Solid, meet Non-Solid: A cautious but interesting convergence
When I really think about it, enterprise tech is an intangible outcome industry. A lot of the ‘workings’ of enterprise tech is hidden under the hood. Outcomes are non-solid and sometimes propped up by measurable KPIs that cannot really be felt immediately.
So, when the 3DExperience World conference came around, I welcomed the chance to catch a glimpse into an industry where rubber hits the road, and concepts become reality, on a regular basis.
I have been reporting about enterprise tech for over 10 years, and it required a bit of reorientation to suddenly be staring straight at the end result of concepts and ideas. These are tangible items you could see, touch, feel, and at Dassault Systeme’s annual event there was an abundance of these around the conference and exhibition floor aka playground – Gibson guitars, video doorbells, exoskeletal suits, medical devices, and a whole bunch of other physical objects created by CNC machines or 3D printers.
And yet, despite these two industries seemingly placed at opposite ends of a spectrum, some elements from the IT world have made their way to the world of engineering and makers and production.
Data, AI, Cloud, simulation
As in the enterprise tech world, data is once again so, so, so significant in this maker, engineering, and production tech world. And where there is data, AI and simulation is almost sure to follow.
Data can be used to optimise production processes, identify areas for improvement, and make informed decisions while AI can be used to analyse large amounts of data quickly, identify patterns, and make predictions.
Simulation is another area where the convergence of these industries is apparent. Simulation can be used to predict the characteristics and behaviour of physical objects by inputting relevant data. This can lead to more efficient product development processes, and faster time to market.
Even cloud technology came to play. And this engineering design solutions platform provider saw the benefits of delivering their functions and capabilities, via cloud, even announcing that come 1st July 2023, every licensed seat of SOLIDWORKS will include cloud services.
Users can share and markup a model for 3D view in any browser without needing a license or installation, within the platform itself. This also means users will have access to data like never before when it was just a folders/files focused environment that was silo-ed.
Fail fast, fail often… but with contained costs
This development methodology is not only restricted to the development lifecycle process of software and programmes. This methodology encourages rapid iteration and testing of product designs, allowing for the creation of the best possible product in a shorter amount of time. By printing out a design and testing it immediately, engineers can quickly identify flaws and iterate to arrive at the best possible design.
The right engineering design platform can simulate the characteristics and behaviour of physical objects. If you input enough relevant data, it can simulate scenarios like the impact of rising sea levels upon the marine life ecosystem of a sea coast, and more.
Simulation is invaluable for mapping out all the possible different scenarios, and picking the one that offers the most optimal outcome.
For example, the Living Heart programme sees real-world use of 3D virtual twins of the human body to correctly predict the surgical procedure that doctors need to undertake to save lives. A ‘virtual’ heart can be customised to each patient for best results and that requires the right data and AI algorithms, among other technologies. This programme has come a long way since 2014! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrktVIFLqXI
By bringing together the best of both worlds, the convergence of engineering tech and enterprise tech like data and AI, has the potential to lead to new and innovative products, skills, and overall growth.
Who knows what we would see at Dassault Systeme’s playground in 2024.