3 Takeaways from DMC 2023

Back in December, Anark was fortunate enough to sponsor and be a co-presenter at the 2023 Defense Manufacturing Conference (DMC) held in Nashville, Tennessee. DMC has always been a great way to end the year — connecting with longtime customers, partners, and fellow innovators in the Aerospace & Defense industry.

While at DMC, we participated in MxD's presentation on the value of creating an integrated digital platform via a joint project done with MxD on behalf of the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA). This project was a starting point to modernize acquisition and supply chain activities to improve acquisition and production lead times for the DLA. Additional objectives included improved decision traceability, synchronized version control, and a standard communication framework across sourcing activities. DMC23

We also participated in many discussions, demonstrations and other sessions that had these 3 takeaways from DMC 2023 in common.

Digital Thread

One of the key conversations we had repeatedly with conference attendees centered around the digital thread. Every manufacturing organization seeks a seamless flow of digital information throughout the entire product lifecycle. In an ideal world, this "digital thread" contains an uninterrupted flow of information from design and engineering through production, operation, and maintenance. That's a lot of people! But we found that the people that stand to benefit from the digital thread the most don't have simple access to the technical data they need. Why are the people an afterthought? This is where many manufacturers struggle. Should they focus on the systems and data, or focus on a people-centric approach. How can you do both? A great follow-up blog post. Stay tuned.

It's not easy to connect all of the systems, technologies, processes, and people and yet the cost of not doing so in time, money, and efficiency can be crushing to your manufacturing organization. Without the ability to automate the finding, packaging and sharing of up-to-date data using Technical Data Packages (TDPs), manufacturers find their engineering teams wasting their time filling in as a human-powered digital thread. Not good. Additionally, collaboration doesn't happen anywhere near the digital thread. It happens in email, chat tools, phone calls and other disconnected tools that everyone knows how to use, but lacks the traceability required to reduce manufacturing costs, and speed up product delivery to customers. Without a traced record of collaboration, we heard that repeat errors are made, and projects are not delivered on time, or on budget. 

Customer Collaboration

A second key conversation we had at DMC 2023 centered around manufacturing and customer/supplier collaboration. Much like the connection of many systems and processes to the digital thread, the ability for end-to-end collaboration between manufacturers and their customers is a critical piece of any manufacturing operation.

Several of the people we talked to at DMC expressed frustrations over their collaboration challenges using 3D CAD models. A perfect scenario using 3D CAD allows it serve as a common language for communication among cross-functional teams. In many model based definition initiatives, it is assumed that designers, engineers, and other stakeholders should be able to collaborate more effectively by sharing and reviewing ONLY the 3D MBD models or the related files such as STEP AP242. While this does help to reduce misunderstandings and improve communication, it has become clear that TDP packages like those governed by MIL-STD-31000B contain much more than 3D CAD.  Being able to deliver a complete TDP in a mobile-first, neutral and intuitive way is a big advantage because it allows everyone to quickly and easily understand product design and manufacturing intent, asking important questions ahead of time and collaborating asynchronously using 3D MBD CAD, 2D Drawing and other documents and specifications that are normally part of the customer's deliverables and therefore the customer collaboration process.

3D PDF & MIL-STD-31000B compliance

A third talking point for many of the attendees that stopped by our booth centered around the need for organizations to maintain MIL-STD-31000B compliance with their 3D or 3Di PDFs so that they can comfortably bid on various contracts in Aerospace & Defense. When set up properly, MIL-STD-31000B compliant 3Di PDF technical data packages allow you to focus strictly on engineering and manufacturing great products. However, many are still caught off guard when bidding on DoD contracts because of this requirement. 

Did you know? Companies that include MIL-STD-31000B compliance in their bids secure more contracts since the DoD (Department of Defense) knows they will receive the necessary deliverables in the format they require. It's a real problem, and we were pleased to share that Anark has a MIL-STD-31000 compliant solution

Moving Forward

Sometimes folks attend conferences like DMC, talk to companies like Anark, have a really good conversation, but then forget what they discussed. Between all the great live music in Nashville and the hot chicken, it's totally understandable. However, if your manufacturing organization is seeking to improve on its ability to connect to the digital thread, collaborate better with customers and suppliers, or win more DoD contracts, contact us today. 


About the Author

James Martin
James is an Engineering and Manufacturing software professional with over 35 years of experience across a wide range of industries and cultures. His background includes engineering process consulting, software development, partner management, strategic account development and technical product marketing in North America, Asia-Pacific and Europe. He's recognized for the ability to identify business and technical requirements, market, sell and manage the development and delivery of profitable engineering software solutions.
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