Anark Takeaways from Siemens Realize Live 2024

This year marked the 3rd and final year of Siemens Realize Live's residency in Las Vegas.  For team Anark, it was 3 years of meeting with great people and industry visionaries to discuss strategic CAD, PLM, data exchange, and collaboration initiatives across the digital thread. 3 years of reconnecting with customers in a post-COVID era discussing the new normal implications on the manufacturing supply chain. 3 years of enhancing NX and Teamcenter integrations to accelerate customer value. Next up, Detroit, MI, but more on that at the end of this post.

Anark at Siemens Realize Live 2024

Let's get right to the takeaways from Siemens Realize Live 2024 that relate to the above. We saw presentations and discussions about digital thread, more efficient technical data collaboration and a very real change in the attitude about the cloud for technical product data hosting, control and collaboration. 

The Cloud / SaaS is no longer bleeding edge

Anark Collaborate has been deployable as a SaaS solution since 2017 so we are excited to see the CAD and PLM industry making the formal move to the cloud as well. Cloud-hosted manufacturing collaboration software like Anark Collaborate makes technical data accessible and actionable for more people by being easier to deploy, maintain, update and allows organizations to better control access.  One by one, Engineering and Manufacturing software providers are catching up and during the week of Realize Live, Siemen's announced NX X as their first Cloud-hosted version of NX. While it is no small feat to take longtime traditional software products and make them usable and productive in the cloud, the CAD and PLM industry have clearly moved to where Anark has been operating for a number of years. We are looking forward to guiding many more of our customers on their journey along the Technical Data Collaboration Maturity Path.  This includes customers that had not even considered options like this in the Defense industry for whom secure manufacturing collaboration is critical

3D PDFs are good, but manufacturers need great

Anark is the leader in 3D PDF publishing of technical documents that open via the freely available Adobe products for those that have this specific file delivery requirement.  Anark published 3D PDFs have led the industry for 15+ years, even those generated by the CAD vendors themselves without requiring 3rd party plug-ins, add-ons or viewers to visualize rich Model Based Definition (MBD) content. 3D PDFs can be automatically generated with Anark Publish along with automated extraction of content via the Reference Integrations to Teamcenter.  When you automate the sourcing and publishing of all major 3D CAD formats, PLM systems and other API-accessible IT systems into visually rich Technical Data Packages, manufacturing companies have a solid technical data exchange foundation to build an innovative collaboration solution on. 

Technical Data Collaboration Maturity Model

Anark has many long-term customers creating 3D PDFs and at this event we heard that while our publishing solution is top notch, they want to use Anark Collaborate to take the next step forward in their Technical Data Collaboration journey. The beauty of this transition is that the underlying publication process is almost identical, but instead sends the published content to a browser based application for technical data exchange PLUS unified communication and collaboration (UCC). This solution also offers enhanced flexibility in information presentation and access control via existing access rights

By using standard web browsers, manufacturers avoid plug-ins, add-ons, embedded viewers and other scale-blockers. Customers making the move continue to publish 3D PDF based on their current setup with Anark while expanding communication and collaboration to Anark Collaborate for a seamless transition from "good to great" manufacturing collaboration.  

Sharing a 3D CAD model is not a Digital Thread 

Paraphrasing a number of the customers we have heard from over time and at the event, there are multiple digital threads, and the next big challenge for manufacturers is to connect these digital threads together and everyone to them. From the 2023 event we heard:  “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.“  Manufacturers have spent a good deal of time building some form of 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. All the people outside of the core Digital Thread racetrack as shown below need to be connected in a scalable way.

Digital Thread Racetrack

Yet there are some that say that providing 3D CAD in one of the many standards that are out there, like JT, with some viewer options to spin a fully annotated model provides the digital thread. Cue the plug-ins, add-ons, and embedded viewers. If they can deliver the 3D CAD model, and do it in a way that is not proprietary, all the organizations outside the core Digital Thread in the extended supply chain will be successful. This mantra has it's merits, but Anark knows this approach falls far short of a repeatable and scalable solution for manufacturing collaboration use cases. 

A 3D CAD model makes for a great Digital Mockup solution. But what happens when information such as material specifications, drawings, BOM, sourcing details, documents, and more must be shared, tracked and collaborated and marked up by those outside the Digital Thread racetrack?  Cue the crossing emails, SharePoint shares, Drop Box folders, Slack conversations, phone calls, hand crafted PowerPoints and more that are not traceable and increase the confusion for those poor folks staring at a modern but standalone 3D MBD CAD model and wondering what to do next.  

There is always an overtone at a major PLM event that "all the problems can be solved by the vendor"  but the reality is that Anark extends the Siemens digital thread beyond engineering. By making the digital thread accessible, actionable and collaborative, everyone in the diagram above can contribute to and benefit from the rich tapestry of data and ideas generated throughout the product development process. This is especially valuable for those who are part of extended supplier networks and may not have the expertise, budget, IT, or security infrastructures to deploy their own digital thread solutions.  But don't just listen to us, we would like to hear from you! And we'd like you to hear what your peers are saying in the industry. 

Manufacturing Collaboration Research Graphic mobile

We are excited to launch 🚀 a new research initiative at Anark to explore the hidden costs of collaboration among manufacturer’s cross-functional teams, suppliers, partners, and customers. The research will collect real-world experience from manufacturing companies to understand how collaboration makes or breaks their bottom lines. 

Please go here for the survey to receive the 100% anonymous results and a readout of your responses in a personalized report. This pay-it-forward approach will result in an unbiased view of the research with an immediate action plan for everyone who participates. We will also enter everyone who completes the survey into a $100 gift card giveaway! 

The Objectives of the research:

🔍 Uncover the most problematic hidden costs

🔍 Identify the best-fit solutions to the problems

🔍 Understand organizational alignment related to the subject

We hope you join us in our quest to find the answers to these questions.

And we hope you can join us again at Realize Live 2025 in Detroit, MI. With Detroit's outstanding NFL draft event (and absolutely no hometown bias from some of us at Anark) we think Motown is ready to take Realize Live further next year. 

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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