Reinventing Product Development

I have been working with a colleague and mentor, Mike Juras of Vertare Corporation, who has introduced me to the concept of Relational Product Creation.  Relational Product Creation is grounded in Complexity Theory, and points to a whole new model of product development. The RPC concept is based upon a business operating framework that requires interoperability, a process framework that requires contextual collaboration and an open source infrastructure.  I won’t attempt to fully describe Relational Product Creation in this brief article, but I will focus upon a couple of key elements: in context collaboration and interoperability.

Supply-Chain Relationships

According to a 2006 survey of manufacturing executives conducted by IBM, CEOs believe that over 70% of new product innovation comes from customers and suppliers.  In some industries, as much as 95% of the value-added content represented by end-user products comes from from suppliers.  Shouldn’t processes and systems support these supply-chain relationships that can be so vital to success?

Some industries have moved from a traditional model of suppliers manufacturing parts and subsystems from the OEM’s design to deeply incorporating tier one suppliers in the design process. This is a step in the right direction to be sure. Unfortunately supply-chain collaboration often imposes processes, formats and applications on suppliers.   The cost and complexity driven into the supply-chain to access and use needed information can be prohibitive. 

Relational product creation seeks to address these shortcomings.  By sharing contextual information, relying upon open standards and enabling process interoperability through information interoperability, Relational Product Creation can take new product development to a much greater level of performance.  Horizontal collaboration and interoperability are the keys.  


PDF Provides the “Container” for Interoperability and Contextual Collaboration

Imagine a world in which information is shared horizontally and vertically across the entire value chain in a totally secure manner.  Imagine that all of the up-to-date information is available securely to “trusted partners” to access and use. Imagine that information format barriers no longer exist fundamentally representing an opportunity for true collaboration.

PDF is a super container for virtually any 2D or 3D information that needs to be shared between suppliers and OEMs.  Adobe and its partner companies are addressing the needs of companies that choose to more to the Relational Product Creation Model.  Here’s how:



Many people associate PDF with the static presentation of 2D information, usually at the conclusion of an authoring and approval cycle.  PDF is chosen in those instances because of its ability to “lock” the contents so they cannot be altered later.  People may know that PDF is already the ISO 32000 Open Standard for Engineering Information, but they may not fully comprehend the power of PDF.  However, the presentation layer not only supports text and graphics, but audio and video content and fully interactive 3D models.

The 3D models represent data extracted from virtually any 3D format, and can contain the product structure, precise and tessellated geometry, product manufacturing information and attribute data.  Data can also be extracted, depending upon security settings, in standard formats including Parasolid, IGES, STEP, VRML, U3D and STL. 

All of these data types can also be combined into informal and higher-end workflows for things like product creation collaboration, supplier collaboration, field service and manufacturability.  JavaScript and XML forms data can interact to support extensions of processes across the entire extended enterprise, and the ultimate user requires is the ubiquitous, free Adobe Reader to interact with data that once would have required specialized applications.

Lastly, security is fully comprehended.  Security can be enabled through password and certificate encryption, but LiveCycle Rights Management can provide dynamic access control, manage permissions, monitor activity, manage revisions and even revoke information anywhere it may be shared.  PDF fully supports digital signatures, so authenticity is never an issue.

I realize that this article is high-level.  In future articles, I will be focusing on each of these areas in more detail to explore examples and customer successes.