The Top 11 Mistakes to Avoid During Engineering Document Management Implementations and Upgrades, Part 2

Mar 21, 2019 10:37:31 AM / by Synergis Software posted in upgrade, Trends, Adept, EDM, Engineering Docuement Management, implementation, Adept tips, Technologies

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Engineering document management (EDM) systems are a big investment. But while a poorly planned and implemented EDM rollout can cause lost productivity and delays, a successful implementation can help your organization streamline workflows, cut costs, and much more—in other words, the benefits greatly outweigh the risks.

In this second installment of the Top 11 Mistakes to Avoid, we’ll be covering the final six mishaps our Applications Consultants see companies make during Adept implementations—and how to avoid them. Head to Part 1 for our first series of must-have tips. Let’s dive in.

Mistake 6: Confusing functionality across products

Choosing the right software solution—and vendor—for your organization requires extensive research, time, and attention. All too often, those performing the software evaluations are tasked with this project on top of an already jam-packed list of daily responsibilities. Keeping track of which solution does what without a score card or requirements list can be challenging. Without documentation on each solution, it can lead to some confusion on which software does what across vendors.

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3 Tips for Crushing Information Silos at Work

Feb 25, 2019 2:18:18 PM / by Synergis Software posted in Engineering document management, Trends, EDM, innovation, silos, Technologies

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When you hear the word silo, you might picture the tall round buildings filled with grain. But silos have another meaning in the business world. Virtual silos exist when information is not openly and consistently shared between people or among departments. They are a huge and costly hurdle for any organization that needs to be nimble and competitive on a global scale.

While you may have software tools (like Synergis Adept engineering information management) to manage and organize your information in a centralized repository, your organization may still be lacking the cultural and social skills to make a bridge across disparate teams and global sites.

Crushing Silos

At last year’s Adept Experience, keynote speaker Brian Cristiano, founder & CEO of BOLD Worldwide, a fast-growing media and marketing company headquartered in NYC, brought a fresh and inspiring perspective to crushing silos in the workplace.

Cristiano recently announced a bold goal over the last year: To grow his marketing agency to revenues over $100 million. During this journey, he’s encountered many virtual silos that have hampered growth and collaboration. In his keynote, he shared his real-life tactics on how to crush these silos. Here are his key tips:

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3D Printing Takes First Steps Into Serial Manufacturing Production

Jan 9, 2019 1:04:27 PM / by Randall S. Newton posted in Trends, industrialization, innovation, 3D printing, manufacturing, Technologies

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[Editor’s note: Guest blogger Randall Newton continues his occasional series of articles on trends in engineering with this report from the recent FORMNEXT 3D printing conference in Germany.]

Automobile manufacturer Audi is using its A4 Limousine, a low-production model, as a proving ground for process innovation research. One large steel frame section of the A4 has always been difficult to manufacture, so the research team decided to try 3D printing. Audi engineers optimized the design for improved cooling and a 50% weight reduction, and then used Selective Laser Melting (SLM) to create 10,000 pieces.

For a generation, 3D printing has gradually gained acceptance as a useful adjunct to product engineering and manufacturing. In recent years, a few manufacturers have created end-use parts; GE Aviation recently celebrated the 3D printing of the 30,000th jet engine fuel nozzle. Now companies are looking beyond prototyping and limited editions and toward the day when 3D printing can produce final parts in the hundreds of thousands.

The Industrialization of 3D Printing Technology

In November, 3D printing vendors showed their newest products at Formnext, a fast-growing annual conference in Frankfurt, Germany. Martin Boch of Audi was a keynote speaker at the Formnext executive conference. “The main goal is the industrialization of 3D printing technology,” says Boch, the project lead for metal additive manufacturing at Audi. His company currently has three basic uses for 3D printing. R&D occupies about 20% of the company’s use of 3D printing; 60% is for prototyping; and another 20% is for creating spare small parts and tooling. Before Audi can move into serial production of small parts, Boch says it must define standard processes for sourcing both printers and materials.

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Pushing the Creative Buttons

Nov 29, 2018 10:36:29 AM / by Randall S. Newton posted in Adept Experience, Trends, Marketing, gamification, innovation, brainstorming, Gamestorming, Technologies

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Structural and mechanical engineering brings realization to design ideas. Just because engineering is grounded in physical processes and materials doesn’t make it less creative than any other design process. And therein lies the rub.

The research literature on creativity in engineering can be summarized simply: creativity is notoriously hard to objectify, quantify, qualify, and otherwise manage. There are various creative techniques organizations use to aid the creativity process, most notably brainstorming. Various role-playing scenarios are occasionally used, but most engineers are loathe to engage in such practices. Creativity at the requirements stage is considered particularly painful because engineers want to move on to what is perceived as the more useful and productive processes.

Yet the creative aspects are necessary. When a team suddenly sees a radically different way to achieve a goal, it challenges the organization to make sure the new idea is not just different, but better. Properly managed, creativity can become the catalyst to innovation.

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The Dirty Little Secrets of Engineering Document Management

Nov 12, 2018 2:04:41 PM / by Synergis Software posted in engineering information management, Engineering document management, Trends, EDM, innovation, EIM, Technologies

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Do you always turn slightly to the left when someone takes your picture, because you think you are showing your “good side”? (I don’t turn my head, but I do lift my chin just a little.) It is human nature to try to put ourselves in the best possible light. Software vendors also do that, so to speak. Every product on the market has strengths and weaknesses. It requires careful study to select the right product when there are competing solutions.

