also helps companies reduce unique manufacturing part numbers per plant, which leads to simplified inventory. Using this tool to review and compare MBOMs from different plants helps companies derive and use global and local MBOM best practices, which supports continuous improvement to their manufacturing processes.

Although, the example of global manufacturing BOM was made in the context of multiple plant production, it can be used to find optimal production environment. Global manufacturing BOM can help to identify manufacturing options not only between production plants of the same factory, but get across supply chain networks and contractors. It made me think about potential challenges such implementation can create for many existing environments:

1- Global identifications system of parts, which allows to identify parts made by multiple manufacturers, provided by multiple suppliers.

2- Additional level of BOM complexity – configuration of Bill of Materials to support multiple MBOMs in addition to product variants and configurations.

3- Combined network model of manufacturing including multiple plants, contract manufacturers and supply chain that can support process of manufacturing optimization in a global environment.

What is my conclusion? Multiple plants is an option often used by global manufacturing companies. PLM solution that can support multiple plants and integration between engineering and manufacturing environments was demanded long time by multiple customers I had a chance to meet. These days I can see even bigger challenges especially for new type of manufacturing facing multiple manufacturing choices – manufacturing in house, establishing multiple manufacturing locations or working with contract manufacturers. To manage product data lifecycle in such environment as well as to find optimal manufacturing solution is not a simple task. It brings additional requirements for global manufacturing BOM to be supported in PLM environments. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net



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