GPS, PLM, BIM: Plan the Next Leapfrog?

Picture 37You probably wonder – GPS, PLM, BIM… What do they have in common today? In my view, the common is their relationship with real objects of a physical world around us. GPS can position us and give us a direction in surrounding world, CAD/PLM is the universal mechanism to design everything, PLM and BIM respectfully are set of product and tools to organize processes around product design, manufacturing, building etc.

For years engineering and building systems like CAD, PLM, BIM was completely disconnected from a real world. I always had the feeling of separation. This is like a wall between engineering and rest of the company. You (engineers) can use any systems you want, design and plan whatever you want… The real things will be disconnected from this virtual engineering world. Not anymore in my view. Few announcements and publications drove me to think about future leapfrog in this space.

Google’s announced first Droid phone with Google Navigation System. You will ask me how it related to PLM? Not as much, for the moment. However, thinking in deep and applying some PLMish language you can see Google providing 3D application connecting physical driving experience and virtual world model based on Google Maps.

Another one – Google SketchUp. On the surface, there is nothing special. I used to hear from many engineers their opinion about this product as a toy, far from “Real CAD” systems. Slow down, please. Keep your engineering ego for the future. Google is using SketchUp to re-create the world in 3D on top of Google Map. Google 3D Warehouse is a very good example of building blocks in this 3D universe. Read more in about Google Building Maker in Google official blog.

Some business thoughts. You need to see the following article: Google Redefines Disruption: The “Less than Free” business model. This is not the first time when we see the power of free products. I’m almost hearing engineers that saying – but this is not for the real enterprise world, this is on the different planet. Not anymore, in my view. Connection between real and virtual happens much faster that you can think about it.

So, conclusion for today. I’m thinking about immersive world where design, engineering and real people are all connected to dream, design, plan, build and manufacture life around us. And, in my view, this is a perfect time for today’s CAD/PLM/BIM vendors to think about a future of their products. How to catch up before Google’s next leapfrog? Just not to find themselves in place of GPS manufacturers today.

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Just my thoughts.
Best, Oleg


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  • I like your thinking. Social networking sites just may be the platform for that kind of communication to occur. Vendors, designers, engineers and manufacturers need to reach out to the general population and include them in a conversation where they feel they are being heard and their input valued.

  • Patricia, thanks for you comments! In my view, the role of social sites and their influence on design and manufacturing is undervalued and under-researched. I’d expect some interesting swings in this direction in closer future. Best, Oleg

  • yml

    I believe that augmented reality is going to be in a couple of year from now the best way to provide information on the spot to people. Imagine that you walk in your production line with such device, pointing it to a part of your assembly line will give you the engineering description of the parts the assembly process instruction sheet, the list of on going ECO/ECR …


  • Yann, I agree. Augmented reality becomes more and more real. Initially presented only in commercials, they started to appear in navigation and map systems. You can see quite impressive example on MS video (go around 2nd min).

    Best, Oleg

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