Autodesk Manufacturing Strategy – Acquisitions and the Cloud
John Hayes posted on December 03, 2013 |
Autodesk to acquire and code its way to the top CAM spot

Autodesk today announced CAM360, a cloud-based solution for manufacturing.  This was not a big surprise.  But there is a surprisingly grand vision for Autodesk’s manufacturing systems. 

In case you didn’t know

In October 2012 Autodesk acquired HSM Works in a move that surprised the Solidworks community.  After all, HSM Works was developed to run natively within Solidworks, as you can still see in their logo.

Fast forward to November 2013 and Autodesk announced plans to acquire one of the few large CAM software companies, Delcam, for $275M.  Delcam is clearly an industry leader, reporting revenue of $41M for the first half of 2013. 

And now CAM360

Today at Autodesk University, Buzz Kross, Carl White and Anthony Graves unveiled the company’s plans for their future in the manufacturing space.  It was no surprise to hear the emphasis on cloud-based solutions to complete the “360” family of cloud-based applications.  Scott Wertel wrote last week about how a product can now flow from concept to manufacturing using only the cloud

CAM360 is based on HSMWorks, so the code should be pretty much bullet proof.  The company expects CAM360 to be available sometime in 2014, which is a broad enough target that they should be able to hit it. 

They will release a free 2.5 axis version this month and a beta that you can get on the Autodesk CAM site.   

Why CAM in the Cloud?

According to Anthony Graves, “everybody wants integration”.  There are other benefits, like unlimited data storage, any time and almost anywhere access. But to me, the most important aspect by far is the ability to collaborate.  CAM 360 represents a big step in the “design to manufacturing” collaboration offering. 

The design model and the manufacturing models get to be more tightly synchronized, so that changes in design or ECOs can be automated.  Just as important, they can be centrally stored, searched, found and leveraged into future designs. 

Buzz says, “Collaboration is really nascent”, among all customers.  However, as they collaborate more freely with cloud-based solutions, they will find a new reality, which is, “There is only one version of this file in the entire world, and that creates tremendous value for customers”, according to Buzz Kross.

Strategy and how this fits

Historically, the Autodesk vision was to enable virtual prototyping, from concept to simulation.  Now the company has its sights set on extending through manufacturing.  Buzz Kross said that “Autodesk has been an outstanding fast follower” and has “outexecuted our competitors”.  Now he suggests, that with the move to the cloud, Autodesk is moving to true innovator in the design software space. 

Carl White said that there is a lot of innovation to come in planning and fabrication.  Those clusters of hexagons in the middle and on the right in the image above are all of the areas to explore outside of "Design".   That means a future for Autodesk that includes ERP, MRP and similar functionality.  Autodesk only has small parts of those solutions now, so to enable an end-to-end workflow for their manufacturing customers they will likely be making more acquisitions in the near future.  

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