How real is the case for Global Part Number System?

November 23, 2015


Last week at PI Congress in Boston, I attended the presentation – Utilizing Industrie 4.0, IoT and Related Platforms to Boost a More Interdisciplinary Approach to Product Lifecycle by Dr. Martin Eigner. Industry 4.0 is a trending topic together with IoT, but what caught my special attention is actually part of presentation speaking about interdisciplinary approach in PLM.

The complexity of products is growing and we need to expand a horizon of management information about product beyond current boundary. This is a main point behind future BoM – integrated and interdisciplinary.


The future system, according to Dr. Eigner, will have a capability to span wide between requirements planning down to the manufacturing resources and process.


I like the idea and think it very powerful vision. One of the thing Dr. Eigner mentioned in his presentation was related to the fact future belongs to global part numbers. It made me think more about Part Numbers, Identification and classification.

I wanted to bring my 2 years old blog first- The future of Part numbers and Global Identification. In a current manufacturing environment, product information is going beyond borders of your company and even beyond your stable supply chain. The diversity of manufacturers, suppliers, individual makers combined with increased amount of e-commerce is creating the need to use product identification more broadly and maybe in more synchronized and standard way.

I’ve been watching the development of Product schema as part of This is probably one of the most interesting publicly accepted product definition schema used online. Pay attention it uses GTIN.

On the opposite side of the world, enterprise systems – PDM, PLM and ERP are making a case for insignificant Part Numbers. My recent blog – Why to use significant part numbers in 21st century raised a wave of discussion online and offline.

The main point I captured in this discussion is related to database identifiers and product classification. It seems to me, most of people are missing these two things. The reality of all PDM / PLM systems today is RDBMS. In this database driven world, most of PLM systems are preferring not to expose identification outside and lose control of identification assignment. It simplifies logic especially when it comes to mapping of data between different systems and change management.

So, how systems are going to survive in the future manufacturing networks? In the future, data is going to be even more intertwined between domains and systems. It will be hard to survive without stable identification and it will make a case to create global part numbering schema for systems to rely on for future operation.

What is my conclusion? Manufacturing is getting more complex, connected and dependent on multiple organizations and systems. In such environment, global part numbering system can provide a potential pain relief to integrated multiple systems in an organization (requirements, software configuration management, PDM, PLM, ERP) as well as to provide a foundation for future network of manufacturers and suppliers. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Picture with PNs credit to eBay link



Re-Imagining PLM for the future business

November 18, 2015


I had a chance to speak at PI Congress Boston yesterday. The topic of my presentation was to raise awareness about misalignment between major mature PLM platforms, realities of manufacturing business today and new technological and business platform – internet.

Environment and technologies are changing fast. Over the past 10-15 years internet, cloud and mobile made a revolution in the way we live. Businesses have the same demand to leverage technologies to improve their operation, but not only. The technological shift is so fundamental that it changes the nature of business environment, disrupting existing companies and business models.

Internet is a new platform for business. Those companies that understood the transformative level internet as a platform brings to manufacturing will succeed in the future business. There are multiple examples of how re-imagining enterprise software. It won’t happen overnight. The approach we can see in the enterprise is to innovate by segment. Don’t try to replace a complete enterprise software landscape, but replace a specific process. Few examples – payment process, customer care process, Visitor management process, etc.

Internet is also changing the nature of products and business opportunity in front of manufacturing. It comes down to the ability not only sell hardware, but also selling software services based on this products. Together with that we can see significant trends changing value chain and production economics. In parallel, the demand of customers today is to get personally configured products. The era of mass-customization is coming.

The reality of major PLM platforms today is the fact most of technologies and platform foundation is going back to 1990s. All PLM platforms are presenting so called ORM (object relational modeler) on top of RDBMs technologies. Nothing wrong with RDBMs, but last 10-15 years of web, cloud and internet developed created lot of new technologies that can better fit the new reality of business and technological environment.

Existing PLM platforms reached a plateau – slow ROI, costly, slow to bring new features and changes. SMEs do not have the resources to throw at large evaluation and deployment projects and larger companies are dissatisfied with a technology that has changed very little in the 10-20 years since its roll-out and offers limited short-term ROI.

You can see below slide deck of my presentation.

