Jennifer Herron, CEO of Action Engineering, interviewed Stephen Collins, CEO of Anark Corporation, for this featured blog about 3D CAD collaboration and interoperability. Action Engineering appreciates Anark’s generous support as a Signature Sponsor of the 2017 3D Collaboration & Interoperability Congress + Quality Information Framework Summit, being held in Golden, Colorado on October 2-6, 2017.
Anark: Connecting the Digital Thread – Delivering the Right Data to the Right Place at the Right Time
Anark enables its customers to combine critical CAD, PLM, and ERP data to generate fit-for-purpose technical content and documentation to support engineering release, supply chain, manufacturing, inspection, and field service operations for use throughout the extended enterprise and supply chain.
Anark Core and MBEWeb enable manufacturers to communicate and collaborate more effectively, resulting in higher quality products, accelerated product release cycles, and reduced scrap and material waste – driving substantial cost savings for OEMs and suppliers.
Stephen Collins, CEO, Anark Corporation
Stephen Collins is a 20+ year IT industry veteran with an extensive background in 3D visualization, Model-Based Enterprise, and PLM software and solutions. He is an experienced operator with strong sales process, marketing, business development, technology licensing, and equity financing experience.
Stephen has helped guide Anark through its evolution from innovative 3D web visualization and digital media technology developer to leading provider of automated Model-Based Enterprise, Visual Collaboration, and Digital Thread enabling solutions that allow industry leading manufacturers to unlock the full value of their mission critical engineering and manufacturing data with advanced downstream visual communication and collaboration applications.
He has also led the company’s financing efforts to successfully raise institutional, corporate, and angel equity capital to scale Anark into a strong, profitable, high-growth software company serving leading enterprise manufacturers on a global scale.
Stephen enjoys working with passionate entrepreneurs with great ideas, and he serves on multiple boards and advisory boards of both for-profit and non-profit organizations, including his role as a founding board member for the 3D PDF Consortium.
Prior to his current role as co-founder and CEO of Anark Corporation, Stephen worked for market leaders such as Xerox and MicroAge, where he consistently exceeded sales performance goals and company expectations. Stephen earned his BA from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where he majored in History and minored in Marketing.
JENNIFER HERRON: As you know, the ability for enterprises to use and re-use their CAD is at the very heart of 3D CIC. How does Anark fit into 3D CAD collaboration and interoperability?
STEPHEN COLLINS: Anark Core and MBEWeb were designed to empower more effective communication and collaboration for OEMs and their suppliers who have realized that transforming their engineering design, manufacturing, and operational data into role-specific “data mashup,” provides more useful, in-context information for downstream use and consumption.
Complete, high-fidelity 3D CAD format support, powerful and intuitive collaboration capabilities, as well as support for a broad array of other data types are all essential to provide a complete and useful technical data package (TDP) or other downstream technical documents or content. Anark focuses on delivering a complete and automated solution for effective collaboration and technical data sharing and reuse.
JH: Is there a particular size of company that your products are geared towards or work best for? small (1-200 people), medium (200-1,000), large (>1,000)
SC: Anark’s products can support the needs of manufacturing organizations of all sizes, and our customer base spans across the full spectrum of leading enterprise OEMs to SMB suppliers and manufacturers. So far, we have seen the largest adoption of 3D MBE and Visual Collaboration solutions being led by large global manufacturing organizations, and now adoption is extending into their supplier base, which of course includes the SMB community.
JH: How long has Anark been involved with 3D CIC?
SC: Anark has been supporting 3D CIC for at least 9 years, and we have been impressed with how the conference has evolved to become increasingly relevant as the manufacturing industry’s needs around interoperability and use of model-based information as a means for more effective collaboration has evolved and matured over the last several years.
JH: Do all of Anark’s products enable CAD interoperability?
SC: We tend to look at concepts such as interoperability from a fairly broad and comprehensive perspective. Anark’s mission is to help its customers harness the full value of their heterogeneous engineering and manufacturing data in order to deliver “fit-for-purpose” technical content to knowledge workers along the Digital Thread.
Enabling manufacturers to deliver the right data to the right place at the right time requires advanced support for the full spectrum of leading 3D CAD formats (with high-fidelity MBD), as well as support for 2D drawings, tabular data such as parts lists, notes, product requirements, and field service data.
Our OEM customers and their suppliers often operate within multi-CAD and multi-PLM environments, and Anark’s unique ability to transform and repackage their data for reuse and consumption downstream is very effective.
JH: As you know, for Action Engineering, robust Model-Based Definition (MBD) is essential to begin the digital thread that supports smart manufacturing. Could you tell me how Anark supports MBD?
SC: Anark has made significant investments to provide the most advanced multi-CAD MBD support in the market. Anark has developed a direct (native) data bridge to each of the major 3D CAD systems which enables Anark Core to publish the highest fidelity model data within formats such as PRC based 3D PDF and HTML5 with WebGL. This is the only way to ensure accurate, useable data, including GD&T (PMI) for use cases such as 3D Technical Data Packages (TDPs), Engineering Release, and Quality Inspection.
This advanced MBD data support, along with our automated transformation, technical content publishing, and advanced commenting and collaboration capabilities, enables Anark’s customers to deploy a connected, visually collaborative Digital Thread that drives substantial performance benefits throughout Engineering, Supply-Chain, Manufacturing, and Field Service Operations.
JH: How do your products help companies communicate information from engineering to the shop floor?
SC: Anark Core combines data from the major PLM, ERP, and MES systems into “fit-for-purpose” data mashups that can be consumed on virtually any device, including desktop, laptop, tablet, smart phone, etc. Fundamentally, Anark is harnessing the power of proven, scalable cloud and internet technologies to enable access to large, complex, high-fidelity technical content which was previously extremely difficult and expensive. Now, with MBEWeb, we’re delivering the “PLM experience” to your phone.
Our customers report benefits such as accelerated development of assembly instruction documents and content, reduced engineering change orders, fewer assembly errors, accelerated throughput, and overall happier workforce who are working with up-to-date and easier to interpret information that helps them do their jobs more effectively.
JH: Do you have software tools that support the digital twin concept, and if so, how?
SC: Anark focuses heavily on “Connecting the Digital Thread” for its customers, and there are 3 major cornerstones of this mission:
- Automated Content Transformation & Publishing, including advanced MBD support
- Effective Distribution and Collaboration along the Digital Thread
- Digital Twin and IIoT Support
On that last point (Digital Twin & IIoT), Anark enables live data from virtually any data source to appear in context together with published web content; Static configuration controlled PLM data can be commingled with dynamic data from ERP, MES, quality databases, field service data, and analytic engines.