Amazon, Augment Reality Patents and PLM MRO competition

Amazon, Augment Reality Patents and PLM MRO competition

Amazon will compete CAD and PLM vendors by expanding their in downstream value chain. Are you laughing? You might be right. However, you can join group of people talking about Amazon selling only books. This is already history , but this is a history we can learn from.

Two decades after its launch, Amazon has conquered online retail, racking up $136 billion in sales in 2016. It’s also taken on cloud computing, tech gadgets and the entertainment world. With its blockbuster announcement Friday that it is buying upscale grocery chain Whole Foods, Amazon now plans to upend yet another industry: grocery stores.

I wrote about Amazon expansion last year Amazon Bomb and Manufacturing networks and asked if PLM business is Amazon proof. The answer on this question isn’t straightforward and depends on what you mean by PLM. For some of us, PLM is a strategic business initiative for large companies involving process improvement and for some others software managing engineering data and ECOs .

PLM software started as an engineering discipline has a chance to be transformed into networked business managing relationships between contractors, suppliers, service providers and manufacturing shops. The company which will simplify these relationships has a chance to rule the future of manufacturing.

My attention was caught by publication about Amazon’s recent AR patent grant, titled “Vehicle Component Installation Preview Image Generation,” describes a system that uses augment reality to let users preview the image of an auto part as if it’s connected to their car. Below, we dig further into the tech highlighted in the patent. Here are few interesting nuggets from the patent.

1- Identification of vehicle and parts using VR.

The application described in the patent identifies vehicle using images from camera or by entering VIN number. Once vehicle is identified,  application can detect specific portion of the vehicle to access selected auto parts.

2- Shopping for available part online.

After vehicle part is identified, user can select a part from a database of 3D models including precision management. Application can offer Amazon buying experience to by part from different brands using different options. User can select part from an entire database of relevant 3D rendering or models.

I can see how such capability can be used to compete any manufacturing service program. Manufacturing OEMs might not be servicing vehicles and not buying parts on Amazon, but the fundamental principles of business process are the same and technology used by Amazon can be used for airplanes and equipment maintenance service. And this is even before talking about value of Amazon patents and a nightmare scenarios in which PLM vendors will have to license some of these AR/VR patents to protect their Service PLM programs

What is my conclusion? The distance between CAD and PLM business and Amazon is still huge. Amazon is not placing at any danger for CAD license revenue stream. But, here is the thing… business models are changing fast, and nobody can reassure that CAD licensing business is sustainable and can grow. Two major CAD vendors are leading the way towards subscription licenses (Autodesk and PTC) and others are following fast.  PLM business will have to discover more downstream options to work with contractors, suppliers, sourcing and purchasing. More intelligent data management software will be requirements. You probably seen my article about Dassault Systemes Marketplace here and how to turn Bill of Materials in a lifeblood of manufacturing organizations. A potential clash between Amazon and PLM vendors is just a matter of time and Amazon business focus. 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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