Grieves gives the example of GM's capture of information about the status of its vehicles, which it transmits through the OnStar vehicle tracking. GM can know at any point in time whether an airbag has deployed or what the status of oil is in the vehicle. Another example: Rolls Royce has sensors in its airplane engines, which capture tons of data regarding the plane's performance. The data is then analyzed and profiled, giving Rolls Royce the ability to pinpoint abnormal performance and recommend a course of action long before it ever puts hands on a physical product.
Grieves argues that being able to make these types of assessments and modifications through the use of a virtual product model, and not having to wait to examine a physical product, is part and parcel of PLM's valuable time efficiencies. Staying connected to the product can also deliver another source of revenue, Grieves says, as witnessed by Apple's iTunes service.
While Grieves says we've made plenty of progress on the PLM and virtual product development front, especially in terms of technology, he acknowledges there is still work to be done, especially in the area of culture and process change -- the human side of being "virtually perfect."