Tech Soft 3D Blog

MBD is a Process, not a Product

Posted by Tyler Barnes on Feb 27, 2017 2:45:47 PM

In this episode we talk with Chad Jackson of Lifecyle Insights to clear up some misconceptions around model based definition (MBD) and model based enterprise (MBE).  The biggest thing to remember is that MBD and MBE isn’t a “thing” or a “product” – you can’t just say “let’s do MBD” or ask a services company “can you do MBD?”  It’s a process, and when done properly, companies can see tremendous benefits to productivity and the bottom line. 

“There's all sorts of kind of levels of maturity. But let me step back and talk about misconceptions. I think in the industry, we have talked about going drawingless for real long time. I mean, this is a concept that started even 20 years ago, is when we started talking about that idea. I think it's a good vision. I think the idea that you can jump directly from using a 2D drawing as the authoritative source that defines the design, jumping from that to a 3D model that's fully annotated and not taking steps in between. I think that's a misconception. I just don't see a lot of companies doing that. There are intermediate steps kind of in between.

Also, I think there's a misconception perhaps that the idea that you have to get to a 3D model plus an annotation is a false one as well. You need to progress as far down the path towards that to where you get value out of it as a company. While vision is good, ultimately you have to reap benefit, it has to make an impact in efficiency or hard dollars. I think that's really, really important. But in terms of progression, you start off with a drawing. You can have the model and the drawing and maybe not have them connected because you're going to need to design a mold using the 3D model. You're not going to really use a drawing to do that today. There's the concept of using associated models and drawings that you make a change in one place, it ripples to the other.

Then kind of the next level of progression is going to that model with annotations with the drawing and then without a drawing. There's multiple steps. You get to figure out where you're going to get the most value.” – Chad Jackson


“Well, my first thought when Chad was talking is that I think that he's absolutely spot on about the idea that there's a progression that you walk down. It's important I think that solutions like some of the ones that our partners develop allow you to do that. In other words, there's a reason why a lot of implementations of complex enterprise applications like ERP or PLM don't go particularly well in this because they don't have any ability to be adaptive to people wanting to progress through a series of steps where they can learn as they go, what might work best for them. I mean, I think, you sometimes don't know what you don't know until you experience something. If you have that ability to make a progression through a series of steps, you can wind up with a better solution.

We talk in the MBE context about this being one of the really cool things about 3D PDF is that you have an infinite number of ways to implement using that technology and it can go along in any one of those steps for instance. I think that the parallel with Cloud and mobile is kind of the same thing. If you're a developer and you have a desktop application and you're thinking about getting into the Cloud, you could start first by just creating a community site or something like that where you're sharing designs, people like GrabCAD have done things like that. You can create a companion mobile app to the data that you maybe are collecting and storing up on the Cloud.

Those two technologies do allow you, I think, to do that same kind of learn as you go and invest a piece at a time. It's the exact opposite of I need to implement a new ERP system. Here are five years and $10 million. Use it or die. That's just not a way to do something.” – Dave Opsah

To learn more about Chad’s research, visit LifeCycle Insights at: http://www.lifecycleinsights.com

And here are links to some specific research studies:

THE ROI OF MBD STUDY

THE MODEL BASED ENTERPRISE (MBE) STUDY

THE 3D COLLABORATION AND INTEROPERABILITY STUDY

Listen to the podcast, and let us know what you think!

To read the full podcast transcript, see below. 

read-transcript.png

Angela:

Welcome everybody to another episode Beyond 3D Podcast. We are here with a good friend of ours, special guest, Chad Jackson who is a research analyst at Lifecycle Insights. He's a thought leader and blogger providing insights on technologies that enable engineering. If you didn't know that before, you have to go check out his blog. Welcome, Chad.

Chad

Thank you. Thank you. It's good to be on here. Thanks for inviting me.

Angela:

We're super excited to have you. Then of course we have folks from Tech Soft. We have Tyler Barnes, VP of marketing. Hey, Tyler.

