Cloud data management – common future for PLM and BIM?

Cloud data management – common future for PLM and BIM?


PLM vs BIM – united or separated? You might remember my article published few years ago. Also, please check PLM vs BIM – common or different. Despite PLM and BIM have many common things, both disciplines were separated for many years. And if you look on all available tools today, PLM and BIM are still very much different. However, things might change in the future.

Last month I had a chance to attend AU2016. One of the notable things I captured from AU2016 was Autodesk strategy to develop common data environment. Check more about it here. Amar Hanspal, SVP products at Autodesk unveiled Project Quantum – next generation of BIM platform. My attention was caught by AEC magazine article Autodesk vision published few days ago. Here is an interesting passage.

Project Quantum is literally the next generation BIM platform for Autodesk, that we first wrote about back in November 2015. It takes the view that collaboration is a key component of AEC design and so centralises its database in the cloud, here on Autodesk BIM360.

Autodesk thinks that, depending on the discipline you specialise in, you will get different capabilities relating to your job function — architects get walls, doors, windows; structural engineers get structural members etc. All is fed from a single version of the truth and managed on a central server.

One of the weaknesses of Revit is the structure of its database, developed before the days of the cloud and streaming and leading to huge datasets being sent around the planet. I am guessing that the ‘Quantum’ in the project name is some reference to the ‘granularisation; of the BIM data.

According to another article –  Autodesk Shows Its Future—Democratizes Data & Tools, Obliterates Reliance on Windows data and data management is a key element in the future BIM platform:

Autodesk spoke briefly but completely about how it envisions the future of its AEC software offerings, saying, they know customers are wondering when they are going to build “Fusion for AEC”? It’s not a matter of just putting Revit in the browser—“that’s easy,” said Hanspal. Instead, the future beyond Revit is about “integrating design, engineering, fabrication and other applications into a common data environment.”

Project Quantum is about “evolving the way BIM works in the era of the cloud.” Instead of discreet applications with their own data formats and siloed users, Project Quantum is meant to present the industry with a series of connected “work spaces” that are woven together into the “common data environment.”

“Instead of binding data and applications,” says Hanspal, “into one giant experience, we are separating them. Now data and application logic can live anywhere, independent of each other.” Hanspal called this a fundamental shift in how we make things.

Interesting enough, I can observe exactly the same trends in the development of MCAD and related manufacturing applications. The CAD competition is shifting from CAD features to data management and networks. In the article I published just few days ago, I shared my thoughts  about the importance of global data management for new generation of MCAD tools.

As more we can see how our world is shrinking by the power of internet, engineers, manufacturing companies, architecture and construction firms are asking how future platforms and tools will support data management of distributed design assets. From that standpoint, mechanical assembly and building structure is not much different. The biggest challenge of both PLM and BIM environment is the same and it is about efficient distributed data management.

What is my conclusion? Granular data modeling and distributed data management are going to play a central role in the future of engineering software for both AEC and manufacturing domains. As a result of that, we might see a future common platform for BIM and PLM. Data management platforms will be capable to track data, manage revisions, dependencies of both multi-disciplinary construction assets as well as electro-mechanical design and variety of bills of materials. Data management will play a key role in unification of platforms and future competition. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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.


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