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future-engineering-ref-books

I remember one of my birthdays back many years ago. My dad pushed me towards a bookshelf with kids encyclopedia and encourage me to study most of it for the next year. I found reference to these books on wikipedia now.  According to the information on wikipedia, it contained only ~6000-10000 pages. It was huge amount of information back that days. Also, I remember my first introduction into library of engineering codes and standards. I remember first day I had an access to Encyclopedia Britannica. The old way accessing information…

Everything changed since then. We are not looking for books when we need to get an information about anything. We “google it”… The voice recognition technologies is getting better, so since last month I can try to ask my Android wear device for information. It doesn’t work for everything, but it is getting better.

The fundamental change happened with encyclopedia business. It  became completely horizontal. Time ago a small team of people worked to create an encyclopedia that was consumed by millions of people for a long time. Now it is different – wikipedia changed the way we create knowledge and consume knowledge. The knowledge is crowdsourced by millions of people and consumed at the same time.

digital-revolution-phases-encyclopedia

The way we present knowledge is also changed. Reference books with plain text pages are thing in the past. Today, knowledge represented as a intertwined linked data set with references and rich media – videos, photos, maps and even 3D reconstructed objects. Here is an interesting example of how 3D and information technology can change museum business – Smithsonian X 3d.

New technologies in the field of knowledge capturing and representation combined with new approaches in data management and 3D scanning can change the way we work with information. I’ve been reading Kalypso article – Reference Books and Libraries – So “Yesterday”, which speaks exactly about that:

Let’s face it; libraries, reference books and dictionaries are losing their luster. Exploration and learning today are more likely done through online resources like Google, online research and scholarly journals, Wikis and blogs. So what does this mean for innovation and product development research processes?

Today, three ring binders and file cabinets still clutter the offices of marketers and market researchers at Fortune 500 companies that are considered leaders in innovation. Most of these companies probably have sophisticated enterprise information systems that contain sales information, financials, product data records, inventory and even employee time‐tracking.

Surprisingly, these companies may still track their historical ideation, concept, and project information in three ring binders or manila folders stacked in closets or stored in the basements of a research facility.

Earlier this week I learned about interesting project – LODLAM (Linked Open Data in Libraries Archives and Museums). If you have few minutes free, navigate to that website and take a look. It also brought me back to the ideas of usefulness of Knowledge Graph for PLM. I found a very good capture of current status of how LODLAM approach used to develop new type of information application is the presentation from SemTechBiz 2014. Take a look on the slides here.

lodlam-example

All together, it made me think about engineering standards and reference books. It is so old and not efficient. In many cases, engineers are relying on memories because access to the libraries, codes and information is too complicated. Like encyclopedia Britannica existing engineering references look are outdated and complicated to use.

The more I thought about that, more questions came to my mind. How to find relevant engineering codes and standards online? The diversity of engineering disciplines is very high. There are lots of specific industry oriented codes as well as country specific standards and references. How large companies are working with that? Who is curating this information for large industry leaders as well as for millions of small manufacturers and individual makers.

What is my conclusion? The way engineering standards and references are represented today is outdated. The best engineering libraries I found on the web are bunch of university libraries. The data is poorly organized and search mechanism  is far from perfect. How to organize engineering references and provide a better access to engineers. Do you think software vendors looking for that? Will future engineering information and design systems provide an access to reference information as part of design and manufacturing processes? Too many questions today :) . I have some answers, but I’m looking for some crowdinformation today. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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legacy-software

Do you know what is legacy software? Earlier today,  Marc Lind of Aras Corp. challenged me by his twitter status about companies complaining about legacy PLM systems and upgrading. Here is the original passage from twitter here and here.

“a lot of people complains about legacy PLM and a lot of companies that have legacy PLM are throwing in the towel and switching these days”.

marc-lind-legacy-plm-tweet

The part of statement about “legacy software” is really interesting. Last week, I wasn’t able to update a game on my son’s iPad. After few minutes, I discovered that Apple is not supporting the original iPad hardware manufactured 4 years ago. Does it mean iOS software run on that iPad is a legacy? Good question. At the same time, what about properly functioning ERP software that company runs already for the last 10 years without any plans to upgrade? Is that a legacy software?

