Is There a Better Way to Manage Product Development Projects?

By Neno
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The last three decades have seen an explosion in project management software tools and certifications for project management methodologies.  Terms like agile, resource management, critical path analysis, risk mitigation, etc. are now commonplace throughout the corporate world.  However, has all of this attention to the project management discipline resulted in product development executing as planned?  For too many companies, the answer is still a resounding “No.”

A recent study by (“Product Development and Project Management Tools,” December 17, 2015) indicates that there is a significant gap between how manufacturing companies value specific aspects of their project execution and how they judge their performance.  Specifically, the study looked at 4 main aspects of managing product development projects:

  • Executing the simultaneous launch of multiple variants of a product
  • Understanding how requirement changes affect a project’s schedule and resources
  • Obtaining accurate and consistent project task updates with proof of completion
  • Identifying product development issues that are causing project delays

Across all industries, survey respondents judged their abilities in each of these project management activities to be significantly less than their importance for executing a project successfully.  However, it was found that if a respondent combined their project management methodologies with a web-based Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solution, they judged their performance to be significantly higher.  In order to address these 4 challenging aspects of product development projects, it was concluded that a PLM solution with embedded project management can uniquely provide the following operational best practices:

  1. Full alignment between projects and the product portfolio in order to leverage common technology platforms and launch products to market faster.
  2. Coordination of a project’s schedule and resources with its scope as defined by requirements and development constraints in order to meet market expectations.
  3. Automatic updates of project tasks as development work are completed to have a real-time understanding of project status and progress.
  4. Mitigating project risks based upon the real-time status of product development – designs, change orders, defects, etc. – in order to stay on schedule and within budget.

Each of these project management best practices are explored in more detail in a white paper available through Dassault Systèmes.  Adopting a PLM system with a deliverables-based project management approach may find some organizational resistance due to a bias towards standalone project management tools.  There will be pressure to pursue solutions with a lengthy list of advanced project management capabilities.  While there is a baseline that a solution must provide, there are diminishing returns from the most advanced capabilities.  Do not place excessive priority on these seldom used capabilities at the expense of fully realizing the best practices discussed in this white paper.  Instead, stay focused on the unique value provided by a PLM system with embedded project management.

Download the Whitepaper now!

How should autonomous vehicles handle privacy?

By Catherine
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By Catherine Bolgar

The development of autonomous vehicles raises a host of questions about data collection. Some of the issues may arrive as vehicles incorporate more automated systems and become connected to each other and to infrastructure—before they are fully autonomous. Here are some questions likely to arise.


What kind of data might be gathered about vehicles’ movements? By whom?

Fleet operators would likely have some data on their customers, just as the current ride-sharing services already do, says Kara M. Kockelman, professor of engineering at the University of Texas-Austin. “If I order a car, I will have to have a credit card on file for trip charges,” she says. “People already are giving that information up.”

Worries about unauthorized credit-card data replication would be the same as for current car services.

Insurers may want to collect or have access to data to establish liability in case of a crash, to determine weather or road conditions or whether the technology malfunctioned. California law requires autonomous vehicle makers to have a way to capture and store sensor data for at least 30 seconds before a collision and to keep it for at least three years after an incident.

California also requires that autonomous car makers disclose to buyers what information is collected by the technology on the vehicle, although it doesn’t specify whether the data would be gathered by the manufacturers, government agencies or private companies, or a combination.

For example, “location data, such as the day and time, and which road you’re driving on, would be valuable for transportation planning and understanding where the traffic is,” says Frank Douma, director of the state and local policy program at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

A company collecting the data might want to sell it – already a common practice. “People are probably clicking through consent agreements far too quickly and don’t know if the company will share or sell the information,” Mr. Douma says.

People are putting their information on the open market without realizing it.”

Theoretically, home thieves could tap the data to monitor when occupants have left, but the experts say that’s probably more complicated than what burglars do now, which is just watch target houses in person.

Autonomous vehicles will use many kinds of sensors and technology, such as cameras, radar, LIDAR and GPS. Regulators may allow a vehicle’s GPS to keep track of itself but not share it with anybody, or to change identifiers, to preserve anonymity, Prof. Kockelman says.

