on May 23rd, 2016

What software do you use to make incredible, engaging engineering designs? Are the products you're designing ready to connect to the Internet of Things? Autodesk Fusion 360 looks to be a mechanical engineer's dream software and they have now updated it to include something they call  Fusion Lifecycle and Fusion Connect. Yes, Autodesk is embracing the Internet of Things, which was quite apparent since they bought out a company called SeeControl that specialized in cloud-hosting and IoT. Now, thanks to technologies from SeeControl, Autodesk now gives engineers the freedom to design whilst their program analyses and manages performance data for you.

"Both Autodesk Fusion Lifecycle and Fusion Connect are existing products, but they're now dramatically enhanced. Fusion Connect captures, analyzes, and manages performance data, so you can improve your design. It monitors products remotely. It can even push out new features over the internet. The fundamental mission for Fusion Connect is to identify failures before they occur," said Ron Locklin, Autodesk's director of business development for Fusion Lifecycle. 

Thanks to their new Fusion Connect platform, engineers can create IoT infrastructures and see how the products would behave in those sorts of connected networks. This could be invaluable for industrial complexes that are moving towards the Internet of Things but need an example of how their machinery would work alongside it. 

The software utilizes the Industrial Internet of Things and can produce the data the engineers need so that an industrial process can be refined to the point that it improves the product that is being made. It will also connect smartphones to the software so that the engineers and bigwigs of a company can keep an eye on production rates and data that pertains to how efficient a factory is working. 

Autodesk's Fusion platform claims it can do more than just IIoT work, it can also deal with industrial additive manufacturing (3D printing) designs as well. They are certain their cloud-based, non-hardware solution will ensure that products get designed and manufactured much quicker. 

Autodesk also wants to encourage engineers to design products that can connect to the Internet of Things and they have eight tips on how to achieve that goal:

  1. Identify IoT value: Determining what information customers will value in an innovation. 
  2. Build product model: How the product creates value. 
  3. Build product app: An app that monitors and interrogates built models and accesses the real time analytics. System data must be available. Point & click approach to making IoT analytics easy for anyone to read. 
  4. Set up analytics: Real-time analytics (rules engines that make decisions in the present), predictive analytics (what a product may do in the future and how efficient it may be), descriptive analytics (makes sense of the past) and prescriptive analytics (based on a rule, how would the product react). 
  5. Choose networking equipment: After choosing the sensors the industrial machines will work on, the network fabric is decided on. Operational Technology Network: Connects the sensors within the product. Then the Information Technology Network connects the OT network to the product-cloud so that the analytics can be presented to anyone who would like to see them.
  6. Connect network and product cloud with backhaul connection: WiFi/4G connections to ensure the sensors and products talk to each other and upload their data to the cloud.
  7. Security & privacy: Saving the system from external hackers or internal factors.
  8. Connect external systems: Standalone third party analytics measuring systems could be possibly be installed so that a company doesn't need to make sense of the analytics themselves, a third party can tell them what is happening with their machines and how to improve them. 

Autodesk says that their Fusion products are perfect design tools to perfect all of the above-mentioned guidelines on how to create a product that is fit and ready for the Internet of Things. However, whether the cloud-based software is used or a different program is used, once a product has been designed, then manufactured, the only logical way forward in the world of today is to get it to connect to the Internet of Things. 

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