Design and Manufacturing solutions through Digital Prototyping and Interoperability

Tag Archives: PLM 360

Autodesk Announces the Product Innovation Platform…. Fusion

Fusion Product Innovation Platform

Autodesk just announced (well this week) that PLM 360 and See Control are now part of the Autodesk Product Innovation Platform…. called… wait for it…. drum roll please…. Fusion.

“PLM 360 is now part of the Autodesk product innovation platform, named Fusion. This platform redefines the way products are designed, made and used. Fusion brings together a unique set of cloud-connected design, manufacturing, and IoT tools.”

Fusion Platform

As part of this change, the PLM 360 name is being retired and the service will now go by Fusion Lifecycle. SeeControl will not go by Fusion Connect.

This single cloud platform provides an affordable method of complete product development, but no longer just for design and manufacturing. With PLM 360 and See Control on board it means in addition to the existing CAD, simulation, and CAM, the Fusion ecosystem now includes product lifecycle management and sensor-driven services (Internet of Things – IoT)

It appears at this time there are no enhancements to the integration, the three products are going to continue being sold as separate subscriptions to give customers “flexibility“. The only thing that will change in your existing PLM or See Control tenant is the name.

“The old way of doing product development required multiple disconnected software tools, often costing tens of thousands of dollars apiece. It was cumbersome, slow and expensive. Autodesk is working to fix this with a single cloud platform that is affordable and supports the complete product development process – not just design and manufacturing, but even the post-sale period of product monitoring and innovative sensor-driven services,” said Stephen Hooper, senior director for manufacturing industry strategy, Autodesk.


My Take

Initially, PLM 360 was focused on process management and only “lightly” on design data. This started to change with the introduction of data management type features. It’ll be interesting to see how PLM 360 will integrate with A360, which is the current Fusion 360 backbone.

Having Fusion 360 and SeeControl on one platform makes perfect sense for development. But more importantly, wouldn’t it be great to get real life results back into your model and make adjustments to the design based on the feedback? Sharing one platform makes this a possibility.

For users of Fusion 360 and/or of PLM 360 this is actually a win-win, but only WHEN Autodesk gets the Fusion 360 BOM and other metadata tightly integrated into Fusion Lifecycle. It truly takes collaboration and product management for Fusion 360 users to a new level and provides PLM 360 users a method of generating integrated design data.

Is this a surprise move by Autodesk? No, not really. Autodesk has never published the number of subscriptions sold of PLM 360, so it’s not known how many people are using it. However, if I was to guess, I would think most established CAD users are invested in Vault, Sharepoint, ERP, and other systems of the type. PLM is a tough sell. I can speak from experience in that at my “day” job we tried PLM 360 but stopped using it when we implemented a new ERP system. The combination of Inventor, Vault Pro, and ERP much better serves our needs as an industrial equipment manufacturer.

What I do find a bit surprising is that Configure One was not part of the announcement. The Configure One web-based configuration and its customer relationship management (CRM) tools appear to be a natural integration into this new platform. Thinking about it… design created in Fusion 360, Sales Configurator developed with Configure One, New Product Introduction and other manufacturing processes managed by PLM 360, and ongoing customer relationships managed by the CRM module. Sounds like a winner to me!


Feature Image by Ryan McGuire on GRATISOGRAPHY

More Things Change… My Autodesk University Recap (Part 1)

As I sit in the airport waiting for my flight home, I feel it is a good time to start digesting everything I took in at this year’s Autodesk University (AU2014). I decided early in the week that instead of blogging live I’d let things settle in after bouncing around in my head. It truly was a great event, I give my kudos to the event planners, as it went off without a hitch.

Monday (December 1)

Monday was a travel day for me but I was able to participate in the afternoon and evening events.

