Innovation, networks and PLM database paradigm

Innovation, networks and PLM database paradigm


Last week I traveled to Louisville, KY to attend CIMdata collaborative innovation and product development workshop. The agenda is here. Two presentation in the agenda caught my special interest.

One was a presentation by Taylor Dawson, evangelist at FirstBuild Product Development in the Age of the Internet. FirstBuild is an interesting outfit created by GE Appliances and Local Motors. It is a new model for appliance industry, engaging a community of industrial engineers, scientists, engineers, makers and early adopters to address tough engineering challenges.

What does it mean in a nutshell? The following two slides can give you an idea. The main point is the fact interaction between engineers, manufacturing and customers. It leverage flexibility of microfactory approach and agility of communication in the internet era.



The second presentation was done by Local Motors co-founder and CEO Jay Rogers. Named – Welcome to Local Motors and the Third Industrial Revolution: The story of Local Motors and the 3D Printed Car, it gave a very interesting perspective on how Local Motors is innovating via collaboration in distributed global community.



The thing that bold in both examples is distributed community. PLM industry vendors are talking about communities for the last 5 years. There is a chance you’ve heard about “social PLM” in the past. It failed without getting much traction.

Thoughts about distributed communities made me think about networks as an organization behind the community of engineers, makers, contract manufacturers and suppliers. Here is a slide from my presentation at CIMdata workshop.


You can ask what is the difference between this picture and what we have now. Aerospace, automotive and other industries are relying heavily on a network of suppliers already today. Here is the thing – the PLM paradigm behind current OEM/Supply chain relationships is database driven. Look behind the scene and you will see large PLM databases spinning in data centers with expensive PLM implementations. Nothing wrong with databases, but single RDBM architecture cannot scale endlessly.


With cloud and IoT technologies the trend towards distributed computing and network organization is coming. If you have some time, navigate the following interview with A16z partner Peter Levine on why mobile phones are future of datacenters. It speaks about future distributed computing architecture trends. Here is an interesting passage:

I think it’s very early, but I can see a world where endpoint distributed computing becomes more popular, just like we saw when corporate IT shifted from mainframes and onto workstations and PCs. Are there hot projects right now? Not yet, but I’m starting to see university work being done in this area.

There’s also a very interesting trend, relating to the relationship between datacenters and endpoint computing. If you look back over the history of computing, it started as mainframes or terminals. As PCs or work stations became prevalent, computing moved to the edge and we had applications that took advantage of edge computing, and the CPU and processing power at the edge. Cloud computing brought things back to the center. There has been an ebb and flow in enterprise IT, of centralized versus distributed.

Distributed architecture combined with memory-centric storage can end up with new type of data architecture. An interesting example I captured in the article – Tachyon project  – memory-centric distributed storage system enabling reliable data sharing at memory-speed across cluster frameworks.

What is my conclusion? Distributed teams, data and networks – these are reality of new manufacturing environment and initiatives. These realities will demand for PLM abstraction different from single PLM databases managing processes in large manufacturing organization. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at



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