Dec 06 2017

BIG PROFITS FROM BIG DATA: Platforms create another potential revenue stream with platform-generated data

Platforms collect data from many sources, with multiple benefits for the platform provider and member companies. The data they generate can enable the platform company to make smart business decisions while opening new markets to its members. Whether a platform operator chooses to analyze the data itself or sell it to others for analysis, the data represents money to be earned.

Deere & Company is the Moline, Illinois, manufacturer of iconic John Deere farm tractors and other heavy machinery. It makes most of its US$26 billion annual revenue in the traditional way, by selling or leasing equipment to farms and construction firms.

Yet, this conservatively managed firm launched digital platform in 2013 to forge a direct connection with farmers. Originally established to give John Deere equipment owners access to spare parts and other company offerings, is providing the company with another rich source of potential income: big data.

Lubbock, Texas, USA – March 15, 2016: A John Deere tractor is plowing a barren field for future crops. As the tractor moves, dust and dirt can be seen behind the tractor. Vertical lines radiate from either side of the tractors. The tractor’s shadow can be seen. Photo shot from high angle viewpoint.

For example, Deere has installed internet-enabled sensors on its tractors to record and transmit data on fuel consumption and other metrics useful to farmers. Deere also sells monitoring equipment called Field Connect, which collects additional data on soil moisture, temperature, wind speed, and rainfall. The data from the sensors is then made available to farmers on the platform.

“We’ve never had that data before,” said Geoffrey G. Parker, a professor at the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, who has studied the Deere platform and co-authored Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy and How to Make Them Work for You. “Think of the tractor like a Mars rover capturing data.

”The primary use of the farming data, Parker said, is to help individual farmers improve productivity on their farms. But the data also could be a valuable commodity in itself for agricultural companies, which could use the data to shape their investment strategy. “If Deere aggregated data across enough farms and sold the data stream, it would give a pretty good idea of what is going to happen in next year’s agricultural output, which puts one at a huge financial advantage,” Parker said.

Continue reading the rest of this story here, on COMPASS, the 3DEXPERIENCE Magazine

Permanent link to this article:

Nov 29 2017

CUSTOMIZE? NO, MODULARIZE! Mix-and-match modules yield more products with fewer parts at lower costs

Industrial buyers want equipment customized to meet their specific operational needs and requirements, but still demand competitive pricing. Modular product architectures are making it faster and more efficient to customize standard products for the mass market while avoiding the complexity and high costs traditionally associated with engineered-to-order processes.

Scania uses common and interchangeable components to build multiple different vehicles. (Image © Kjell Olausson / Scania CV AB)

Minnesota-based mechanical test equipment manufacturer MTS Systems Corporation once required 11,000 unique part numbers to build 150 product variations of its servohydraulic load frames. Now, it uses just 800 unique part numbers – 90% fewer – to build more than 100,000 product variants.

In Helsinki, Wärtsilä used to spend 10 years developing a single new medium-speed engine for its marine customers. Since reducing the number of unique parts from nearly 7,000 to fewer than 4,000, it has developed a series of engines that can be adapted for different fuels depending on customer requirements – in half the time at half the cost.

MTS Systems and Wärtsilä are among a growing number of industrial equipment (IE) manufacturers that have mastered the art of fulfilling diverse customer requests for customized products without increasing costs and production time, or decreasing quality. Their secret? Modularization.


Pioneered by truck and bus manufacturer Scania in Södertälje, Sweden, in the 1960s, modularization breaks complex products into a collection of standardized components that can be mixed and matched to quickly create a wide range of products without the usual costs of customization.

“Whole product families can be formed based on the same limited number of modules, and the internal complexity can be kept to a viable level,” said Jana Golfmann, senior consultant of Ernst & Young’s Advisory Practice. “Modularization is the most efficient way for IE manufacturers to develop varied product line assemblies and achieve mass customization with economies of scale.”

Modularization comes with a long list of benefits.

“Modularization can cut part numbers by 50%-60%, thereby reducing the cost of materials by 10%-15% and decreasing assembly and manufacturing times by at least 25%-35% – and that’s before manufacturers have even looked at the product itself,” said Sam Burman, managing director for SPJ Consulting, which helps companies develop modularization concepts.

“One truck company I worked at reduced its part numbers from 45,000 to 15,000 but created billions of product variant possibilities for one customer. Ultimately, fewer parts and less manufacturing time increases revenue.”

China-based Chongqing Yinhe Experimental Equipment Company (CQYH), which builds environmental testing machinery for the military, aerospace and automotive sectors, provides more proof for the power of modularization. CQYH inputs customer requirements directly into its modular architecture solution, allowing customers to quickly approve 3D models and eliminate physical prototypes.

“With our modular architecture solution, we accelerated order fulfillment and reduced design errors by 50%,” CQYH CEO Zhixian Zhang said. “Moreover, our R&D activities have become better organized and, although the number of newly developed parts is falling, the number of orders keeps going up. We’ve increased our turnover from RMB40 million (US$58 million) to RMB150 million-180 million (US$218 million-$261 million).”