My first event was attending the first (hopefully of many) Vault Customer Advisory Board (CAB) meeting, organized by Kevin Robinson of Autodesk. The goal of the CAB is to provide Autodesk an avenue to bring up ideas, concepts, and other thoughts and have their customers provide direct feedback. It serves two purposes:

  • First, to get very early feedback into new concepts before Autodesk spends the time developing it. With the proper insight they hope to develop things right the first time and provide tools and workflows the customers really want..
  • Secondly, a review of existing features and processes so they understand what’s not just broken but what’s also working.

This first CAB was attended by representatives from 30 different organizations and many Autodesk personal. I should note that this was a manufacturing focused group, there was no AEC. I was required to sign a Non-disclosure so unfortunately I cannot discuss much…. I can say that they showed an early prototype and it was epic! Seriously blew my mind.  You know when something is a hit when the room initially goes quiet but quickly its filled with whispers of “did you just see that”, “I need that!” and “whoaaaa”. This happened!

There was a lot of lively discussion from everyone there but as expected we did not have the time to discuss everything on the agenda. What’s a real positive sign is that the CAB will not be a one time or even just a yearly event. Autodesk wants to take the momentum and continue it thoughout the year, online, both with the entire group and with sub-committees. We talked about workflows, lifecycles, visualization, job processor, administration, web client, tech support…. whew!. This was one of the best events I attended this year.

What’s clear is that Autodesk is not content with the status quo, the more things change in the industry is NOT the more they stay the same within Vault. They want the product to grow and remain current with the changes in the industry.

After this event was the Expert Elite Social. If you’ve never heard of the Expert Elites these are the group of Autodesk users, not employees, which spend countless hours within the Autodesk community around the internet, offering their assistance and advice. D&M are proud that all four of us have gained Expert Elite status and this social was a great place to put actual faces to the online user names. This is one smart group of people!

Tuesday (December 2)

PL5039 – Behind the Music: The Real Story Behind Deploying Autodesk PLM 360. Rob Cohee hosted two gentlemen from Behlen Building Systems who recently just implemented phase 1 of PLM 360. It was great to see an actual customers approach to both building and using PLM 360. Behlen went outside-the-box with their implementation, using a more project-centric approach opposed to the traditional workspace method.


They have now replaced 40+ custom “home-grown” applications with PLM 360. They still use JD Edwards (ERP) mostly for financial and purchasing, and MBS (Metal Building), but the rest is managed with PLM 360. PLM 360 now connects everyone, including the remote offices, electronically – in the cloud – replacing actual folders of documents… a huge time saving with the additional benefit of significantly less errors in the design and manufacture of their buildings. It has also significantly improved responsiveness to customer inquiries.

I asked about down time due to lost internet, but in the 6 or so months they have been using PLM 360 they had one instance where the internet was down for 4-hours. It did cause a bit of panic but most were able to get by using their mobile device data plans. I would think that there would be just as good of a chance that an in-house server will have issues once every 6-months causing a similar level of downtime, but with zero means to connect to it. Loss of internet connectivity is definitely a concern of many, including myself, so it was good to hear this has not posed any significant issues for Behlen.

What makes Behlen’s implementation outside-the-box? They went with a “Project Central”, essentially replacing the old folder approach with its collection of printed documents to a central project-centric view within PLM 360. Each project created within Project Central is linked to many workspaces, which describe and define the project. So far they have 16 Workspaces built, are actively using 7, and will be implementing the rest slowly over the upcoming months. Here are their tips on implementation:

Watch and manage scope creep. The initial plan was for 7 PLM workspaces and ended up with 16.

  • Momentum is crucial, get early buy-in, keep people involved, implement with a plan, constantly follow-up and look for opportunities for additional training.
  • The initial approach was training the department heads and have them train their people, it didn’t work. So they setup a core team to provide training to all departments.
  • Don’t repeat bad legacy processes but be cautious of trying to implement too many improvements or changes to workflows too quickly.
  • Set a limit on changes… they do not make any changes to a workspace after initial implementation for 30-days for the users to really try it out. Development is frozen for the 30-days.
  • Your people will initially complain, be hesitant, and resist the change but weather the storm as this changes to acceptance and wanting more.

