Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) has always been a tough pill for enterprises to swallow, even for the largest companies in sectors like automotive and Aerospace & Defense (A&D), which have been among the earliest adopters of the technology. While historically, there's been no shortage of user interface enhancements and packaged templates and workflow customizations to ease deployment and improve accessibility, companies have continued to struggle to squeeze value out of PLM beyond its core roots as a souped-up repository for managing engineering data and change orders.
4GD, new technology folded in Teamcenter and other Siemens PLM Software offerings, aims to help users quickly find subsets of data related to their specific task without having to load entire complex assemblies or products. (Source: Siemens PLM Software)
At its annual analyst and media day meeting this week, Siemens PLM Software revealed more of its plan to crack that accessibility nut and push PLM to the next level. Executives touted a multi-pronged strategy hinged on a deeper industry focus, an agenda launched in earnest last year when it formalized a companywide reorganization, along with a variety of new technologies to support what it is calling "intelligent-driven design." Though clearly a marketing term, intelligent-driven design is Siemens' moniker for shifting the focus of PLM from a pure repository for storing all product-related data (and Siemens officials say with today's increasingly complex products, there's a lot of it) to being a conduit for serving up relevant product information in the proper context and to the proper constituents without necessarily having to know or specify what exactly it is you're looking for.
Siemens has talked about some of the new technologies in earnest and made casual mention of others more recently. One of the better-known capabilities is Active Workspace, a highly visual, interactive environment that combines complex search capabilities and portal functionality to help users more easily find and access intelligent 3D information in order to make better informed decisions.
HD-PLM is another critical piece of solving the accessibility puzzle. The technology, which encompasses Web 2.0 technologies like tagging and visual reporting along with new user interface constructs, including role-based portals, delivers a more intuitive and personalized PLM user experience, and is being folded into Siemens' products such as NX 7, Teamcenter, and Tecnomatix.
Beth, I know what you mean when you say at the top of your article that PLM has been a tough pill to swallow. It seems that engineers and organizations have a hard time seeing the value of what they do now to help organize the information on a project for future use. We tend to think about the next deadline in our design process, not what the needs of the organization down the line. I was in one of those organizations that you mention. On the other hand, having that information available really makes you more effective over time.
I think that with products like this we are getting to a level of automation that takes some of the load off of the individual trying to solve a problem in the here and now. That is the trade-off.
It's a royal pain, but it has to be done. Take firmware for mobile phones. PLM is absolutely necessary to handle firmware releases, do regression testing. Done wrong, and you have very, very angry customers.
What is truly needed is for Siemens to talk to and LISTEN to their customer base. While new buzz words like 4GD, HD-PLM and Active Workspace generate excitement from a sales perspective, alot of the issues with PLM are much more rudimentary and if addressed properly, the user base would be telling everyone they know why they can't live without this technology.
@Kdkimball: What are some of the critical problems you see with PLM ease of implementation? The interesting thing is Siemens says a lot of these new technologies are a result of listening to their customer base and their requirements. I'd be curious to see where you see the disconnects.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This radio show will show what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.