OpenBOM is a company I co-founded almost three years ago. You probably remember my blog about OpenBOM, but if you don’t, please don’t worry. I’ve been incredibly lucky to start OpenBOM journey in Greater Boston. New England and Greater Boston is a home to thousands innovative companies. Only in engineering and manufacturing software, it is a starting place for such incredible innovative companies such as Computervision, Parametric Technologies, Solidworks, MatrixOne, Revit, Aras, Onshape and many others. In a very short distance you can see corporate campuses of Autodesk, Dassault Systemes, PTC, Oracle, SAP, Siemens PLM and others.
About a month ago, we’ve been invited to come to Mass Innovation Night – monthly event that featuring startups from Greater Boston. For me, it is an opportunity to share OpenBOM mission and the reason I came with the idea of OpenBOM.
Demand for simplicity
Last decade of software development demonstrated strong demand to simplify everything. In the past, complexity was a symbol of sophistication and intelligence. Enterprise software required skills and training. Nobody ever dreamed to start using enterprise software without using an army of advisors, service consulting and IT personnel.
Things are changing. New generation of people is asking internet link instead of 10 CD ROMs to install software. And if your software is not intuitive enough, you have a chance to be doomed by modern generation of users and customers. PLM companies are changing and focusing on user experience, yet engineering and manufacturing software is still very complex.
Therefore, Excel is still king of the game in every manufacturing company. Almost everyone will agree how bad Excel is for business and will keep using it because it just works.
Decentralization in manufacturing
In the past, manufacturing was completely centralized. My favorite story was Ford Motors Rouge Factory complex.The Rouge factory was 1.5 miles wide by 1 mile long, including 93 buildings. With its own docks in the dredged Rouge River, 100 miles of interior railroad track, its own electricity plant, and integrated steel mill, Rouge factory was able to turn raw materials into running vehicles within this single complex, a prime example of vertical-integration production.
But even back in 1920s, we can see first examples of decentralization. Rouge factory produced “knock-off kits” of Ford Model-T. These kits were sent by railroad to various factory locations access the United States to be locally assembled using cheap labor and local supplies. Isn’t it amazing?
Modern manufacturing is decentralized completely. Recent decade of hardware development demonstrated how small team of people can manufacturing product using distributed network of engineers, contract manufacturing and modern communication and transportation. Large manufacturing OEMs are using hundreds of suppliers to build cars and airplanes with skyrocketing level of complexity.
The same last decade demonstrated an incredible power of connected platforms in every industry. My favorite example is Github, which is a tool used by millions of software engineers to manage source code modules and share the outcome with other developers. It can be done for open source as well as for private projects.
Different modules of software can be managed in GitHub (platform that can and review code, manage projects, and build software alongside millions of other developers) and consumed by other projects.
Manufacturing and isolated systems
Existing engineering and manufacturing systems are result of last 30-40 years of development were created for large enterprises. It is old fashion designed with mind of centralization. Single database, single version of truth, single BOM, etc. Even so, siloes were a reality and big problem for enterprise systems. Nothing is wrong with that, but at the same time, all these systems are missing two main things – communication and global data management.
Decentralization made it even worse. How you can make manufacturing companies to outsource and collaborate around product data while the systems managing data are isolated. You bet… it is impossible to achieve. The data is scattered and fragmented. It resulted in mistakes, delays and expenses.
OpenBOM vision of decentralized manufacturing
At OpenBOM our mission is to facilitate decentralized manufacturing model by supporting multi-tenant data management and instant data sharing. Information is linked and becomes available to manufacturing OEMs, contractors, suppliers and customers. OpenBOM is replacing old fashion Excel and email based communication.
The idea of OpenBOM is to help manufacturing companies to communicate and collaborate during a process of design, engineering, product development and manufacturing. OpenBOM gives you a freedom to work everywhere at any time and stay on the same BOM.
Mass Innovation Nights #112
At Mass Innovation Night #112, you will see companies presenting SaaS software. You can see full list of participants here. We are excited to be there.
And as a story of Innovation Nights suggests, the event is like “stone soup”.
Innovation Nights are like stone soup. Someone has a space where we can hold an event, with tables and wireless. Other companies have new products to promote Others are social media mavens who can create buzz. Still others donate a few hours of their time and expertise. Soon, everyone is benefiting from the wonderful event we create together.
I hope you learned a bit about what OpenBOM does and I inspired you enough to come to MIN #112 and talk to us.
Now, can I ask you for a favor? Vote for OpenBOM – the more votes we got, more excitement it will bring to us and to the event MIN #112. Click on this link and say Love It! To OpenBOM. I appreciate your support very much!
What is my conclusion? I’m excited about the innovation in manufacturing. Engineering and manufacturing software was for a very long time a slow changing place. Old software and habits were typical characteristics of enterprise software in PDM, PLM and ERP. I’m thrilled to see that these things are changing. Manufacturing companies are recognizing the need to invest into tools capable to take them into a digital future. And I strongly believe, OpenBOM is one of these tools.
Want to learn more about PLM? Check out my new PLM Book website.
Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing cloud based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.