Friday, 13 February 2015

Autodesk PLM 360 supports Loowatt while they turn sh*t into money!!

Mike: Morning Chris, I struggled with a title for this blog the schoolboy in me wanted to call it so many things !!! but I went with Virginia's one in the end ! Can tell me about Loowatt, what are the roots of the company and what products are you designing?

Chris: Ha ! yes Mike there could have been many more variations to the blog title! Loowatt was founded in 2009 as the outgrowth of CEO Virginia Gardiner’s industrial design degree project at London’s Royal College of Art. Her thesis addressed a self-assigned brief: “To create a waterless, urban toilet system that turns sh*t into money.” Her project questioned the unethical practice of flushing the toilet with drinking water and examined ways to turn human excrement into a commodity rather than a taboo substance to be flushed and forgotten. Today, we are a creative, energetic team working in both United Kingdom and Madagascar. Our vision is to build safe, sustainable and profitable toilet systems. 

Loowatt has developed a waterless and energy-generating toilet system that is clean and odourless. The Loowatt toilet seals human waste into biodegradable liner for anaerobic digestion to produce energy and fertilizer. Loowatt systems offer a range of environmental and social benefits that include water savings, carbon emissions reduction, improved human health and job creation.

Digesters can be built at any scale, and there are many established methods and configurations. In this example, the biogas drum floats up and down inside the digestate. This means that the pressure is created by gravity – the weight of the floating drum. Small-scale digesters like these are commercially available in India.
Mariona and Chris at Loowatt London Office with Tsiky Toilet
Mike: Thats sounds so cool, can you tell me more, sounds like an amazing thing you guys are doing!

Chris: Loowatt’s patented core technology can fit into toilets of any shape, size or specification. The toilet and system are suited to a broad range of situations that require off-grid toilets, including events, developing cities, construction sites and emergency relief. In Madagascar, we are implementing toilets that provide safe and clean sanitation to households. The system also produces energy and fertilizer, which benefits the local community. In the UK, we are introducing the Loowatt Event System—a mobile luxury loo system designed for events, which will bring a step change in the status quo of festival loos, as it is chemical-free, can run off-grid and offers a premium service.

A bird’s eye view gives an idea of the scale, compared to the size of a Mini Cooper.

The Loo Unit contains our unique technology in a luxury portable unit.

 Loowatt Tsiky Toilet for homes in Madagascar.

Mike: Why did you need PLM, and how did you find out about Autodesk?

Chris: We are going through the exciting transition in our operations from an R&D base to being commercially ready. As a company it is important for us to be prepared for this change, to better organise version control and get feedback on the operational lifecycle. With this in mind, we were actively looking for ways of managing these challenges when we came across Autodesk PLM 360, which provides a great solution to manage data as we scale. Luckily for us, it wasn't just PLM 360 we found; we were also eligible for the Autodesk Cleantech Program, which gives us incredible access to Autodesk products for our design development.

Mike: Which lead us to meet at our Autodesk University conference this year in Las Vegas. Can you share some of your experiences at our conference (you can leave the bad stuff in Vegas!)?

Chris: I can honestly say that I haven't experienced anything like Autodesk University before.  The scale of the event was spectacular—10,000 people converging for 3 days of learning, networking and a lot of design talk. Not only did I improve my skills with the software, including PLM 360, but I also took some great classes that addressed challenges in the design process, sustainability, overseas manufacturing and more. It was both educational and inspiring.

Mike: Can you tell me little about how you plan implement Autodesk PLM 360? 

Chris: We are planning to use the Items & Bill of Materials with Change control and the new product introduction apps. We particularly want to get a handle on version control as we roll more toilets out into the field. In time, I am hoping to bring in reporting functions to better understand the performance characteristics of different components. We will be getting a lot of data from our project in Madagascar and it is a great opportunity to feed back into our design process.

Mike: So how’s it going, how quickly are you getting up to speed with Autodesk PLM 360 and what processes are your starting with?

Chris: At first I thought PLM would be quite an intimidating process. But Autodesk PLM 360 being so flexible allowed me to get going without the need for lots of set-up. At Autodesk University, I took a great class to learn the basic workflows and how to build simple functions. Then when you visited me Mike I was amazed how easily we started importing the Bill of Material's from the most recent production designs. I imagined that it would be a laborious data entry task, but in actual fact we imported all the data directly from Excel, which saved a lot of time.

Mike: Yep thats what we like to hear ! What’s your overall impression of Autodesk and PLM 360? 

