Autodesk CTO, Jeff Kowalski, provided the opening part of the #au2013 keynote presentation by declaring that "The answer is outside." Autodesk CEO, Carl Bass, continued the conversation by sharing examples of customers who have looked outside and lived to tell about it.
How important is going outside? 10 years from now, I guarantee when you look back on your career, your biggest successes will have come from going outside. I'd like to take some time today to share a few stories about some of our customers, and how they've gone outside to transform their projects and their businesses.
The first up is a great story about 2 brothers that were looking to fuel their passion for design and ended up with a new business. Matt Harris is an industrial designer. His brother Jonathon is a hot-shot web engineer. Last year they heard about Fusion 360, and they decided to try it out. As they were learning Fusion 360, they saw an opportunity to combine that technology with digital manufacturing to pursue two of their passions: mass customization and electric guitars. So they started a new American manufacturing company called Orphanage Guitars.
- Now for those of you who haven't heard about Fusion 360 — it is the first cloud-based 3D modeler that combines industrial and mechanical design. It gave Matt the freedom to easily shape the natural form of the tops.
- To do much of the rest of the guitar, he just dropped in off-the-shelf components.
- To fabricate the guitars, he used a computer-controlled desktop ShopBot or CNC router. Taking the model straight from Fusion 360, he could machine it quickly and reliably which is the key to mass customization.
To make their guitars truly custom, they included their customers in the process, So I thought I'd try it for myself. For me to participate, Matt just invited me to his Fusion 360 project. The coolest thing was that I was manipulating the actual model data, so I had total control of what I wanted.
Thank you, Matt and Jonathan!
Now let's go from custom-made guitars to bad ass sports cars. This is the story of one of the most revered brands in the automotive world. They've created some of the most inspiring cars ever, and they just introduced the greatest car in their proud 100-year history. Please let me introduce the 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish. Wow, what a beautiful car (see image above). This is the strongest connection between original design concept and final production car that Aston Martin has ever realized.
When I visited Aston Martin earlier this year, I expected to walk into a stuffy British car company. Boy, was I wrong. They are on the eve of their 100 year anniversary, but they were reinventing the way they bring cars to market. I'd like to give you a behind the scenes look at how Aston Martin designed this car:
- The whole process started with the lead designer capturing his vision in some concept sketches using Sketch Book Pro which started the process off digitally.
- Next, a digital sculptor used Alias Studio to create a 3D concept model based on these sketches.
- Once the design has taken shape, they CNC a clay model. It's funny: even with a digital workflow like this, sometimes you need to experience the design in the real world to make sure it's right. Even if these do cost half a million dollars each.
- Once they've machined the clay model, they hand-sculpt it to create the next design iteration. This is as analog as it gets, but it's still an integrated part of the workflow, because when the clay model is done, they laser scan it, and bring it back into Alias.
- The next stage is creating class-A production surfaces from the concept model, and because they're still doing this work in Alias, they're still using the same model,
Aston Martin wants to extend what they have learned from the Vanquish to their other cars like the DB 9.
Thanks to this new integrated workflow, Aston Martin has been able to build the best cars they've ever made and get them to market in record time. This is a great example of a company that looked outside its traditional way of doing things to make something as beautiful and powerful as sports cars.
Now I'd like to talk about another interesting new workflow. Two years ago here on AU main stage, I announced our new PLM 360 platform. It's the world's first cloud-based PLM solution. Being in the cloud means that it's "instantly on" and natively mobile. I'd like to introduce you to a company that has used PLM 360 to streamline their operations, so they can focus more on innovation.
Porex makes plastics that vent, filter, or wick. They're one of those companies that you might not know about, but their products are all around us. They make everything from light reflectors on the International Space Station to vents for the batteries and headlights on the Vanquish.
They manufacture more than 30 million components every day, and they recently implemented our PLM 360 solution. It took Porex just 4 months to get PLM 360 up and running from the day they signed their PO. That's impressive compared to the 18 months or more it usually takes to implement traditional PLM systems. Historically, Porex engineers spent more than 10% of their time searching for data and component information. They were using an unstructured process, with 15 incompatible systems, and in many cases they were still using paper. With the new system, their research is taking seconds instead of hours.
Another problem Porex had was creating product documentation which is a big deal when you're manufacturing a thousand SKUs every year. It used to take them 3 hours to build a report on performance metrics for any given product. That's 3,000 hours a year doing documentation. Today each report only takes 45 seconds. In the 2 months since Porex launched PLM 360, they have already freed up more than 10% of their engineering resources. I encourage you to check out PLM 360 if you want an easy alternative outside of traditional PLM.
