Category: PLM Strategy

03 Aug 2017

Part 2: Understanding PLM Fundamentals

PLM is rooted in technical data and processes, but it has evolved to also encompass a variety of non-technical roles and teams. Everyone from engineers to marketing, purchasing, and sales reps create, use, and/or rely on the product information that’s managed through PLM. Engineering and purchasing access CAD files. Purchasing and inventory access bills of materials (BOMs). Sales and marketing access sales orders, product images and information. And corporate executives and managers rely on data and other information to make more informed business decisions (business intelligence).

The value of PLM—and a PLM platform —is that product data is accessible from a central repository where everyone can find what they need and it enables collaboration across teams who are responsible for product development. This repository reduces the burden on individual departments, especially engineering, that no longer have to respond to multiple requests for information tailored to another department’s needs.

PLM Drives Data Management

A centralized location ensures continuity of data around all product information—this is vital and affects many departments. Top PLM systems ensure lots of people can access, work with, and even change full, rich product data in the PLM system without the data getting out of sync. That also means improved collaboration across the enterprise—it’s easier for everyone to find and work on the latest version of a file.

PLM is Useful Whether You’re Big or Small

PLM has long been seen as the province of large companies producing complex products. Dozens of teams work on a single product, each focusing on one tiny step or element in the manufacturing process. The challenge in those organizations is getting each focused team to consider the bigger picture and work with other teams when necessary. But the size of the company has little to do with the complexity of a product, and these days, with improved technology and automation, very complex products might be produced by small teams.

PLM’s emphasis on data management and collaboration is as important for a small company as it is for a company of 200,000. At a small company, an individual might play more than one role, such as a technical role in the morning and a sales or marketing role in the afternoon. That’s where PLM shines, because it helps the multi-tasking individual switch between roles, needs, and information seamlessly. PLM systems help manage all the information the worker requires for whatever role they’re playing at the moment.

PLM software solutions, in particular, can be of enormous value to organizations, as a tool to improve collaboration and communication. Working with an experienced solution provider like Adaptive, we can help you wherever you are at in your software journey. Some of our customers just use a CAD or PDM system and want to evolve to something more comprehensive, others may have experienced failed PLM and don’t know where to go next. We can help give you the right information and tools you need to help your organization move forward.  We invite you to contact us, we are here to help.

This post is part of a 2-post blog series.  Read the first post here: Part 1: Understanding PLM, PDM and More

30 Jun 2017

Part 1: Understanding PLM, PDM, and More

We’ve all heard the buzzwords: digital transformation, product lifecycle, product data, PLM, PDM, systems engineering, models-based engineering and so on. It can be confusing, trying to figure out which technology or trend will have the biggest impact on the business. It’s also easy to imagine you’re missing out on a new, hot trend. But before we worry about whether we’re ahead of the curve or behind it, let’s be clear exactly what we’re talking about.

Defining Terms

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) as a term has been around since the 1950s—it is not a new concept, but recently, more organizations are looking at this process as a place for improvement. A product lifecycle is simply the stages a product goes through from the initial concept to end of life—whether that’s a complex manufactured product like a rocket or a simpler product such as a house or a winter coat.

Product lifecycle management is the set of processes and/or procedures used to manage all of the product’s information throughout the lifecycle—from inception and planning; to design, engineering, and manufacture; to service and disposal.

At Adaptive, we have defined the product lifecycle to start with the digital design process and continues into the physical side of manufacturing for prototyping, testing, first article inspection, and quality control.

Is PDM also PLM?

But what about product data management (PDM)? Where does that fit?

As the words imply, PDM involves managing the information about a product, from models and drawings to bills of materials (BOMs) and more. But PDM shouldn’t be equated with PLM. PDM is about the data involved in managing all the data around the development of a product – product specifications, version control and more. PLM calls on the data in PDM to manage the entire digital design process.

Systems Engineering

Systems engineering is also sometimes confused with PLM, but that focuses on how to design and manage systems (which almost always include products). It’s the overall organization and oversight of a system, as well as the people and processes that ensure all aspects of a system are considered and integrated into a whole. PLM, which focuses on everything about the product, can sometimes help automate design processes related to systems engineering. But generally speaking, systems engineering has a broader scope, as it also includes the coordination of teams, logistics, and other responsibilities outside of the product stream.

Models-based Systems Engineering

Within systems engineering is the concept of models-based system engineering (MBSE). MBSE establishes a “model” to analyze and document key aspects of the systems engineering life cycle which includes system requirements, analysis, design, and validation and verification activities. Similar to a PLM, it is intended to improve communications within engineering teams and other stakeholders, it provides early identification of requirements issues, improves specification of allocated requirements to hardware and software resulting in fewer errors during integration and testing and provides requirements traceability, reduces project risks and lowers costs, and more.

Digital Transformation

The idea behind digital transformation is to establish a process for organizations to track the entire cross-functional cycle of product development capturing and integrating key data points to establish traceability and manage how a product is conceived, created, tested, and brought to market. In essence, the data trail creates a “digital thread” that captures the evolution of that product.  Of course, this doesn’t happen all at once and needs to be taken in discrete steps that build success upon success.  In some cases a digital thread will extend beyond the walls into the supply chain, this is the ultimate nirvana. However, many organizations are not quite ready for that just yet and it is more talk than anything. However, the concept of establishing a digital thread goes hand in hand with PLM and systems engineering strategies.  The transformation part happens when there is a more collaborative approach in an organization when everyone is working off the same data and making better business decisions. We will be writing more on this topic later.

In Conclusion

As you can see, product development covers a broad spectrum in an enterprise as it tends to touch many functional departments as work gets completed across an organization. In some cases a business problem on the surface may not “appear” to be a PLM issue, but in many cases due to collaboration needs, managing product changes, and tracking all documentation it quickly becomes something a PLM strategy can affect.

Stay tuned for our next post where we will dive a little deeper into Understanding PLM Fundamentals…

26 Apr 2017

Determining a PLM Roadmap: White Paper Download

So much of what Adaptive does with its customers these days is consulting to help them determine an appropriate PLM roadmap for achieving their product development goals. Basing Adaptive’s solution offering on the Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCE platform helps us work with our customers to determine a roadmap approach that positively influences most of the product development process in a phased approach. Adaptive recently published a white paper titled “Defining a Technology Strategy to Support Product Development” that summarizes all of the considerations a company should make when setting out on their PLM journey.

The paper defines a typical product development process with all of its stakeholders inside and outside of engineering. In the past, many companies addressed the complexity of product development by implementing disparate software tools and systems to address the needs of different users and sub-processes. It has also been common to try and position ERP functionality for engineers or add engineering-centric workflows to content management solutions like SharePoint. This often led to some improvements, but not the full potential of having a coherent strategy with a solution like the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.

For companies that are just embarking on their PLM journey this paper is a great source of information to help formulate and prioritize a strategy. This paper first defines the commodity technologies that all enterprise software solutions provide. It is important to not get tricked into believing that these technologies are the “end state” of the PLM journey. In fact, they are just the price of entry. What is important is to focus on the differentiating aspects of the latest PLM solutions. Some of these differentiators that the paper explains in detail are:

  • a unified change management process
  • embedded project management methodologies
  • advanced security approaches
  • ideation and customer needs management
  • mechatronic design management supported by systems engineering and functional simulation
  • managing design intent for manufacture and after-market service

To learn more, I encourage you to download the paper. If you have any questions or feedback, let me know.