Route 128 at Center of Manufacturing
Boston Globe (05/13/12) Denison, D.C.
In late 2009, Dassault Systèmes launched a search for a location to establish a headquarters for its rapidly expanding operations in North and South America. Ultimately, the global technology firm decided Route 128, or the Boston, Mass.-area, was the best place to be. As such, Route 128 has become the world's undisputed epicenter of this fast-growing technology, known as Product Lifecycle Management (PLM). Virtually every global player in the industry is clustered around the loop once known as America's Technology Highway. In addition to global players, nearly a dozen smaller PLM operations have sprouted nearby. Then, there are another dozen firms that provide specialized analytic and display tools to support the industry, adding to a pool of talent that is perhaps unrivaled anywhere. The industry is only expected to grow; and IDC Manufacturing Insights, a market research firm in Framingham, estimates that spending on PLM software is growing 7 percent per year, faster than spending on any other so-called enterprise software purchased by businesses. According to the firm, the total PLM market will exceed $32 billion by 2014, up from $23.7 billion in 2010. Several trends are driving that growth, including the increasing complexity of products and the globalization of manufacturing. PLM software allows companies to manage this process from conception to obsolescence tracking, controlling, and documenting ever-changing digital designs and files as a product evolves over its lifetime. Luxury cars manufacturers and the aviation industry are among those utilizing PLM software. Before CAD, products were designed on paper by draftsmen through a slow process. CAD enabled vivid, 3-D renderings. The growth of CAD was accelerated by a confluence of developments, including computer networking and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), which allows digital designs to control machines that make components. As computers played a bigger role in design and manufacturing, companies began developing software to manage the growing blizzard of digital files. Over the long haul, the adoption PLM became widespread. PLM demands both a good understanding of both engineering and manufacturing.