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Tag: PLM

30 Sep 2019
PLM Roadmap

The Case for PLM in Concert With Your ERP System

In a Q&A with ConnectPress, Jon Gable, PLM Business Leader for Adaptive, gets to the heart of why even small manufacturing shops can derive tremendous value from implementing a product lifecycle management (PLM) system that works hand-in-hand with an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

Fundamental Roles of ERP and PLM

ERP systems focus on operations: how a company produces a product, including tracking money, materials, production capacity, orders and executions, labor factors, risk, compliance, and more. What ERP cares most about is the financial information to do with purchasing, producing, or assembling parts.

PLM systems focus on the innovation side of a business: how a company develops a product from concept to end-of-life. The tools within PLM—including mechanical CAD, ECAD, FEA, and manufacturing simulation—create the design information that goes into the ERP system. In addition, PLM tools expand on ERP’s fundamental purpose of managing purchasing, manufacturing, and assembly of designs by answering a variety of other questions. Will the finished parts perform as expected? Will they be cost-effective? Are there better alternatives? Can they really be assembled ergonomically? Will there be clashes as robotics move parts into place?

A PLM system allows for prediction and correction that an ERP system isn’t capable of, for example, helping inform ERP-centered engineers about production workflows based on a component’s shape, handling characteristics, and tolerances, not just machine availability.

Another huge value PLM contributes is the ability to simulate factory-floor manufacturing processes, which is critical for change management, allowing an organization to synchronize different engineering domains to fully understand the impact of change. Instead of receiving a new requirement, making a physical change to a subsystem, and working through the physical manufacturing process to evaluate any issues, a robust PLM platform lets you complete the evaluation virtually—and quickly. Gable refers to this state as “the holy grail of where manufacturing organizations want to get to.”

The Modern Market Means You Need PLM

The challenges of three current trends in manufacturing can all be comprehensively managed by a PLM system: extreme product variations and configurability, increased product specialization, and complex mechatronic engineering.

Setting up manufacturing engineering to handle product variation. ERP systems deal with what part numbers to produce, which doesn’t help the variability question. In contrast, PLM systems allow engineering and simulation to be done to validate that variant configurations can be designed and produced—meaning you can validate products before exposing possible configurations to the market.

Managing different product configurations. As companies manage these variations of products—and validate the new design configurations—it’s ever more important and complex to ensure proper revisions and versions of a design are being used for the correct product and manufacturing simulations, as well as production. With its “single source of truth,” a centralized location for all product and manufacturing data, PLM systems make this management significantly easier.

Addressing complex designs. Rarely do products have only mechanical function these days—it’s much more common that they contain electronic and software aspects, as well. Simpler tools for tracking design evolution, such as a product data management (PDM) system, worked for simpler products. But the added complexity of mechatronic engineering increases the need for PLM platforms that can handle a broader range of teams, contributors, and collaborators involved in a single design.

How To Begin with PLM

The barrier to small- and mid-sized organizations implementing PLM is twofold: cost and effort. Many are finally reaping the rewards of a complete ERP integration and routine content management workflows. The idea of adding another enterprise platform, and one that comes with a decent price tag, can be daunting—regardless of potential value in the end. But the benefits of the long-view solution can still be achieved bit by bit with modularity. Most PLM vendors offer modular, manageable packages that build on each other, with fairly affordable on-premise, cloud, or even SaaS options.

Similarly, following the theory of eating the elephant “one bite at a time,” the best way to start an implementation is with a single process you want to improve. The process should involve a targeted group of users, have the most business impact, and be the foundation for expanded applications. Typically, this is something like a small design team managing their content, whether electrical, mechanical, or software.

Follow-on phases are built on this implementation, such as users who consume the engineering content wanting to improve their processes. For example, people who track material-compliance regulations for different markets may want to move the information they track offline—unlinked and siloed—into the PLM system where it lives in context with the design data.

Centralized, accessible, comprehensive product data makes everyone associated with product manufacturing more efficient, which ultimately saves money on time, quality, and customer satisfaction.

To read the full Q&A with PLM Business Leader Jon Gable, or to find out more about how a PLM platform can transform your processes, contact Adaptive.

30 Sep 2019
PLM

PLM Is Also for Custom and Contract Manufacturers

In a recent article at thefabricator.com, Jon Gable, Adaptive’s PLM Line of Business Leader, argues that PLM software isn’t only for organizations that design products, it can also be surprisingly valuable for custom and contract manufacturing shops.

Even though you may have already implemented an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, which typically helps improve efficiency across the organization, and may even have a product data management (PDM) system, which handles all engineering data, PLM can still fill holes in your workflows and streamline your processes even more.

Gable outlined a few of the potential benefits of adding PLM to your processes:

  • Lifecycle information, not just data. Like PDM, PLM offers centralized storage for manufacturing-related files, but PLM goes further, allowing manufacturers to also centralize all product content, such as linking sales and marketing information or quality metrics.
  • Sales and quoting information, with context. A PLM system allows sales and estimators to search for previously processed parts with similar geometries and features to help the quoting process. What’s more, once similar parts are identified, their full history is available—including what worked and didn’t during the manufacturing process, what tooling was used and could potentially be modified, any quality issues that occurred and how they were resolved, and any best practices for production that were developed.
  • Indexing, linking, and searching. One of the biggest issues for many manufacturers is siloed information: manufacturing documents often live apart, stored in separate files on a server, not linked to anything. But PLM can connect design files with work instructions, quality procedures, tooling list, setup sheets, and more. And once linked, everything can be searched—for example, by Purchasing, looking for commonalities in jobs to streamline the supply chain or monitoring the timing and content of engineering change orders. Similarly, designers and product managers could search across parts to analyze form, fit, and function characteristics of components to evaluate potential cost-reduction options. And programming, scheduling, and quality control teams can analyze parts to optimize processes or problems.

Making PLM Work for You

PLM can provide a wealth of benefits: mitigating data replication, making production costs more visible, reducing lead times and wasted effort of engineering teams, and making quality and corrective actions easier to manage. But it’s a big system to implement, and ROI can be more challenging to measure. As Gable points out, how do you measure efficiency of engineering staff, productivity losses due to missing or inaccurate data, or any of the other time-wasters that PLM eliminates? He advises approaching an implementation one module at a time: start small and build on your successes. For example, this could mean starting with part numbers and creating the integration between your ERP and PLM systems.

The article with Gable offers more details on how you might go about starting an implementation, how to manage products and capacity, and how to evaluate success of an ERP and PLM integration in your business. Jon Gable and Adaptive are also ready and eager to help you understand more. Contact us to talk about it.

23 Mar 2018
POWER'BY for 3DEXPERIENCE Introduction

Digital Twins Powered by POWER’BY?

UPDATE: Power’By is now PLM Collaboration Services?

In this blog post by Jonathan Scott of Razorleaf, he shares how the Dassault Systèmes POWER’BY capability on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform can help with Digital Twin initiatives.  He states that POWER’BY represents a “useful evolution in CAD authoring tools… and helps overcome the deficiencies in current CAD tools today”.

Other POWER’BY highlights he mentioned include:

  • Makes it easier for non-CAD users to quickly imagine new mechanical designs simply by mashing-up parts of BOMs of existing products
  • Takes advantage of high-end downstream capabilities, like DELMIA manufacturing planning and SIMULIA simulation without first having to rip-and-replace, or translate data from, their existing mid-range CAD tools
  • Enables users of any 3D CAD tool to leverage their data into instance-specific, digital twin models

To read Jonathan’s whole article, click here.

 

03 Aug 2017
PLM Fundamentals

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…