Here’s the process map once scope creep set in:

Behlen Scope Creep

Here’s how Phase 1 ended up once they went back to what they originally wanted to accomplish:

Behlen Phase I PLM 360 Implementation

One last note of interest is that Behlen has purchased 32-inch screens for many of their employees, so that looking at the drawing is the same as it was on the D-size printed drawings. Sign me up for one of those!

This class provided a really good behind the scenes look at an Autodesk customers journey to using PLM 360. It worked as Behlen did not just share the successes, but shared their pains and gains along the path to usuage.

Make sure to check out Scott’s posts on AU: Mindset: Tools to Anticipate, Plan for, and Create the Future,  Selected Quotes, Autodesk University 2014 Opening Keynote, and Is this the start of Autodesk Fusion 360 replacing Inventor? for more news from Autodesk University 2014, as well as keep an eye out for the rest of my recap.

New, New Autodesk PLM 360 with Data Management

Today Autodesk presented a group of media the changes they have been working of for the next generation of their PLM product, Autodesk PLM 360. We were greeted by the lovely Stacey Doyle, accompanied by the less attractive but both fine and knowledgeable gentlemen, Brian Roepke and Jared Sund. After a bit of nostalgia and looking at the requirements from which PLM 360 was born, Brian got stuck into showing us the new user interface.

User Interface

The new Autodesk PLM 360 Dashboard

When PLM 360 was launch in late February 2012, the web technology used within the user interface was circa 2008 & 2009. In web terms that’s quite old, although nothing like the 20-30 year old technology used by some of their competitors. As a result the Autodesk team believed they could do a lot better to redefine the User Experience. With these upcoming changes, the development team have leveraged the most modern HTML 5 & AngularJS web frameworks, to provide a rich speedy interface. The website now behaves much more like a desktop application with respect to response times from user interaction.

They haven’t just made the user interface more attractive and responsive though. You may have already come across the excellent Autodesk 360 viewer on other Autodesk websites or Cloud services now, but if you haven’t, it really is impressive. Well, naturally it’s being implemented within PLM 360 now. Select an Item with a CAD file associated with it and you get a full 3D model to play with, meaning you can interrogate it’s meta data, isolate components and even exploded assemblies gradually. For a fully immersive experience, you can view the model in full screen mode.

Autodesk PLM 360 3D Viewer

Just to get an idea of the fidelity of this viewer, the familiar looking assembly in the image above contains 4000 components and the viewer didn’t bat an eye lid while Brian was pushing it about. Even more impressive though is the quality of the image, the view is fully rendered out with ambient shadows and reflections.

Now that part was all very nice and everything, improving the tools UX across devices is always important. But the next part of the presentation was where things got serious.

Cloud enabled Product Data Management

Autodesk PLM 360 Desktop Integration

In September, during the Accelerate 2014 PLM event Brian announced and presented PLM 360’s new product data management capabilities. Oleg Shilovitsky blogged about it here, With the current incarnation of PLM 360, to associate a document to multiple Items, the file needs to be uploaded independently to each Item. However, now the PLM 360 team have written a simple extension for Windows Explorer, it presents itself as another drive in your computer, in much the same way Autodesk 360 does. While the implementation of this extension may appear similar to the Autodesk 360 Drive, it really isn’t. I hope it isn’t at least, because the A360 Drive is a truly horrible tool from a reliability standpoint.

As a result of implementing the integration this way, any application is essentially supported by PLM 360. While I wouldn’t go as far as to say PLM 360 offers integration with any application, this approach means you can very easily organize and upload your files to your PLM 360 tenant.

