Designing Impactful Innovation podcast - episode 12

Join three experts to learn about how manufacturing startups can overcome the challenges of complex product development. How can data help? How are startups handling the increasing amount of electronics in product development? And what role does sustainability play in how startups develop their products?

Find out with Kevin O'Donovan, technology evangelist, Arvind Krishnan, industry analyst at Lifecycle Insights and Peter Terwilliger, Worldwide Online Industry Process consultant director at Dassault Systèmes.

Designing Impactful Innovation podcast - episode 13

Your data is your company, it is your IP. And you need to be able to know where that data came from. You need to be able to document the decisions that come into it, that affect that data and generate that data.

Meet our speakers

Arvind Krishnan
Arvind Krishnan
Industry Analyst, Lifecycle Insights
Kevin O'Donovan
Kevin O'Donovan
Technology Evangelist
Peter Terwilliger
Peter Terwilliger
Worldwide Online Industry Process Consultant Director, Dassault Systèmes

You can follow the "Designing Impactful Innovation" podcast on Apple podcasts, SpotifyDeezer or by RSS.

Applepodcast Spotify deezer fluxrss

Stay tuned!

Read the transcript

Clara: Hello and welcome to Designing Impactful Innovation. I’m your host, Clara, and today, we’re delving into how manufacturing startups can overcome the challenges of complexity in product development. Let’s listen to Kevin O'Donovan, Technology Evangelist, Arvind Krishnan, Industry Analyst at Lifecycle Insights and Peter Terwilliger, Worldwide Online Industry Process consultant director at Dassault Systèmes.

Arvind: Good day everybody, and welcome to this podcast. Today I have with me Kevin and Peter. So let's start with the first question, and that's to you, Kevin.

Arvind: You know, data is very vital.


Kevin: Well, it was Peter who was talking about, you know, data, data, data. And to be quite honest, all of this does come down to the data. We used to chat before: “Oh we don't have enough data, and now we have loads of data” and we spoke about “We have to simulate more” and you can make iterations and do it all in a digital format rather than doing it in the real world.

But I suppose the biggest thing that I see a lot with companies when I’m working with them is that they say “Oh, we've got all this data,” and you go “Great! How good is your data?” Because if you don't trust your own data, you can put it into whatever – models, tools, AI – you want and you might not like the results.

So the data is key. It is the primary building block for all of this, right? And we're getting more and more data from different, entire life cycles, all coming into one version of the truth. But the ultimate thing is that I need to trust the data coming in as well and watch for anything that goes weird because again, that helps me simulate, iterate, pass the red face test. So data is key.

Arvind: Thank you, Kevin.

Peter: Well, you know, there's some amazing things out there that we've all seen in our various experiences. And Kevin reminded me, as he was giving this answer, that back in the day when I was in practice in AEC, we shared drawings all the time, right? But now in today's world of data, it's not good enough to share those drawings, and we find that, you know, maybe a parapet winds up looking great in plan, but it's two feet out in space because it just needed to look good in a drawing, right?

So, you know, Kevin's point about making sure that your data is good is an incredibly good one. But there's another thing to think about here, right?

Your data is your company, it is your IP, right? And you need to be able to know where that data came from. You need to be able to document the decisions that come into it, that affect that data and generate that data, and – God forbid – something happens to one of your key people or he gets a better job offer or decides risk is not something he wants to do, and so he winds up disappearing. Now you've got to put a new person in place and she's got to come up to speed. She needs that context, that the 3DEXPERIENCE platform – through documenting the requirements, through documenting the conversations, to putting everybody on the same page – that context is all there.

And then there's one last thing that when you mentioned data that everybody thinks about:  “Who's going to steal my data? Oh my gosh, the data is on the cloud. Who's going to steal that?” Right? We have to bring this answer in a relatively short period of time. There's a trust center. It has all the answers to your questions about security, it has all the answers about the certifications that we have both in our data centers and in our software, to make sure that your data is secure, locked up tight and accessible to only who you want it to be accessible to.

