Reflections on the 2020 PTC/USER Winter Forum

PTC User Winter Forum Jan 22-24, 2019The annual PTC/USER Technical Community Winter Open Forum took place January 28-30, 2020 in sunny Scottsdale, AZ. No offense Boston, but I’ll take Scottsdale in January any day over Beantown. This event just keeps getting better with this year’s attendance reaching a whopping 460 including sponsors and PTC employees! The weather of course was much better than my hometown in Pennsylvania, but the conversation, food and sessions were even better.

Anyone who is involved or has been involved in Model-Based Definition (MBD) or Model-Based Enterprise (MBE) initiatives knows how hard implementation can be. One thing I know for certain is that MBD and MBE goals cannot be achieved without the help of a “community” of like-minded individuals sharing their successes and failures. What makes it even better is that so many of the attendees’ passion is CAD, which is what makes this one of my favorite events of the year.

The event kicked off with the Opening Session & CAD and PLM Futures with David Martin. As someone who spent years as a CAD administrator for literally thousands of CAD users, David’s session was very relatable and to be honest, great therapy. What followed was 3 days of non-stop discussion, presentations, collaboration and feedback sessions that provided immediate benefit because we all knew more when we left than we did when we arrived.

Ryan Gelotte standing on stage flanked by 2 large monitors displaying MBD/MBE power point presentation in meeting room

Ryan Gelotte, MBE Technical Committee Chair presents challenges of annotating patterns of features at PTC/USER 2020.

But the best part of this event is the sessions where PTC Product Managers, Creo experts (users and administrators) from many companies representing several industries and the third party software vendors provided solutions built on top of the Creo platform or that complement it. When you get those 3 demographics together amazing things happen. PTC gets direct interpersonal feedback from some very knowledgeable users on how their software can be improved. On the flip side, PTC’s customers gain early insights into what PTC is working on for future releases and are given a platform to provide their input. And then there are the niche PTC customer needs that don’t fall into PTC’s roadmaps or strategies. To fill those often very large gaps, there are many PTC partner companies, PTC/USER Sponsors, and consultants that offer some pretty awesome tools to fill in those gaps.

From an MBD/MBE perspective, whether you believe in it or not…it is coming and coming fast. Regardless of which CAD or PLM platform your company uses one thing is for certain: you cannot achieve MBD/MBE implementation alone. I get it though. I’ve been a PTC Pro/ENGINEER and Creo expert for coming up on 25 years. I used to think it shouldn’t be called Pro/E, but rather Pro/ME. But the challenges of MBD and MBE are not just software challenges, they are cultural change challenges. Being an expert with the tool and how the tool is used within the context of your organization will only get you so far. In order to achieve success in transforming a company to a Model Based Enterprise, it is necessary to understand the context of how MBD affects the entire extended enterprise, including your supply chain. Any enterprise process that has used a 2D drawing as input at a minimum needs to be modernized to be come a Model-Based process. In many cases, an entirely new Model-Based process needs to be implemented. And the ONLY way to do this is to learn and grow through the experience of others further along on the learning continuum.

If your responsibilities involved anything related to CAD/CAM/CAE/PLM, I strongly encourage you to seek out and and become involved in user groups such as PTC/USER. If you consider yourself a change agent and a community such as PTC/USER is lacking in your area (geographically and/or expertise), step up and start one yourself or find someone to help you with it. Events like this are so easy to justify. We’ve all encountered those situations where you fight for days, weeks, even months or years to get the capabilities you need to help your company achieve their goals. At events like this, you might just meet that one person that has known how to do it all along. Or maybe you will catch the attention of the Product Manager responsible for the application you are having difficulty with and they never knew about your issue. It may be the software provider just can’t help you, but more than likely there is a sponsor or third-party vendor who can help advance your objectives.

Lush green grass, bushes, palm trees and flowers in Scottsdale AZIn short, what makes this event so great is that problems are solved, solutions are discovered or improved, and we all have a great time learning from each other. Being able to do this all in a place as nice as Scottsdale makes it that much sweeter. So, if you are a PTC customer, I strongly suggest you consider joining us next January 2021 when PTC/USER meets in San Diego!

If you have additional questions, thoughts, or need help with implementing your MBD/MBE objectives please reach out: ryan@action-engineering.com.

Ryan Gelotte
Action Engineering CTO
MBE Technical Committee Chair, PTC/USER

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