By Anthony J. Lockwood
Dear Desktop Engineering Reader:
Often articles and white papers on data interoperability fall into one of three broad categories: a low-level ad in case study form, a high-level look at the complexities of translating a model from one MCAD platform to another, or a management-level discussion on the importance of data interoperability in a complex engineering organization. Today’s Check It Out white paper from Neil McPhater at engineering IT software provider AVEVA is different.
Aptly titled “Interoperability,” McPhater’s 12-page PDF argues his case for IT-enabled enterprise-wide data interoperability infrastructure by melding the high-level business imperatives with mid-level technological arguments. Don’t take “mid-level” the wrong way. McPhater discusses, for example, the technological role and significance of a number of data translation standards but eschews getting bogged down in the minutia of, say, ISO 15926 or the mind-numbing algorithmic gyrations required to transform non-manifold geometry into a fully interoperable file for a different CAD system.
McPhater spans the A-to-Z of data interoperability from the current state-of-art to technological problems to business value, organizational culture, and enterprise-wide interoperability infrastructures. He never papers over the technological complexities of interoperability, nor does he cheerlead the business value. He knows that scanned data has a collaborative relationship with business processes and the value chain as well as your CAD platform or rapid prototyping system, and he knows that IT-enabled enterprise-wide data interoperability requires a well-thought out strategy and lots of hard work.
In a particularly strong discussion worth the read alone, McPhater focuses his attention on the macro economics that drive interoperability. Whereas most writers would use this as their big chance to market their products, McPhater instead pulls observations from Tom Friedman’s “The World is Flat” and the history of the UK rail system to draw parallels between today’s emerging technology and business trends and history’s lessons to demonstrate that now is the time to act for success.
AVEVA is widely recognized as one of the world’s leading IT software providers for the plant, power, and marine industries. McPhater’s white paper, while loosely based in that world, is fully applicable to all design, engineering, and manufacturing industries. McPhater has created one of those rare white papers that is a compelling read for both business and engineering management. Anyone striving to make the case for a data interoperability initiative at her or his company will find this paper a highly useful resource. Check it out.
Thanks, Pal — Lockwood
Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering Magazine