PLM 360 Multi-CAD Support

Companies like Greenpoint Technologies have Autodesk Vault & PLM 360 connected together. In addition they have fully adopted PLM to the point that everything design related is co-ordinated via PLM 360. This is a valid and preferred approach for many companies around the world. Curiously, Autodesk have found out over the last few years, that the transition to cloud technology is happening much faster than they thought it would. Smaller or newer companies with less IT overhead or companies with more flexible IT infrastructure, are naturally gravitating towards Cloud based strategies.

Memjet - PDM - Autodesk PLM 360

Autodesk haven’t moved Vault to the cloud, it wouldn’t be the right thing to do architecturally. Let’s face it, Vault is a mature PDM product and Autodesk aren’t stupid, just look at Fusion 360, they aren’t afraid to start with a clean sheet of paper and that’s exactly what they have done here. This has been built from the ground up, using the latest technology which has only emerged relatively recently and pioneered by Google, Netflix, Microsoft and eBay etc. eBay for example, transacts an insane 80 billion database calls a day. It’s highly unlikely any enterprise using CAD and PDM makes that many calls within their network in a week.

Autodesk PLM 360 CAD Integration

BUT, CAD data IS more complex, with large file sizes and intertwined relationships. To deal with this, Autodesk have developed Transfer Avoidance. Purposely built for managing desktop based engineering data in the cloud. Autodesk have innovated to the point where they’ve patented a lot of the techniques used within this protocol. There are lots of other technologies out there such as Riverbed etc.. However, Transfer Avoidance is optimized at the binary level. If it sees any common patterns of data, it will reuse the data already on the cloud. For each company, within each PLM 360 tenant, Autodesk maintains a library of these binary patterns. As you upload more and more information, the system actually gets faster. What’s unique about this technology is its ability to catalog this information on a massive scale.

PLM 360 Transfer Avoidance Benchmarks

Traditional PDM Features now Included in PLM 360

PLM Functionality

CAD Data Management

  • Revisions & Lifecycles
  • Versioning
  • Bills of Materials
  • Relationships
  • Change Management
  • Concurrent Design
  • Supplier Collaboration
  • Design Reuse
  • Search
  • Embedded Viewing
  • Reporting
  • Roles & Permissions
  • Business System Integration
  • Globally Access




I’m genuinely impressed by both of these additions. I haven’t been able to use PLM 360 for about 18 months now, I do miss it and although I’ve been dubious about PDM in the cloud in the past, and still am to a certain extent. This is really quite exciting. I’m curious to see how reliable this Transfer Avoidance technology really is, I’ve been told similar binary level transfer technology has failed spectacularly in the past, but the past is the past and I will approach this with an open mind given the opportunity. I really like the fact they have leveraged Windows Explorer to maintain simplicity and familiarity, which will inevitably increase adoption with staff members outside of the CAD department.

PLM 360 always felt a bit dated in certain areas, once you got into moving around the web pages. This naturally meant it wasn’t the best experience to use on mobile devices, so the adoption of HTML 5 and AngularJS is a welcome one. The responsive elements of the site were clearly demonstrated within the webinar and are most certainly a step in the right direction. The next big step though, isn’t rolling out these new updates. It’s making PLM 360 available to customers in all territories and not just the USA, UK and Germany.

Autodesk PLM 360 October Update Highlights

Autodesk is updating PLM 360 for October on Saturday October 26th, from 16:00 hrs until 19:00 hours.

New update features include:

  • Set up transition escalation triggers
  • Configure reminders for a specific workflow state
  • Transition an item directly from the Item Header or the Item Preview Data Card
  • Flag individual items in a BOM that are associated with a Change Order and currently in progress.
  • For fields in a BOM view with Units of Measure (UOM), display the UOM in the field column’s header instead of in each item’s
  • Configure a column in BOM Views to display the number of each line item’s attachments
  • View a BOM as of a specific date in Flat View as well as Nested View.

