My reflections after meeting with 100's of Engineers and Manufacturing/Engineering Management at Spring Tradeshows:
I like meeting with people at trade shows and learning about what they design and how they get products made. Our Spring trade shows have come to a close and upon reflection I have a few insights based on the 100's of people that I have spoken with.
Living in the CAD, CAM, CAE, PLM world one begins to think that your CAD/PLM is some sort of a religion. But my thinking on this is changing. I see many managers and CAD/PLM users very interested in the latest CAD/PLM tools, such as 3D Direct CAD, particularly KeyCreator, because of its translators for native NX, Pro/E, CATIA, Solidworks, Inventor and also for its unified design environment: the ability to work in 2D, solids, surfaces all at the same time in the same workspace. This makes for a very flexible PLM/CAD tool. These folks are very curious about what is available outside of their protected PLM Environment - sometimes under the watchful eye of the "CAD Mafia." OK, tell me you haven't heard that term before -or a varient of it? (And if you dont hear from me ever again, you know that they got me!)
The real issue that I see that holds companies back from harnessing their full potential is the incorrect thinking of senior management regarding PLM/CAD tools; The thinking that has been conditioned into their being by the Traditional PLM companies. This thinking says that you need to have all of your PLM tools from the same vendor. Well that makes perfect sense if you are the vendor. But for the designer or manufacturer in the supply chain, its like saying, you need to have all left-handed wrenches.
Supply chains can be very simple or extremely complex. The design may start from a small company then the files are possibly sent to a large OEM for refinement, then the assembly is broken apart and sourced to the various manufacturing plants both internally and externally. Then the parts are assembled in various other plant locations and finally shipped for distribution.
Is it possible to have all of the supply chain (internal and external) using the same PLM tools and versions of these tools and to have all of the engineers fully trained on these tools? Even if this was possible, would you want a fully trained (read expensive) Engineer using CATIA to detail a simple 2D drawing of a fixture? It just doesn't make (financial) sense. Yet,this happens in many companies. Or these very expensive and complex PLM tools are put into the hands of people that for no fault of their own aren't fully trained in all of the complexities of the tools that they are forced to use for the sake of "one company PLM/CAD." (Who could be fully trained in all of the complexities of some of these very complex tools?)
Agile companies on the other hand, put the right tools into the right hands of the properly skilled engineers and techs appropriately to complete the work for optimum results.
Agile companies,agile supply chains that are striving for maximum productivity, can benefit from the plethora of today's new and innovative PLM tools that simply aren't available from the Traditional old PLM companies.
Kubotek KeyCreator and Kubotek Validation Tool are two of these innovative PLM/CAD products that can improve productivity, profitability and quality if senior management is able to shed the "one company PLM" thinking.
The benefits of embracing new and innovative technology within the supply chain can give your supply chain the sustainable competitive advantage needed in this ultra-competitive global economy. So shed that One Company CAD/PLM thinking and embrace the new and innovative tools that don't lock you into one way of working or thinking.
Thank you for reading, and I solicit your thoughts!
PS I hope to see many "Enlightened" senior managers at our Fall Shows.