What is my conclusion? The disconnect between customer demands and platform capabilities has led to the need to ask some very important questions as to the future of the PLM industry and the need for change to avoid extinction. Existing PLM paradigm represents a major conflict between the way companies are operating in the reality of internet driven enterprise. It brings a new to re-think the way we manage data and business processes. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

DS 3DEXPERIENCE: Access any data and virtual twin

November 17, 2015


I spent some time yesterday watching Dassault Systemes 3DEXPERIENCE Forum live streaming from Boston. Speakers – Bernard Charles and Monica Menghini of Dassault Systems, an impressive line of thought leaders – Jeremiah Owyang, David Rose and others. It was an opportunity to get some refresh about DS strategy and gather data points about solutions. My special attention caught few slides that can give some perspective on DS thinking and strategy.


Few years ago Dassault came with a new strategy – 3DEXPERIENCE. I captured the following slide that, in my view, gives a simple enough definition of what 3DEXPERIENCE platform is about – access, browser, search and visualize data from any application (including legacy and competition).


It sounds compelling. During the presentation, DS presented video of how to use 3DEXPERIENCE integrated tools from conceptual design to visualization.

3DEXPERIENCE System approach & Virtual Twin

A refreshed slide showing Dassault generation of products and vision (each one captured about 10 years of development). There are four, for the moment – 3D design, DMU, PLM and Business Experience. I was surprised a bit to see “Virtual Twin” buzzword in the title (note – PTC is using “digital twin” buzzword explaining a model that contains information about physical products)


I liked the following slide indicating that DS is focusing on how to get an easy access to the holistic information about product including system approach and multi-disciplinary data.


3DEXPERIENCE – Cloud and Mobile

Finally, a slide that gives some “refresh” on what DS is doing with cloud and mobile.


It is a bit unclear, but I captured few data points. Dassault is supporting public cloud hosting. Amazon Web Services indicates that you can get Dassault Systemes products hosted on AWS public cloud. Outscale is a company that stands behind hosting services and operation. Details and pricing are not clear. I wasn’t able to find any link with product prices.

Any devices, any browsers and mobile platform logos (Android, iOS and Microsoft). The only logo that I didn’t find was Mac/OS. Does it mean Dassault Systems is not providing native Mac/OS applications? It is not clear.

What is my conclusion? I think, fundamental of Dassault Systems platform and application didn’t change. 3DEXPERIENCE platform is a collection of integrated applications focused on providing access to information in a different forms – search, browse and 3D navigation. At the same platform, I can see clear direction to expand platform and applications in additional domains. The notion of “experience” gives a holistic flavor to that, which is a good capture of customer demand for better user experience and system approach. Technology vision slide (above) can give a range of applications and hints on future acquisitions Dassault Systems can make to turn strategy into reality. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

PLM and ALM trajectories – integrated system development

November 16, 2015


More than 10 years ago, I had a conversation with one of telecom manufacturing companies in Europe. I asked – how do you manage to put a right software version in a telecom equipment company was manufacturing. The answer was shocking – we don’t know. It happens “automagically”.

It is hopefully not a case today. We can see software everywhere these days. Modern products are not mechanical devices. In many cases, it is a huge computer. Think about Tesla Model S, which is according to Elon Musk is a computer on wheels. We can even see how software features become actually “features” that people are buying.

In addition to that, software become an important part of business for manufacturing companies. We can see many devices that actually “enabling” software subscriptions for manufacturers. Also, there are hardware devices that completely dependent on selling software services.

Software is also a source of potential danger. Because of high dependencies on software, wireless and mobile connectivity, software can introduce a potential danger and way to hack any device (including your car on the road). This is a source of concern for many manufacturers these days.

So, software is eating the manufacturing world. The question how does it impact product development and manufacturing processes and software?

Few of my earlier blogs on this topic to catch up – The importance of software BoM for hardware security and How to combine engineering and software BoMs.

One of the fundamental things in PLM today is the ability to manage multi-disciplinary data. It comes to mechanical parts, electrical and electronics and software. All together, it is a system with a specific behavior. To model it will become a next challenge for manufacturers and an opportunity for software developers.

In my view, the domains of PLM (product lifecycle management) and ALM (application lifecycle management) are gravitating towards common system modeling, which can allow engineers using the best tool for product development, but control system behavior and component lifecycle in a unified way.