AMP'D Gear and Monkey Likes Shiny
The next story I want to share with you starts with a woman named Katherine Crawford. She was injured during live fire training with the 101st Airborn and ended up losing her lower leg. Katherine is an avid nature photographer and spends a lot of time outdoors, so she needed a custom prosthetic leg. She needed a dream team that could design and fabricate it.
Well, the dream team is here: Bill Spracher is the lead designer and engineer at AMP'D Gear. Jeff Tiedekin is a master fabricator and hydraulics designer at Monkey Likes Shiny. Their challenge was to design a prosthetic leg that would work in a variety of outdoor conditions, and they had to do the project quickly and cheaply because they were on a 4-week schedule and a tight budget.
- The first step was for Bill to engineer the critical prosthetic ankle.
- Now, Bill and Jeff had never worked together before, and they lived hundreds of miles apart. They decided to use Autodesk 360 as their collaboration tool so that Jeff could keep up with Bill's work as it evolved.
- When Jeff needed to give specific feedback, he could interact with the actual model data which was always available to him. Here's what Bill said about working in Autodesk 360: "It's like Facebook for engineers. The entire team stays instantly updated via email and Autodesk 360 notifications, and everyone can see who's working on what and provide feedback in real-time. This is the way collaboration should be."
- When they needed to get Katherine's input, she could easily connect to the project using the Autodesk 360 Mobile App on her iPad, and the cool thing is, nobody had to take time to prepare this model for her; it was automatically there.
- Now that the design was done, they had to get it machined, and this is where CAM 360 came in. CAM 360 is our newest CAM tool, and the world's first and only cloud-based CAM platform, with a much more streamlined workflow than traditional CAM packages. At one point Jeff realized that the team had designed a part that couldn't be machined. So he changed the design, quickly updated the CAM, and he was back to machining in minutes. I love that the machinist was able to not only bring a really clever solution to the design, but that the change didn't completely derail the project.
The project ended up being a great success, and thanks to her custom-engineered leg, Katherine is back to enjoying the outdoors again.
Denver International Airport
Now we turn to a really complex project that shows us the power of going outside our current toolset. Denver International Airport is the 5th busiest airport in the US and the biggest source of revenue for the state of Colorado. Right now they're working on a $544 million hotel and transit center that is part of a $1.5 Billion master plan. This is a huge and complex project that includes:
- a big hotel,
- a rail station, and
- over a million cubic feet of earthwork excavation.
To handle all of this complexity, the Denver Airport team has been using BIM for the past 2 years to develop, share, and coordinate data for the project. Generally speaking, things were going well: construction was proceeding according to plan, and they were meeting their timelines and hitting their goals. That's why I'm especially excited to tell you about how this team went outside their existing toolset to see how they could do even better. Here's what they did:
- First, they used a new product of ours called BIM 360 Glue. It's a cloud-based collaboration tool that gives you access to project information anytime, anywhere. In the past the team at Denver International had to upload, download, and clash their models in a manual fashion for a group coordination meeting every Friday. But now, using BIM 360 in the cloud, they can clash individual models across disciplines and make their changes without having to put all the files onto a single physical machine. This new workflow is adding up to thousands of hours saved over the course of the project.
- They're also using BIM 360 Field. It's a cloud-based construction management tool that brings field data into the hands of the people who need it most. The contractors are using this tool to solve problems out on the job site, in real time. This makes them more effective because now they can see the relevant information when they're standing right there, looking at the problem. They have a BIM 360 Dashboard that the Superintendent uses to track and measure issues — a process that saves them 2 hours for every issue, and which has saved them more than a thousand person hours so far.
- They're also using another new product — Autodesk InfraWorks — to generate 3D models of infrastructure designs quickly, and in the context of the existing environment. For example, recently they had to evaluate 4 different design options for a new fire station. In the past, they would do this with 2D maps, paper sketches, and lots of back and forth across several meetings over the course of 2 to 3 weeks. But, by using InfraWorks, they were able to review and modify all 4 site designs and pick the best one in just one hour.
- The last cool technology they're using is Autodesk ReCap — a reality capture tool for point cloud and image-based 3D modeling. At the start of the project, the team received about 10,000 CAD drawings, many of which were outdated. So they went straight to the source, to bring the real world into the digital world, using reality capture. The BIM manager on the project recently told us that these ReCap Point Clouds are the only thing that the people on the project can really trust. Plus, this process saved them thousands of hours of boring manual work creating as-builts.
By looking outside of their traditional tools and data sets, the Denver International Airport team is on track to accomplish a major milestone in their 15-year master plan, and they've been working is setting the standard for the rest of the project.