Continue reading the rest of this story here, on COMPASS, the 3DEXPERIENCE Magazine

Permanent link to this article:

Nov 15 2017

MATE RIMAC: Young Croatian inventor aims to electrify the entire world of transportation

Starting as a young boy who wanted to build the world’s fastest car, Mate Rimac is now CEO and founder of Rimac Automobili, a Croatian technology company that manufactures high-performance electric vehicles and supplies electric propulsion systems to top global manufacturers of cars, ships, and airplanes. Compass spoke with him about the challenges of a startup and his mission to change the future of transportation.

The Concept_One supercar is a two-seat high-performance electric sports car designed and manufactured by Rimac Automobili. It is used as the official zero-emission race director’s car during Formula E events. (Image © Rimac Automobili)

COMPASS: What was the trigger for starting your own business? 

MATE RIMAC: My parents tell me stories of my obsession with cars even beforeI could walk or talk. As soon as I turned 18, I bought a 1984 BMW E30 and raced it. Soon, the gas engine blew up. That was the trigger to start my dream project – to build an electric race car.

I wanted to prove that electric propulsion systems can be used to power the new generation of sports cars and make them better, faster and more exciting. I’ve been told many times that I can’t do that. But we wanted to show that it’s possible to start from a garage and become a world leader within a highly competitive industry in half a decade.

The result is Concept_One, that combines all our know-how, technology, and experience. With a power of 900 kW / 1224 hp, the Concept_One reaches 100 km/h (62 mph) in 2.5 seconds, top speed is 355 km/h (221 mph) and the battery capacity of 90 kWh allows up to 350 km (217 miles) range.

Because you’re based in Croatia, a country with no big automotive clusters, do you face particular challenges in finding the right skills? 

Mate Rimac, 29, CEO of Rimac Automobili with his first invention, the “iGlove” which replaces the keyboard and the mouse on computers. This was his first highly awarded high-school project. (Image © Rimac Automobili)

MR: Starting the company in Croatia was a huge challenge. We didn’t have any financial government support, local investors or a market for our products.In addition, Croatia never had a car industry, so it had no experienced people. As a result, we can’t hire people with automotive experience. Young or old, Croatians have to learn the automotive world from scratch when they come to us. However, in Croatia, we have a lot of skilled people with DIY DNA. If you can’t buy something, you have to find a way to fabricate it yourself.

More and more people from all over the world are joining us, but the majority of people are still fresh from university. Young people are enthusiastic and eager to work, however, and fit into the company culture.

Forbes chose you as one of the top 30 entrepreneurs and game-changers under 30 in Europe in the category “industry.” What do you think makes you a “game-changer?” 

MR: The recognition from Forbes and other relevant opinion makers is a good sign we are on the right path. An entrepreneur has a clear vision and the drive to achieve it and to turn it into reality. But once you have decided on a goal, you have to be all in. There are many sacrifices, lots of work and responsibilities. But if you love what you do, you have no trouble living it.

How would you describe your strategy and vision? 

MR: In the beginning, my ultimate goal was to build my own car from scratch. Since then, our objectives and focus have shifted. Today, the goal is to supply solutions to other manufacturers, not only in the automotive industry, and to become a full electrification partner for the global automotive OEMs.

Our ambition is to push the boundaries of technology further and further and to explore new possibilities to make cars more exciting, faster and smarter. Rimac technology can be used for many different applications, and we are active in the automotive, naval and aerospace industries.

Continue reading the rest of this story here, on COMPASS, the 3DEXPERIENCE Magazine

For more information on Rimac Automobili’s supercars, visit our website

Permanent link to this article:

Nov 08 2017

Jerry Jackson

Digital Manufacturing on the Cloud? It could be your best idea!

088When it comes right down to it, the challenge for manufacturers of any size is to keep the shop floor humming and productive. Idle machines mean lost production, forfeited ROI, and wasted manpower dollars – not to mention aggravation and endangered contracts. Tools are available that can make the whole process – design, planning, production – a smooth continuum that obviates stumbles, delays and rework.

Working with virtual products, processes and facilities in an immersive 3D environment; designers, planners, manufacturing engineers and shop floor managers are empowered to maximize quality output and ROI. An array of digital manufacturing tools, ideal for small and medium-sized companies, are available as a cloud service.

These web-based tools are available as packages that reduce complexity and direct resources to advancing the businesses’ desired outcomes. These tools deliver the full manufacturing experience; in other words, it’s manufacturing – in the age of experience.

The basic benefits of cloud-based platform computing apply here: risk alignment that facilitates attainment of business outcomes. To align with the risk profile of users and customers, look for web applications that provide complete infrastructure and platform services, including computing, server management, storage, backup, software updates/upgrades, support, database software, security, and IT staffing. Your organization is then free to focus on results.

