Vuuch's activity feeds are key to keeping team members in sync on project status. Employees post a short message, much like a Facebook update, on where a particular part is in the process -- for example, if a job has just been moved to CNC milling. That consistency of updates and letting Vuuch serve as the central hub for communications minimizes miscues and delays in relaying information between production planning and engineering, Settles said.
Veteran players get social
New platforms are not the only places to benefit from the introduction of social capabilities. Design tool veterans like PTC are working to incorporate some of this new technology when and where it makes sense. PTC has been talking about the social dimension for a while with its SocialLink module for Windchill. Though it is still mostly in the pilot phase with customers, SocialLink is evolving with new capabilities -- most recently the addition of graphics and markup functionality to the module's microblogging capabilities.
Blair said that, unlike consumer-oriented Web 2.0 technologies, which are generic in nature, PTC is adapting concepts such as activity feeds, microblogging, communities, likes, dislikes, and comments for specific use cases related to product development. By employing the security models established in Windchill PLM, SocialLink addresses organizations' concerns about the integrity of their design intellectual property when opened up to a social forum.
He explained how the concepts of community and activity feeds can facilitate a rich exchange around development. Say an engineer is stuck on a design and wants feedback on how to take weight out of a casting. Directly from the CAD environment, the engineer could post a microblog to a community. The post could present the problem and include a lightweight representation of the 3D part model (pulled directly from the PLM environment), putting a rich visual at the participants' fingertips. From there, participants could weigh in with comments, suggestions, and even basic markups on the part.