Autodesk enters PLM market

Posted on 29 Nov 2011

At the Autodesk University in Las Vegas, the company has unveiled a new cloud-based PLM solution that is expected to transform how manufacturers manage the entire lifecycle of a product.

Autodesk believes it will deliver a “disruptive” new approach to product lifecycle management, which enables companies to capture and manage product information and processes to continuously improve the products they manufacture.

The new PLM offering, which will be available early next year, is part of Autodesk 360, a set of solutions developed to streamline product and project business processes. Autodesk 360 for PLM has been developed for companies of all sizes, from small businesses eager to deploy PLM for the first time to large enterprises that already have experience with it.

According to Richard Tindseall, sales director for Northern Europe, PLM is often considered unattainable and inaccessible due to the complexities and high costs associated with traditional implementation.

“Our approach to PLM is a sharp contrast to the decades old technology in the market today,” said Robert “Buzz” Kross, senior vice president, manufacturing industry group at Autodesk. “Autodesk 360 for PLM will enable customers of all sizes to achieve the full promise of PLM with a scalable, configurable and intuitive solution.”

Tindseall agrees. He said: “It’s been a while since there has been something really ground-breaking within the PLM market.”

The solution will comprise:

  • Autodesk 360 Nexus, a new, cloud-based solution that will anchor Autodesk 360 for PLM with software as a service that helps make the benefits of PLM business applications available to users anytime, anywhere, with less cost and risk.
  • Autodesk Vault, which provides on-premise product data management software that enables engineering workgroups to organise, manage and track their entire designs, engineering bills-of-materials and change processes.
  • Autodesk Buzzsaw, whose cloud-based supplier collaboration allows customers to securely exchange designs and documents with external partners and distributed teams, regardless of their location.

Global research firm IDC estimates the PLM software applications market will grow to $20.5 billion by 2015. Autodesk hopes to tackle the five key ‘PLM non-starters’ it identified through research, which are time to ROI, process change, systems integration, consulting costs and software costs.

Tindseall said: “The question is not if companies can afford it, but if they are getting what they want from it.”

Autodesk believes its PLM solution is more readily and easily configurable than others to meet customer-specific product lifecycle process needs across the enterprise. With the new PLM offering, employees in a range of roles from planning to product development to supplier management, quality and compliance, service and more are expected to be able to eliminate bottlenecks and access product and project-related information more quickly regardless of their location.

Lieven Grauls, technical manager for Northern Europe at Autodesk, said: “There might be the need for some consultancy at the very beginning, but once the solution is up and running, even when processes change, customers will be able to run their PLM on their own.”

The use of PLM tends to be more common among larger companies, mainly due to the high cost and expertise related to deploying and maintaining the systems. “No company should be excluded from the benefits of PLM technology,” commented Kross.

Lower up-front and maintenance cost will potentially make Autodesk 360 for PLM very appealing to SMEs as well.