Want to learn more about PLM? Check out my new PLM Book website.
Distributed environment is a new reality in manufacturing and it creates many new challenges. You can argue that manufacturing companies were using suppliers and multiple manufacturing locations for the last several decades. What changed? Actually a lot. What we can see is a speed and complexity by distribution. The old problem was to manage PLM system in one place and reconcile information between two manufacturing locations. Companies were solving this problem with overnight sync batches bringing information back and forth between systems.
These days distributed environment is coming to a new level. Right people might not be located at the same place. It is about people located everywhere, in any time zone, location at the same time. It is about changes that might going simultaneously, it is about design that can changed more frequently than ever. It is about engineering and manufacturing working in sync 24×7 in multiple locations.
My attention was caught by old PLM Dojo article – Git, and why We Need Distributed PLM. The article is three years old, but I highly recommend you to have a read. Scott Pigman (aka PLM Dojo) is created a great piece of information demonstrating very important limitations of existing PDM/PLM technologies related to managing of distributed and parallel work on engineers.
Here is my favorite part of the article:
So let’s imagine that we’re living in a future world where we have a distributed PLM system. And robot butlers and flying cars. Not that they’re relevant, but they would be so damn cool.
I am not talking about Classic or Global Multisite here. In order to get close to what I mean by Distributed PLM here every single user would have to have at least one personal instance of TC that was multi-sited back to the central site. That may be theoretically possible, but that would be a very heavyweight, and cumbersome, implementation. I suspect that a more usable implementation would maintain only the delta between what a user had checked into his or her own private repo and the central repository.
So imagine that you’re a CAD user and in addition to the central repository that you’re used to you have a private repository. Now when you save your NX model or check in your ProE model you’re checking into your own personal repository. The main repository knows nothing of your work until push your changes to it. We’re not putting unfinished work out where other users can find it but we still have the benefits of version control.
Comments to the article are mentioning that CATIA v6 can solve problems of branches, but it requires a bundle of CATIA and ENOVIA working together which potentially brings a high level of complexity of installation and configuration.
Fast forward 3+ years into 2016. It looks like Onshape founders had similar dreams. The following videos demonstrates you how Onshape cloud environment enabling multiple users to work on the same design, manage branches and revisions without check-in/check-out of information into local repositories (folders).
It made me think about mutli-tenant cloud technologies as an opportunity to hide a complexity of existing CAD/PLM environments as well as unlock new possibilities such as simultaneous editing of CAD data and branches.
Another example is Autodesk Fusion360. The following article can give you a perspective on management of branches and mergers.
Branching and Merging technology has a long history in the software development world—and there are many parallels with the design world. A good example is GitHub, which enables software developers to explore variations on their program code, then easily share and capture only the best results in their final product. This is the model that we’re using in Fusion 360 for Branching and Merging. In our case, we have a strong visual component that suits the visual paradigms designers expect.
Our visual approach to Branching and Merging functionality makes it transparent to you – you don’t need to manage duplicate designs or handle conflicts, or be concerned about losing any options you explore.
What is my conclusion? The role of new technologies is to hide complexity from people. From that standpoint, cloud environment can play a unique role in coming years by hiding CAD data management complexity from users and unlocking a possibility to support distributed engineering and manufacturing scenarios. Just my thoughts…