The changing face of engineering

At the time of writing this, I’m at the LiveWorx conference in Germany. The event is run by PTC, which many will know as a CAD and PLM software provider. So, why is it turning its focus away from design and the management of engineering activities, to tell European press and analysts about the Internet of Things?

Quite simply, PTC under the guise of CEO Jim Heppelmann, believe that the Internet of Things is where the future of product development lies. It’s a big statement to make.

It cites the use and application of IoT technologies by numerous start ups and larger OEMs as a marked sea change going forward in product development and a shift in corresponding business models. Those that can’t adapt run the risk of fading away, with Kodak and Blockbuster given as examples of becoming obsolete and unable to modernise.

PTC has been investing heavily in the area, making a number of acquisitions in recent years to enable it to offer many different tools suitable for what it says future product developers will demand. While data capture, analytics, cloud computing and the like are all on offer, PTC has been able to bundle all the various elements together within its PLM offering.

It highlighted an example of using a racing mountain bike that had been fitted with numerous sensors. This enables engineers to use augmented reality to show in real time loads across the structure. And it goes further by taking data from a ride across a course, with actual loads, to feed back in to simulations and models, predicting problems and enabling points of improvement.

So, what does this have to do with materials? The answer, if you believe Heppelmann, is everything.

His vision, and it is indeed a vision, is that the interconnection between materials, engineering, design, manufacturing, the business, will give an ability to assess, control and optimise product development, engineering, and material selection like never before.

While there is still much hype around IoT with many (including myself) still waiting for all this disruption to happen, I was reminded of an apt quote by Bill Gates that sums up the sentiment of where we are, and where we’re going.

“We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years, and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.”

Justin Cunningham

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great article! its great o see such an in-depth details analysis about it, i work for Westley Plastics UK I can now see how and why our industry is changing. Thank you !

Comment Hannah, 27/01/2016

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