Autodesk is launching a cloud-based PLM service that users will pay a subscription to access. The service, called Autodesk 360 Nexus, will be available from March.
PLM products and services allow manufacturers to manage the entire lifecycle of a product, from its conception through to design, manufacture and service.
Robert Kross, senior vice president of the manufacturing and industry group at Autodesk, said: “Our approach to PLM is a sharp contrast to the decades-old technology in the market today.”
Autodesk said PLM had the potential to be an expensive, complicated and time-consuming affair. Companies wanting to use PLM have to invest in software, licensing and consultants to get the system up and running and shell out again when adding further capabilities, which can mean a lengthy return on investment.
Autodesk's PLM offering aims to cut these costs by offering the service in the cloud. It hopes that this move will open up PLM to small and medium-sized businesses, who may not have had the time or money to use the process before. Autodesk also said it could improve the PLM process for larger businesses that have become frustrated by the complicated nature of traditional programmes.
Lieven Grauls, Autodesk's technical manager for northern Europe said: “You don't need a consultant to get it done, that is a big difference.” Users will likely require a few hours training and can then access the system with a username and password as there is no software to be installed. Once the user has got to grips with the programme it will be easy to configure and adapt using a drag and drop approach to connect the data without any coding required, he added.
The system will integrate with Autodesk's Vault, in-house software that manages product data, but can also be used independently. Vault will contain the detailed PDM and CAD data behind a firewall, with only light data held in the cloud.
Grauls added that the reporting tool component of the service would interest engineers. “You have a dashboard to see whether the products meet the compliances required, instead of dropping stuff into Excel sheets and then doing pie charts. This would take that work out of their hands.”
The PLM service will be available on PCs and handheld devices, including the iPad, iPhone and Android. Third party apps will be available in addition to the Autodesk service.
Research suggests that the PLM software applications market will be worth $20.5 billion by 2015.