(per Autodesk PLM 360 Team announcement)

Autodesk | Announces Partnership with Netsuite for Integrated ERP

Autodesk PLM 360 and Netsuite ERP partnershipAutodesk announced today that they have entered into a partnership with NetSuite, a leading provider of cloud-based ERP software since 1998. Their goal is to provide their customers a seamless integration of PLM 360 and NetSuite ERP (enterprise resource planning), bridging the gap between PLM and ERP.

NetSuite ERP software offers the following:

  • Financial Management
  • Supply Chain and Inventory
  • Order and Billing Management
  • Shipping and Fulfillment
  • Revenue Recognition Management
  • Financial Planning
  • Human Capital Management
  • Recurring Revenue Management
  • Financial Analytics and Reporting

The first thing that jumps out at me is the ability to manage vendor information and inventory with reporting on everything from planning to vendor performance. I think this will be a good offering for companies that wanted the scale-able PLM solution that PLM 360 offers, but were unwilling to move to it due to their ERP requirements. Autodesk expects the ERP integration to enhance adopter’s post-production efficiency and enable intelligent change management. I’ll be quite interested in seeing how well Bill of Materials (BOM) integration and handoffs performs with PLM 360.

Autodesk PLM 360 and Netsuite ERP partnership and integration

All the information is served in a bi-directional link between PLM 360 and NetSuite, allowing everyone in the process of engineering, resource management and distribution to have access to the information, and how it is being used. NetSuite states that it also includes integrated point-of-sale software was well.

“More than 50 percent of product costs are locked in during the design phase,” said Brenda Discher, vice president of Manufacturing Industry Strategy and Marketing at Autodesk. “The integration of our technologies will empower manufacturers to reduce overall costs and improve quality, while better understanding and adapting to fast-changing customer demands (per Autodesk press release).

We have been unable at this time to confirm the price model for NetSuite ERP. It seems to be a per user per month pricing, and numerous websites indicate that similar services are in the range of $100 USD.

Links and more information

More information can be found at the NetSuite website and in the official Autodesk press release.

Guido Haarmans, previously the Vice President, NetSuite Developer Network spent 10 years at Autodesk, “where he was pivotal in creating and growing the Autodesk Developer Network to more than 3,500 members and building a team of over 40 people responsible for all global aspects of the program”. Information gathered from the NetSuite SuiteCloud 2010 page. Mr. Haarmans is currently listed as the Vice President of Business Development for Technology Partners at NetSuite.

Here’s an odd tid-bit of information. I discovered an analysis report on the hypothetical merger between the companies, dated 5/11/2013. I have no idea if it is connected with this announcement, but the timing is interesting. Unfortunately it is priced out at 100 USD, which I will let the rest of you fork over if you desire to.

Mike & Olly’s London to Paris Bike Ride

Watkins 2Righto, some of you will know Mike Watkins, some of you won’t. He’s an alright Autodesk PLM geezer and is proving that with some noble action, he & his mate Olly Shropshire (dunno who he is, but I’m sure he’s a geezer as well) are going to ride from London to Paris on a push bike in aid of the Big C. Cancer affects too many people on this planet and anything being done to aid research into Cancer cures & treatment is worth backing in my book. They have a target of raising 500 quid before their ride in June which is a fairly modest amount, I’d hope that gets smashed. So please head on over to their fund raising page and donate as much as you can afford, the money will be heading of to Cancer Research UK. From my end the Kiwi Dollar to Sterling exchange rate isn’t that flash but I’ve done my best all the same. I would have stumped up another 20 if they were going to do it on a tandem instead of just joking about it but they will be wearing lycra after all.

To finish up I have a few observations about the picture in the post:

  • I leveraged this photo & the feature image from Mike & Olly’s charity page.
  • Mike claims that’s winter training but he’s not doing much training and it looks like Olly’s legged it.
  • Olly’s probably abandoned his wheels because it looks stupidly damp and cold.
  • This picture reminds me why I moved to ‘Sunny’ New Zealand.

So please share this all over the world wide web to help the lads & Cancer Research UK out.


Join the Community