Learning from the Masters
In the last few months we’ve had 200+ client calls, 5,000+ miles on the road and 10’s of thousands of miles in the air to meet you. This is what we’ve learned.
After the launch of our Manufacturing Execution System late last year we hit the road very hard to understand what clients think, what works well and what’s missing. Some of it we know, some if it was new. At a high level, there were few surprises but great reminders:
AM companies are investing in IT infrastructure: Large & small corporations alike have developed sufficient use additive use cases to be certain that the technology will have a place in production for some time to come. As a consequence, managers are thinking about what that means for production workflows & the digital thread – a whole new world is opening up. That’s great news for us and our customers, especially as we witness an expansion of that thought process from just additive to production in general – Additive is a lighthouse for manufacturing in general when it comes to the Digital Thread.
Production is 20% printing: In the forefront of the AM process is the AM machine – but going to visit sophisticated shops with significant material, testing and post-production tools, it’s becoming ever clearer that focusing on them exclusively is a fallacy.
Needs vary: In the past we’ve thought about our clients in 3 buckets: External Service Providers, Internal Prototyping Operations, and Production Operations. You can see some of the differences and how we address them on our website. While we generally find that 90% of the tools are the same, there are still stark differences – especially if organisations specialise on metals or polymers.
What does that mean for our product?
Process scheduler: Every product may follow a different path, or follow an existing production sequence. To help with this, we’re going to be allowing operators to design process templates by selecting production steps that define what needs to be done, when and what inputs machines or operators need to give.
Integrating more devices: To make tracking that process easier, we’re integrating ever more machines to provide feedback directly into the MES. Adding feedback from CT, HIP, material testing devices and more helps us cover the entire process, not just production and leads – ultimately – to full digital traceability and automated QA.
Planning variations: Right now, we’ve enabled clients to set up their build in our system. Given that different organzations have different ways of doing so, we’re enabling a second way – one that supports clients in using external systems to set up the print bed but use MES to track the production. Fortunately, MES works in the browser (though you can still install it locally – no need to use our cloud), so we have infinite flexibility in making sure the program works for you. You can see what a difference it makes below.
Most importantly, we learned the value of listening – we’re building a 21st century MES that doesn’t suck together with our clients so if you feel strongly about any of the learnings above, would like us to come and meet you in person, have other product ideas that you’re burning to make real or just want to learn more about us, please get in touch.
Authentise on Tour
May is gearing up to be a busy month and we hope to see you on our travels: You can catch us in London, Knoxville, Louisville, Boston, Pittsburgh (Rapid!) and of course in San Francisco, LA and Salt Lake City. We’re super excited that Anusha, our brilliant computer vision engineer, is presenting at Rapid, where she will be joined by our CEO, Andre Wegner, who is helping to curate the Exponential Manufacturing conference in Boston. If you’re interested in discounts for the latter, let us know – it’s gearing up to be a fun show.