Why I’m Grateful for America the Great

I received this from a publicist, but I thought you all might enjoy reading it also. It was written by Todd Patkin. His bio is below.

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America’s “birthday,” July Fourth, is coming up soon. All across the United States, this holiday is a chance to grill out, watch parades, admire fireworks, and hang flags on our front porches. I would venture to say that most of us feel a swell of patriotic pride as we look at all of the red, white, and blue surrounding us. Yes, even though we all have our personal beefs with aspects of American life (just turn on a political talk show if you’re skeptical), I think that overall we know we’re fortunate to live in this great land.

In honor of July Fourth, I have written down seven reasons why I’m grateful to live in the United States of America. My list is by no means exhaustive, but I think it does represent aspects of our country that we often take for granted. This Fourth, in addition to enjoying a holiday with your community, I encourage you to reflect on how living in America has shaped your life specifically.

As an American, I’m grateful for:

• Our security. While attacks from terrorists (both foreign and domestic) have proven that the United States is not completely invulnerable, we do live very secure lives compared to many of our brothers and sisters around the world. Wars are not being fought on our soil, and our neighbors are friendly. Can you imagine what it would be like to not feel safe walking out of your own front door, or to live in a city that has been literally and figuratively torn apart by conflict? Furthermore, our fabulous law enforcement professionals are constantly on duty to make sure that our communities are safe, fair, and just places to live.

• Our standard of living. Compared to so many other people on this planet, Americans live comfortable, secure, and even luxurious lives. Most of us live in our own homes, drive our own cars, have plenty to eat, and enjoy amenities ranging from smartphones to laptops to grocery stores to movie theaters. However, I think our high standard of living can be difficult to fully appreciate unless you have traveled to other parts of the world and seen what “normal” is like in various other countries.

• The American Dream. It’s still alive and well! This is a country where you can do what you want, build a comfortable life, and even rise to impressive heights if you are positive, honest, and work hard. You do not have to be confined to a certain place or profession if you do not want to be.

• Diversity. America continues to be The Great Melting Pot, and I, for one, couldn’t be happier about it. Even in my own community, and especially around the country as a whole, there is so much variety in terms of culture, food, background, beliefs, etc. Every person and family is different, and each lives a unique life. I truly wouldn’t want to live in a place where everyone looked, behaved, and thought similarly. Over the course of my life, I have grown so much as a person because I have been exposed to new viewpoints, traditions, ideas, and experiences thanks to people around me.

• Medical care and education. Again, you may have your complaints about medical care and the education system in the United States, but comparatively, both are very high quality. People come to our country from all around the world specifically to take advantage of them. I am glad that there are professionals ready to safeguard my health around the clock, and that we are guaranteed a top-notch education at least through age 17 or 18—and longer if we choose to pursue a higher-education degree.

• Water. You can drink it whenever you want without worrying about getting sick. You can buy it bottled and by the case in many stores. You can take long, hot showers and baths. You can even immerse yourself in it if you go to a pool, river, or lake. By comparison, many countries around the world have contaminated, non-potable water and/or have to deal with major water shortages.

• The postal service. Talk about something we really take for granted but still rely heavily on even in the digital age. When you think about it, it’s amazing that you can put a letter in your mailbox and be pretty sure it will end up where you want it to go in a short period of time. I want to extend my thanks to all postal service workers who help ensure that this process remains reliable and quick.

So, who can we thank for all of these things (and many more)? Well, the America we know today is here because our ancestors came to this land—often with nothing—and worked hard to build better lives for themselves and their children. From our Founding Fathers to America’s great businessmen and inventors to the millions of individuals who crossed oceans to become citizens, we owe those who came before and paved the way for us to enjoy the comfortable lives we know today.

We should also thank America’s military, past and present. Since before the United States was officially a nation, soldiers have fought and died for our freedom, security, and national interests, and their families have borne the heavy burden of sending loved ones to war.

Lastly, we can all thank the individuals who, in large or small ways, make our own corners of America a great place to live. Teachers, medical professionals, government employees, and many, many more provide essential services without which our lives would be very different.

So, Happy Birthday, America! On July Fourth and every other day, here’s to the U.S.A.!

About the Author:
Todd Patkin, author of Finding Happiness: One Man’s Quest to Beat Depression and Anxiety and—Finally—Let the Sunshine InTwelve Weeks to Finding Happiness: Boot Camp for Building Happier People, and The Sunny Days Secret: A Guide for Finding Happiness(coming 2014), grew up in Needham, Massachusetts. After graduating from Tufts University, he joined the family business and spent the next eighteen years helping to grow it to new heights. After it was purchased by Advance Auto Parts in 2005, he was free to focus on his main passions: philanthropy and giving back to the community, spending time with family and friends, and helping more people learn how to be happy. Todd lives with his wonderful wife, Yadira, their amazing son, Josh, and two great dogs, Tucker and Hunter.