Earlier today Jeff talked about the power of going outside the boundaries of what other people think is possible. Now I want to talk about a company that has done just that by going outside the traditional ways of doing simulation. BioLite is an engineering design shop in Brooklyn. BioLite makes one product: portable stoves. They figured out how to make a wood burning stove that burns as clean as propane. They got rid of 95% of the smoke, and you can charge a cell phone with it. In developing countries, and women are no longer dying from lung damage because men are buying it to charge their phones.
Now since they're such a small shop, BioLite needs to be creative with their publicity. So this year, they're designing an enormous BioLite stove that will power a public Christmas tree in Brooklyn, but the problem was that they didn't have enough time to build a bunch of prototypes, and they had to get this right the first time or they were going to be facing an angry Brooklyn mob. So how did they do it?
- They did it using the world's only born-in-the-cloud simulation solution. It's called Sim 360, and it lets you do simulation in the cloud at a tiny fraction of the cost of traditional simulation software.
- To pull this whole thing off, they needed to scale their design up to produce 500 times as much power as one of their normal production stoves, but would just making it bigger actually give them more power?
- Using SIM 360, they hit their power generation target with only a couple of design iterations, and no real-world prototypes. Their final design is a monster stove that will generate 500 times as much electricity as their small stoves — but with a fire that's only about 50 times as big.
I'm excited to hear how it goes, and I know that all of Brooklyn will be thrilled to see the results of their hard work in two weeks when they light that big tree.
Bot & Dolly
Today I've been talking about going outside to find your competitive edge, and to innovate, and there are few companies I've seen that are doing this as well as our next guests. They run a company in San Francisco called Bot & Dolly. Now these folks love two things in life: robots, and movies. A while back, they combined these two passions to reinvent cinematography. They started by basically putting a camera on the end of an industrial robot arm that they bought on EBay, but they found the traditional robotics too difficult to deal with. The software didn't give them the precise motion control they needed, and it was way too hard to program the complex moves they were trying to capture. So they went outside of the traditional approach and invented a new workflow built around Maya. Now they can animate the robots in real life, the way artists animate digital movie characters.
Bot & Dolly's new Maya-based workflow is a breakthrough innovation in a couple of ways:
First, it gives them complete control over the robot's motion, in both time and space. That's how they shot the breakthrough film Gravity.
Using robots, they coordinated cameras, lights, and props moving around the actors, since moving the actors to simulate zero G would have made them all sick.
This new workflow also allowed them to make an amazing projection-mapped short film called Box.
Box demonstrates how easily Bot & Dolly can sync-up the robot to anything else they want to animate: like other robots, digital characters, and post-production elements.
The people and teams I've talked about today have all gone outside, whether in terms of
- their tools,
- the people they collaborate with,
- the work they do, or
- their sources of insight,
and that outside mindset is helping propel them and their companies into the future, well ahead of their competition. Before I wrap up, I just want to step back and reflect on the last few years.
Three years ago, we started talking to you about cloud, social, and mobile computing and how it was going to enhance what we did on our desktops. This morning I've told the stories of people who are augmenting their tried and tested tools with new ones — people who are trying new and different things. People who are embracing new technology to have greater creative control and better commercial success. In looking at all the new tools we've built for you, there are two pieces of technology that I think you should make sure you see while you're here at AU.
The first is Autodesk 360. We built it to help you organize your projects and your data and allow everyone working together on projects to be more informed. Autodesk 360 puts the project at the center, connecting the people, data, and activities. Autodesk 360 organizes and provides access to all project information, not just design data, and not just data from Autodesk tools. Autodesk 360 offers a get new user experience, bringing this information to all project team members (even people with shovels) on any device, at any time. You would be well-served to learn more about Autodesk 360.
The second new technology I wanted to talk about is computational design. I've been fascinated with the idea and think it's an important part of the way we will all design in the future. For the last few years at AU we've talked about it, but we really didn't have a working tool. Now we have Dynamo. It's an open source framework that can run on any platform. We've built a version that runs on Revit, and one of you has already taken it and made it run on Inventor, but more importantly than what it runs on, is what it allows you to do. It's a pretty amazing tool and I think in many ways it foreshadows the future of design.
So take a look at Autodesk 360 and Dynamo while you're here at AU. I'm super excited about all of the things we've brought together for this week. It's going to be another amazing AU this year. Have a great time!
Thanks to Carl and the Corporate Strategy & Engagement team, particularly Maurice Conti, that developed the script that I am quoting above.
Looking outside is alive at AU.