In my 35 years of experience in product lifecycle management (PLM) at Caterpillar, I’ve learned that the right PLM approach can impact the entire value chain. Despite this, the industry hasn’t adopted a single understanding or approach to PLM, and some companies don’t even understand the importance at all. On February 22, I hosted a 30-minute webinar that explored the true value to PLM and how to best implement a successful strategy.
A True Definition to PLM
Although the industry hasn’t adopted a single definition of PLM, there are several overlapping concepts and features to consider:
- Process of managing the entire lifecycle
- An all-encompassing approach
- Product information management
- Supporting the entire enterprise
Based on industry analysis from leading experts like CIMData and my own experiences in the industry over the last three and a half decades, I have created a reasonable definition for PLM that I use in all my consultations. Watch the webinar to learn this definition.
Once we begin to understand the truth to PLM, the industry can understand the importance of accessing product information anywhere in the development process. Regardless of whether an individual or department is responsible for the virtual product design or the physical product execution, all entities in the company can benefit from PLM.
However, there tends to be competition between these two areas of a business. I would say that the innovative design side and the physical execution side of a company should not, cannot, and actually do not operate independently of each other. I explore the importance of partnership between these two areas fully in the webinar.
How to Implement a PLM Strategy
Leveraging PLM is more than just a nice idea. Based on my own experience and industry research, it’s been proven that a successful approach to PLM accelerates time-to-market and creates more profit for organizations. I suggest a two-part vision for how to implement a PLM strategy in my webinar:
- Make it Visual. Visual, virtual representations of objects give the enterprise a better understanding of a product. Not only do I recommend organizations leverage visualization tools, but also transition away from a Bill of Materials to a Bill of Information that includes visual representations.
- Make it Flow. A good Bill of Information will allow product information to be accessible throughout the value stream to any entity in the supply chain. This allows high levels of collaboration from end to end.
PLM and Industry 4.0
In the last several decades, our industry has seen radical change. Consider how far we’ve come from paper, pencils, and slide rules to the virtual product design that is available today. This degree of complexity and use of cyber-physical systems is called Industry 4.0. In my webinar, I discuss how the right approach to PLM helps to enable an environment for Industry 4.0.
I also spend significant time discussing the digital twin, or an exact representation of the virtual product. A digital twin is more than just sensors on a machine that provide information. Check out the webinar if you’re interested in learning the holistic understanding of digital twin and how it provides significant value throughout the value stream.
Keeping Pace with Industry 4.0
As manufacturing organizations, we have to keep up with the pace, cost, and feature-set that consumers demand. We must have continuous and concurrent processes. If we are going to keep pace with this demand, an effective approach and implementation of PLM is a necessity. I encourage you to watch my on-demand webinar to learn how to approach this in your own organization.