Autodesk says there are "remarkable changes" happening in the manufacturing industry. The global pandemic – and subsequent macroeconomic volatility – exposed weaknesses across the manufacturing ecosystem. Manufacturers have been forced to realign and reimagine their supply chains in real-time.
Coupled with increasing consumer demands, a growing skills gap, and the unprecedented pace of technology change, these challenges leave manufacturers feeling uncertain about the future.
And yet, despite the challenges – or perhaps because of them – manufacturing continues to grow globally. Out of constraints comes innovation.
Autodesk believes that the last few years have made one thing clear: to capitalise on this growth and to stay competitive, manufacturers must adopt digital technologies. The cloud, automation, and AI offer the opportunity for companies to not just manage but thrive amidst this uncertainty.
The company explains: "At Autodesk, we have always been a leader in transformational technology shifts. Autodesk Fusion launched 10 years ago with a vision of unifying the siloed product design and manufacturing process, and we continue to invest in delivering that vision. We have unified design, simulation, electronics, manufacturing, and factory operations into one fluid environment for every size of business. And we’re not done yet.
"Last year, we introduced our Fusion industry cloud for manufacturing. Anchored on our Design and Make Platform, this end-to-end, connected solution will unify people, data, technologies, and workflows from product design to manufacturing, all the way through to shop floor operations. "
Fusion industry cloud: a powerful solution to streamline entire design and make workflows
Fusion transforms the way organizations design and make by removing barriers caused by disconnected tools that inhibit the flow of information across teams. The first of its kind – integrating CAD, CAM, CAE, and PCB design capabilities, and connecting PLM, PDM, and MES solutions – Fusion streamlines processes across the entire product development and manufacturing lifecycle.
Whereas manufacturers traditionally relied on multiple tools throughout different phases of product development, necessitating multiple handoffs from one team to another, Fusion brings it all together. Changes made in one workflow are instantly reflected everywhere. No one works with outdated models. Everyone saves time and headaches.
The Autodesk Data Model, which is the heart of Fusion, makes this possible. Leveraging our cloud-based data model, customers can automate and streamline their workflows. Autodesk AI uses the same cloud data to eliminate repetitive tasks and free people up for higher-value, creative work.
Today, data flows between Revit and Inventor, Inventor and Fusion, and Inventor and AutoCAD. The Autodesk Data Model APIs mean partners and third-party developers can also build for Fusion.
AI from the design studio to the shop-floor
Fusion continues to harness the power of AI for Autdesk's customers across every phase of the product development lifecycle as the company says it is '"in our DNA". It was the first to introduce generative design for manufacturing in Fusion more than six years ago.
Autodesk notes it is now unlocking all kinds of opportunities to automate repetitive processes, analyse shop-floor operations, and augment creativity using AI.
- Generative AI for conceptual design: Autodesk recently acquired BlankAI, bringing us industry-leading generative AI technology that augments the work of industrial designers, enabling them to create 3D concepts in milliseconds. Initially debuting in our automotive design studio tools, the technology pulls from a company’s libraries of past work to rapidly generate new concepts that build on existing design styles and guidelines.
- Automated drawings: One of the most time-consuming areas in product design is documentation. This largely procedural, non-value-adding task can occupy up to 80 percent of a skilled engineer’s time. Not anymore. By the end of the year, Autodesk will launch Automated Drawings in Fusion to translate 3D models into fully dimensioned drawings with the click of a button.
- Automated toolpaths: Fusion streamlines data exchange with industry-leading partners, enabling technologies to work together seamlessly. One example is the CloudNC add-in for AI-powered CNC toolpath automation. CloudNC sees customers reduce tool programming times by up to 80%.
Expanding functionality through partnerships and acquisitions
Autodesk has also announced new capabilities that increase Fusion’s value and improve design and make workflows.
It is now working with Cadence, the leader in electronic systems design tools for everything from integrated circuits to printed circuit boards. The integration ss part of the Autodesk Platform ecosystem connects Cadence’s PCB design capabilities directly to Fusion, enabling data to flow in both directions.
Autodesk has signed a definitive agreement to acquire FlexSim, a provider of discrete event simulation technology that enables factory and logistics center operators to optimize their production processes. FlexSim powers a key link between factory design data and operational data. It helps with everything from planning and designing, to building and operating a digital factory. Autodesk brings together strengths in factory operations, building design, and construction solutions.
The powerful new configurations capabilities in Fusion enable the creation of multiple product variants early in the development cycle, without the pain and overhead of multiple file versions. Each new configuration does not produce a massive, new file. Instead, changes are recorded in a single cloud database, making them faster to load, easier to navigate, and easier to manage.