From the category archives:

Technologies

Tesla-model-s-infotainment-beyondplm

The complexity of manufacturing is skyrocketing these days. It sounds reasonable for many of us when it comes to spaceships, jetliners and defense systems. You can think about car as something much simpler. Navigate to Ford Heritage website article – Ford Celebrates 100 Years of the Moving Assembly Line. The complexity of Ford Model T just about 100 years ago was few thousands parts:

One hundred years ago today, Henry Ford and his team at Highland Park assembly plant launched the world’s greatest contribution to manufacturing – the first moving assembly line. It simplified assembly of the Ford Model T’s 3,000 parts by breaking it into 84 distinct steps performed by groups of workers as a rope pulled the vehicle chassis down the line.

ford-t-manufacturing

The situation is completely different these days and it raises concerns of cars reliability because of design complexity. My attention was caught Business Insider article – Consumer Reports Says Infotainment Systems Are Ruining Car Reliability. Picture in the article shows central computing unit of Tesla Model S. I’m not sure the concern of authors was specifically about Tesla, but I noticed the following passage:

“Of the 17 problem areas CR asks about in its survey, the category including in-car electronics generated more complaints from owners of 2014 models than for any other category.” Automakers have invested heavily in infotainment systems since consumers began demanding them in a wide variety of vehicles. Furthermore, the entire auto industry is looking forward to a future in which in-car electronics, displays, related infotainment systems, and advanced self-driving features will be increasingly prevalent, if not dominant. It can be difficult enough to engineer a highly reliable car from a strictly mechanical standpoint. There are quite literally a lot of moving parts. Bringing a whole new cluster of technologies into the picture has created additional pressures — and to a certain extent given Consumer Reports’ testers more to find wrong.

This article reminded me few topics I touched before on my blog. One of them is related to some of my speculation about future plans of Tesla to build their own PLM system. Another one is related to future need to combine engineering and software BOMs. I think, these are very critical elements of modern PLM system to serve the needs of many manufacturing companies. Tesla is probably an extreme case. But the question is for how long.

Here are some interesting examples about Tesla electronic and software. Navigate to Autoconnectcar article – Telsa S super connected car is a giant iPad on wheels? The article speaks about some interesting tear-down project made by IHS, which is known for tearing down smartphones and tables. IHS recently tore apart 2013 Tesla Model S. Read the article and watch few videos. The following passage gives you an impression of Tesla media control unit (the hub of infotainment and everything else in Tesla)

The Premium Media Control Unit is gigantic as compared to other cars with a 17″ diagonal display that controls the whole car with a NVIDA Tegra 3 1.4-gigahertz quad-core processor. It’s large, with ten printed circuit boards with wireless communications (Sierra Wireless 3G HSPA+ cellular module), GPS, Bluetooth/Wi-Fi (Parrot), a visual computing modual, DRAM, supporting components, touchscreen controller,  display controller and motherboard. The instrument cluster is NVIDIA Tegra 2 based

The complexity of bill of material just for this unit goes beyond average smart TV set. Which can give you an impression of overall complexity. The article briefly mentioned future connected telematics with internet access. Which connects to even more complex topic of IoT complexity and scale I posted before – IoT data will blow up traditional PLM databases.

What is my conclusion? The challenges and complexity of product development and manufacturing are real. The wide spread of electronic and software in modern manufacturing products and the overall complexity level is growing up. While all eyes are now following Tesla, my hunch other cars are not much different and modern product development trends will not make car simpler. It raises many questions about requirements to PLM software capable to manage such level of complexity. PLM vendors and engineering IT architects can take a note and do some homework. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Pictures credit Business Insider article and Ford Heritage website.

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excel-spreadsheet-crazy

One of the most prominent marketing slogans in PLM and enterprise software is related to “replacement of Excel”. I have my own love and hate relationships with Excel. Despite all progress in user experience and other aspects of PLM software, Excel is still king of the enterprise and “export to Excel” is one of the most demanded functions. Watch product demos, and you will see how often vendor is proud to say that data “can be easily” transferred into Excel.

However, I don’t think that Excel is still widely popular just because software vendors are doing bad job. My hunch the situation is much more complex. So, today, I want to speak about why Excel still keeps very strong roots in product development and why, despite all attempts, PLM vendors are still cannot replace Excel.

1- Old generation

Habits and status quo are though competitors. The majority of engineering and manufacturing people are breathing Excel in their everyday life. They feel themselves very secured with the way they work and they are afraid to lose the aspect of security. At the end of the day, they need to get job done and to send products to customers. So, the rule – “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” plays one of the key roles.

2- Universality of excel

Flexibility of Excel is well known. You can easy make it to fit any situation, problem or need in terms of making reports and/or slicing and dicing data in the way you want. Even the most flexible PLM software has their limitation and even most of them can be resolved with IT and service providers, the speed of solution availability can be hardy competitive compared with Excel.

3- Complexity of infrastructure

In many situations, Excel is playing a role of “date integrator” by combining information located in multiple silos. Excel doesn’t do it in most efficient way, but complexity of integration is so high, that bringing PLM solution is just too complicated. This is a situation where “chief excel officer” is doing his job just good enough.

4- Existing copies

Legacy data, existing reports and scripts developed inside of Excel is another barrier to throw away Excel  and move to PLM system. To import and convert existing data can be too expensive and too complicate.