Consider also the flexibility you get from cloud applications. Suppose you need one more seat for a short-term project. You can buy a license for just the duration you need. The tools are available online anywhere 24/7. In addition, a need might arise to acquire a short or long-term business user-type license, this also can be provisioned the same way.

Another purchase consideration is the download and installation process, and how much storage is provided at the onset. If an NC machining programmer wants to write a 5-axis program but lacks the software, does the service recognize the need?

It boils down to this: do your digital manufacturing tools give you the power you need to reduce complexity while accelerating business outcomes?

Discover more about digital manufacturing on cloud here:

Continue the conversation by joining our DELMA Communities on SwYm. Membership is free:

Permanent link to this article:

Oct 18 2017

Megan Nichols

How Is 3D Printing disrupting the supply chain?

The typical supply chain is often praised for its efficiency. After all, it’s a process that has been refined and remastered over the years to incorporate the latest innovations, technology, and methodology. While it’s a highly efficient process, it’s not without its flaws.

Most supply chains involve an extensive design process upfront. This is immediately followed by sourcing the necessary materials, which can be both lengthy and costly. It’s only after this step that you can begin making progress on the finished parts. With so many moving parts, it’s difficult to maintain status as a model of organizational efficiency. However, the manufacturing and logistics industries are on the cusp of a new revolution. 3D printing promises to change how supply how the supply chain operates and businesses are starting to take notice.


Effects on shipping, inventory, and production

Manufacturing leaders at GE are committed to 3D printing in the future. Whereas most consumers are familiar with machines that print with plastic, GE recently made headlines for their development of the world’s largest additive machine for 3D printing. The device is spearheaded by a new business division known as GE Additive.

But GE doesn’t have to wait for their new machine. They’ve already announced plans to manufacture 40,000 jet fuel nozzles by 2020. GE is also designing an Advanced Turboprop that replaces more than 850 parts of a normal aircraft engine with only 12 3D-printed components. It is expected to run within a Cessna Denali aircraft by the end of 2017.

They’re also making some serious financial investments into the sector of 3D printing. GE invested more than $1 billion in the technology through new acquisitions in 2016 alone, and they plan to expand their GE Additive business by an additional $1 billion within the next few years. All of this comes in addition to the $1.5 billion GE has invested in 3D printing since 2010.

GE isn’t alone in the race to use 3D printing in vehicle and engine design. Boeing and Airbus have both made significant investments in the technology and automotive manufacturers have been 3D-printing highly detailed prototypes for years.

UPS creates a nationwide network of 3D printing facilities

One of the biggest disruptions to the modern supply chain comes in the form of on-demand parts printing. Consumers have become accustomed to the idea of instant gratification in television programming and Internet access. It was only a matter of time until the trend caught reached the manufacturing industry.

UPS is one of the driving forces behind the concept of on-demand parts printing. The idea is simple: customers contact UPS whenever they need parts. UPS responds by producing the parts, via 3D printing, and delivering them directly to their doorstep. Not only does this cut down on the overall production time, but it can be much more cost-effective than machining or printing these parts in your own factory. UPS benefits from the brand new income stream of manufacturing, storing and shipping parts.

But UPS has customers all over the country. To accommodate these accounts, they’re launching a nationwide network consisting of more than 60 facilities from coast to coast. Apart from maximizing profitability on behalf of UPS, this also makes the technology more accessible to manufacturers and consumers alike. They’re also expanding their services to include parts of Asia and Europe.

The company already maintains more than 1,000 warehouses around the globe that are dedicated to the storage of spare parts. Supplementing this inventory with on-demand parts printing and custom-printed parts not only disrupts the supply chain, but it completely transforms it.

Since UPS specializes in shipping and delivery services, they’ve found a partner in Fast Radius and their On Demand Production Platform. While they currently serve customers in numerous industries, including aerospace, automotive, medical device manufacturing and more, they’re the perfect fit for the new joint venture.

Paving the way for a rise in 3D printing

Although the technology is still in its infancy, 3D printing is certainly on the rise. Next-gen innovations like GE’s large-scale additive printer and UPS’ nationwide network of 3D-printing facilities will undoubtedly make the technology more accessible to all, but there are other ways you can benefit, too. Industry experts are optimistic about the flexibility it offers the supply chain.

Increased accessibility to hardware, software and even raw materials is constantly driving down the cost of 3D printers. While 3D printing has been hampered by a lack of materials in the past, today’s suppliers are working hard to maintain their inventory and meet their customer needs.

Tech-savvy professionals are also becoming more familiar with the concept of 3D printing, which ultimately makes it easier to find qualified staff members to fill your roster. Businesses too are jumping on board to provide employees hands-on training while integrating 3D printing into daily operations.

Making the disruption work for you

Working with the disruption and allowing your business to expand and evolve is the key to making this revolution work for you. There will always be naysayers and those who are scared to abandon their traditional methods, but the onset of the digital supply chain might leave you with no other choice.

Permanent link to this article:

Older posts «