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A month ago I announced to write a series of posts related to the various facets of Model-Based. As I do not want to write a book for a limited audience, I still believe blog posts are an excellent way to share knowledge and experience to a wider audience. Remember PLM is about sharing!

There are three downsides to this approach:

  • you have to chunk the information into pieces; my aim is not to exceed 1000 words per post
  • Isolated posts can be taken out of context (in a positive or negative way)
  • you do not become rich and famous for selling your book

Model-Based ways of working are a hot topic and crucial for a modern digital enterprise.  The modern digital enterprise does not exist yet to my knowledge, but the vision is there. Strategic consultancy firms are all active exploring and explaining the potential benefits – I have mentioned McKinsey / Accenture / Capgemini before.

In the domain of PLM, there is a bigger challenge as here we are suffering from the fact that the word “Model” immediately gets associated with a 3D Model. In addition to the 3D CAD Model, there is still a lot of useful legacy data that does not match with the concepts of a digital enterprise. I wrote and spoke about this topic a year ago. Among others at PI 2017 Berlin and you can  check this presentation on SlideShare: How digital transformation affects PLM

Back to the various aspects of Model-Based

My first post: Model-Based – an introduction described my intentions what I wanted to explain.  I got some interesting feedback and insights from my readers . Some of the people who responded understood that the crucial characteristic of the model-based enterprise is to use models to master a complex environment. Business Models, Mathematical Models, System Models are all part of a model-based enterprise, and none of them have a necessary relation to the 3D CAD model.

Why Model-Based?

Because this is an approach to master complex environments ! If you are studying the concepts for a digital enterprise model, it is complex. Artificial intelligence, predictive actions all need a model to deliver. The interaction and response related to my first blog post did not show any problems – only a positive mindset to further explore. For example, if you read this blog post from Contact, you will see the message came across very well: Model-Based in  Model-Based Systems Engineering – what’s up ?

Where the confusion started

My second post: Why Model-Based? The 3D CAD Model  was related to model-based, focusing on the various aspects related to the 3D CAD model, without going into all the details. In particular, in the PLM world, there is a lot of discussion around Model-Based Design or Model-Based Definition, where new concepts are discussed to connect engineering and manufacturing in an efficient and modern data-driven way. Lifecycle Insights, Action Engineering, Engineering.com, PTC,   Tech-Clarity and many more companies are publishing information related to the model-based engineering phase.

Here is was surprised by Oleg’s blog with his post Model-Based Confusion in 3D CAD and PLM.

If you read his post, you get the impression that the model-based approach is just a marketing issue instead of a significant change towards a digital enterprise. I quote:

Here is the thing… I don’t see much difference between saying PLM-CAD integration sharing data and information for downstream processes and “model-driven” data sharing. It might be a terminology thing, but data is managed by CAD-PLM tools today and accessed by people and other services. This is how things are working today. If model-driven is an approach to replace 2D drawings, I can see it. However, 2D replacement is something that I’ve heard 20 years ago. However, 2D drawings are still massively used by manufacturing companies despite some promises made by CAD vendors long time ago.

I was surprised by the simplicity of this quote. As if CAD vendors are responsible for new ways of working. In particular, automotive and aerospace companies are pushing for a model-based connection between engineering and manufacturing to increase quality, time to market and reduced handling costs. The model-based definition is not just a marketing issue as you can read from benefits reported by Jennifer Herron (Re-use your CAD – the model-based CAD handbook – describing practices and benefits already in 2013) or Tech-Clarity (The How-To Guide for adopting model-based definition – describing practices and benefits – sponsored by SolidWorks)

Oleg’s post unleashed several reactions of people who shared his opinion (read the comments here). They are all confused, t is all about marketing / let’s not change / too complex. Responses you usually hear from a generation that does not feel and understand the new approaches of a digital enterprise. If you are in the field working with multiple customers trying to understand the benefits of model-based definition, you would not worry about terminology – you would try to understand it and make it work.

Model-Based – just marketing?

In his post, Oleg refers to CIMdata’ s explanation of the various aspects of model-based in the context of PLM. Instead of referring to the meaning of the various acronyms, Peter Bilello (CIMdata) presented at the latest PDT conference (Oct 2017 – Gothenburg) an excellent story related to the various aspects of the model-based aspects, actually the whole conference was dedicated to the various aspects of a Model-Based Enterprise illustrates that it is not a vendor marketing issue. You can read my comments from the vendor-neutral conference here: The weekend after PDT Europe 2017 Part 1 and Part 2.