5- Customers (and system integrators) demand to get excel

Existing eco-system of manufacturing companies, customers, suppliers, outsource workers, contract manufacturers is friendly to Excel. This is also a reason why Excel import/export function is so much demanded. It is hard to replace Excel in one company and left rest of the chain untouched.

What is my conclusion? Excel is not a software. It is eco-system. To replace it hard and requires significant effort and differentiation for PLM software to use instead of Excel. Large companies have more power internally to make a change. However, in many situation the combination of status quo and complexity of replacement can put a process of Excel replacement by PLM system on hold. It is very hard to come with something as good as Excel and harmless to existing status quo. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

photo credit: Jon Newman via photopin cc

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PLM cloud options and 2014 SaaS survey

by Oleg on October 24, 2014 · 2 comments

plm-cloud-options-2014-saas

The number of SaaS businesses is growing these days. You probably had a chance to read my CAD, PLM and Top 500 cloud app vendors list few months ago. However, one size doesn’t fit all. This is certainly true about engineering software and PLM. As PLM companies are moving to the cloud, we want to learn more about possible options and strategies of how do we move to the cloud. Below you can find a list of my previous articles covering the diversity of cloud strategies from major CAD/PLM vendors – Autodesk, Dassault, PTC and Siemens PLM.

PLM vendors, large manufacturers and public cloud

Dassault is going to support all PLM cloud options by 2015+

Siemens PLM Analyst Event and PLM Public Cloud Strategies

The challenging face of dual PLM clouds

PLM Cloud Switch and PTC Final Click?

In my view, CAD and PLM companies are in a very active stage looking how to build cloud technologies and products. We can make an initial comparison of cloud PLM strategies of several CAD/PLM companies. Autodesk and Arena are fully embraced cloud as a primary way to deliver PLM solutions to customers. Siemens PLM and PTC are following IaaS strategies. Dassault Systems strategy is to support all cloud options by 2015. Aras plan to leverage cloud from both technology and business strategy.

PLM companies are joining growing population of SaaS businesses. It means we can start gathering some statistics about these companies, their performance and technical aspects of cloud delivery. If you considering to build your future PLM strategies around cloud, this is can be very valuable data point for your research.

My attention caught by 2014 SaaS Survey published by for Entrepreneurs blog by David Skok (@BostonVC). If you are in SaaS business, it is must read article. The following two charts caught my special attention. It gives you a perspective on how cloud (SaaS) applications will be delivered:

saas-2014-plm-delivery-options-2

Another one shows how delivery method changes as SaaS business is growing.

saas-2014-plm-delivery-options

Today, cloud PLM is only part of the business for all major CAD/PLM companies. It is hard to statistic from the research above to these businesses. However, it clearly gives you some perspective on business performance and aspects of how cloud PLM business will be developed in the next few years.

What is my conclusion? Cloud is here. There is no escape path. Manufacturing companies should look how to optimize their IT infrastructure and application delivery methods. I’m pretty sure, cloud PLM will become part of this optimization. It is probably a good idea to make yourself familiar with the aspects of performance of  SaaS companies to create a foundation for future strategy meetings. A note for PLM IT managers and PLM architects. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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Why to ask cloud PLM vendor about Devops and Kubernetes

October 23, 2014

I want to continue the theme of how do we move to the cloud. While Amazon remains one of the major providers of elastic computing services, other options are emerging too. If you consider to move your PLM initiatives to the cloud, you might do some analysis about how actually cloud PLM can be made. […]

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PLM and Microsoft Azure Cloud In A Box

October 22, 2014

How do you move to the cloud? This is one of topics I’m discussing on my blog for the last year. The last time, I took a swing towards public cloud. Navigate to my PLM vendors, large manufacturers and public cloud article for more information. However, not everybody will move to public cloud. At least not […]

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PLM Files Detox

October 21, 2014

The digital life around us is changing. It was a time when everything we did was running around desktop computer. You do your job, Save As… and, yes(!) put it in a file that can give you control over the result of your job. That’s the reason why engineers are in love with CAD files […]

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Multiple dimensions of BOM complexity

October 15, 2014

Bill of Material topic is getting more attention these days. No surprise. BOM is a center of universe in manufacturing (and not only) world. People can disagree about terminology applied to BOM management. Depends on a specific domain people can call it part list, specification, formula. But at the same time, everybody speak about the […]

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PLM vendors, large manufacturers and public cloud

October 14, 2014

Companies are moving to cloud these days. The question vendors and customers are asking today is how do we move to the cloud. I’ve been asking this question in my post few month ago – PLM / PDM: Why the cloud? Wrong question… I discovered multiple options for customers to start their move to the cloud […]

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Importance of PLM and PIM bridge

October 11, 2014

PIM. Product Information Management. Sorry for brining yet another three letter acronym into discussion today. PIM stands for a discipline to manage data about products available outside of the company. Here is Wikipedia description: Product information management or PIM refers to processes and technologies focused on centrally managing information about products, with a focus on […]

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Google Drive third-party apps and cloud PDM foundation

October 1, 2014

Designers and engineers working in manufacturing, architecture and construction firms are familiar with the idea of Z-drive. Usually, this is a name of drive that accessible in your local network (LAN). Usually, the same drive can be available also via WAN, but it is not always reliable because of latency, which can make your CAD […]

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