Tyler:

Hello.

Angela:

Dave Opsahl who is vice president of corporate development. Hey, Dave.

Dave:

Hi, everybody.

Angela:

All right. Chad, the thing that we talk to you most about is MBD and MBE. But for those who are listening who may not know what those acronyms stand for, tell us a little bit about what those are and actually take one step back and tell us a little bit about your background and how you came to focus on MBD and MBE.

Chad:

Sure. Yeah, absolutely. My background is I'm a mechanical engineer by degree. I went and worked for a software company for a good number of years that provided tools for mechanical engineers. But after that, I went to a research firm. I worked there for a while. Then back in 2010 I launched Lifecycle Insights. What I wanted to do with the company was to really focus on the technologies that enable engineers. Being an engineer today is a real challenge. There's a lot of responsibilities put on their shoulders. I really try to look out for technologies that enable them to be more efficient and productive. That's my background in the company.

Angela:

What exactly is MBD and MBE? There's like some different definitions.

Chad:

Sure.

Angela:

Why don't we try and clear up any misconceptions on what that might be. What's your definition of those two acronyms?

Chad:

Yeah, absolutely. You will find a lot of different definitions out there. But in general, they're kind of in the same direction. When you talk about MBD, which is model based definition, it's basically the idea of what gets release from engineering, is a model that has been annotated, a 3D model that has been annotated. That is meant to augment or in some cases, in some companies, even replace their traditional 2D engineering drawing. The idea there is that the 3D model itself has the geometry itself, has enough definition that it can be directly interrogated and directly repurposed and reused without a drawing which is an interesting concept because there's the opportunity, to saves all sorts of time both within engineering but also downstream when you look at everybody that uses that engineering deliverable for them to kind of consume it on the backend.

 

The other acronym that is mentioned is model based enterprise. This is the idea, and actually you'll find more definitions around that than MBD. But basically, the concept is to use that model based definition in other applications. That could be using it in owner’s manuals for visual representation. It means that you could use it to automatically create NC tool paths for machining. It means it could be used in data packages that you share with suppliers for RFP, request for proposal types of processes. I think nominally, we're kind of on the same direction around those two things. There's a lot of nuances where there's differences but in general that's what it means.

Angela:

What are some of the common misconceptions? For example, is simple 3D on a page where maybe that's the model you can manipulate, like spin around but there's no real data behind it. Is that like the very based level or does that not count yet?

Chad:

There's all sorts of kind of levels of maturity. But let me step back and talk about misconceptions. I think in the industry, we have talked about going drawingless for real long time. I mean, this is a concept that started even 20 years ago, is when we started talking about that idea. I think it's a good vision. I think the idea that you can jump directly from using a 2D drawing as the authoritative source that defines the design, jumping from that to a 3D model that's fully annotated and not taking steps in between. I think that's a misconception. I just don't see a lot of companies doing that. There are intermediate steps kind of in between.

 

Also, I think there's a misconception perhaps that the idea that you have to get to a 3D model plus an annotation is a false one as well. You need to progress as far down the path towards that to where you get value out of it as a company. While vision is good, ultimately you have to reap benefit, it has to make an impact in efficiency or hard dollars. I think that's really, really important. But in terms of progression, you start off with a drawing. You can have the model and the drawing and maybe not have them connected because you're going to need to design a mold using the 3D model. You're not going to really use a drawing to do that today. There's the concept of using associated models and drawings that you make a change in one place, it ripples to the other.

 

Then kind of the next level of progression is going to that model with annotations with the drawing and then without a drawing. There's multiple steps. You get to figure out where you're going to get the most value.

