Volunteer Spotlight


Interview with Ed Popko, IBM Corporation

EdPopko.bmpEd Popko, PLM Worldwide Market Manager, Energy and Shipbuilding, IBM Corporation is has been with IBM Corporation for 25 years. He is located at the IBM Poughkeepsie facility – the same location where IBM does product and technical planning, service and customer support. Ed, in addition to many others from the POK PLKM team have been intimately involved in COE for years and provide logistics (workshop equipment etc.) support to COE conferences and workshops.

Ed's current responsibilities include spreading public awareness of IBM solutions in shipbuilding and energy industries (via the Website, announcements, etc.) and providing sales support, such as deliverables, market intelligence, internal newsletters for both sectors, industry/solution education, etc. Read more about Ed in this month's Volunteer Spotlight.

COE: What are the various roles you have held at IBM?

Popko: I have spent my entire IBM career in the engineering and graphics world. It's my one professional love. I have been very fortunate to grow up with a technology that also continued to grow up.

My first position at IBM was development manager for Geographic Information Systems (GIS) products. Later I handled CAD solutions for architects and contractors designing/building plants as well. I have had various product requirements roles and new product rollouts for CADAM and later with Dassault as CATIA entered the AEC and shipbuilding space with V4. I was responsible for the announcement and rollout of CATIA's V4 CCPlant solution set, Dassault's first for shipbuilding and plant design.

I shifted to marketing roles when shipbuilding was formalized as a segment. This occurred when Newport News adopted PLM for the Virginia Class collaborative submarine project with Electric Boat. And since, shipbuilding continued to grow and expand to cruise and commercial shipbuilders. 

Energy is both old and new. Some segments are very familiar and go back to AEC and CCPlant days. Other aspects are new – especially the renewable energy areas because solar, wind, wave and geo-thermal area all relatively recent technologies (if we ignore the Dutch and Spanish windmills from the 15th and 16th century).

COE: How long have you been a member of COE?

Popko : For 12 to 15 years. I have spoken and run industry panels at almost every COE Spring/Fall conference and now the Aerospace & Defense Workshops for the past 10 years in topics ranging from shipbuilding, plant design, luxury yachts and enterprise asset management. I even did one with historian Gary McCue and Dan Eldridge at the COE 2002 Spring conference on the digital reconstruction of a 100-year-old submarine (the one that got the Electric Boat Company started).

COE: What activities/events/volunteer opportunities have you participated in as a COE member?

Popko: I have volunteered in the PICs and DPCs for many years. Along with some customer members, we formed the Fluidics and Structures DPC/PICs about five or six years ago. This was a significant moment. What started as a specialized interest group in AEC plant design and shipbuilding, particularly around CATIA's equipment and systems portfolio, has now become a cross-industry track attracting COE members from aerospace, industrial products, consumer package goods and other industrial sectors. Attendance in these DPCs and the open forum panels on shipbuilding and plants has been quite good. Dassault has done a good job supporting them and the COE members have done a good job in running the sessions. I have been the IBM rep to both DPC for a number of years. 

More recently, I have become involved in the new Information Management group. My interests there have been the after-production use of PLM legacy data, particularly Enterprise Asset Management and service-after-sales. This DPC is relatively new but growing. The PIC has invited me to speak several times and I really appreciate their support and what they are trying to do for the COE community.

COE: Earlier this year you authored a whitepaper, IBM Asset Management for PLM. Can you provide an overview of this paper and perhaps share some highlights? Can you provide any insight into the future?

Popko : Many companies are finding economies in integrating their activities that were once carried out by independent business units. Engineering design/manufacturing and plant maintenance/repair/operations (MRO) are two such traditionally independent operations being integrated today. MRO is also called Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) in some sectors.

PLM plays a key role here. Many customers have enormous stores of PLM data about the design and manufacturing of their products. Some even have descriptions of the tooling and process around their productions. But often times, other company operations do not take advantage of this data and MRO is one of them. 

Today, companies see value in bringing manufacturing and MRO (maintaining the facility where production takes place) closer. In some cases, customers want to increase the availability of their plants and coordinate outages and upgrades. Other times to synchronize spare parts and inventory. Still others because companies are experiencing a decline in skills as their work force ages and retires. Others have to comply with health/environmental/safety regulations. Whatever the reason, there is business benefit to bringing PLM and EAM together.

Today's economic conditions are giving more reasons to integrate. Many companies have put major capital projects on hold. It is difficult to secure affordable loans and there is some risk that consumer demand for their products will remain low as the recession recovers. So companies focus on efficiency and getting more out of what they have. This is now top priority with a high ROI. Bringing PLM and EAM here makes a lot of sense.

In the future, some OEMs will expand their business model to include what I call ‘embedded businesses'. What I mean by this is some OEMs will begin to sell and support the service of their products rather than the product itself. We see some examples in aerospace where jet engine manufactures are selling “power by the hour” rather than selling jet engines. In shipbuilding, we see manufacturers of huge diesel ships engines selling propulsion to fleet owners. The OEM installs his equipment on the ship and operates it remotely. Entire fleets of ships are managed by a single worldwide on-shore site. Customers like it and the OEM derives a huge benefit from legacy PLM data and the high quality of communications the internet affords. In these business models, the OEM is using PLM to embed their business into their customers. I predict we will see more of this in the future.

COE: We understand IBM's recent investment in the Energy & Utilities Industry. Can you outline some of the ways in which you are dedicating your efforts to this industry?

