The CAD industry has grown a lot since 2008, and Oleg Shilovitsky has grown right alongside it.
Shilovitsky started the website Beyond PLM
as a way to keep tabs on a variety of tech fields and share that information with the world. Beginning as a blog about Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), he quickly reached the limits of that topic, and expanded to become Beyond PLM.
Shilovitsky took a moment to tell us about his website and some of the many changes he's watched unfurl in the world of CAD workstations.
How did Beyond PLM get started? What made you decide to start the site? Who is your main audience?
I started this blog in 2008. At the time, blogging was just coming to enterprise and professional spaces such as CAD/PLM. The domain was (and still is) very competitive, and I felt that the industry was missing a place where information and opinion can be shared in a vendor-neutral way online. It took me about 6-7 months before I started to find "my voice."
After several trials, I came to the idea to share one "discussion topic" every day. The original name of the blog was PLM Daily Think Tank (the mirror of the blog is still available online on www.plmtwine.com). The initial audience was mostly industry people that I knew back in 2009; I was CTO of SmarTeam, a subsidiary of Dassault System in Israel.
In time, the reading audience grew; and today, it combines industry analysts, vendors, partners and customers. I know many people that use Beyond PLM resources as references for their university study about PLM and as an idea generator. So, I have been running it daily for the last six years. It helps me to think about what I do, and I hope it brings value to my readers.
Vendor neutrality is one of the fundamental principles in my blogging. The second one is probably to write short articles that you can read in 5 minutes. The last one is to answer all comments posted on the blog and social networks and respect other people's opinions.
For people who don't know, what is PLM software? What are its merits? Any down sides?
PLM stands for "Product Lifecycle Management." It is a combination of business strategy, software and technologies that used to design and manage information and processes about product development, engineering and manufacturing.
What makes the site "beyond PLM"?
Back in 2010, I felt that the blog went much beyond my original idea of a "PLM discussion topic every day." So, I decided to change the name to "Beyond PLM," which in my view better reflected the wider scope of topics covered in blog articles.
Do you have any experience with CAD workstations, and if so, which ones have you used?
I have a background in engineering; and back in 1989/90, I was using AutoCAD, CADKEY and DataCAD for development of engineering applications. I started with AutoCAD 9 many years ago. As a software developer, I was dealing with different CAD software like AutoCAD, SolidWorks, SolidEdge, Inventor, CATIA, Pro-E. Most of the time, I was a software engineer and product developer, not a professional engineer.
What are some reasons a CAD engineer might want to consider integrating a workstation into their workflow?
I guess nobody is designing anything with draft tables these days. CAD workstations are an essential tool for every engineer these days.
You wrote a post recently about the manufacturing BOM dilemma. Can you briefly describe this dilemma, and how does it affect a CAD engineer?
This is a very good question, since it demonstrates a significant change that is happening these days in the industry. Traditionally, engineers would make a design and then hand it over (essentially engineering BOM documenting CAD design) to manufacturing.
Manufacturing engineers prepared Manufacturing BOM, which was a foundation for material order and manufacturing process planning. In such ways, designers and manufacturing are working in silos, which prevents the creation of a product with optimal manufacturability.
Modern manufacturing requires better collaboration between engineering and manufacturing. Sometimes, small design changes can lead to significant improvements in manufacturability of products and product cost. Traditional EBOM handover does very little to support collaboration between engineering and manufacturing departments. MBOM (Manufacturing BOM) is a key element to enable this collaboration. The core problem and dilemma is ownership conflict between engineering (PLM) and manufacturing (ERP), which leads to a lot of organizational discussion about how to manage both engineering and manufacturing BOMs.
You've also written about the difference between mobile and social PLM, noting that the hype around mobile seemed to be dwindling. In your opinion and experience, why is this? What are some things that CAD engineers can do to better integrate mobile into their workflow?
I'd like to discuss social and mobile separately.
Social: Vendors are trying to copycat Facebook. But adoption of such "enterprise social tools" is not good. The fundamental reason why people are using Facebook is different from why people would like to use social systems at work. I think the latter has not been discovered yet. You can read some of my additional thoughts about social here.
Mobile: The interest in mobile technologies is huge. But thus far, most vendors have practiced so-called "mobile too". It means replicating existing products into mobile devices. This is the wrong approach. We need to enable new workflows that will be amplified by the power of mobile devices. Some of my thoughts on mobile devices can be found in this article on the innovation continuum.
What kind of resources can a firm expect to save by running at peak efficiency? Why is this important right now?
The modern manufacturing environment is very connected and interdependent. Manufacturing firms are running into complexity of products and complexity of manufacturing processes. Distribution, global environment, competition and cost pressure are the main reasons why companies want to operate at peak efficiency. Most of the processes are optimized in silos. To leapfrog, companies need to design better collaboration and overall process efficiency.
What are some of the opportunities that remote access to a workstation open up?
Distributed environment is a reality of every manufacturing company today, from a small hardware startup of 5-7 people up to large aero/auto OEM. To work remotely and collaborate is the only option.
Beyond PLM posts news, info, and updates on the expanding field of CAD software every day. You're bound to see and hear a lot. What are a few of the most exciting innovations in the world of engineering software, and how can an engineer or a firm best take advantage of them?
Cloud, mobile and new data management are the top three technology and trends that are leading to a lot of new innovative development. Unfortunately, engineering and manufacturing is a very conservative place. Innovation in PLM is competing with the "status quo" and existing software. The cost of replacement is a significant factor. But we will see lots of new tech in enterprise software in the coming 5-7 years, including CAD/PLM.