Chris: Autodesk designed their products in an intelligent way and figured out how they best integrate with the real world. For example, I really like the way Autodesk is moving to the cloud. It makes a lot of sense to be connected over a range of devices and makes Autodesk PLM 360 user friendly and convenient as well as being a powerful tool.

Thanks Chris and I'll look forward to working with you over the coming months..

GO check out these guys at

Thanks for reading.....Mike

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

AU 2014 The Devil is In the Detail—PDM/PLM: Parker Hannifin's Journey

Dusting off the old keyboard been a while..! Just a quick post to let you know about my class this year at AU2014 

PL5315 The Devil is In the Detail—PDM and PLM: Parker Hannifin Corporation's Journey

In this class you will hear first hand from one of our customers, Parker Hannifin and how they deployed Autodesk Vault software from a small group of 30 users to what is now over 1500 active users. You will also learn how they plan to use Autodesk PLM 360 software to manage the other processes that support engineering, quality, costing, quoting, and supplier management, you will see how this will enable them to use cloud-based PLM collaboration to extend the product data management productivity and increase the time to market of products and services.

I will be joined by Maarten Weers from Parker Hannifin the CAD Manager for IT Core Competency Team in EMEA so you can hear first hand from one of our customers. Maarten started his career as a Mechanical Engineer over 20 years ago, implementing software to support company work flows fascinated him from the first day, where he became the interface between engineering, management and IT, this role continued for 13 years. After six years working for a software company developing CAD tools, Maarten then joined Parker Hannifin, where he initiated and coordinated the implementation of Autodesk Vault for the Sales Companies in Europe which are located in seven different countries. This year his focus is on the use of Autodesk PLM360 for the engineering and quality departments.

A few snippets for you !

  • Manage change correctly include everyone ! 
Image Copyright  - Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

  • People empower technology, technology does not empower people
  • Rubbish in, Rubbish out
  • Invest now, set the standard and prepare for company growth. Cut corners now will hurt you in the end! 

So go 'ave a butcher's and sign up below ! 
Image Copyright  - Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

Subscribe to my blog...for more customer stories and case studies

Thanks for reading....Mike

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Octopart and Autodesk PLM 360 Partnership

Octopart is the leading search engine for electronic parts. The Octopart API is used by hundreds of OEMs and EMS providers to streamline quoting, sourcing and purchasing processes. The Octopart app for PLM 360 utilizes the Octopart API to access pricing and availability information for over 20 million electronic components, right within the PLM360 interface. This week I met with the team behind Octopart and had a the chance to dig deeper...

Mike: Morning Guys, great to meet you at last, so can you tell my readers a little bit about Octopart?

Janine: Hi Mike, we started building Octopart in 2007 when the founders -- physics researchers -- decided they were done with flipping through giant part supplier catalogs, and built a tool for themselves to find parts fast.  Turns out lots of other people felt the same pain and wanted to use it.   What started as a small project turned into a mission-driven company when the founders discovered that data in the electronics world is a bit of a mess.   Part data is all over the place, or trapped in proprietary databases, or completely unstructured.   We've spent years working with part manufacturers and suppliers to organize their data so we can make it accessible and useful to engineers and part buyers.  Today we have a database of 30 million parts with pricing and quantity information, technical specs, compliance statements and more.  And we're still working on it.  

Sam in his physics lab at the University of Colorado Boulder pre-Octopart

Mike: Sounds cool! So your have an open API can you share how, and why being open has helped you and your customers use Octopart?

Janine:  Open Data, APIs, and cloud are all very hot buzzwords at the moment, so we thought we'd better jump on that bandwagon. Just kidding!  Our user base has grown up with us over the years, and we're seeing more users ask for more data and more sophisticated tools.  Building out features to accommodate everyone's specific needs is out of the question since we're a small team trying to be lean and laser-focused.  What we're happy to do is open up our database so people can programmatically access our data and use it in exactly the way they want to.   It's a testament to the creativity of our user base that this has translated into Octopart data being used in over a hundred applications in design, sourcing and manufacturing.  Autodesk PLM 360 is one of the applications that really showcases how freeing data from its silos means people can operate more efficiently and effectively with tools they already use. 

Mike: So you have been using PLM360 for a while now can you tell me about your first steps, what are your thoughts on functionality, ease of use etc?

Janine:  As a startup, getting started with PLM 360 was no sweat at all since we're used to working with cloud apps.  For some one like me,  quick setup, access from anywhere and lightning-fast collaboration tools are things I've come to expect.  It has the look and feel of cloud apps in other categories - like Dropbox or SalesforceCRM.   Others on our team have used traditional, on-premise PLM software in other jobs before and I'm told the difference is not to be taken for granted.