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About the Books:
Finding Happiness: One Man’s Quest to Beat Depression and Anxiety and—Finally—Let the Sunshine In (StepWise Press, 2011, ISBN: 978-0-9658261-9-8, $19.95) is available at bookstores nationwide, from major online booksellers, and atwww.findinghappinessthebook.com.

Twelve Weeks to Finding Happiness: Boot Camp for Building Happier People (New Focus Press, 2012, ISBN: 978-0-9885092-0-7, $13.99) is available from Amazon.com.

Wallet theft causes major distress

Last Friday my wife had her wallet stolen from her shopping cart. Her wallet was in one of those large, heavy purses that women commonly carry today. Naturally the purse was unzipped.

During her shopping she was distracted for several minutes by a seemingly friendly fellow shopper asking her questions about a product. When she went to check out she discovered her wallet missing, but thought she might have left it home or in the car. After returning home and fruitlessly searching for the wallet, she returned to the stores she had visited; they did not have the missing wallet.

Just 40 minutes after noticing the missing wallet, we received a phone call from American Express advising us that there was a potential fraud on the card. Over $4500 had been charged on the card at Apple and Best Buy!

What a mess this became to notify and card issuers and cancel the cards; to notify the police and fill out the crime reports, and to notify the credit agencies to alert them of a possible fraud and to lock our accounts against future credit card applications.

In addition, the thieves now had our home address, social security number, medical cards, and driver’s license, making us an ideal candidate for identity theft.

So in addition to the above we now have to sign up for identity theft protection for both of us.

Here is my advice as to how to prevent or ease this process for you in the future:

  • Keep copies of the front and back of all your credit cards
  • Sign the back of all credit cards immediately
  • Never put your wallet or purse in a shopping cart; instead keep it tucked under your arm
  • Keep copies of your drivers license at home
  • Beware friendly strangers while shopping

Be alert, be aware, and be prepared!

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SolidWorks founders start new company

11/01/12: You heard it first here! Earlier today I received a call from John McEleney, the former CEO of SolidWorks. John explained that he and five of the original founders of SolidWorks started a new company that will explore and develop solutions for the product development space. He shared with me that this includes: Jon Hirschtick, Dave Corcoran, Scott Harris, and Tommy Li.

Hirschtick, Harris, and Li were among the original founders of SoldWorks. McEleney joined a few years later. Corcoran led product development, while Harris was a key architect. In the early years, I was most impressed with the way the entire team was focused on a single perspective and all pulled together to accomplish their common goal. Since then I have seen many a company flounder, not because their product was flawed, but because the team was unable to work cohesively together.

McEleney further explained that the company has just been initiated today. They are obviously, in the super early stages of development. John would not discuss their products. He said they are still exploring many alternatives.

He went on to say that he was contacting many of the people in the CAD and product development space who will be able to promote the fact that their company was beginning its development. People like myself.

With a team like this, I don’t doubt that they can be successful. Hmmm, but what will they turn out? Keep tuned for further information.

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Assessing the state of Product Development

After spending many years working with the CAD/CAM/PLM vendors I am now turning my attention to users of the software.

In my experience with users from many industry specialties, which includes many in-depth conversations and a few handfuls of on-site consulting assignments, users are not taking full advantage of the software and related process tools to re-engineer their environments.

Introducing new tools into a flawed product development process is only a band-aid. Without re-thinking the entire process the latest and greatest software will only result in a nominal ROI.

Instead of thinking about the miniscule advantage of moving from 2D design to 3D design, or the introduction of the latest PLM system, users should instead focus on the overall business benefits that might best cause them to produce better, more timely, higher quality products that can beat the pants off their competitors.

Believe it or not, just a few nights ago I was explaining to my wife, during a long drive home from dinner, about what a difference better design makes. And she actually listened. I guess I was really charged up!

One subject that always fascinates me is how truly innovative products are developed and how often competitors cannot react to substantive changes. She and I both use iPhones, so she immediately connected with the product. Not only that, but she said she loved her iPhone. Never heard that about her Samsung 10 key phone. After reading earlier that day about the current travails of RIM, the maker of the Blackberry phones I explained how RIM and Nokia seem to once have led the mobile phone industry and now both are deeply troubled, and may had difficulty surviving. And all this only in the last few years. Both companies seemed to have missed the point that the iPhone is not really a mobile phone, but a computer that can also make phone calls. The technology and innovation embodied in this product made huge leaps over the then existing mobile phone technologies. And their large competitors failed to recognize it. Then they failed to react to it. What was it in their product development process that was flawed: management, engineering, competitive analysis, business planning???

Do you have similar flaws in your process? Should you be asking whether or not you do?

Lately I have been exploring the idea of developing techniques for how to assess this in user companies. I am becoming more and more convinced that by carefully examining the key processes in product development and comparing them to best in class techniques used by successful organizations that this can be accomplished, and at a reasonable cost.

I’ll explain more about my thinking in future articles. I would love to hear from you about what you think. Reply to this blog and let the rest of us know.

