What You Missed: The Manufacturing 3DEXPERIENCE Forum 2019

Why go to Las Vegas? Dassault Systèmes annual meeting for manufacturing is one reason.

3DEXPERIENCE Forums are a series of events put on by Dassault Systèmes, with each event focusing on a segment of the industrial world for which the software company has a solution. May’s 3DEXPERIENCE in Las Vegas seems to be about manufacturing. Could it be replacing a DELMIA conference? DELMIA is the company’s manufacturing software. The attendees we talked to weren’t sure. They could have been happy to get out of the office and be in Las Vegas.

Why is it so many software companies choose Las Vegas? A short unscientific poll during a media and analyst lunch was not helpful. None at the table admitted to taking part in the city’s best-known activities. Not one dropped as much as a dollar at the gaming tables. Nobody looked hungover.

Dean Marsh, managing director of North America, was the master of ceremonies. He shined a spotlight on Michigan Aeronautical Science Association (MASA), University of Michigan’s space program. The student-led organization has entered the Base 11 Space challenge to send a liquid-fueled rocket 100 km above the Earth. MASA has gained experience with five years of competing in the Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition (IREC).

Electric power is all the fashion in the automotive world. Several companies, from start-ups to Tesla, use Dassault Systèmes software. For example, there is Kreisel’s electric car that reaches 300kph (190mph). The Austria-based Kreisel, best known for converting Arnold Schwarzenegger’s gas guzzling Hummer to electric power so he could claim to be an environmentalist, converted a 1970s Porsche 910 race car to electric drive. Kreisel used Dassault Systèmes’ Electro-Mobility Accelerator’s integrated applications for the entire development of the vehicle, including project management.

Boeing Is Here?

Lucia Chung, head of Boeings IT for factory systems, delivers a keynote at 3DEXPERIENCE 2019.

Lucia Chung, head of Boeing’s IT for factory systems, delivers a keynote at 3DEXPERIENCE 2019.

While Dassault Systèmes software is involved with every major car company, its best known customer is Boeing. You can count on Dassault events to feature Boeing engineers designing, analyzing or assembling big airplanes. Nothing is more impressive. The 777, which had its maiden flight in 1995, is famous for being the first airliner to be totally designed in 3D CAD using CATIA. Not one part was designed on a drafting board. Boeing’s reputation in technology soared after that.

This year, Boeing is flying under a cloud. Two crashes by its 737 MAX aircraft have marred Boeing’s image. The crashes and their aftermath is the top aviation story at the moment. It has overshadowed Boeing’s 100-year anniversary.

The Boeing keynote speaker was not there to talk about the company’s aircraft. Lucia Chung told us about the IT behind Boeing’s factories and the challenges in assembling big planes. Chung is responsible for all aspects of Boeing Factory Systems, according to her bio. She has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and operations from Princeton, a master’s degree and MBA from MIT, and has been applying a digital transformation (this year’s buzz phrase) at Boeing for seven years.

We have to resist the urge to change things mid increment just because someone is yelling that we do so, Chung said. Oh, that never happens at Boeing, she added, eliciting the first laugh of the day.

Changing the (Drinking) Game

What’s in a Cosmopolitan? The Drinkworks Home Bar knows. Aidan Quilligan of Accenture, a business consulting firm, was on hand to tell us about the Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled appliance that makes cocktails as easily as Keurig makes coffee. Keurig acquired Drinkworks and is testing the $300 home appliance in a few states. Quilligan was not taking drink orders.

I’m in Your Wallet

Chris Collins, NXP senior vice president, product and technology enablement, dared the crowd to try to remember where they might have heard of NXP. When they couldn’t, he pulled out his wallet. Your credit card contains a small, flat semiconductor made by NXP, he said. The semiconductor under the contacts are visible in a little square that shows the copper leads.

“The next time you hear that commercial with ‘What’s in your wallet?’ yell ‘NXP!’ You will be right, but your family will think you are crazy,” Collins said.

NXP uses Dassault Systèmes for its semiconductor designs, including its bill of materials. The number of BOM components continues to increase with each new product NXP develops, making an enterprise-level product data management (PDM) a necessity.

Oil and Gas Overruns

The oil and gas industry is overcome with cost overruns, according to Vaseem Khan, global vice president of engineering at McDermott, maker of offshore and onshore petroleum extraction facilities. For all the projects over a billion dollars, 65 percent of them face cost overruns and 73 percent suffer delays, he said. We’re talking about big money here. A Kazakhstan oil and gas project, the most expensive, cost $115 billion. The Gorgon LNG was a $55 billion, and Ichthys LNG was $40 billion. Compare that to the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, which cost a mere $1.5 billion.

Enter Bernard

Saving their best for last, on stage is Bernard Charlès, CEO of Dassault Systèmes, who explained, as only he could, how the “story is the experience.” For years he has used a compass of sorts, a four-direction symbol, that has been as much of a mystery to users as that pyramid with the eye on it on the U.S. $1 bill.

Charlès may be the leading visionary and forward thinker of our industry. While the typical CEO thinks to the next quarter, his 17 sustainable goal plans go to 2030. For a software vendor to worry about poverty, sufficient food, good health, gender equality and more for the whole world is commendable. But Charlès is realistic enough to realize that Dassault Systèmes software can’t help cure all mankind’s ills. He gives his company good marks in affordable and clean energy, decent work and economic growth, industry innovation and infrastructure, good health/well-being, and sustainable cities and communities.

Now do you get it? The-ever-so-patient Bernard Charlès explains the 3DEXPERIENCE “compass.” For example, where East usually is, you see ii. That’s information powered by intelligence.

In a Q and A session with the media (more A than Q actually) Charlès gave us more clues to his vision.

He expects engineering services to grow fast in coming years. He sees someone handing off a sketch and expecting a 3D part tomorrow. Whether this is an AI application or a hundred engineers pounding away on SOLIDWORKS on the other side of the planet has us mere mortals befuddled.

Charlès revealed that Dassault Systèmes is developing its own cloud infrastructure. His big customers have told him that the public cloud—as provided by Amazon (AWS), Microsoft (Azure) and Google—will not do. Apparently, defense contractors, big auto and big aero don’t want their precious data mixed up with your adorable puppies and selfies.

But aren’t the big three (Amazon, Microsoft and Google) already way ahead, having built massive data centers, each with hundreds of racks and thousands of servers? Charlès is a firm belief that their data centers will be better, more private, more secure. “We already have nine private cloud sites around the world,” he said. “The Science Cloud is very successful.”

“We want to slash Slack,” he added. In case you don’t get out much, Slack is the chat app beloved and in place almost universally for real real-time communications between close and far-flung teams. So strong is the belief in Slack that when it went public, it was embraced by investors. The New York Times values Slack at nearly $20 billion.

We’re picking up on a belief that popular is not superior, and engineers’ needs are not like regular business user needs—and you can’t expect Silicon Valley to get it.

What can Charlès not improve on? I suspect he has an idea of how to make a better iPhone than Apple.