Angela:

When you talk about how even for 20 years there's talk about how eventually we'll get completely away from drawings. It almost draws a parallel in my mind of how with the advent of Cloud and mobile that everyone talks about how the desktop is dead. Tyler and Dave, we talked about this a lot internally, right? Just because you're developing solutions for the Cloud or for mobile doesn't mean that desktop goes away completely either, right? In terms of what you're seeing with customers, again Dave and Tyler, how does that resonate with you about the drawings going away or not going away and any parallels you see between, if there are parallels, between desktop and mobile as well?

Dave:

Tyler, do you want me to go first?

Tyler:

Yeah, go ahead.

Dave:

Well, my first thought when Chad was talking is that I think that he's absolutely spot on about the idea that there's a progression that you walk down. It's important I think that solutions like some of the ones that our partners develop allow you to do that. In other words, there's a reason why a lot of implementations of complex enterprise applications like ERP or PLM don't go particularly well in this because they don't have any ability to be adaptive to people wanting to progress through a series of steps where they can learn as they go, what might work best for them. I mean, I think, you sometimes don't know what you don't know until you experience something. If you have that ability to make a progression through a series of steps, you can wind up with a better solution.

 

We talk in the MBE context about this being one of the really cool things about 3D PDF is that you have an infinite number of ways to implement using that technology and it can go along in any one of those steps for instance. I think that the parallel with Cloud and mobile is kind of the same thing. If you're a developer and you have a desktop application and you're thinking about getting into the Cloud, you could start first by just creating a community site or something like that where you're sharing designs, people like GrabCAD have done things like that. You can create a companion mobile app to the data that you maybe are collecting and storing up on the Cloud.

 

Those two technologies do allow you, I think, to do that same kind of learn as you go and invest a piece at a time. It's the exact opposite of I need to implement a new ERP system. Here are five years and $10 million. Use it or die. That's just not a way to do something.

Chad

Yeah, great point.

Angela:

When it comes to model based definition or folks who are truly trying to become a model based enterprise, what are you seeing, Chad, when you talk to the different companies you talk with? They're all different sizes, right?

Angela:

Do you see that there's ... the smaller companies do it one way, bigger companies do it another? Or is it really kind of the same process for getting into it?

Chad:

No. I think there's a lot of different ways to do it and there's a right way to do it. I think, if I was to kind of overgeneralize it, the companies that don't treat this as a check in a box type of an initiative are the ones that are going to succeed and have been succeeding. What I mean by that is that when we transition from 2D CAD to 3D parametric CAD, it was ... there was training that happened, how do you build a 3D feature based model but the benefits were self-evident. It was something you could realize almost instantly. But with something like this, I mean, what you got to realize with MBD and MBE is it is a process. The reason I call it a process is any time you're involving more than one type of role in your company in some type of interaction, it's a process. It's not a procedure, it's a process.

 

That means that you have to prepare one role to create the right deliverable, engineering in this case. For every other role that is going to be involved in the process, you have to prepare them to accept a new deliverable and know what they want to do with it and know where they're going to experience benefits and how to do their job in a new way. I think there's a culture and process side that needs to be taken care of. What's fascinating to me about this is that this being an engineering type of initiative tends to be very technically focused. Does the software have this button and does it do it this way?

 

When really, technology is no longer the big challenge here. I ran a study a couple of years ago asking people to rank the challenges. The technologies used to create these types of deliverables and consume these deliverables were dead last.

Angela:

Oh really, interesting.

Chad:

Dead last. Things like ROI and culture change and process change were right there at the top. Don't treat this as a check in a box type of initiative. You got to know what benefits you're going to realize, you got to understand the process and the implications for roles. I think that's the most important thing for sure.

Tyler:

We see the same things with our customer. I think Chad made some really good points in there. One of the effective ways that we, in talking with customers that had been successful with these initiatives, is they treat it as it's a strategy. It's a business strategy that includes process change and technology and they have goals in mind in terms of what kind of benefits they want to see from that, whether it's reduced time spent on documentation, whether it's reduction in the number of emergency situations they have, figuring out why parts don't fit together, things like that. They don't approach it as, "We're going to be done with this next year. There are milestones we want to hit and we want to be doing more and more of this. There's value to this data not just in manufacturing but for all of these downstream applications."

