4 Big Takeaways from Realize Live 2023

Another great event to keep the Anark 2023 tour rolling along. This week we were in Las Vegas for Realize Live 2023. Highlights included presentations and discussions about digital thread, supplier collaboration, artificial intelligence, the metaverse, and the power of rapid iterations; the NBA finals closeout win for the Denver Nuggets; the NHL finals close out win for the Las Vegas Golden Knights; and Earth, Wind & Fire’s close out performance.  

Digital Threads Need to be Extended and Connected Beyond Engineering

Make no mistake, this conference was about the Digital Thread, and how Siemens Digital Industry Software help manufacturers on their digital transformation journey. "We always start with the Digital Thread," said Tony Hemmelgarn as he started his keynote presentation. There was a quick flash of their version of the infinity symbol closed-loop digital thread connecting all stages of a product’s lifecycle. The vision was excellent and featured some interesting ideas on how tech trends like AI and the Metaverse will benefit manufacturers. Siemens Teamcenter continues to provide digital thread capabilities for end-to-end BOM management and what was referred to as the Engineering Digital Thread.  

Paraphrasing one of the customers during their keynote: There are multiple digital threads, and the next big challenge for manufacturers is to connect these digital threads together and everyone to them. “The digital thread is not just engineering. There are multiple digital threads across Manufacturing and Sustainment. We need to extend it to our customers, our users, our supply chain, and service network.“ 

The takeaway here is that manufacturers have spent a good deal of time building a digital thread to improve internal engineering processes, but now it’s time to extend it beyond engineering to improve supplier collaboration, customer deliveries, and other operational use cases.

Iterations: Digital thread benefits in one word

This was one of my favorite discussions I heard during the event. The basic premise is not new, fail fast so you can innovate faster. What was interesting about this was the tie-in to the digital thread. Easton LaChappelle from Unlimited Tomorrow said, “The benefit of the digital thread comes down to one word: iterations.”  He went on to describe that the biggest limiting factor to innovation is how much time is spent between iterations. True innovation happens when you try, fail, try again, fail in a different way, try again, and again, and again until you get it right. A valuable digital thread is one that helps reduce the time of each iteration by connecting everyone to the right data at the right time. This results in faster engineering design workflows, less time spent on manufacturing test runs, and improved supplier visibility and performance to sourcing cycle times. Anything you can do to get to the next iteration faster speeds up your time to an innovative solution.

The Metaverse is where Digital Twins live.

I know, Metaverse and Digital Twin in the same sentence, but stick with me here. If you need to review a high-res simulation of an aircraft landing using real-world data to feed the simulation, you will do that in a virtual universe known as the Metaverse. Not the futuristic idealized metaverse where we’ll all be wearing $3500 ski goggles to switch between the physical and digital worlds with a simple gesture. This would be a simulation that borrows the avatar concept of successful metaverse platforms like Roblox, Minecraft and Epic’s Fortnite. These all have two things working in their favor: They are accessed on devices that everyone has and use an avatar that represents a real-world thing. The digital twin of an aircraft can then be loaded into a virtual environment that can simulate and show you how the aircraft will respond under different conditions. These physics-based simulations are becoming real thanks to GPU advancements, digital twin product avatars, and keeping it simple on displays that most manufacturers already have. No need to wait for Moore’s Law to deliver a ubiquitous headset.

Artificial intelligence (AI) will assist in solving manufacturing issues.

AI will solve manufacturing operations problems that have been solved before, so you don't have to reinvent the solution. Overlooking the forced Chat GPT joke (I would have preferred a quick replay of Pepperoni HugSpot) the AI example in the opening keynote was a good one. They showed a concept of using AI to write code for a PLC to quickly resolve a production issue on the manufacturing shop floor. Down-time is money, and using embedded AI tools to suggest resolutions to common problems is something I can see happening in the near future. Now, will this solve the issue with zero debugging or other human intervention? Probably not. But the variety and complexity of industrial automation equipment makes factories a great place to put AI skills to use. Of course, there is the small prerequisite of having all that data in a searchable place. But I can see that happening sooner than AI creating pizza commercials. Another potential area for AI would be to search and find answers to design for manufacturability challenges. Countless conversations happen between engineering, manufacturing, and suppliers to resolve manufacturability and quality problems. Once captured in a central, searchable location AI skills will start to look like the DFMA virtual assistant.  

The theme of Realize Live 2023 was “Join the Transformation. Be the Change.” There was a lot to be excited about from the Anark perspective and we are often change agents for customers who are in the middle of extending the Siemens foundational digital thread. Most often this involves making the digital thread easier to access, understand and collaborate within, especially for those who are part of extended supplier networks and may not have the expertise, budget, IT, or security infrastructures to deploy expansive solutions. The Digital Thread needs to be accessible to the many people who can provide value and the fast iterations needed. This is the value that Anark provides by enabling suppliers to be innovation centers vs. isolated outposts of specific capabilities.   As Pepperoni HugSpot says, “Our chefs make pizza with heart and special touch”, as does Anark together with Siemens solutions.

About the Author

Patrick Dunfey
Vice President of Marketing and Sales Enablement
Patrick is an accomplished marketing and sales enablement professional who knows that customers are at the heart of every great innovation. He focuses on driving customer satisfaction and business growth through aligned Product-Marketing-Sales programs. He uses digital systems and data-driven approaches to understand, measure and deliver success, resulting in unparalleled customer experiences and value.  Patrick has 20 years of enterprise software expertise, with specialties in CAD, PLM, ERP, AR/VR and IoT. Prior to joining Anark, Patrick developed and taught a business course on XR value strategy, helping companies identify and realize value using virtual, augmented, and mixed reality. During 14 years at PTC, a leading provider of product development software, Patrick led teams responsible for the design, build and launch of an award-winning, state-of-the-art technology experience center resulting in 5X customer meeting growth, and 66% close rates on those meetings; he led the development of a new IoT sales enablement strategy to map business value to enabling technology contributing to 52% YoY IoT revenue growth; and met with over 1000 companies, ranging from SMB to the Fortune 100, to help bridge the gap between technology and customer value. Patrick began his career as a mechanical engineer, working on product design and development projects with Brooks Automation, Arthur D. Little, U.S. Army, Keurig, and others. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Tufts University.
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