Wikipedia gives me the following definition of legacy system:

In computing a legacy system is an old method, technology, computer system, or application program,”of, relating to, or being a previous or outdated computer system.”[1] A more recent definition says that “a legacy system is any corporate computer system that isn’t Internet-dependent.”[2]… The first use of the term legacy to describe computer systems probably occurred in the 1970s. By the 1980s it was commonly used to refer to existing computer systems to distinguish them from the design and implementation of new systems. Legacy was often heard during a conversion process, for example, when moving data from the legacy system to a new database.

Software upgrades is an important topic in engineering and manufacturing. Very often, systems can be in use very long time because of product lifecycle and the need to maintain existing data. It happens a lot in defense, aero and some other “regulated” industries. Also, because of significant investment, the ROI from upgrade can be questionable, which leads companies to keep existing outdated systems in operation. I’ve been posted about problems of PLM customization and upgrades before – How to eliminate PLM customization problems and Cloud PLM and future of upgrades.

PLM vendors are aware about the issue of upgrades and difficulties of software migrations . For long time, industry recognized it as something unavoidable. However, in today’s dynamic business environment, the issue of software upgrades cannot be ignored. Customers demanding flexible and agile software that can be deployed and updated fast. At the same time, changes of business models towards services and subscriptions pushed the problem of upgrades back to vendors.

Earlier this year, my attention was caught by CIMdata publication – Aras Innovator: Redefining Customization & Upgrades. Aras enterprise open source model is predominantly subscription oriented. Which provides lots of incentives for Aras  engineers to solve the issue of upgrades and new versions deployment. Here is the passage from the article confirming that:

For several years, the Aras Corporation (Aras) has included no-cost version-to-version upgrades in their enterprise subscriptions, independent of how the solution has been customized and implemented. This is a rather bold guarantee given the historic challenges the industry has experienced with upgrading highly customized PLM deployments. With more than 300 upgrades behind it, CIMdata felt it appropriate to find out how Aras’ guarantee was playing out, and discovered that there was much more to the story than just a contractual guarantee. Fundamentally, Aras Innovator is engineered to be highly configurable—even customizable—without resulting in expensive and complex version-to-version upgrades and re-implementations.

One of PLM software leaders, Siemens PLM is also thinking about What is the best release cycle. The article speaks about SolidEdge release cycle.

A few years ago we moved from an irregular release cycle for Solid Edge, maybe 9 months in one cycle to 15 months in the next, to a regular cycle of annual releases (of course there are also maintenance packs delivered in the interim). I believe our customers much prefer this, they can plan ahead knowing that there will be a significant Solid Edge release available to them in August each year.

At the same time, the article confirms that CAD/PLM vendors are looking how to solve the problem of upgrades. As I mentioned earlier, cloud software model is one of the most promising technical ways to solve the issue of upgrades. It is true, but can be tricky in case both desktop and cloud software are involved. Here is the passage from the same Siemens PLM blog:

Working in the PLM area we try really hard to provide our customers with a good upgrade experience. PLM software is itself dependent on both the operating system and database software, and it has to work with specific releases of CAD software  (sometimes with more than one CAD solution for our multi-CAD customers) and with office software as well! Moving PLM software to the cloud could potentially take some of the upgrade issues away from the end user, but PLM software does not work in isolation from your data files, or your other software and systems so I believe there is much work still to be done before the cloud really impacts the upgrade situation for real-world customers.

What is my conclusion? From customer perspective, the best option is to make release cycle completely transparent.  In my view, this is really high bar for PLM vendors. Customer data migration, customization and sometimes absence of backward compatibility make release transparency questionable. However, since industry moves towards cloud software and service business model the demand for agile release management and absence of upgrades will be growing. So, my hunch, in the future we will not see “legacy software” anymore. New type of enterprise software will manage upgrades and migrations without customers paying attention. Sound like a dream? I don’t think so. For most of web and consumer software it is a reality already today. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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ipad-bom-assy

To manage Parts and Bill of Materials is not a simple tasks. I shared some of aspects related to the complexity of Part Numbering last week in my post – Existing data prevents companies to improve Part Numbers. The discussion in comments took me towards the complexity of Part Numbers in supply chain. Here is the passage (comments) made by Joe Barkai