The technology for connecting vehicles to each other, called connected car or dedicated short-range connection (DSRC), is under review by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). DSRC would use a bandwidth exclusively reserved for vehicle-to-vehicle communication.

DSRC technology “has built into it anonymization of information,” Prof. Kockelman says. “One vehicle will transmit to other vehicles its speed or whether the brakes go on, but it won’t identify itself as a particular vehicle owned by a particular person.”


Will autonomous vehicles be safe from hackers?

While autonomous vehicles are expected to be safer than human drivers, cybersecurity is a concern, as demonstrated by hackers who already have taken control of cars through existing connected systems.

“DSRC is important because it’s much more privacy-protected and secure than if the data were sent over the Internet,” says Dorothy Glancy, law professor at Santa Clara University School of Law in California. “It’s a dedicated network, a closed Internet of vehicles instead of the Internet of Things. That’s the debate right now: whether everything should be connected to everything else.”

Global Automakers, a worldwide industry group, created an Information Sharing and Analysis Center to assess cybersecurity in vehicle electronics. In addition, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association has agreed on secure principles of data protection for connected vehicles and services.


Who will update the maps?

One of the ways autonomous vehicles know where to go is through digital maps. It still isn’t known whether maps will be updated in real time—the way GPS applications currently readjust routes according to traffic conditions or construction work—or hourly or daily, or a combination.

A missed update could theoretically send an autonomous car into a construction zone, though some autonomous vehicles already are able to handle hand signals and flashing arrow signs. The bigger risk is likely to be bad weather conditions, such as snow, that cover lines on the road.

A consortium of European car makers acquired a digital map company that uses wireless transmissions to and from vehicles for updates. Other companies also have advanced mapping capabilities, protected by patents and trade secrets.

“Policymakers want these companies to get together and pool their information. In fact the very first item in the new ‘Federal Automated Vehicles Policy’ Vehicle Safety Assessment is ‘Data Recording and Sharing,’” Prof. Glancy says. “One of the features of the NHTSA guidance is for vehicle manufacturers to share vehicle performance data. Moreover, there’s no reason why you have to have two or three companies collecting the same information on the same roads. You want the most accurate and the most timely for all autonomous vehicles. Will that be a public function? Will it be done by municipalities or states? Will there be sharing across state lines? Who will hold the pool of mapping data?”

Like the autonomous vehicles themselves, answers to these questions remain largely a work in progress. Many stakeholders are working hard to enable the answers, especially on the technology that will connect autonomous cars with infrastructure and make mobility far safer.


Catherine Bolgar is a former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal Europe, now working as a freelance writer and editor with WSJ. Custom Studios in EMEA. For more from Catherine Bolgar, along with other industry experts, join the Future Realities discussion on LinkedIn.

Photos courtesy of iStock

Visualizing 3D Design with Ease

By Alyssa
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Designers have been working in 3D software for years, generally reviewing their work on a 2D computer screen.  Even as larger monitors were produced, there were limits to how well a product could be viewed on a flat surface; not all product elements could be seen enough to ensure issues were caught early – critical since that’s when it is a lot less expensive to make changes.

Some large, well-funded companies developed immersive CAVEs (Cave Automatic Virtual Environment): virtual reality environments consisting of a cube-shaped room in which the walls, floors and ceilings are projection screens.  Donning a VR headset, users can interact aided by devices such as wands, joysticks or data gloves.

But not everyone can afford to build a CAVE, and even those that can are limited by the expense of the headsets and by the requirement that users be present at the facility in which the CAVE is located.

In 2016, a new solution for 3D design review emerged: low-cost head mounted devices, or HMDs. This development is opening up an entirely new age of design.  Now, many more designers and engineers – regardless of where in the world they are – can immerse themselves in a design and experience it in a way that makes any issues much more evident.  This saves time and money because changes can be made before the physical product is built.

Check out the latest issue of Compass for an article entitled “Product Design Enters a New Reality.”  You’ll discover examples of how organizations like Embraer and NASA are leveraging this immersive virtuality (iV) technology, and how they expect it to improve their designs and the processes behind them, as different teams can collaborate more easily and see – and resolve – issues in less time.


Images © Embraer and © HTC

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