While there are a number of so-called "open" solutions on the market, they are limited because they generally connect within their own systems. But to be truly open, companies need to go beyond scattered islands of information and manual roll-ups of reports. What's needed is the ability to make multi-vendor connections to MCAD, CAD, CAE, PDM, and even ERP, SCM, and document management systems. This connectivity provides distributed product and project teams with automatic extraction and aggregation of real-time product and operational data, presenting cross-disciplinary information and enabling more informed decisions.
Connectivity to other data sources is great, but how are you supposed to manage all that information? Centric automates the management of the volume of data. Our solutions mine and merge key information from disparate data sources and continually update and organize the information in an intuitive, easy-to-understand manner. The environment is flexible and easy to configure. End users drag and drop to create live connections to data sources across a global supplier chain. Our solutions maintain existing levels of security, so users only have access to information necessary to their function. The ease-of-use, automatic management, and re-combinations of business and product information allow completion of more projects and programs, more quickly.
Why do most large scale PLM deployments disappoint? Most PLM deployments disappoint for several reasons: time to a working implementation, isolation, and functional limitations. A PLM deployment may take a year or more to implement and, when complete, create an island of information that is not available to any other system. Further, the functionality is limited to what is available within that system. But no one system offers all capabilities. The challenge of data in multiple systems can be resolved with manual exports or with a migration, both of which are time-consuming alternatives. A better solution is an overlay interface that provides access to live data from multiple systems where they reside. This allows for rapid implementation and leverages the functionality in other systems.
How have the opportunities for manufacturers to sell products globally changed the way PLM vendors develop solutions? Selling products globally has created niche markets in different regions around the world. While generating new markets and revenue opportunities, the global economy has increased the volume of products and consequently the volume of product information. Further, the global economy brings new suppliers and partners into the value chain. PLM vendors must recognize that a global network of partners generate massive volumes of data about products/ projects using many different systems. What is required is a technology that creates automatically maintained, live links to major product information systems not traditionally considered part of PLM including multiple MCAD, EDA, CAE, PDM, ERP, SCM, and document management systems. This creates an environment that facilitates worldwide communication and informed collaboration based on immediate visibility.
Chris Groves is CEO of Centric Software.