Last, week, I had a chance to speak at webinar by Polarion software. You can watch webinar recording here – The Internet of Things (IoT) and Good Software. Polarion is an example of ALM tool providers. The question how ALM and PLM tools can be integrated is the most important one. Both PLM and ALM vendors are looking for the answer.

For the references, below my slides from the webinar.

What is my conclusion? The role of software in manufacturing is increasing everyday. Modern cars are “computers on wheels”. We have embedded computers everywhere these days. Product features are defined by software as well as our security can be at risk in a new “hardware enabled software”. The integration of PLM and ALM tools into a system that can model product behavior is an important problem manufacturing companies will have to solve sooner than later. This is a note to PLM / ALM architects and software developers. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Product Lifecycle for New Hardware Projects

November 11, 2015


New Product Introduction (NPI) is a tough work. PLM vendors scoped NPI or NPID as a solution to prevent delays in new product development and deliveries. In a nutshell, a typical PLM NPI solution is a waterfall project management activity with milestones. Nothing wrong with project managements and delivering of milestones, but here is the thing – although major milestone are clear, things are usually not going according to the plan. The communication between people is not following the original workflow and many NPI solutions tend to be disconnected from realities.

Recent development of agile methodologies are hinting that it might be a better way to organize NPI process. I share some of my thoughts earlier this year – Why PLM should revisit NPI process. The main problem is in fact, too much focus on milestones (launch data and stage gates) and very little focus on capturing right features from customers and insuring all things are well defined. Projects get failed because of different reason – wrong cost estimation or missing parts in Bill of Materials. In a first case you will have way too expensive product and misalignment with retail or sales. In the second case, you product scheduled for holidays will be delivered 2 months later.

New product introduction is a problem for large companies and small teams. But while large manufacturing company can probably recover from unsuccessful product launch, for new hardware project, a failure to deliver on time and with a projected cost can be life or death situation. There are many examples of such failures today on Kickstarter. Hence why Kickstarter projects need PLM.

Bolt, Boston-based VC firm focused on funding hardware startups recently published a series of blog post outlining typical steps in new hardware company development. Navigate here to read more. The following picture gives you some sort of high-level view.


My attention caught two publications on Dragon Innovation blog – Product Manufacturing Lifecycle Overview and Manufacturing Request for Quote Process. Dragon Innovation is a company helping new hardware teams and startups to scale up manufacturing process and succeed in mass production. Learn more to navigate to Dragon Certified program.

Dragon’s blog post explains the importance of planning on each stage of product lifecycle process – 1/ Product design and engineering, 2/ Getting ready for production, 3/ Mass production; 4/ Updating, maintaining, and improving the product during mass production; 5/ Product end of life. There are very good and important tips related to each stage of product lifecycle. It gives you a good framework of topics to follow up. It also highlighted a potential failure point that is not coming from specific product design and technology aspects. It comes from bad organization. I specially like the following passage:

It often happens that the biggest challenges occur not through failure to design or build properly, but from inadequate planning and organization resulting in the need to redesign products, change factories, or scrap material. These challenges can be minimized with realistic planning, taking into account the different stages of the product lifecycle from the manufacturing point of view.

Dragon Innovation’s articles made me think about multiple challenges small manufacturing teams can experience when launching new products. Many of decisions hardware team is taking are multi-dimensional and related to factors like – production batch, component supply and communication with contract manufacturers. Cost is a factor, but the importance of cost is different during the stages of new product introduction. In many situations, coordination is more important than following stage-gate process.

What is my conclusion? To organize work around new product launch is a crazy task. Especially when it is a new hardware project. There are many projects these days raising money and finding a way to manufacture products and scale production. The lifecycle of these projects is different from a typical NPI workflows. They are using a combination of multiple tools to get job done, organize project and process around it. My hunch, not many PLM systems were designed for this type of process. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Pictures credit Bolt blog post.


Future Product Lifecycle and Digital Networks

November 2, 2015


Integration is an important element of manufacturing. Time ago, the meaning of integration was to build a manufacturing factory which created virtually everything needed for manufacturing at the same place. Rouge River Plant by Ford Motors was one of them. Finished in 1928 it became the largest integrated factory in the world. Henry Ford’s dream was to organize a factory combining precision manufacturing with standardized and interchangeable parts and a clear division of labor. Here is quote from Robinson Library article.

