Autodesk: Democratizing 'The Future of Making Things'

CIO VendorBrian Roepke, Director of PLM and PDM In the faster, defter, and progressively accessible manufacturing arena, reliance on PLM to link otherwise unconnected, siloed activities such as concept development, design, engineering, manufacturing, sales, and marketing has been enabling the big market-players to rule the roost. Although these capabilities are desirable for SMBs as well, these firms have not had the IT expertise or the funds necessary to acquire and implement such a system, nor do they have the time to train their employees.

Today, this landscape is turning over, and Autodesk is at the heart of this change.

Built from the ground up as a cloud solution, PLM 360 offers a modern user experience that makes it easy to get up and running quickly with a comprehensive PLM solution

Autodesk wants to prepare companies for the ‘Future of Making Things’ with a rapidly growing portfolio of design and manufacturing technology. Leveraging its unrivalled expertise in design, along with the power of cloud, Autodesk is democratizing PLM. With Autodesk’s PLM 360, even the smallest of enterprises now have direct access to a highly potent PLM software that can drastically reduce manufacturing costs and time to market. Delivered via cloud—at almost 10 times cheaper the cost compared to traditional PLM offerings—PLM360 provides a valuable boost to SMBs in the highly competitive market.

Democratizing the PLM landscape was just a logical extension of its capabilities to Autodesk. “When we looked at PLM Landscape, we realized that this market was far too complicated with respect to the contemporary technologies and solutions. The delivery of these solutions in many ways was really poor,” notes Brian Roepke, Director of PLM and PDM at Autodesk.

This made the traditional PLM implementations big IT driven initiatives that lasted months.

With PLM 360, Autodesk countered this poor delivery mechanism. This brought immediate and widespread adoption within months of its introduction. Today, PLM 360 has surpassed 14,000 users with 75 percent of PLM 360 deals in the SMB segment.

PLM on Cloud

PLM 360 offers a cloud-based, modern, simple-to-execute PLM environment which is accessible anytime, anyplace, through practically any web-empowered gadget. Such flexibility enables PLM 360 to make powerful PLM business application available to companies of all sizes—with low up-front costs, no capital expenditures, and no prerequisites or installation. “PLM 360 streamlines the creation and management of information, people, and processes to help manufacturers, including SMBs, become more competitive and grow their businesses,” expounds Roepke.
PLM 360 gives companies the tools to design and define the processes and workflows, along with their associated tasks, gates, and milestones. In addition to tracking the progress through workflows, PLM 360 communicates task accomplishments to all team members and can automatically notify the next accountable task owner of the required next steps.

PLM 360 caters to the increasingly collaborative environment that the world is witnessing today. “Now with multiple organizations coming together, and contractors coming in to specialize in a certain discipline, it's almost impossible that someone is going to work only within the four walls that they live in. It's much more distributed and global,” explains Roepke. When working on such a geographically distributed environment, emails become inefficient means of communication. Since PLM 360 is on cloud, the information gets updated instantly for everyone, thus bringing the confidence among managers that everyone is on the same page, with clear communication that enables effective collaboration.

A Viable Alternative to Conventional PLM

A research study by AMR/Gartner of PLM projects showed that a typical fully budgeted PLM project costs $750,000 for midsize companies and $2.6 million for large companies, which means small businesses need to rely on emails and spreadsheets for managing new product introduction processes. This results in small companies encountering operational roadblocks at the time of ramping up production. The flexibility of PLM 360 makes it special–small businesses and start-ups can now have entry to a PLM class framework. “The next generation hardware startups are using it exactly as how it is delivered—with very little or no customization,” explicates Roepke. “Anything can be changed, customized or altered inside the platform utilizing drag and drop through the web program, which is the interesting part of PLM 360.” For example, Skully Helmets of California is a crowd funded startup that makes innovative motorcycle helmet. Skully Helmets makes navigation easier and enhances awareness for its users by linking advanced optics to an intelligent network of cameras, sensors and microprocessors. “This is an idea of a disruptive product to a traditional market,” remarks Roepke. When such start-ups are coming up with new products, they need help to collaborate with their supply chain in order to streamline the production and timely delivery of the product. Along with that, many times the products are built by contract manufacturers which necessitate the need of effective communication as well. “Using PLM 360, even startups are able to establish formal supply chain processes and collaborate with their suppliers and manufacturers globally. This helps them make products more accurately and cost effectively, with improved time to market,” adds Roepke.

Catering to Broader Market

Autodesk's portfolio can be regarded as a viable PLM alternative for small-to-midsized companies. On the other hand, big companies like SKF, Sandvik and Tetra Pak often have hundreds of licenses of Autodesk software, that enable them to derive business level objective and garner top line growth. Case in point is Greenpoint Technologies, a manufacturer of custom aircraft interiors for private Boeing jets. Greenpoint was in need of a PLM system that would give them the ability to manage the complexity of tracking products and improve the engineering process from start to finish, and enhance collaboration to deliver a product faster and cheaper. Being a Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) Completion Center which provides turnkey interior completions for private individuals and Heads-of-State, the manufacturing of custom material for airplanes was very expensive and time consuming process for Greenpoint. Being one of the few players in the interior designing for jets, it becomes all the more important for them to deliver on the promise on time. The issue that they were facing was in regards to tracking and managing the tremendous amount of designs for different projects. These designs were spaced over distinct geographical locations and their existing system was not capable of consolidating changes made by designers. “We realized that we really didn't have the system that can grow with us,” explained Mark Keilholz, Vice President of Information Technologies at Greenpoint Technologies. “PLM 360 changed the way we do our business by providing us a platform that we could model our business processes on.” The solution provided a greater visibility into their products, consolidating all the design and information and co-ordinating the team to work collectively and collaboratively. “Using our PLM 360, Greenpoint is now delivering on their strategic goal to focus on the customer experience by incorporating quality, commitment, and craftsmanship into every completion,” remarks Roepke.

“The flexibility of PLM 360 makes it special– even small businesses can now have access to an enterprise-class PLM framework”

With such an elaborate adoption of the PLM 360 ranging from big market players like Greenpoint Technologies to disruptive start-ups like SKULLY, Autodesk is making long strides towards democratization of PLM – which is in coherence with Autodesk’s vision of ‘Future of Making Things’. As Roepke states, “Future of Making Things is a representation of where we believe manufacturing will be in the coming years with regards to innovation and technology which are reshaping the way we make things.”Leveraging their portfolio of cloud solutions, Autodesk’s customers will be able to efficiently design and manufacture a wide range of innovative devices that blur the line between hardware and software. “We think the appeal of a cloud-based offering like PLM 360 will only continue to grow as more companies bring the next generation of connected products to market,” concludes Roepke.


San Rafael, CA

Brian Roepke, Director of PLM and PDM

Leading provider of 3D design, engineering, and entertainment software.