I’m coming to the Digital Factory Boston conference tomorrow. The conference is organized by Formlabs (formlabs.com). The program will be hosted by Jeff Immelt that explores the latest digital manufacturing technologies, and the ways they transform the business of creating, making, and selling products. Jeff Immelt is former CEO of GE and currently Venture Partner with NEA investing in a bunch of very cool companies in engineering and manufacturing. Check the NEA software portfolio here. You probably will notice Onshape.
Check out the schedule here. It has a long list of very interesting presentations and keynote speakers. My PLM twisted mind captured few I look forward to learning more.
Few opening keynotes from large enterprise OEMs – Spirit Aerospace, Ford and FedEx. This one by Rob Carter of FedEx is very inspiring – The Digital Supply Chain. My hunch some of Rob’s points were outlined in WSJ – FedEx CIO Says Blockchain a ‘Game Changer’ for Supply Chain Visibility.
FedEx is working to develop technology that would allow it to monitor shipments beyond its own tracking systems. While FedEx keeps detailed records of custody using its own databases and internal systems, a distributed ledger shared across the industry would allow the company to track freight even when it moves to parts of the supply chain it doesn’t own, such as rail lines. “This is such a game changer for us because it extends those boundaries outside of our four walls,” Chief Information Officer Rob Carter said.
Another presentation I’m very much looking to is Software-Defined Manufacturing by Amar Hanspal of Bright Machines. Amar is former co-CEO and Senior Vice President of Products at Autodesk. Read more about Bright Machines here – Bright Machines lands $179M to bring smarter robotics to manufacturing.
The startup wants to bring a software-driven approach to robotics, one that would let you take dumb robotics and program it in a more automated fashion to perform a set of tasks, taking advantage of artificial intelligence and machine learning in ways that they say most manufacturing companies simply aren’t equipped to handle right now.
One more presentation I’m looking for is from 3DHubs’ CEO, Brian Garret Building the Global Manufacturing Marketplace. You probably want to check this article about recent investment in 3DHubs- We just raised $18M to drive the future of on-demand manufacturing. Here is a story of 3DHubs.
We launched 3D Hubs in 2013 and quickly became the world’s largest 3D printing community and marketplace. Over the past two years, more professional engineers started using our services, which brought new requirements to the platform. With the shift to professional users, we started focusing more heavily on the automation, standardization, and the reliability of 3D Hubs. We also added CNC machining and injection molding to the services offered. Together we are changing the rules of the manufacturing industry. Today, over 20,000 engineers are using 3D Hubs, working with 250 trusted suppliers. More than 2 Million high-quality, custom parts have been produced to date!
Closing keynote by Jim Heppelmann of PTC – How Industrial Companies Capitalize on Digital Transformation.
What is my conclusion? Boston is proving to be a center of manufacturing innovation and intelligence. There is a good reason Formlabs (which is also Boston based company) is hosting this event in Boston. I can see a significant number of companies are located in Boston. Follow me on twitter tomorrow for more news and updates about #DigitalFactory. Just my thoughts…
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.