The largest industrial complex in the world at the time, the complex would eventually include a steel mill, glass factory, and automobile assembly line. Virtually everything required to build and assemble a Model T was manufactured on the premises. The final assembly line was transferred from Highland Park in 1927. In 1930, the Rogue River Plant covered 6,952,484 square feet and employed 81,000 men.

Fast forward almost 100 years. Manufacturing is different. Integrated plants are history now. Global manufacturing and supply chain is a reality of today’s world. In my presentation at COFES 2015 earlier this year, I’ve been discussing data networks as a new way to support a complexity of manufacturing environment. The picture below shows suppliers of new BMW 3 series.


Each product is a system.The growing complexity of manufacturing environment and products creates the demand for new product lifecycle architectures. These architectures will be able to support management of multidisciplinary product data (mechanical, electronic, software) and will operate as a global distributed data network.

I’ve been thinking about a role of networks in the future of manufacturing and product lifecycle. I’ve been reading Edge article – Digital Reality A Conversation with Neil Gershenfeld [1.23.15]. It is a bit long, but I would recommend it to anybody working on engineering and manufacturing technologies these days. Neil Gershenfeld, Director of MIT Center of Bits and Atoms gives you a perspective of future rethinking of manufacturing.

Engineering and manufacturing processes will be digitally integrated, but physically distributed. In this digital future, we will be able to ship data to make manufacturing local. Here is the passage which explains that:

To rewind now, you can send something to Shenzhen and mass manufacture it. There’s a more interesting thing you can do, which is you go to market by shipping data and you produce it on demand locally, and so you produce it all around the world. There’s a parallel with HP and inkjet printing. HP’s inkjet division is in Corvallis, Oregon because they had to hide from Palo Alto because they were told that inkjet printing would never scale, it would never be fast enough. But their point was a lot of printers producing beautiful pages slowly scales if all the pages are different. In the same sense it scales to fabricate globally by doing it locally, not by shipping the products but shipping the data.

But this is not a final stop if apply a complete product lifecycle paradigm to that. In the world of Ford-T product left the factory and never came back. We have some elements of recycling today in manufacturing. Here is a glimpse of the future:

If you take this alignment between mainframes, minicomputers, hobbyist computers, PCs, the research tools we’re using are like the mainframes, the fab labs are the minicomputers. They’re being used to do the equivalent of invent the Internet. The next step is we’re doing a lot of work on machines that make machines. You don’t go to a fab lab to get access to the machine; you go to the fab lab to make the machine. To do that we’ve had to rip up CAD-CAM, machine control, motion control, all the ways you make stuff, to make machines that make machines. That’s the next step. Over the next maybe five years we’ll be transitioning from buying machines to using machines to make machines. Self-reproducing machines. But they still have consumables like the motors, and they still cut or squirt. Then the interesting transition comes when we go from cutting or printing to assembling and disassembling, to moving to discretely assembled materials. And that’s when you do tabletop chip fab or make airplanes.

What is my conclusion? Majority of manufacturing today is point-to-point. We can define things, design and engineer them, plan the production and make things at the end. There are lot of hype of internet of things today. To me the most important element of IoT and PLM convergence is how we connect them together into digital network in the way that each element virtual or digital will be able to define the network and empower it. Similar to internet, it will grow into a network that won’t require a central control – a departure from point-to-point manufacturing in the future of product lifecycle. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Engineers are not asking about cloud and it’s okay..

October 27, 2015


I like surveys. They can help you to discover what people think and motivate to make analysis. My attention was caught by a survey Worldwide CAD Trends done by British-based Business Advantage. This year it surveyed 635 CAD managers and users in several countries. Thanks upFront.Ezine article The state of MCAD industry 2015, which skimmed results of the survey. You can see the visualization (a-la Gartner Quadrant) below

The state of MCAD industry 2015

The following passage is outlining the results:

The results are shocking: Highly-hyped technologies — like cloud-based CAD, virtual reality, and pay-as-you-go monthly subscriptions — suffer from low use and low importance. Few design firms care about them, let alone use them. The media darling, 3D printing, fares better by making it into the Emerging category. Newer technology, like mobile CAD, just gets its nose into the all-important Leading category, while 3D modeling blows away everything else.

I’ve been writing about cloud and implication of these technologies on CAD, PDM, PLM for the last few years. So, probably my blog is one of these that created a hype around “cloud based” technologies? I thought, this survey is a good opportunity to discuss it. So, how important is “cloud” for engineers and other end users?