Mike: Thats what we like to hear :) So a while ago we collaborated on the Octopart look up App in the PLM360 App Store. Can you explain what it is and how it works?

Janine:  The Octopart Lookup app is a way to get information about specific electronic components directly from PLM 360.  So if you're  in product development or sourcing and you need to submit a change notice because a component in your BOM just EOL-ed, you can lookup a new part for the right price point right inside PLM360. 

The Octopart App in PLM 360

Mike: Excellent!  we're going to look at the app in more detail in abit and how our users get started. But for now tell me something random about Octopart!!…(don’t be shy!) 

Janine:  A chunk of our user base, especially early adopters, are hobbyists and DIY enthusiasts.  Sam, one of the founders, is very much of this breed, and one of his projects that helped get the early word out was a DIY doublet amplifier made out of an empty Altoid tin.   For awhile there, Sam thought he might have a little side business selling these.  He ate lots of Altoids that month!

Altoid Doublet Amplifier

Doublet amplifier project:  

Mike: Thanks Janine, looking forward to working with you on the future Octopart PLM 360 App updates and enhancements

Let now take a look at how you get started in 3 simple steps

How to Install the Octopart Look up App

Step 1: Open the Autodesk PLM 360 App Store

Administration >  App Store 

Step 2: Select the Octopart App and Click Install 

Step 3: Add the Octopart app PLM 360 permissions to your preferred group and that's it!

How to use the App

Step 1: Open the app and create a new record and enter the Octopart number you want to look up

Step 2: Save the record, upon save Autodesk PLM 360 will automatically retrieve the require data from Octopart. Right from with PLM 360 you now have access stocking information, price breaks, lead times, and you can purchase parts with one-click access direct to suppliers.

Stocking information, price breaks, lead times

Purchase parts with one-click access direct to suppliers.

Step 3: you can now approve the Octopart data using the Autodesk PLM 360 workflow.

Autodesk PLM 360 workflow to allow you to select and approve the Octopart components

As you can see 3 simple steps to install and use the Octopart PLM 360 App.

Thanks for Reading ..... Mike

Friday, 6 December 2013

iOS example app for PLM 360 to track GPS and upload photo's

Thought I'd share a few early details of an example of an iOS app that we are working on to show you how you can track GPS locations and upload photo's to PLM 360 using the REST API.  This can also be done for android but for this example I'm using the iOS version. There could be a number of uses for this like field inspections, tracking locations of your product install base or even a basic capture of the locations of your customers.

If you have PLM 360 Enterprise licences you have access to the PLM360 REST API. This will allow you to develop iOS or android apps that work with PLM 360. PLM 360 has a RESTful API. Like most client/server APIs, it consists of a collection of functions that a client application initiates. Structured data is passed back and forth during these function calls.

In the case of REST, a function is represented as a URL and structured data is passed in the body of the HTTP request and response. Basic knowledge of HTTP is helpful when using REST. Concepts like HTTP verbs, query strings, HTTP headers, and MIME types come up when using the API. In addition to the URL, the HTTP verb also indicates the operation to be performed. REST attempts to fit functions into a CRUD model, where operations are either Create, Read, Update, or Delete. The HTTP verb indicates which type of operation is being performed.

So lets take a look, first we click on the app Icon to get started. This app is installed using the Ad Hoc Distribution method. This allows you to try an application without the need to publish to the iTunes App Store. This is how we distribute iPhone applications to beta test.

Home Screen

Step 1.  Login with your Autodesk ID

Step 2. Add tenant name/workspace ID

Step 3. After logging in you will see a success message popup

Step 4. By clicking the search icon the app gets your current GPS location

Step 5. Next by clicking on the + the button we can capture the  photo and GPS location. The Autodesk Soho office xmas tree in this example!

Step 6. Once uploaded you will see a popup message to confirm your image has been uploaded to the PLM 360 tenant that you specified.

Step 7. By clicking on the book icon, this will download all the locations that have been captured and then plot these on the map.

Step 8. You can see on the map that there are 2 locations (red pins) the Autodesk Soho office and my home office.

Step 9.  By clicking on one of the red pins it will display the date and the user who uploaded it.

Step 10. If we then click on the information button this displays the eh!

If we now log into our PLM 360 tenant we can see the information that we just uploaded. In this example I've uploaded the photo to the field Service approvals workspace.

You can see that the workspace contains two records to match the two red location pins from the app. These items have stored the name of the person who uploaded it, the GPS location and embedded Google map.

When we click on the attachments tab, we can see that the photo taken in Step 5 on the iphone has been uploaded to the workspace including a timestamp.

