We've all known about the person in quicksand who sinks deeper the harder he tries to get out. That scenario is not unlike manufacturers today who struggle to increase efficiencies by just keeping their head down, trying to get their products out the door, but actually defeating themselves in the effort. They are becoming less efficient by not building in the time and technology needed to improve their product development processes. Instead, like the person in quicksand, they should slow down and evaluate the tools around them to achieve success.
Many manufacturers are incorrectly relying on disparate point products that tout greater performance. Instead they should look at the big picture and evaluate what combination of products and services will meet their overall business objectives to work smarter instead of just harder.
The right mix of solutions can go beyond improving product development in engineering to managing the product from conception through retirement, also known as "product lifecycle management" (PLM). It's more than just the latest buzzword. The same intelligent data that is created in engineering can be used by everyone from purchasing to marketing and sales, or by partners outside the organization offering supplies and support.
Traditional PLM offers a complete solution for the manufacturer's process by providing a point solution for every aspect of that problem, and combining it with multiple "backbones" that control information flow.
Confused? You should be. That's why traditional PLM is costly to implement and deploy. The effort it takes to figure out information flow and to install and connect the systems is a six-month to multi-year project.
To help you get out of the quicksand a new generation of "desktop PLM" alternatives delivers large increases in efficiency and innovation. These manufacturers tend to have ad hoc processes or well-defined "silo-processes" where one team does things in defined ways, but nobody else knows, or cares, what they are.
A packaged set of point products and services that comprise the desktop PLM solution can solve 80% of the manufacturer's process out of the box by addressing key activities in engineering, manufacturing, sales, and customer interaction. Of course, a desktop PLM solution must be open enough to automate a few custom processes and provide integration interfaces for existing PDM or ERP systems for those that need it.
Many companies are achieving marked results by implementing a combination of design software and collaboration solutions to streamline their product development processes. For example, WMH Tool Group, a leading manufacturer of power tools, increased their productivity by 10% using just the minimum capabilities of the solution to collaborate with off-shore suppliers and manufacturers. They expect to achieve a 20% productivity increase when their solution is fully exploited. Lightolier, the largest brand under global lighting manufacturer Genlyte Thomas, experienced a 35% increase in productivity within the first 10 months. In addition, the parent company expects to lower costs by 25%, shorten time to market by 70%, and maintain security for proprietary information.
So get off that loose sand foundation and get on solid ground. Evaluate the desktop PLM tools available to you that can help you survive and thrive.