COFES 2016: Lego-ize PLM for federated data handoff?

COFES 2016: Lego-ize PLM for federated data handoff?


The Congress on the Future of Engineering Software (COFES 2016) is coming next week. Traditionally, COFES is a great opportunity to meet with industry people and discuss variety of problems and trends in engineering and manufacturing software. So, I will be heading to warm and sunny Scottsdale, AZ next week. You can follow COFES206 via twitter here, but the real COFES is live, of course.

One of my favorite parts of COFES is roundtable discussions. The topics were just published last week. Navigate here to learn more. I can see already – it will be a tough choice between some of these discussions running in parallel – Complex Systems Demand Allowance for Failures (teasing with Gall’s law), New Tricks for Old Dogs (speaking about new tech and tools developed for the last 10 years of web, mobile and cloud), The Rise of Analytics (with cool discussion about Big Data and new analytic software in manufacturing) and many others.

However, after reviewing the whole list, the following discussion is my absolute favorite – The federated toolbox. The following passage explains what is about.

The Federated Toolbox: Excel rules. So do SketchUp, Rhino, and many other products that just get the job done. No matter what role we play, each of us has our own set of software tools that we lean on: our own software toolbox. The challenge with software, however, is that the single job each tool does best is often just part of what needs to be done. What we’re left with is a set of tools optimized to individual tasks. How do we federate those tools so that we can start optimizing our work across the separate tasks? What do we need to agree on for handoffs between tools? Can we “Lego-ize” our favorites to work as a system without resorting to a walled garden of pre-connected apps?

Data handoff and integration challenges in modern manufacturing

Data integration is a tough topic. With an increased amount of data and growing complexity of product design, engineering, production and support, integration is an achilles heel of manufacturing environment these days.

Product lifecycle management tools are playing an integrating role in manufacturing organizations connecting people, databases and enterprise systems. This process is very complicated and requires service work and pre-wired integration of tools. In a traditional PLM implementation, it often comes as problem of integration between PLM and ERP tools.

Modern manufacturing brings even more challenges. Distributed environment becomes a norm in manufacturing world. Cloud applications are playing an important role in helping engineers to work collaboratively across the globe. The integration of data management and collaboration can provide a significant advantage to engineers in a modern mobile and distributed environment and create a new paradigm in manufacturing collaboration.

Going beyond traditional distributed manufacturing environment, one-click manufacturing (OCM) paradigm brings even more challenges for engineering and manufacturing software vendors. Manufacturing is under going tremendous transformation process. Build to order, speed and engagement with consumer are most important competitive factors. The challenge for manufacturing companies is to lower cost of products. At the same time, customers’ demand is mass-customization, which potentially increasing the cost. The speed of one click manufacturing process can change value chain economics and change the way companies will organize manufacturing processes.

What is my conclusion? Pre-connected application integration paradigm has lot of challenges. Event it is hard to implement, it is easy to think how to develop connectors to multiple tools and build orchestrated scenarios. It was the approach taken 10-15 years ago by EAI (enterprise application integration tools). The same approach transformed into ESB (Enterprise Service Bus) application and cloud-based integration services today. Nothing wrong with that – the approach and technologies are here and used by many companies. But this type of integration is a still a huge roadblock to implement an efficient hand-off between people in distributed environment. I like the idea of federated toolbox. It might be way to rethink current PLM implementation paradigm. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Want to learn more about PLM? Check out my new PLM Book website.


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