Design and Manufacturing: Top Down PLM approach with Treehouse?

The new release of SolidWorks Labs Threehouse V2 hit me to think again about Top Down approach and efficient communication between Design/Engineering and Manufacturing.

SolidWorks Labs released V2 of Treehouse. You can get more information on their website as well as take a look on multiple blog articles about that. My favorite was SolidSmack’s “Full Speed TreeBleed. SolidWorks Treehouse, Not Just a Treehouse“.

Design, Engineering and Manufacturing
Problem of disconnecting between Design/Engineering organization is not new, in my view and exists in many manufacturing organizations. It’s obvious Engineers sees a product they develop very much in the light, of how they build parts/sub-assemblies/assemblies/configurations models. For them this is what make sense. However, from manufacturing side, it always looks different because their structure is driven by assembly process, packaging, supply chain and other factors from a shop floor. Most of the systems today are not providing a good solution for this problem. Those customers that made decent solution in this space built it based on huge customization and service base.

Treehouse, Modular design and Top Down

In my view, Treehouse concept is interesting since it can provide a communication bridge between two worlds: design and engineering/manufacturing. The way to initiate design top-down in SolidWorks is not trivial and Treehouse can be an interesting approach to do so. It can facilitate modular design and ability to create new products and configuration top down initiated from Engineering/Manufacturing space.

What is your opinion on that? Have you had chance to think or implement the top-down approach in your organization? What systems you had in your mind to support it?

Best, Oleg


Share This Post

  • jonbanquer

    “In my view, Treehouse concept is interesting since it can provide a communication bridge between two worlds: design and engineering/manufacturing.”

    I appreciate your observations about the problems between engineering and manufacturing. The problems between engineering and manufacturing have existed for many years and in my opinion adversely effect U.S. manufacturing concerns in ways that most don’t like to talk about.

    My opinion is that manufacturing and many others are far better off with powerful direct modeling tools. I think the time has come for many of us to move away from history based modeling and all the problems it brings to the table such as complex file relations, trying to understand the design intent created by someone else, trying to remember your own design intent six months later, etc. These problems have never been solved in the 25 years or more that history based modeling has been around.

    Jon Banquer
    San Diego, CA

  • Jon, Thank you for your excellent comment! I classify engineering and manufacturing disconnect as one of the biggest problem in today’s US (and not only) manufacturing industry. But this is tough problem and not well managed yet. Regards, Oleg

  • I think Treehouse is a very interesting application because it exposes product structure outside of the CAD application and outside of the PDM system. As you know Oleg, I am VERY interested in the product structure topic, so this is right up my alley.

    I haven’t played with Treehouse yet, but I wonder how it handles some of the trickier bits of non-spatial product structure manipulation (when spatial definitions are relevant). For instance, the Treehouse demo shows the ability to add multiple instances (and suppressed instances) of a part into an assembly. But where do those go when opened in a 3D (spatial) session? Are they all on top of each other? This has been an issue with PDM driving product structure – how can you drive spatial information without a spatial interface?

    From a UI perspective, I think Treehouse is great. Not as information-rich as a grid for BOM editing, but certainly more intuitive in understanding BOM levels and relationships. I wonder how the UI could be extended to show the differences and similarities between CAD BOMs, EBOMs, and MBOMs. I believe that challenge is at the heart of the communication gap you described in your original post. If designers, design engineers, and manufacturing engineers can’t visualize the differences between their unique perspectives on the BOM, they struggle to communicate about those differences. I think that is a “killer app” that we need in the PLM space.

  • Jonathan, Thank you for your comments and highlights! I think they are very relevant. What is very co-sound to my thoughts is an ability to have application allowing you to speak both languages Design and Engineering/Manufacturing. I’m always very careful with calling something “killer app”, since we have too many apps, but user want only one ;)… Best, Oleg

  • Oleg, indeed!

    I agree about the number of “killer apps”. Perhaps it is wishful thinking on my part that a new application might come along and “kill” several of the other frustrating apps now required to manage these different areas. 🙂 And then maybe we can get down to one application.

  • Jonathan, My view on killing apps is different- think about how your app will provide the most value for customer. Best, Oleg

  • Hervé Menga

    I had a (quick) look on the site to see what Treehouse V2 is made for… and i have two immediate remarks:
    – we all know that all the core models of the software applications that we currently use in Engineering are based on nodes with composition relationships. The result is a direct acyclic graph (DAG), not a tree. If Treehouse proposes a tree vizualisation of a product structure, this is not adequate, and not very innovative. I dream of a DAG visualizer, this could be a major step ahead!
    – i dont understand the sentence “communication between Design/Engineering and Manufacturing”. So far no “manufacturing aspect” is visible on the presentation. More (cf discussions about the BOMs), Design and Engineering are also different “domains”, and for the time being, the problem of communication between Design and Engineering is not solved at all by current softwares, so problems of “communication” of Design/Engineering with Manufacturing is another dream

  • Hervé, I think you made a valid point regarding DAG. The problem is that DAG is complicated. So, Treehouse is trying to resolve issue of complication by saying we will do it by trees. I didn’t make enough practices trying to manipulate trees to say if this is usable or not.
    About design/engineering/manufacturing. In my view, discussion here is different from “discussion about BOM”. My point about BOM was how to make it unified (SINGLE). Treehouse is not doing so, but provide media to manage separate trees and load them to CAD system. This is could be used as interface back to CAD. Does it make sense? Best, Oleg

  • Hervé Menga

    If you say that Treehouse “loads trees in CAD system”, it means that it transforms Treehouse models (represented by trees in Treehouse) into CAD models (that can be manipulated by CAD system).
    A CAD model is made with nodes, which are materializing a (positioned) geometry, connected with relationships, which are materializing geometric composition rules.
    Apart from Treehouse model nodes that may have the same objective (to carry geometric information), i do not understand the reason why other Treehouse model nodes would have to be transformed into their “geometric” CAD model equivalent nodes ?
    Or may be treehouse provides a way to manipulate many different “geometric” trees of nodes, each of which may be transferred into its equivalent geometric CAD model ?
    Geometric models (whatever the way they are represented, as tree or as 3D objects, are usually built by (mechanical) design activities, i do not see here neither the link with engineering activities (where is the process ?), nor manufacturing activities (where are the ressources ?).
    From my very far point of view, Treehouse looks like a VPM playing with CATIA, no ?

  • Hervé, I like your associations with VPM/CATIA. This is probably accurate (I’m not going to analyze all supported and not supported options, of course). As I understood, treehouse allows you to play with geometry outside of solidworks, which is nice. UI is slick. The interesting question was raised if tree or graph is the UI to go in such application. What I didn’t discover yet if I can have non-geom (like phantom) objects in treehouse, but I will :)…… Best, Oleg