For managing engineering information, three types of programs are competing for market share: Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), Product Data Management (PDM), and Engineering Document Management (EDM). PLM companies love to talk about how they integrate all product information into one database to deliver “one version of the truth.” PDM companies extol the virtues of managing access and use of all CAD data. EDM companies talk about streamlining enterprise business processes and making all engineering documentation secure, shared, and accessible. There is considerable overlap between the functions of the three, as well as distinctive elements in how each type of program operates.

I have seen companies come and go during my 30 years in the engineering software industry. Some of them disappeared because they were terrible at marketing. Some died because technology changed and they didn’t. And some died because too many users found out the hard way there are flaws and limitations that the product vendors don’t reveal. Like the right pose for a photo, companies do their best to avoid revealing those dirty little secrets.

What exactly do I mean by dirty little secrets? They are embarrassing facts, troublesome bits of information someone — or in this case, some software company — would rather keep hidden. In the world of engineering, I see three dirty little secrets haunting the industry.

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How to Foster Innovation within Your Organization

Nov 2, 2018 11:08:26 AM / by Synergis Software posted in Trends, innovation, silos, Technologies

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Published by Kristen Tomasic, President of Synergis Technologies, Inc.


“Innovation happens at the meeting point of different disciplines. When silos of disciplines are broken down, innovation happens.”  - Valerie Gervais, Sr. VP HR, Saint-Gobain

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Probing the Future of Augmented Reality

Oct 23, 2018 4:31:17 PM / by Synergis Software posted in Trends, augmented reality, AR, Technologies

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For the past three years, I have been living a double life. No, I’m not a spy or hiding a second family. I gave in to my midlife crisis and went to graduate school in Germany. I didn’t give up my day job writing about engineering software and doing consulting. By the time you read this, I will have defended my thesis — like a mother bear defends a cub — and graduated.

I’m not sharing this so my social media will fill with congratulatory notes. I’m telling you this as a setup to the topic of this blog post, the future of augmented reality. My new degree is in Media and Communications Studies, a discipline that uses scientific research methods to explore the wide range of human communications, from journalism to selfies.

(Side note: If it seems like I’m going off topic for a Synergis Software blog post, allow me to explain. Synergis has asked me to occasionally use this form to talk about trends and the larger issues in engineering. Let us know what you think.)

For my culminating research project, I took a look at the future of augmented reality (AR). Specifically, I explored what experienced technology marketing professionals think about the near-term future of augmented reality. This means my study was not technical in nature, but my results provide insight into what members of a professional, technical community think about this intriguing new technology. My preliminary findings revealed a complete lack of empirical research on using AR for business and professional marketing, so my project was able to provide information other researchers could use. This is called an ex ante exploratory study.

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Is Blockchain Technology In Your Company’s Future?

Sep 20, 2018 3:20:37 PM / by Synergis Software posted in Trends, blockchain, Bitcoin, Technologies

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It is hard to pay attention to the flow of news today and not hear about Bitcoin. Every segment of the news media — even celebrity gossip — seems to have an interest in this radical remake of value exchange. Bitcoin gets the headlines, but the underlying technology — blockchain — is the real news. It is a quintessential foundational technology, and it will have a big impact on engineering, manufacturing, and construction processes.

Blockchain’s Fundamental Capabilities

Before I get into how blockchain will be a game changer, let’s review the technology’s fundamental capabilities. Blockchain is a peer-to-peer network sitting on top of the Internet, just as the World Wide Web or the email protocol does. It took 30 years for the set of technologies we call the Internet to transform our business and personal lives. I believe it won’t take blockchain as long, because it isn’t starting from scratch; the Internet it needs has already been deployed.

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What’s Next in Engineering Technology? Part 3

Sep 14, 2018 10:31:20 AM / by Synergis Software posted in Trends, The Internet of Things, blockchain, ROADI, IoT, GPU, display technologies, Technologies

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In the two previous articles in this series, I’ve taken a look at short-term trends regarding design tools, and explained how I look for what’s next in IT. In the third and final part, I want to share my current observations about the next big wave of innovation.

I use the ideas of “stacks” as my metaphor to understand how specific technologies interact to create new rounds of innovation. I see a new stack coming together that will drive innovative new applications in a variety of fields. The current innovation stack — CAMS — has four “big idea” technologies (cloud, analytics, mobile, social); this new one has five: real-time processing, operational trust, autonomy, distributed processing, and intelligence. The initials seems to be a good title (ROADI), since the poster child for this next wave of innovation is the self-driving car. ROADI will turn product and services into autonomous discrete agents.

Self-driving cars must possess intelligent and autonomous behavior. They must always respond in real-time to the environment. Their actions are based on a refined notion of trusted operational behavior. The necessary computation and connectivity can’t be centralized in a server or even a cloud; it must take place in each vehicle and in every other object on or near the road.

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What’s Next in Engineering Technology? Part 2

Sep 5, 2018 2:34:33 PM / by Synergis Software posted in Trends, The Internet of Things, CAMS, IoT, technology stack, LAMP, Technologies

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In a previous blog post I wrote about near-term technology trends affecting Adept users. Today I want to discuss how I identify and track such trends. I thought this would be a two-part series of articles, but I’ll need a Part 3 to share my thoughts on long-term technology trends affecting the larger world of engineering.

As a point of reference, consider how the Internet became so important to daily life. The original plan didn’t call for it to be used for engineering or data management, or even commerce. The first developments were driven by the military and academia. Today, Internet technologies like email and the World Wide Web are the technical backbone for almost all social, commercial, academic, governance, and industrial activity.

Internet use exploded when four key technologies were exploited as a unit. Those four were the Linux operating system, the Apache web server, the MySQL open source database system, and the trio of lean programming (scripting) languages Python, PHP, and Perl. Each of these technologies were useful alone, but when used together they ignited the tech equivalent of the Cambrian Explosion. Developers started referring to the four technologies as a unit, the “LAMP stack.”

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