Author Archive

Some Answers to the Question: What exactly is PTC’s Windchilll SocialLink?

When I attended the PTC/User conference and heard this announcement earlier this year, I thought it was an interesting concept. I knew it brought more social computing capabilities into product development. I heard a lot about the vision of what it would eventually become. But at that point, I had no idea exactly what capabilities it would offer. Since I was in Boston last week, I made it a point to drop by PTC and talk it over with Christian Barr, a product marketing manager for Windchill SocialLink.

The Flight Risk of GenX Engineers

To get some perspective on what the Gen X mindset looks like in a professional environment, I’m going to turn back to Tammy Erickson at the Harvard Business Review (HBR) again. Across a lot of blog posts and publications, things aren’t so mixed bag for Gen X. They’re sandwiched between two much larger (in terms of volume) generational cohorts, the Boomers and Gen Y, leading to a lot of dissatisfaction. However, they exhibit the sort of characteristics that engineering organizations need the most right now to bolster economic recovery through new product development.

The ‘Value-Add Qualifier’ Principle

How much of your day is spent adding engineering value to your development projects? Think about it for a minute. All that email. That huge list of issues you track in a spreadsheet. Running across the office with those forms because you heard the engineering director finally came out of that meeting. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of non-value added work that goes on every day in the engineering office.

General / Books

What is ‘The Goal’ for Engineering?

Besides bringing back memories of years ago, I have to admit, this book got me thinking. In the case of the plant, the goal was to be profitable. The constraints were bottlenecks in production. Alex ends up tweaking and twisting those bottlenecks to up production as well as bring in more sales at lower margins but huge volumes. So what’s the analogue in engineering?

The ‘Get It Right The First Time’ Principle

This article reviews the ‘Get It Right the First Time’ principle, where better upfront design work allows companies to avoid late disruptive problems.

The Engineering Minefield and Unplanned Work

Regardless of what word you use to describe it, engineering a new product often involves the development of new systems, materials, components or any number of other new items. Any new item will have a number of issues that, if left unresolved, will cause product level issues. And despite analysis, testing, qualification or any other type of procedure, some amount of product issues will be unresolved beyond design release. From there, they proceed downstream in the product development process.

What is the Impact of Siemens PLM’s HD Strategy on Decision Support?

Siemens PLM’s HD strategy provides stakeholders a way to visually access and navigate information in Teamcenter, Siemens’s PLM offering. For stakeholders that are not heavy PLM users and tend to avoid textual navigation of the system, this new framework provides an easier and faster way to get to information yourself. However, to utilize these capabilities, you will need to familiarize yourself with the attributes used in the PLM system and be somewhat technically savvy.

Time to Push the Alarm? The Braindrain Threat from Boomer Engineer Retirement

If there were an even distribution of engineers across age groups, then retirement of an entire generation would take away about a third of your staff. However, the saddle shape of the age employment curve means that many engineering organizations are heavily front loaded with Boomer engineers. Furthermore, the far smaller group of Gen X engineers means that there’s not a one-to-one tenured replacement for every retiring Boomer.

Is the Relationship between Engineers and Their Companies Degrading?

My friend was finishing up his week of work in the middle of a Friday afternoon when he got the call. There’s a project in dire straits. They needed him to whip up a procedure for a particular product. Could it wait until Monday? Nope, they said they needed it by end of day. They were going to pass the procedure along to one of their technical centers overseas so they could actually utilize the procedure over the weekend. No waiting until Monday.