COFES 2018 – What stands between technology and people?

COFES 2018 – What stands between technology and people?

I’m coming to COFES 2018 in 2 weeks. It is an opportunity to escape from daily routine for 3 days, meet CAD friends and talk about industry challenges. This year COFES theme is about changing relationship between software and people. If you want to learn more about COFES, navigate your browser here ( Here is a passage that gives you some idea about the topic of the event this year.

This year at COFES 2018, we will explore human-aided design and have an in depth look at the changing relationship between our tools and us. The advent of digital personal computers and the development of software profoundly transformed the way products were designed. The advent of computer-aided design gave engineers an array of powerful new tools. As the Internet evolved, CAD migrated into the cloud. Today, powerful design tools are available globally and have become an integral part of the engineering landscape.

Today, we stand at the dawn of a new era of design – what we refer to as human-aided design. Advances in computer hardware and software are profoundly altering the way in which we interact with technology. Humans are now merging with computers in a way that has never existed previously. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, virtual and augmented reality are radically reshaping the design landscape. Innovations in 3D printing technology and advances in additive manufacturing processes represent a convergence of atoms and bits that promise to usher in the next industrial revolution.

I like the topic and it is timely one. I can see growing distance between smart tools and software on one side and people behavior on the other. I found this topic very much connected to one of my articles – AI-zation of CAD and PLM. As much as everyone are talking about AI as a new tool, it is mostly about new data and methods to process it. Here is my conclusion from my article 7 years ago. I think, it became very relevant these days.

Data is a new oil. And AI is a new electricity. One of the most fundamental aspects of AI (artificial intelligence) activity is data collecting. Without real data about design, parts and their usage is very hard to think about bright future of self taught design system. To collect this data can be a tricky challenge, since it is hidden behind firewalls and CAD formats. Cloud (and especially multi-tenant data management) cloud-based systems have an opportunity to serve as a founding elements of AI platforms serving engineering and manufacturing communities.

The topic of intelligence and AI is making a return after 25 years cycle (your might remember expert systems of 1980s). And it raises many questions about what impact AI will make on the industry.

Few sessions from COFES agenda that caught my attention. To see full program, go here.

Monica Schnitger, Schnitger Corporation
The Changing Relationship Between Us and Our Tools

The changing relationship between us and our engineering and design tools creates significant new opportunities for innovation — in business models and processes as well as in the products themselves. Service bureaus monetize tools and expertise; software vendors are changing the game for themselves and their customers in a shift towards subscriptions; contractors and manufacturers are looking to extend their value beyond design to operations. How might this change the definition of IP? How does it affect the design and engineering landscape? And what opportunities does this open up on the vendor and channel side of the equation?

Allan Behrens, Taxal Limited
Digital Thread

The concept of Digital Thread goes beyond the alphabet soup of ALM, BIM, CRM, PLM, SLM, and ZRT. Each of these has its strengths and accompanying limitations. What do we mean by Digital Thread? How will it enable us to benefit from, and manage the bigger picture without the limitations of our alphabet soup tools? What are more pragmatic, user-centric models for management of ‘lifecycles’, and if so, how might we expect that this (or these) solutions be applicable to large and small companies alike?

Jim Brown, Tech-Clarity
The Leap from Computerized to Digital

The transition to a digital enterprise is leap in corporate similar in potential to the leap from paper enterprise to computerized. What are the defining characteristics of this shift? What’s behind it and what are the implications? More to the point, what opportunities and challenges face engineering systems in supporting the modern digital enterprise? There are some important, strategic questions facing today’s vendor. Should they stay in the innovation and design role? It the IoT a natural extension of engineering software or something much bigger? Are digital twins part of the equation? Does the Product Innovation Platform help? Is this what we’ve been waiting for to finally close the loop back to design, so product data can start to drive design decisions with the guidance of product engineers?

What is my conclusion? As much as I love sessions, my favorite part of COFES is to have an opportunity to talk to people. So, I look forward to that. I will meet some of you at COFES in sunny Arizona and for rest of you will be sending my updates.What stands between tools and people today? In my view, it is all about data. It is about data that can make people more intelligent. Tools are getting smarter. The question is not how to replace people in the process of design, engineering and manufacturing. But how to make people more intelligent. That’s a big deal of modern engineering and manufacturing software. 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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