Arvind: Excellent, Peter. Now, this question, Kevin, is for you. We all know that today's products are not just pure mechanical products. There's a whole lot of electronics in them, there's a bunch of software in them. Think about a car like Tesla. Would you call it a moving computer or just a mechanical car with four wheels and some kind of a drive?

Kevin: In the theory ideal world, you have to address all of it because, you know, an autonomous vehicle is a pretty complex beast. Let’s, what do you call it, to bring it back a small bit in terms of – I don't care what you're developing today, if there's going to be some electronics in it, PCB, design…Maybe you buy all that stuff off the shelf and just plug it together and you connect up a couple of motors and you get a robot to move that you sell to someone in a garage or a factory or whatever.

In the ideal world, when I say I want to simulate that product, I want to simulate all that product ; that product working in a 3D world. And if you think of the robot, it's got electricity coming into it, it's got motors, it's got control circuitry, it's got software. It may have remote control software – that I'm doing stuff from somewhere else – and it has to physically move so the whole mechanics, the physics models and whatever…it can't do something that the laws of physics don't allow, right? Otherwise, I'm back to “I just made some thing for the metaverse that can’t work in the real world.” 

So in the ideal world, yes. Now, the feature is that you can get software today that does every piece of that, but they're all different.

And this is back to Peter's point. You need to start bringing them all back to one version of the truth, because you might have it working in every silo but when you join them all together, you figure out, “Okay, you meant something different when you said that word, I heard the word, but I thought of something else.” And it's that transparency and breaking down the data silos

So, can you do it? Yes. Is it instant? No. But, that's what you got to start thinking about. It can't be in silos anymore regardless of where the teams are based, right, because your customer is going to say, “Look, I want to see, and can we change this bit and change that bit? And what happens if you do change the PCB layout? Does that have any implications on anything else?” That's where simulation comes in: rather than ordering it, getting it in, putting it in and – oh God, it's half a centimeter too big. Who knew? Right? That's where the simulation comes in.

Peter: And Arvind, I know you didn't ask me that question. I'll go ahead and provide a little bit of an answer as well.

We spent the time today talking about the basics. We talked about modeling, we talked about simulation. But there are over 250 applications on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. This is, again, enterprise-level software. If you need to do something, the power of the cloud enables you to use that software and then put it back on the shelf and give it back to Dassault basically, right?

You're not buying an application for something you only need once in a while, right? You're going to use it on the cloud, then you're going to not use it, go back to the basics and make sure that you get where you need to be. I'm sure that we have it. If we don't have it, we have the ability to bring your data onto the cloud through our collaborative solutions. So lots of things to explore with the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. It's not only internal to Dassault, it's all your data. And, you know, it's SAP, it's everywhere, right? So, that's the kinds of things that we like to think about when we talk to startups.

Arvind: Excellent, thank you Peter for that. I think Peter this one is exactly for you. You mentioned enterprise-level software and our audience today are wondering: enterprise-level software means Boeing, the Airbus, the Raytheons, right? I mean, that's what comes to mind, the Fords, the General Motors. Now startups, they might be intimidated by enterprise-level software. And that's exactly the question being posed.

Peter: That's a great point, Arvind, and absolutely something that I experienced coming from a more traditional CAD background. “Oh my gosh, the learning curve is going to be so great, it's going to take me forever to learn this.” But, you know, on and on and on. I want to recall our conversation that we had a little while ago about the levels of complexity.

The way the platform is put together enables you to participate to your needs. Again, the person who's doing 3D modeling needs that complexity of that very capable application, whereas somebody who just wants to sketch on the screen, get their issue into the system and get it taken care of: that person doesn't need to know those tools.That's the first thing. 

The second point is “Yeah, when I came to Dassault Systèmes, I didn't know how to use CATIA.” I'll go ahead and say something trite like, “This is not your father's CATIA.” Tons of UI specialists and UX specialists have been working on it to make it much more digestible, discoverable and learnable. But what the cloud comes with is a personal online support and training. It's online training to master those skills that you need, it's 24/7 through our communities, through a direct community with Dassault Systèmes that's a 24/7 support. And ultimately, we have the ability to support you through what you need to do. 

