Stephen Graham, Nexus Program Leader at Hexagon, recently painted a vivid picture of the conundrums faced by manufacturing giants and the motivations behind the creation of Nexus. The platform, a response to industry calls for increased agility and horizontal collaboration, was developed over two years, fueled by extensive primary research.
Nexus’ initial launch spotlighted DFAM tools and additive manufacturing applications.
“One of the headline reasons as to why we started Nexus was to address the challenges our customers face in manufacturing,” said Graham. The traditional manufacturing organizations, he pointed out, are highly centralized and hierarchical. This structure inevitably results in silos, impeding the path to efficient, cross-disciplinary problem-solving. However, as Graham clarified, the goal isn’t to dismantle these structures, but rather to stimulate cooperation and decentralization of authority across the organization.
Turning to Nexus’s positioning, Graham grouped classic enterprise systems such as Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), Product Data Management (PDM), and Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) into one box, all serving a key function: centralized data management. However, Nexus breaks this mold.
“Nexus is not trying to be a system of record. Nexus is much more a system of engagement. Nexus is much more about what’s going on right now. It’s about solving problems in real-time,” said Graham. The innovative platform seeks to complement traditional enterprise systems, providing a different, more collaborative, and real-time solution to the issues the industry faces.
Recognizing that no company relies solely on technology from Hexagon, Nexus was designed to integrate technologies from any vendor, even direct competitors. “Nexus will meet our customers where they are, you know, there’s no sense in which we’re asking customers to throw anything away. Nexus takes the model steps forward in their transformation journey, starting from wherever they are today,” Graham stated.
“In the short term, Nexus offers a short list of apps and solutions that were really originally meant to be going to accelerate over time,” said the Nexus Program leader, noting that each of these would be priced individually. While not providing a specific figure, it was clear that Hexagon sees Nexus as a significant value-add for their clients.
Graham emphasized that the main allure of the Nexus program is its potential to foster collaboration across different sectors of an organization. This interdepartmental synergy is what sets Nexus apart from the other big data platforms already adopted by many of its customers. He stressed, “That’s a problem that they have – getting different engineering silos to work together,” and it’s a challenge Nexus aims to tackle head-on.
Graham also unveiled the upcoming plans for Nexus, a road map extending approximately three years into the future. He indicated that Nexus would introduce an average of one new app per month over this period, providing a wide array of solutions to complement existing operations. The long-term vision for Nexus includes welcoming third-party developers to their platform, a move that he believes will provide an even greater value.
“The dream will be the day that a competitor or a set of competitors come and build a solution on Nexus that we have nothing to do with at all, and they go sell it themselves. That’s where we’ve achieved our mission,” he elaborated.
The business model of Nexus allows developers to sell their solutions at a price they determine. Nexus makes money by providing the resources and capabilities these solutions use. Importantly, intellectual property rights around the solutions remain with the developer.
Launching Nexus for developers and the Nexus 3D whiteboard
Parth Joshi, Chief Product & Technology Officer of Hexagon, highlighted how the company empowers its customers to work smarter, faster, and more cost-effectively.
Joshi explained, “Nexus really connects together all of the great innovations and technologies from Hexagon while being completely open to our partners and our partner network. Nexus is focused on connecting people and collaboration across different disciplines.”
Nexus aims to automate and streamline the manufacturing workflow by creating feedback loops across the process. It will incorporate advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and visualization to simplify tasks and enhance efficiency.
“As we look at the direction we’re going with to connect all of our core technologies together, we look at Nexus as a platform that really now enables us to do that for our customer base, along with also enabling our enterprise quality from the shop floor to the top floor to really unlock more value for everyone,” Joshi added. This mission to empower makers worldwide signals an evolution, rather than a revolution, in how products and technologies are developed and improved based on customer feedback.
Joshi then announced two major developments: the launch of Nexus for developers and the Nexus 3D whiteboard. Nexus for developers opens Hexagon’s capabilities to third-party partners and system integrators, offering a rich set of APIs, documentation, tutorials, and sample applications to accelerate development. The Nexus 3D whiteboard, on the other hand, is a visual collaboration app designed to facilitate live, interactive reviews in 3D, simplifying the design review process across global and multidisciplinary teams. To further facilitate this process, Nexus integrates with the Microsoft Teams platform.
At the heart of Nexus is the idea of a “smart contract” that acts as a kind of ledger, maintaining an audit trail of all activities and comments made in a project. This provides a level of transparency that aids in the smooth functioning of the collaboration process. “It’s very different than screen share,” explained Hexagon’s Mathieu Perennou highlighting the tool’s ability to allow all team members to manipulate the 3D models independently.
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Featured image shows Nexus metrology reporting app. Image via Hexagon