Keep checking back as I'll be adding more examples of PLM 360 apps in the New Year and how you can add value to your existing tenants by adopting these best practice apps. Have a great Christmas !! 

Thanks for reading.....Mike

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Register now for Autodesk University 2013 (AU 2013) in Las Vegas

The Next Industrial Revolution is here. Are you part of it? 
Discover the future of manufacturing at Autodesk University. 
Register now for Autodesk University 2013 (AU 2013) in Las Vegas, an event that offers manufacturing training and events for a new era on December 3-5.

Join us for interactive workshops, product design classes, and keynote addresses by thought leaders and innovators on industry trends that are changing the way you do business. Learn why new technologies such as additive manufacturing, crowdsourcing, and advanced automation are transforming manufacturing. 

This year, we are also introducing I3D Summit, a summit for progressive thinkers, fellow designers, manufacturers and leaders. This not-to-be-missed innovative experience will feature the most creative and inspiring visionaries, investors, and media in business today. This two day event happens on 12/1-12/2 right before Autodesk University. It will inspire and ignite ideas. Then go beyond imagination and learn how to make your ideas come to life. 

This is definitely not a year to miss Autodesk University. Register now to save your spot at the early bird rate:

RSVP on Facebook:

Thanks for reading.....Mike

Monday, 2 September 2013

Autodesk and LEGO Partnership launch 3D Builder App

As I'm sure we can all agree for those of us who have kids, LEGO is BIG in most households. For me being a PLM fan I love the process of seeing the un-constructed box of parts and then seeing it through to the finished product. A perfect match for people and process !! but I'm not a fan nor do I get excited to pour over a 50 page booklet to begin building . To help you out, Autodesk and LEGO have collaborated in developing the newly released 3D Builder app, containing interactive 3D assembly instructions for the latest LEGO MINDSTORM robots.

These interactive instructions are forward thinking and have game changing potential for the industry.  See it in action!

Hear more about it from the Autodesk Publisher team.

Thanks for reading....Mike

Thursday, 20 June 2013

MFG Costing to Engineering App

This week I'm covering a new app in the PLM 360 App Store, the MFG Costing to Engineering app. The Costing to Engineering app helps with one of the most important phases of your product design. The costing, quote, order and engineering processes, use the app the track the progress at each stage and make sure that everyone is involved in the approval process.

This app consists of 5 workspaces:

Project Management: This is the top level project, all of the costing, quote, order and engineering process are managed and tracked via dynamic Gantt chart.

Stage 1: Costing Management: To track the initial product costs and review with the internal review team.

Stage 2: Quote Management: To produce the quote and submit to the customer, you can also create a bespoke print view to match your company standards and logo.

Stage 3: Order Management: Once the quote has been approved this will take you through the order entry process.

Stage 4: Engineering Management: This is the last stage and the management of the drawing process will start here.

Lets take a walk through and see how it works....

Costing Management:

1. Complete the description, customer, start date etc 

2. Based on customer spec and requirements, draft drawings and proposals are created and approved using the workflow approval process.

3. Internal costs for the new product based on the customer requests are entered in the costing tab.

4. The specification and costings need to be approved next and once this is complete a new quote management record is created automatically.
Quote Management

1. Now you need to prepare the quote for the customer, all the details have been carried over from the costing management  workspace, the project details, internal costs and also a link to the costing management record for reference. You can restrict view access to the admin section if you choose to.

2. Now you can add details to the quote grid and use the quotation workflow to approve these costs. You can even include the customer so they can approve the quote in PLM 360.

The quote is then approved by sales, project team and the customer 

You even have a print view that you can customise to match your company standards.

3. Once the quote is approved a new order management record is created automatically.

Order Management

1. As per the costing and quote processes, the description, customer and project details are carried over.  The quote value and automatically calculated profit are displayed, these can be used for the order entry process if needed. Again this view can be restricted to certain groups.

2. The order entry workflow process is then carried out and then the last stage, a new engineering management record is created automatically.

Engineering Management

1. As per the costing, quote and order processes, the description, customer and project details are carried over. The last approval process takes place and you can start to produce the component drawings and specs ready for production. You can also include the customer at this stage to make sure you have 100% approval of the design.

Project Management.

For each of the processes above you would have specified a start date. This start date is used to automatically create milestones for each process stage/approval. These can now be rolled up to the projects workspace for progress tracking.

Expanded view

Hope you get some value from this app, remember as with all the apps in the App Store you can edit, add or delete fields and configure the workflows to match you own business processes more closely if needed.

Thanks for reading.....Mike