 

You're never really quite done. If you treat it that way as it's a strategic approach to simplifying certain parts of the product development process, there are always areas where you can improve but there's also ... there are a number of benefits that you can get along the way. You're not just starting or done. You're in a kind of in a journey phase.

Angela:

It kind of sounds like this is one of the big misconceptions is that the mistake would be going to a engineering firm or maybe even a services firm saying, "I need MBD. Do you do MBD?" It doesn't work that way, right?

Speaker 1:

No.

Angela:

Like, "I need you to sell me some MBD." You said there are firms that there's a right way to do it and maybe a wrong way or maybe the hard way, right?

Chad:

Yeah.

Angela:

What would be your advice on if someone was looking to start this process? What's the right way to get started? Is it looking at across the company and saying, "Where do we start to implement this and then how?" How would you advise someone to get started on that?

Chad:

Well, for me, I think it's important to identify kind of two phases. One is the output out of engineering, what is your current deliverable, what is going to be your new deliverable. Then the input for other processes. There's kind of three categories in my mind. One is reviewing applications of MBD which is could be a supplier put in together a bid or assessing serviceability. Then you have derivative applications of MBD which is creating NC tool paths, creating CMM tool paths. Then a third kind of application areas, repurposing. You're taking that model and using it in manufacturing instructions or owners manuals and kind of visually you're reusing it.

 

You need to both plan out what your current and new deliverable coming out of engineering and what does the current and new process look like in one of those three areas. I'll suggest you start with one and also identify the benefit you want to achieve. If you're going to be reusing MBD coming out of engineering for say a service procedure instruction, that should help you increase your first-time resolution rate on service calls. If you're going to be using it for supplier data packages that should increase their accuracy quote and hopefully lower the quote. You need to understand what the benefit is going to be to the organization, hopefully in hard dollars. You need to understand the input and the output. That's how I would approach it.

Angela

Do you have just for our listeners and we can include in the show notes, do you have some research papers that sort of set the baseline for here's what MBD is and how you can get started and then even some case studies of here are some companies that have seen some major transformations in their business so they've saved time, cost and it's affected their bottom line?

Angela:

Maybe we can include some links to those in our notes for our listeners.

Chad:

Yeah, absolutely. I have some research reports and eBooks that talk exactly to that. But actually, in two days, we're launching the survey for a new MBD study and it focuses on-

Chad:

Oh, cool.

Chad:

Yeah, it focuses on the ROI of MBD. It looks specifically at how people using MBD in the company and we're correlating that to different types of benefits, both qualified like, "Hey, we're reducing the number of ECOs and quantified such as reducing the amount of times engineers spend on engineering documentation." That's in two days. The survey will be open through the middle of September and then we're going to be talking about results at the 3D CIC event in Colorado.

 

That's going to be the first kind of sneak peak of the findings.

Angela:

Very cool. Well, I'm not sure if this podcast will air ... it will probably air after you've closed the survey but I think once the results are published, we'd love to include a link to that as well.

Chad:

Yeah, that would be great.

Angela:

Perhaps your presentation at the ... What's the acronym again? CIC?

Chad:

Yeah, collaboration interoperability conference. It's a mouthful, it's a mouthful.

Angela:

I'm just having acronym overload today. I think I have them all confused. But one other thing I wanted to touch on that kind of goes back to misconceptions before we wrap this call up, goes back to some research that you're working on. That's how engineers are spending their time and they don't just sit on their desk all day and design. Can you talk a little bit about that because I think that's an important ... it's also important from a cultural standpoint to understand people's roles and what people do and expectations and communications so I think that's a big part of it.