Digital disruption

The conversations about digital disruption is one I’d like to start with. Fortune article IBM: Modernize your business or risk being Uber-ized put an interesting perspective on transformation in the industry. It is impossible to keep status-quo when your business can be potentially disrupted by digital transformation and data technologies. So, big blue is concerned Here is my favorite passage:

Big Blue executives took the stage at an IBM conference in Las Vegas on Monday to urge companies to undergo a so-called “digital transformation”. “You better figure it out, because there’s an Uber out there that’s already figured it out,” warned Glen Finch, IBM’s global leader of big data and analytics. When talking to customers, Finch said he’s noticed that companies are worried about more nimble startups like Uber overtaking their business. Uber, of course, has upended the taxi industry, which was seen as being slow to counter its fast-rising rival.

SolidWorks 2016 – technology and productivity

In light of digital transformation, it is interesting to see how Dassault Systemes, one of the top leaders in CAD/PLM market segment is reacting. Recent announcement about SolidWorks 2016 is a good example. Dassault is actually adapting by allowing SolidWorks 2016 to run in a browser. SolidWorks is using platform for that. The following article by can bring additional details – SOLIDWORKS 2016 All About Productivity and Technology.

“I am spending 80 percent of my time on the road, all over the world,” says Bassi. “I talk with lots of people and I see there is a mutual love. There isn’t another word. It’s love. We understand very well what makes people successful and productive,” says Bassi. “Every time we disconnect with that thinking we make mistakes. [But now] I hope we are connected.

“It’s not only the technology, though that is critical,” he says. “SOLIDWORKS Online shows we are changing our way of thinking. Our way of relating to customers with easier access, faster access and more flexibility. Today it isn’t easy to get SOLIDWORKS. You have to deal with VARs, licenses, CD installs, and computer hardware,” said Bassi. That is why Bassi believes that SOLIDWORKS online is a good step forward. It empowers as many people as possible with CAD technology.”

No one wanted faster horses, they wanted less horseshit

So, engineers are asking about 3D modeling and not about cloud. Does it mean cloud technology is irrelevant? The famous Henry Ford statement about faster horses is a good example. The following article by HelloErik blog can bring an interesting perspective and explanations – No one said they wanted faster horses, they wanted less horseshit. The real problem of horses wasn’t about speed. It was about flies, disease, smell, dried manure dust, soaked manure mire, cruelty to horses, horse related traffic deaths. Another problem was inefficiency.

Believe it or not, there was a time when there were so many horses that it was part of the 1898 International Urban Planning Conference summit in New York. There were a lot of problems with horses that were reaching a tipping point of inefficiency. Something had to be done, but talking to the “users” about solutions wasn’t going to solve anything – looking at the pain was.

The real problem of Henry Ford was actually different than creating faster horses. It was about manufacturing efficiency and cost.

Henry Ford was trying to solve the high cost of automobiles through assembly lines, interchangeable parts, and financing. If that was the case, the problem he seemed to be solving wasn’t really about horses, but people of the time might have thought he was. Or better, they might have seen it as a car problem; cars are too expensive. Instead of focusing on the problems with manure removal machines, Ford instead solved it, intentionally or not, by bringing the automobile to the common person. This could be considered parallel innovation and revolution. It is the parallel innovation that attacked and began to solve the real pain of the problem.

Cloud technologies – cost and efficiency

I picked the following slide last week during Jon Hirschtick’s presentation at TEC Talk in Boston.


There are two things cloud technology are going to change – cost and efficiency. CAD, PDM, PLM are expensive, the ROI is slow, the mistakes are happening because of misalignment of CAD versions, poor data management and long implementation cycles. Can engineers perform their work now? Yes, they can. Is it possible to make their work more efficient? I guess, cloud technologies have a chance to make this change happen. But a single engineer in an large organization often is not responsible for data management, work organization and IT. Primary responsibility of engineer is to design – hence the quest for better 3D design technology. The hope of engineers from IT and vendors to solve it.

What is my conclusion? Do not get confused by “engineers are not asking for cloud CAD” survey results. Cloud is about business efficiency, speed and cost of software. New technologies will disrupt the formula of software businesses. Existing CAD and PLM vendors will have to adapt or they risk being Uber-ized. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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