There were some dialogues on LinkedIn this weekend, and I promised to publish this post first before continuing on the other aspects of a model-based enterprise.  Just today Oleg published a secondary post related to this topic: Model-Based marketing in CAD and PLM, where again the tone and blame is to the PLM/CAD vendors, as you can see from his conclusion:

I can see “mode-based” as a new and very interesting wave of marketing in 3D CAD and PLM.  However, it is not pure marketing and it has some rational. The rational part of model-based approach is to have information model combined from 3D design and all connected data element. Such model can be used as a foundation for design, engineering, manufacturing, support, maintenance. Pretty much everything we do. It is hard to create such model and it is hard to combine a functional solution from existing packages and products. You should think how to combine multiple CAD systems, PLM platforms and many other things together. It requires standards. It requires from people to change. And it requires changing of status quo. New approaches in data management can change siloed world of 3D CAD and PLM. It is hard, but nothing to do with slides that will bring shiny words “model-base”. Without changing of technology and people, it will remain as a history of marketing

Again it shows the narrow mindset on the future of a model-based enterprise. When it comes to standards I recommend you to register and watch CIMdata’s educational webinar called: Model-Based Enterprise and Standards – you need to register. John MacKrell CIMdata’s chairman gives an excellent overview and status of model-based enterprise initiative.  After having studied and digested all the links in this post, I challenge you to make your mind up. The picture below comes from John’s presentation, an illustration where we are with model-based definition currently

 

Conclusion

The challenge of modern businesses is that too often we conclude too fast on complex issues or we frame new developments because they do not fit our purpose. You know it from politics. Be aware it is also valid in the world of PLM. Innovation and a path to a modern digital enterprise do not come easy – you need to invest and learn all the aspects. To be continued (and I do not have all the answers either)

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changeRecently, I have written about classical PLM (document-driven and sequential) and modern PLM (data-driven and iterative) as part of the upcoming digital transformation that companies will have to go through to be fit for the future. Some strategic consultancy companies, like Accenture, talk about Digital PLM when referring to a PLM environment supporting the digital enterprise.

 

From classical PLM to Digital PLM?

The challenge for all companies is to transform their businesses to become customer-centric and find a transformation path from the old legacy PLM environment towards the new digital environment. Companies want to do this in an evolutionary mode. However my current observations are that the pace of an evolutionary approach is too slow related to what happens in their market. This time the change is happening faster than before.

A Big Bang approach towards the new environment seems to be a big risk. History has taught us that this is very painful and costly. To be avoided too. So what remains is a kind of bimodal approach, which I introduced in my recent blog posts (Best Practices or Next Practices). Although one of my respected readers and commenters Ed Lopategui mentioned in his comment (here) bimodal is another word for coexistence. He is not optimistic about this approach either

So, what remains is disruption?

And disruption is a popular word and my blog buddy Oleg Shilovitsky recently dived into that topic again with his post: How to displace CAD and PLM industry incumbents. An interesting post about disruption and disruption patterns. My attention was caught by the words: digital infrastructure.
I quote:

How it might happen? Here is one potential answer – digital infrastructure. Existing software is limited to CAD files stored on a desktop and collaboration technologies developed 15-20 years using relational database and client-server architecture.

Digital Infrastructure

imageAs I mentioned the words, Digital Infrastructure triggered me to write this post. At this moment,  I see companies marketing their Digital Transformation story in a slick way, supported by all the modern buzz words like; customer-centric, virtual twin and data-driven. You would imagine as a PLM geek that they have already made the jump from the old document-driven PLM towards modern digital PLM. So what does a modern digital PLM environment look like ?

The reality, however, behind this slick marketing curtain, is that there are still the old legacy processes, where engineers are producing drawings as output for manufacturing. Because drawings are still legal and controlled information carriers. There is no digital infrastructure behind the scenes. So, what would you expect behind the scenes?

Model-Based Definition as part of the digital infrastructure

Crucial to be ready for a digital infrastructure is to transform your company´s product development process from a file-based process where drawings are leading towards a model-based enterprise. The model needs to be the leading authority (single source of truth) for PMI (Product Manufacturing Information) and potentially for all upfront engineering activities. In this case, we call it Model-Based Systems Engineering sometimes called RFLP (Requirements-Functional-Logical-Product), where even the product can be analyzed and simulated directly based on the model.

A file-based process is not part of a digital infrastructure or model-based enterprise architecture. File-based processes force the company to have multiple instances and representations of the same data in different formats, creating an overhead of work to keep up quality and correctness of data, that is not 100 % secure. A digital infrastructure works with connected data in context.

econimistTherefore, if your company is still relying on drawings and you want to be ready for the future, a first step towards a digital infrastructure would be fixing your current processes to become model-based. Some good introductions can be found here at ENGINEERING.com – search for MBD and you will find:

Moving to Mode-Based is already a challenging transformation inside your company before touching the challenge of moving towards a full digital enterprise, through evolution, disruption or bimodal approach – let the leading companies show the way.

Conclusion

Companies should consider and investigate how to use a Model-Based Engineering approach as a first step to becoming lean and fit for a digital future. The challenge will be different depending on the type of industry and product.
I am curious to learn from my readers where they are on the path to a digital enterprise.

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