So, yeah, you are picking up maybe some software that's not exactly familiar to you, but you are also in the final analysis, picking up the software that you need to play with others. If you're going to enter into the transportation marketplace and all the big people around you, and your suppliers, both up and downstream…they’re all using this software. That's the thing: you need to be able to participate with them and share software with them. We got your back when it comes to learning it.

Kevin: And if I can just add on to that, Peter, you also mentioned that you have different consumers

Peter: Yes.

Kevin: In the world I grew up in, people would say “But I need all of it! If you think simulating a physics model for this is easy, you are dreaming. We need hardcore engineering quality grade software.” And you do, and you have it.

But it's the other people who go: “I just want to see what it looks like and I don't need to know how it all works.” And yet the interface, if you call it like that: I can go in as a particular user and I just don't have to reconfigure the entire bloody thing, I can just see it or as you say, I'm coming from the finance department, I just want to see whatever, I want one version of the truth. 

So that ability, again: we've never had that capability before because you can kind of have different user roles or different ways of exposing that data to people, all through the same one version of the truth. And you know, I speak for my own age group, whatever we came and said  “Oh, you have to learn all this stuff.”

Look at our kids and teenagers. They're off playing Roblox and Fortnite and whatever. If they want to create their own games, they're off in graphical tools creating all this stuff, getting spatial awareness, 3D models, physics – how it all works. So the next time you go hire your next engineer coming out of college, they’ll probably have some of these core skills already, right? So we're the ones that have to catch up.

Peter: Indeed they do, and that's exactly what we do. But what we see a lot – you reminded me of something here – not so much the finance people, but the people on the manufacturing floor, right? The people on the manufacturing floor, they came up through manufacturing. They don't know how to use these CAD applications yet. They have some very valuable knowledge and lessons to impart. So the tools need to be easy to use for those folks to participate in the conversation, while the person who does need that complexity is able to get what she or he needs to do at the same time.

Kevin: Very much.

Arvind: Yep! Oh, I was thinking we would go without talking sustainability, but I guess that's not going to happen. You know, I think we'll start with you, Kevin.

Kevin: To me it's on the same level as the financial viability in terms of “Where do I get my funding? How do I make money? How do I keep the lights on?” Now sustainability means many things to different people. To me, sustainability is a key part of how resilient you are. And when I say resilient it’s that, well, can you deal with things that will change?

But let's just say sustainability. It is becoming a must have, game stakes, to say, “You need to know your scope. One scope, two scope, three emissions.” Now there's lots of different methodologies out there and we argue about this, that and the other. But you have to understand what your own footprint is. 

And when you build a product and you go to give it to someone, they go, “Well, what's the embedded carbon?” or “What’s your scope, one or two?” or whatever of that product. You need to know that, so you need to start plugging back into the supply chain. And that's not easy, right? You need enterprise-quality tools to be able to do all that. If anything changes, we've seen – God forbid – with the tragic consequences of the Ukraine war, a lot of people’s steel is now coming from somewhere else. So suddenly I need to plug that into my model to go with : what's the sustainability cost for that? What are the costs of reliability? 

And the other thing with the simulation thing, and I see lots of examples of this, is: can I design things in a different way to make them more recyclable? Because if I can make them more recyclable – you start getting into that here in Europe; we talk about the circular economy, and you see it in the US – and I can simulate all that rather than going off and making prototype, after prototype, after prototype and not figuring out what’s the wrong one.

So again, I can share my – here's my design, potentially with a complete third party that's a recycler, and they'll say, “Well, that's going to be hard to recycle because our robot does this. Can you move…” You know, whatever. And that's how we start joining the dots. To me, that’s sustainability. But if you're not thinking about it, then you’re going to have a tough time.

Arvind: Peter, your thoughts?