…multiple BOMs with inconsistent numbering schema often hide a bigger problem: inconsistent attributes and metadata. I [Joe Barkai] worked with a global automotive OEM on issues surrounding architectural complexity reduction and global quality management. I discovered that each product line was using different part numbers. This was obviously difficult to manage from a supply chain perspective. But, not less importantly, other metadata and data attributes such as failure modes, labor operation codes and other important information were codified differently, rendering cross product line reporting and analysis difficult and potentially lacking, if not erroneous

Product lines and multiple configurations is a reality of modern manufacturing. The customization level is growing. On the other side to manage parts and BOM globally becomes one of the most important and challenging tasks. I found another example of that in today’s news . This is an example of a potential impact on Apple from management of bill of material  across multiple product lines and supply chain. Navigate to Seeking Alpha post – Apple iPhone 6 Will Pick Up iPad Sales Slack. Here is the passage I captured:

Apple still generates the majority of profits in mobile, despite the slight declines in market share. Last November, research firm IHS estimated  $274 in bill of materials and manufacturing costs for the 16GB iPad Air with Wi-Fi connectivity that retails for $499. Going forward, Tim Cook, operations man, will likely leverage Apple’s immense buying power to further drive down costs for component parts shared between the iPhone 6 and eventual iPad upgrade.

I have no information about PLM system used by Apple to manage bill of materials across product lines. However, I guess, re-use of components among different product lines is a very typical approach used by many manufacturing companies.

What is my conclusion? The complexity of bill of materials management across product lines and supply chain are skyrocketing these days. To manage part numbers, bill of materials, cost and multiple product lines can become a critical part of PLM solution to support manufacturing profitability. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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How long will take GrabCAD to develop full-blown PLM solution?

August 18, 2014

Time is running fast. It has been two years since I posted GrabCAD: from Facebook for engineers to PLM. If you are in the engineering community, the chances you will come to PLM are very high. Like in the past all roads lead to Rome, I guess all future development roads for PDM solution lead […]

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CAD: Engineering Bundles vs. Granular Apps?

August 7, 2014

Packages, bundles, product suites, integrated environments. I’m sure you are familiar with these names. The debates about best of breed solutions vs. single-vendor integrated suites are going long way back in the history of CAD and PLM. Some companies are ready for functional trade-off and afraid of additional integration cost. For other companies performance and […]

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Here is why CAD in the cloud is more than mainframe terminal

August 1, 2014

Cloud is one of the topics that I’m following on my blog for a long time. I can see lots of changes that happened in CAD / PLM world for the last few years with everything that related to cloud. I’m sure you remember very turbulent announcement about SolidWorks future in the cloud made during […]

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PLM, Excel Spreadsheets, Pain Killers and Vitamins

July 29, 2014

We like to compare stuff. Gadgets, cars, hotels, software. We can compare iPhone to Samsung, Canon to Nikon, Honda to Toyota. Software is a special category. When it comes to enterprise software it gets even more complicated. However, marketing comparison is a fascinating type of writing. Arena PLM blog posted a marketing writing – Using […]

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PLM vertical PaaS strategies

July 25, 2014

SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, DMaaS, … I’m sure marketing folks are having lots fun of new xaaS acronyms. The amount of publication about various strategies of services is skyrocketing. EDACafe article  - The Platform-as-a-Service Provides European Aerospace & Defence OEMs and Partners with Greater Collaboration Capabilities brings a story of “AirDesign” – the European aerospace and defense […]

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Why PLM shouldn’t miss next email move?

July 18, 2014

Email is a king of communication in every company. Many companies are literally run by email. People are using it for different purposes -notification, collaboration and very often even record management. You can hear many discussions about how companies can replace or integrate email with enterprise and social collaboration tools. I captured some of them […]

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Will IBM and Apple open doors for mobile PLM future?

July 17, 2014

Enterprise software and Apple wasn’t much a success story until now. Don’t take me wrong – you can enterprise execs and even IT folks are using iPhones and other Apple devices. In my view, they do it mostly for mobile email and other cools apps. However, until now, the traction of iOS in enterprise was […]

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