Popko : This is one of the most exciting things to happen to me and to PLM in some time. Energy has always been a priority in the U.S. but in the last couple of years, “energy” has become a household word. It is also a top priority in our national economic growth stimulus package.

Add to this, there is a world wide nuclear renaissance underway. After years of neglect and public fear in the U.S., the entire industry is being remade. This is driven by the need for fossil fuel independence, CO2 reductions and rapid increases in base line energy (energy that is not intermittent like wind and solar). There hasn't been a new nuclear plant built in 25 years. There are more than 100 operating nuclear power plants in America and many owner/operators have submitted plans for upgrading their capacity and requests to re-license them for another 20-25 years. All of these plants were built before CAD technology. Any refueling or modernization program usually requires reconstructing some or all of the plant in 3D CAD so that analytic work and visualization work can be done.

And nukes are not the only facilities like this. Transmission/distribution networks are even older, owned by local utilities and under tremendous pressure to upgrade carrying capacity and be ‘smarter'. A slight shift in consumer patterns towards hybrid cars could put a huge demand for new power (and distribution) and our national networks are ill equipped to handle it.

Major investments are being made in thermal and solar sources too. A lot of this activity is cross-over from the space program and A&D. You might remember the wind turbine presentations at the last COE. If you didn't know better, you would have though you were attending an aircraft turbo prop session, they are highly related too.

My role has been to help ramp up IBM PLM's involvement in Energy. We work closely with Dassault and with our customers to define solutions to very difficult industry problems. Our efforts today are focused in four areas: enterprise collaboration which includes managing high risk projects, simulation and analysis, facility maintenance/repair/operations and the design-manufacturing of energy related equipment.

To do this – you need to understand the trends/directions of the industry, educate your team on this, define PLM solutions and provide technical support and services. My role has been in internal education programs, solution awareness via ibm.com, deliverables, customer events, tradeshows, communications and market intelligence (customers and competitors) and most important, a strategy that makes sense for our customers. I work closely with PLM WW sales force and with Dassault.

COE: The COE 2009 Annual PLM Conference & TechniFair in Seattle, Washington just occurred April 19–22. What were some of your favorite moments from the conference? Can you describe your best memory from this conference or from any of your previous conference experiences?

Popko: This was a special COE. When you looked at the retrospect of where the organization has been in 25 years, it is simply amazing – and to think this is a user created and run organization too. It says a lot about people and their willingness to share and learn. I found myself staring at the COE historic photos and thinking, wow, I remember that and it seems like only yesterday. I was really pleased to see Phil Harrison receive the B.J. Fries Award of Merit. And that the award is named after B.J.

I attended many sessions. Kevin Fowler's overview of PLM at Boeing was quite interesting. I fly a lot and take some pride in knowing the plane was a PLM product. I sat in a number of Information Management track sessions and perhaps more than any single session, I was taken by the growing interest in legacy data, service-after-sales and collaboration technology. This was a special interest group that started only recently and each COE just increases in popularity.

I was moderator for some sessions in tracks I don't normally attend. I was quite amazed at the university design and manufacturing programs that are PLM based and how sophisticated the teaching environments are and the high level of what students are learning in these courses. I was also struck by presenter's comments about bad student CATIA habits and their most common stumbling points when they first learned to use the technology. I had a laugh; they didn't describe anything unique to students. There are a lot of practitioners out there that have the same ones.

As a footnote to COE, I hardly left the convention center the entire COE. I spent a lot of time in the Technifair. So COE's Volunteer's Appreciation evening was really appreciated – it was the first time I left the convention center and hotel in the five days I was in Seattle. It was a wonderful and thoughtful night out at ‘The Pike”. The historic photos left on the tables were a super idea. What fun sorting through them. You could date your table mates by who they recognized in the photos or the equipment shown in the background.

COE: COE is celebrating 25 years of bringing together the users of Dassault Systèmes this year.  Can you describe how your involvement with the COE organization began and the affect that this relationship has had on your career and your responsibilities at IBM.

Popko : This is an interesting question – COE has had a huge impact on my understanding of customer's technology needs as well as the economic environment they operate in. And now, we are learning about these customer's customers, too. COE is also a wonderful place to see technology demonstrated in so many settings.

My earliest involvements with COE still date back to the ending mainframe days when 3D solids modeling technology was still evolving. There was no PDM or Internet in those days.  The big focus was geometric modeling, visualization and using its data to drive down stream applications like NC, drafting, BOMs etc. For IBM, these were the days of the IBM 5080 Graphics Workstation, the first specialized hardware/software IBM produced to support CADAM and CATIA. Boeing was one of the very first customers, this was their entry point into Dassault solutions. I was directly involed with the 5080 and its followons as CAD/CAM migrated from the mainframe to high powered workstations like the RS6000 and then later to PCs. Each advance in technology lower the cost barriers for new customers and I became involved with bringing PLM solutions to shipbuilding and plant design. These sectors lagged automotive and aerospace. Mostly because of the specialized requirements of the former and the lack of design-build-manage business intergration of the latter. But today, much of that has changed. PLM solutions have been developed in concert with leading ship yards and an amazing portfolio has evolved. Just look at CATIA's equipment and systems portfolio – at least 25 applications. 

Not only have these new solution capabilities and the customers who use them spaped my career, the newer technologies in simulation and visualization are making their mark. DELMIA, 3DVIA and Virtools are simply amazing ways to understand what a ship or plant's design is but how it can be improved and people interact with it.

PLM has always been exciting – what is different today is how it is personalized and how seemingly impossible design and manufacturing tasks can be solved.

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