Peter: I totally agree with that, totally agree. And in an illustration on how sustainability means different things to different people, what I thought of immediately when you asked your question was a podcast I was listening to the other day. There was a company, they were changing the way that we fly in the world, right? That's their stated intention that they want to do. And they're building an amazing plane and they're going to tell you all about it, it's a podcast out there.

But what they also talked about was they wanted to be sustainable. They had to design it in from day one. So they found out that there's a specific type of jet fuel that could be made from the components of the atmosphere. The carbon that’s in the atmosphere already, you know, this and the other things. But none of the jet engines run on this jet fuel today. They were able to use the power of their tools to be able to develop a jet engine to go into that plane so that that sustainable fuel was designed into their plans from day one.

And their reception, as what we're talking about, from the investment community, is just one more thing for those folks to trust in them. We've got that technology on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. Check it out. Look at what we're able to do. Look at how we built sustainability in from day one, in our design. It's designed in.

Arvind: So I guess the main point here is you need to keep sustainability not at the back of your mind and make it as the last thing that you want to put a checkmark around. But right from the start, right from concept, everywhere you go, we need to be thinking about sustainability. 

And Kevin talked about the circular economy and Peter gave an excellent example of a living startup that was embracing sustainability at every aspect of their product development. So those tools are out there and I think, as a startup, if you fail to recognize the importance of sustainability, it will be too late by the time you start to get there; due to either pressure from the investors or due to pressure from your competitors. It's really too late to be thinking about sustainability if you have not thought about it right from day one. I think that's the message that both Peter and Kevin want to give.

Kevin: If I may just, can you imagine years ago, you designed a product on paper, you'd build this, you'd figure out now they need to change that…

Just thinking about the amount of raw materials we used up in making all the prototypes that were out the back, right? You now do all this stuff on a computer – and fine, there's an environmental impact to the computers and the data center and the blah, but then you have renewable energy and bricks and, and, and…and again, you can answer that, you can pass the red face test and say, ”Look, this is how we're doing that”. 

But the ability to be able to assimilate all this stuff and plan it out and then just make it once, and make it right once. The sustainability impact of that alone, compared to what we used to do 10, 20 years ago, is…you know, don't underestimate that either.

Peter: Gosh, I have visions of those Federal Express tubes that we used to ship drawings to each other for review all the time. You know, waiting for the 4 o’clock Federal Express guy! Oh my gosh. So, yeah absolutely.

Kevin: Time to market!

Arvind: It’s excellent Peter. You mentioned that there were times when we used to wait for products to come from, say, the Far East, and that would take three days by express shipping and it cost way more to ship than to make. Now we're talking about cost, we’re talking about footprint, we're talking about time…time to market is just extended by three days.

With 3D printing, suddenly those things changed. You could just print them at your thought. So, I mean, we're really talking about technologies out there that enable sustainable practices. So the idea is the startups have to embrace them right from day one and have to be thinking about, not just designing their product, but how are they going to make it? How are they going to package it? 

You know, Kevin, you made an excellent point. It’s not just materials, but we're really talking about packaging, design for sustainable packaging. It's really a big team in a lot of industries.

And finally, how are you going to dispose it? Is there a way to recycle your things? Can you reuse them? That's becoming a big movement across Europe. Can I reuse existing products and repackage them to become extremely, completely new products? 

And we see some excellent startups just using existing products and building some new things out of it. So, I think we can have an entire webinar on sustainability. But, you know, any last comments, anyone before we close?

Peter: I think we have three passionate people that are willing to go on and talk about this stuff all day long if you let us. It is just fascinating stuff to have this conversation.

Kevin: I agree. You know, we think things are going quickly now and it's hard to keep up with what everyone's doing and the art of the possible. Buckle up. We're just getting started.

Peter: Absolutely.

Arvind: Thank you for your time, Kevin. Thank you very much. Thank you.

Peter: Thank you, Arvind.

Kevin: Thank you.

Clara: Thank you for listening to Designing Impactful Innovation. To find out more, go to 3ds.com/cloud. Don’t forget to subscribe for more insights and stories from our guest experts!

Learn more