Chad:

Yeah, absolutely. The study you're talking about is the hardware design engineer survey or study that I conducted in 2015. Basically, what I wanted to understand is how are engineers spending their time with technologies that they're using, what their responsibilities look like. There were two fascinating findings for me. In one question I asked, I had a bank of responsibilities, in total there were 12, and on average, hardware engineers have 7.3. one of those, just one is documenting their designs. Other ones are things like making design decisions, predicting performance, managing projects, all that type of stuff. Engineers do that. This is why, kind of my mandate is to go out there to look at technologies that help engineers because these folks are super duper busy. They're overloaded. That's one issue.

 

The other issue that I looked at, how frequently or how often are you at different locations. For example, regularly and occasionally, 99% say they're at their desk. But 83% stated they're regularly and occasionally in companies' conference rooms. 71% in the companies' production environment, so on a shop floor. 24% in the supplier’s office and 31% in the customer’s office. The reality today is that they do spend a lot of time at the desk and they can be productive there. But they are also running around all these different locations as well. When you look at adopting new initiatives or strategies to improve engineering and design productivity, you got to take that into account. You got to find a way to make them more productive on the go.

Angela:

Tyler and Dave, I'm curious as you work with customers when we talk about the culture change and the mindset change, what's been your experience with customers as they go through that change? I'm guessing everybody has a bit of a different experience, some embrace it, some resist it. For those that embrace it, what seems to the clincher that gets them to embrace it? Is it an age thing? Is it, I don't know, I don't know, what could it be?

Dave:

For me, it's leadership driven. I think in order for what Chad has been talking about to actually take place, there has to be a conversation within the company about why are we doing this, what we expect. Not from the specific pick the one thing to do it that Chad was talking about but before you even start on it, if you don't have that kind of general support about why we're even going into that first one, and that conversation hasn't taken place then people don't have a way of prioritizing how they support it and how they put it into practice. I think that is really, really important. Where it's been successful, that's what you see. You got that leadership there. At least that's my experience, anyway.

Angela:

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. It comes from the top down. Because even if you have people at the bottom or in the lower levels that believe in it, if your leadership doesn't buy into it and doesn't approve it, doesn't empower you to move forward with it, then it doesn't go anywhere. That's a great point.

Dave:

But it's not a one-time thing either. I think that's the other thing is that it's not something you speechify about, it's something that you actually ... I use the world leadership really deliberately, you have to actually own the fact that you're going to continue to drive this initiative over time because people are going to want to see that.

Angela:

Right. Well, we have come up on our time. But given the upcoming research that you've got going on, Chad, and there's just so much else to talk about, we hope that you'll join us again on another episode.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that would be great.

Angela:

But before you go, we do have one last question that we like to our guests and that is if there's one final piece of advice or call to action that you'd like to leave with our listeners, what would that be?

Chad:

On MBD, right?

Angela:

Yeah.

Chad:

I think that my one piece of advice is to not treat it like a checkbox initiative because that really is when you can get into the most trouble. I wish it was, by the way. I really wish it was easy.

Angela:

The easy button, right? Like the Staples easy button like MBD button.

Chad:

Yeah, exactly. Exactly. You really do, like Dave said, you need some executive buy-in, sponsorship. You need to understand the implication for the roles. You need to understand how your processes are going to change and you need to understand the benefit that you're going to realize. Stay focused. I mean, don't move on to another phase until you've realized that. That would be my takeaway.

Angela:

I would say also be patient, right?

Chad:

Yes.

Angela:

It doesn't happen overnight or within a week. You got to stick with it, right?

Chad:

Yeah, exactly. That's a great point.

Angela:

Well, I think that's a great piece of advice. Like I said, we'll include some links to your research in our show notes so that if our listeners want to know more, they can either read the research itself or go to your website and poke around and see what they can find. I'll even reach out to you directly if they have some questions. Thank you so much for joining us, Chad. It's been really insightful. I think we covered some good stuff here.

Chad:

Yeah. Thanks for having me. This is always great. I love these conversations.

Angela:

Well, hope to have you on again. Tyler and Dave, as always, thank you for your time.

Topics: MBE, MBD