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Dassault Systemes discusses their Intercim acquisition

Recently I had a chance to speak with both Dassault Systemes (DS) and Intercim about the acquisition of Intercim by DS. On the call were Patrick Michel, Vice President, Solutions and Marketing, DELMIA and Romain LaVault, Vice President Strategic Development, Intercim.

About Intercim

Intercim provides software to help customers in advanced and highly regulated industries with real-time Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) and Predictive Analytics for Discovery, Design, Manufacturing, and Operations. Intercim enables the supply network to better define manufacturing processes, execute shop orders, manage non-conformance and ensure quality. One of the benefits is that real-time control and intelligence on Manufacturing Operations helps Intercim customers achieve their Lean Manufacturing goals quicker and accelerate time-to-market.

Their software, the Pertinence Suite, provides manufacturing execution modules, manufacturing intelligence modules, and is already well integrated with CATIA and Delmia.

Background

In 2007, Intercim acquired Pertinence, a French company with technology for using real time production data to analyze potential quality issues. In 2009, Dassault Systèmes announced a minority position in Intercim LLC and in 2010 announced a global reseller agreement. The idea was to use the DELMIA – ENOVIA Manufacturing Hub or the DS V6 environment to deliver manufacturing process plans and work instructions to the shop floor via the Intercim Pertinence MES system.

Intercim is a US based company in Egan, MI, with French connections; revenue in the last fiscal year I estimate at between $7 – $10 million; DS is purchasing the company for 36.5 million USD. The company employs 70 people worldwide. Its customers include Boeing, BMW, Airbus, Ball Aerospace and Honeywell.

Details on the acquisition

Q. Why is DS making this acquisition?

A. To show our serious commitment in the Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) space. DS expects to integrate Intercim into the Delmia framework, possible for the creation of a Delmia Shop Floor module.

Q. What is the value in “closing the loop” between manufacturing planning and execution?

A: Faster turn around time in case of a problem and it improves the ability to work on and deliver engineering or manufacturing initiated changes.

Q: Give me some idea of the size of Intercim.

A: We have outstanding about 100,000 software licenses focused on the integration of PLM and Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES). We are widely used in the US, particularly within the aerospace industry. Only 10% of our target market are equipped with an MES system from any vendor, thus offering a huge market potential.

Q. How is the software used for regulatory compliance?

A. I can give you several examples. We are used for NASA’s space shuttle for the cargo tracking and have replaced mountains of paperwork. Obviously, for aerospace, individual part serial number control is required; Intercim software accomplished that. In the pharmaceutical industry, the process is important. Such items as temperature, time stamps for dating, operator and machine usage are important and can be captured and fed back to the engineering department as well. In the case of creating flu vaccines data can be read real time to enhance rapid build up of the vaccine. Many data points can be read with no need to wait for later batch analysis results.

Q. What about any potential existing OEM contracts?

A. Our only OEM arrangement is with DS.

Q Tell me about the analytics aspect of Intercim.

A. Analytics allows access to as built data for the PLM system. Decisions can be made as to whether the as-built is the same as the as-designed. Further, we can analyze the reasons for generating scrap and even to understand the commonality of scrap.

Q. Does DS envision major changes in the Intercim management?

A. No, the people in Intercim are very important to our plans and we hope for a high retention rate.

My take

This appears to be a natural extension of DS plans to extend Delmia throughout the enterprise. The two companies were already very close for the last several years and this fills a gap in shop floor control, as well as data analysis to predict potential quality problems. On the shop floor side, it brings DS closer to Siemens Tecnomatix offering, their archrival in aerospace and automotive companies. In shop floor analytics DS now has the edge.

I admit that I have been wrestling with the idea that shop floor control (SFC) is driven by a manufacturing production release system, namely material requirements planning (MRP) and ERP systems, which generate the manufacturing plans that SFC tracks. DS never likes not being in the driver’s seat. Could there be some exciting possibilities for this in the future? Hmmm. I doubt it, but one can never tell.

www.3ds.com

www.intercim.com

Autodesk’s digital prototyping explained

Followers of the mechanical CAD market are no doubt aware of the term Product Lifecycle Management, often designated as PLM. Autodesk’s mechanical philosophy is to eschew developing PLM software in favor of digital prototyping.

The term “Digital Prototyping” has led to some confusion in the industry. One clear definition comes from IDC in a paper entitled “Digital Prototyping: Autodesk Strengthens Competitiveness of Worldwide SMB Manufacturers’, published October 2008. This whitepaper differentiates digital prototyping from PLM by noting that “PLM reaches from a product’s cradle to its grave. On the other hand, digital prototyping stops at the completion of the digital product and its engineering bill of materials . . . The beauty of digital prototyping is that designs can be tested out before they go to manufacturing.”

Thus, Autodesk’s definition of digital prototyping includes the basic functions of PLM — industrial design, design and engineering, data vaulting, and collaboration, without the post-manufacturing baggage.

In the next few weeks we will be publishing a series of blog posts that clearly illustrate how Autodesk Inventor has carefully melded a variety of technologies that Autodesk has acquired or built into design oriented workflows that improve specific engineering processes.

Stay tuned!