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Are You Going To Be Ready For The Third Industrial Revolution?

As hordes of soot covered factory workers poured from the bowels of London Olympic Stadium to rip up and haul away remnants of the pastoral agrarian countryside set, my young son struggled to understand how the opening ceremony celebrated British history. Perhaps the sprouting smoke stacks (piping in real sulfur smell!) were more celebratory in person.

While one might quibble with some of the directorial decisions of the ceremony, there is little debate of the progress enabled by the 18th Century industrial revolution launched in Britain. A compelling special report in The Economistlabels this mechanization of manufacturing as the first and mass production, introduced by Ford in the early 20thcentury, as the second industrial revolution. The report goes on to explain how we are now in the early stage of a third industrial revolution, the digitization of manufacturing.

In his keynote address at PlanetPTC Live, PTC president and CEO Jim Heppelmann referred to the third industrial revolution and discussed how manufacturers will have to adapt to remain competitive.

“Over the past few decades, global manufacturers have made massive investments in technology and process change aimed at improving operational efficiency,” said Heppelmann. “Today, however, we are reaching the limits of the competitive edge these investments can deliver. Manufacturers need to be operationally efficient to stay in the game, but they can no longer achieve meaningful advantage from that alone. The time has come for a new source of competitive advantage – product and service advantage – from technology and process change that improves strategy decision-making across the enterprise, from engineering to the supply chain to sales and service networks.”  PTC president and CEO Jim Heppelmann

In several embedded industries, requirements management and specification has always held a paramount position of importance within the development cycle as a means to document processes and artifacts for various industry standards. But with the digitization of manufacturing, engineers will be increasingly pushed to use more advanced lifecycle management tools.

VDC’s research shows high use rates use of Requirements Management (RM) and Source/Change/Configuration Management (SCCM) tools across a number of embedded verticals. This should come as little surprise given our 2012 Software and System Development survey indicates changes in specifications, customer induced changes in requirements, and inadequate specifications were cited as leading causes of schedule delays (as cited by 26.0%, 21.1%, and 14.9% of respondents, respectively).

Tomorrow manufacturers, however, will need to become even more nimble utilizing smarter software, web based services, and a number of technological advances such as 3D printing or additive manufacturing. We believe it will be increasingly critical for RM and SCCM tool vendors to provide flexible solutions, tightly integrating ALM and PLM to help manufacturers respond to disruptive changes of the third industrial revolution.

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