Autodesk Accelerate 2017

The 4th annual Autodesk Accelerate conference has come and gone. This was my first Accelerate (and also my first time to Boston).

Autodesk Accelerate

What is Accelerate?

“Accelerate brings together Autodesk customers, industry executives, top market analysts, and subject matter experts to learn, network, and share strategies for solving modern design and manufacturing challenges. Accelerate 2017 will engage, energize, and excite the community with a focus on Autodesk’s Product Innovation Platform, integrating the entire lifecycle including PLM, CAD, Advanced Manufacturing, and IoT. Don’t miss this must-attend event, where you’ll learn how your peers and industry thought leaders are accelerating their product development processes and profitability.”

This conference started 4-years ago as a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) focused event. But this year Autodesk added the other Fusion products to the mix. Although the Fusion 360 content was very light. In fact, I think the only Fusion 360 content was the participation of a Coca-Cola industrial designer on the Thursday afternoon customer panel.

So the heart of this conference is still PLM, but there was a good mix of the Internet of Things (IoT) with Fusion Connect. There was also a very brief mention of an upcoming shop floor management system called Fusion Production.

What this conference is not, is technical. It is almost technical void as there is no discussion of features, coding, or anything you’d get your hands dirty with.

So if no technical content, then why attend? This is a conference to meet others (networking), to hear the challenges they are facing, and to see how they are tackling the issues. This conference is to be inspired, to be motivated to tackle your own challenges in methods you maybe didn’t consider.

Steven Hooper

Steven Hooper was the host of the event and the highest level Autodesk employee in attendance, although there were rumoured sightings of Andrew Anagnost on Thursday.

In Steven’s opening Autodesk Accelerate keynote he talked about production, connection, and the nature of work. We are about to go through a period of short-term pain as it is expected that 47% of jobs will be automated over the next 10-years. Steven discussed how we need to exploit opportunities like Uber did, utilizing the digital platform. He also used the publishing industry in the 90s as a great example of something that was limited to a few larger companies, but with the introduction of digital tools, the industry exploded with thousands of companies and individuals offering services. But not just publishing materials, think of how much easier it is now to get books and other media published for consumption.

Steven Hooper at Autodesk Accelerate

Steven talked about many companies, but Ramlab (, really caught my attention. Ramlab is taking a different spin on additive manufacturing in that they build 6-axis robotic systems, that are portable. The machine ships and then builds, the required parts onsite. This has had a huge impact in the shipping industry as the Ramlab system is able to weld build up damaged propeller blades quickly and onsite, saving money, but more importantly time.

Neil Barker – Advanced Oncotherapy

Neil Barker 6 at Autodesk Accelerate

The second part of the opening keynote was Neil Barker of Advanced Oncotherapy. The treatment of cancer typically relies on the use of chemotherapy and radiation. This is very damaging to the body as its basically poisoning the body. Advanced Oncotherapy provides “Precision-guided particle therapy using protons”. This is almost completely harmless to the rest of the body.

So the challenge… over 17,000 conventional radiation centers exist in the world, but only 70 proton therapy centers. Why? Traditional proton therapy relies on accelerators. This needs a large physical footprint and are very expensive to build and maintain. Advanced Oncotherarpy is aiming to change this.

Their Harley Street Proton Therapy Centre project is very ambitious as they will be building it underground within the historic UK Harley Street area. They are designing and managing the project using a suite of Autodesk products including Inventor, Vault, Revit, BIM 360, and Fusion Lifecycle. Here is a snapshot of the areas managed by Fusion Lifecycle.

Neil Barker 2 at Autodesk Accelerate

The current goal is the facility built by 2019 and operational by 2020.

Accelerating the Fight Against Cancer

The Cloud is Accepted

It was very apparent at the conference that the cloud is now accepted (by most) and embraced. That the fears about data theft and security of data outside the corporate firewall are no longer a concern. Take for example, Pitney-Bowes.

I was very fortunate to sit on a panel with Rick Ryan of Pitney-Bowes. Rick explained how they have connected two of their systems utilizing IoT technology. This is no small thing. First, there were data concerns as their systems are used to stuff material into envelopes. This includes sensitive items like credit cards and financial statements. There were also government concerns, as their systems basically print currency in the form of postage on the envelopes.

With the right hardware, protocols, and programming Pitney-Bowes was able to appease both the government regulations and their customer’s concerns. The Pitney-Bowes equipment is connected and pumping data into their Fusion Connect platform.

Internet of Things

I am very new to the “Internet of Things“. However, after hearing stories from others at the conference, my mind has been spinning. I now have so many ideas, both professionally and personally, of things I’d love to slam into IoT. I will be doing some posts upcoming on IoT so stay tuned!

PLM – I Still Have So Many Questions!

I get it. Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is great at managing products (data). However, the lines are still so blurry to me how Product Data Management (PDM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) all fit together. How can a company use all three efficiently to drive productivity? Unfortunately, I did not get the answers at this conference. This is another area I hope to spend some time on soon, hopefully discover the answers, and share on D&M.

In Review

If you are using Fusion Lifecycle and/or Fusion Connect then I would highly recommend attending Autodesk Accelerate, at least once. It is a great avenue to make contacts, discuss issues and resolutions, and be motivated for future projects. Just make sure you go with both an open mind and an understanding that it is not a technical user event.


Disclaimer: Autodesk paid for my flights and lodging, but my opinions remain my own.