• The Finding PLM to Fit Mid-Sized High-Tech Companies ebook explains how smaller companies in the high technology industry find themselves stuck between full-featured Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) systems that feel out of reach and less capable solutions including cloud-based file sharing or very basic data management applications. They know they can’t afford the errors and inefficiency inherent to informal data and process management, but can’t afford a large time, resource, and financial investment to fix their problems. Unfortunately simple solutions like web file sharing, while very attractive, fall … [ read more ]

    Finding PLM to Fit Mid-Sized High-Tech Companies
  • The How-to Guide to Transitioning from 2D CAD to 3D CAD  shares best practices for moving from 2D to 3D. The guide shares the reasons you should consider going from 2D to 3D, common challenges to avoid, and benefits enjoyed by other companies who gone to 3D. The guide then shares advice to make your switch from 2D to 3D CAD a success. The recommendations were developed by analyzing the responses of Top Performing companies and comparing them to Average Performing companies.This eBook is one in a series of three:Transitioning from 2D CAD to 3D CAD Migrating from 3D CAD to a new 3D CAD Adopting … [ read more ]

    Best Practices for Going from 2D to 3D CAD
  • The Reducing Cost of Quality in CPG report shares perspectives from a survey of over 175 CPG companies to determine how Top Performers manage consumer packaged goods quality. The research finds that these leading companies are able to achieve better quality results with lower internal costs. The report analyzes their processes, organizational structures, and enabling technology to determine how they can get better quality results without placing a financial burden on the business.Please enjoy the summary below, or click the report to download a PDF overview (free of charge, no registration … [ read more ]

    Reducing Cost of Quality for Consumer Packaged Goods (survey report)
  • What type of experiences prepare engineering students the best for "real world" industry work? What should new graduates know when they start their first job?Please share your experience, thoughts, and lessons learned in this new survey on the engineering skills gap. We are exploring questions such as, what types of things do you look for in a new graduate? How can engineering colleges and universities improve their curriculum to better prepare students for today's modern products?  What concerns do you have about the future engineering workforce?Developing the future workforce is critical to the … [ read more ]

    What Skills Do You Wish Engineering Graduates Had? (Survey Invite)
  • This infographic shares the importance of developing a cohesive digital thread when developing formulated products in the consumer packaged goods industry. The digital thread should be driven by customer requirements and incorporate the recipe / formulation, specifications, packaging design, compliance information, claims, cautions, ingredients, labeling, artwork, and more to provide a full view of the product and it's design history. An effective CPG Digital Thread relies on an integrated Product Innovation Platform to connect product data from early in the front end of innovation through development, … [ read more ]

    The CPG Digital Thread (infographic)

Digital Prototypes – Yes. But for a Manufacturing Plant?


A quick peek into some research on … the use of digital prototyping techniques and technologies to design (and redesign) efficient manufacturing plants. Thumbnail_DP_PlantMost of the times I discuss “digital prototyping” it regards products. But the same concepts apply when using digital prototyping in the plant – namely using digital models to increase design efficiency and get designs right the first time. Today I am happy to share my new report with you, Digital Prototyping in the Plant: Improving Manufacturing Agility with the Digital Factory.

Why Digital Prototyping Now?

Clearly, the economy has been tough on manufacturers across the globe. Today, manufacturers are facing a series of demands to survive today and thrive during the economic recovery. I researched engineering’s role in a survive and thrive strategy from a product perspective earlier this year, noting that Engineering can make short-term impacts on both the top and bottom lines in the near term while innovating to prepare for the future. But what impact does the economic downturn have on manufacturing and plant engineers? In the plant right now, you are probably facing:

  • The need to cut cost
  • The demand to improve efficiency
  • The requirement to adjust to plant or line consolidations, volume/mix changes, and potentially new products
  • Lean resources to accomplish all of the above

What Did the Research Reveal?

Tech-Clarity interviewed leading manufacturers including Android, Robert Bosch, and General Motors on their use of digital prototyping. By leveraging 3D models in their plants, these manufacturers are improving their ability to design and reuse optimal tooling at a detail level as well as optimizing workstations, lines, and plants at a macro level. They are leveraging the tools to validate and optimize changes in a virtual environment before commiting to physical changes. In return, they are able to “find hundreds of issues … early in the process” and ensure smooth production in the plant when modifications are brought online.

One interesting finding was the use of 3D laser scanning to create 3D models of older plants that were likely designed using 2D drawings. In these scenarios, 3D for prototypes is created “using 3D laser scanning (LIDAR) to capture 3D point clouds of existing brownfield sites and pulling those into our CAD models.” This helps to reduce the barrier to entry for digital prototyping in existing plants.

Another interesting finding was the use of digital prototypes to collaborate with tooling suppliers, who are frequently geographically dispersed. With lower travel budgets and short time frames, electronic collaboration can bridge the gap. As one participant said, “This enables engineers collaborating deeply with external design suppliers to see the changes much faster and with less errors than in the 2D world.” Of course digital prototypes also help enable collaboration with design engineers in a concurrent engineering approach to get new products ramped up quickly.

Implications for Manufacturers

Cost saving opportunities are available, and change is inevitable. Manufacturers today have the opportunity to increase their agility and improve efficiency through digital prototyping technology. Please read the report for more recommendations. You may also be interested in a prior report, Leveraging the Digital Factory: Enhancing Productivity from Operator to Enterprise on the use of digital prototyping and Manufacturing Process Management (MPM) and Digital Manufacturing solutions to reduce cost, speed time to market, and improve product quality.

So that was a quick peek into some recent research on digital prototyping in the plant, I hope you found it interesting. Does the research reflect your experiences? Do you see it differently? Let us know what it looks like from your perspective.

Please feel free to review more free research and white papers about PLM and other enterprise software for manufacturers from Tech-Clarity.

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