This weekend I just recovered from the annual Autodesk University (AU) event held in Las Vegas. No, I am not recovering from consuming crazy amounts of alcohol, but rather from the abundance of useful information. AU continues to be a great place to see the latest trends in technology as well as to see how Autodesk is maneuvering its solution to prepare for the future.
I always feel rejuvenated after coming to AU mainly because, as with most conferences, it is a great place to network with other technology providers. I always seem to have some lively discussions about where technology is going and more importantly, discussions about how we can provide solutions to our clients to ensure they are riding the wave of technology (pun intended ? ).
Learning from other industries
I had many discussions (so many that I actually lost my voice by day 2) with companies in different industries to understand the challenges they currently face and how they are trying to solve them. We know that shipbuilding is a bit of a unique industry. However, I do think that the majority of us believe the gap is bigger than it really is. It was not too surprising that after talking to companies in the aerospace, automotive, process plant, civil, Architecture/Engineering/Construction (AEC), and factory design industries, etc., I found that they all had a similar set of major challenges. And these are the same as in shipbuilding!
The common challenges are:
Integration: Every industry has integration issues. There are so many different companies with unique tools required to create and maintain any significantly large structure that using a “unified solution” is next to impossible. Passing data to each stakeholder using email or ftp causes a lot of errors due to the fact that different stakeholders are using different versions of the truth and no one knows or has the entire up-to-date project data.
Collaboration: Many companies and even industries (e.g. AEC) are putting a lot of emphasis on improving this because it seems that collaboration has become more difficult in the last few years, mainly due to the fact that teams are more distributed which makes it more difficult to communicate and collaborate. Other industries such as shipbuilding have the technology to improve collaboration. However, it is never just as easy as using the tools. New or modified processes and workflows are required to leverage the new way of working.
Capturing data from the real world: The lines are going to get very blurry from what is in the physical world to what is in the digital world. You can take laser scans or just photos to capture data in the real world and use them in the digital world. This is similar to what some of you are doing for repair and retrofits by capturing the current state of the ship and then using that data as a starting point for your work. However, I am even talking about how some navies are using 3D printers on their vessels to have the capability of printing replacement parts or tools when and if they need it. 3D printer technology is moving very rapidly (finally) and it will not be too long where they will be very common on a ship. Heck, they even have one on the international space station now. I got to see the same 3D printer they sent to space. ?
I saw some really cool things from Autodesk as well as some organizations that are using Autodesk’s platform in some really creative ways. I spent a lot of time with many Autodesk product managers and engineers and learned a lot of what is in the pipeline. I have to honestly say that the next few releases have got me really excited. Some of the enhancements and additional products are really going to fit into the shipbuilding industry very well.
I want to leave you with something cool I learned which took me only 3 min to setup.
- Yes I am sharing you a rich 3D representation of the model without giving you any data.
- Yes you can navigate this model.
- Yes you have access to all properties of all the parts.
- Yes you can use tools such as explode.
- Yes you can navigate project structure (Note: my project is not setup great but you will get the idea).
- Yes I made it so you cannot download it.
- Yes I could of required you to enter a password to view this, but I decided against it.
- Yes you are doing this in a browser and did not install any software.
- Yes you can use this on any device (iOS, Android, OS X, Windows, Blackberry).
- Yes this is very cool.
Events such as Autodesk University are a great place for you to see where technology is going. This obviously includes Autodesk products but more importantly, it includes how the other companies and industries are leveraging generally available technology to solve some challenges which were just simply not possible before.
This was a great way to end the year and I will make sure I have a busy holiday break organizing my thoughts and planning how SSI can transform some of these ideas into tangible improvements for you to use next year.
Next year you can expect more details from me on how you can leverage current technology to solve some of your biggest problems. I really think next year will be very exciting and you will see some very exciting things from SSI.