"Why aren't more companies further along the path?" Several factors come into play. PLM tool maturity and legacy programs are two big drivers. From my perspective, the PLM toolsets have only recently begun to look to be capable to truly manage the product data across the entire lifecycle. That said, many companies have been trying to use the capabilities that have been out there for the past 10-15 years, though they were limited by tool capability in just how far they could extend the PLM environment. Additionally, they likely customized what was available to make it work for them, potentially making backwards-compatibility more difficult. Because of that effort to date, it's more challenging to move to new tools and processes if your product lifecycles are lengthy - it can be cost-prohibitive to change PLM toolsets mid-program, and they may not be easily backward-compatible. Long product lifecycles therefore limit the opportunity to move to the new tools and processes, assuming you can justify their development and implementation expense for use on a new program, whenever those come along. If new programs don't come along very often, then you may not have the opportunity for the transformational-type of change that today's highly integrated PLM toolsets offer. If you have a new program start and the capital to invest in the IT and process development to leverage the integrated PLM tool capability, then a company definitely should take the leap - it's where we need to go...
You are correct. My position is that, without PLM, Design for the Environment (DfE) initatives make companies feel good but are wasted efforts. If the information about how the product was designed to be disposed of is not available decades or even a century from now when the product comes out of service, the product will simply be sent to a landfill.
Since the responsibility for environmental compliance has settled onto the shoulders of design engineers, a view toward PLM has become a necessity. The design process now has to include a view from conception through -- ultimately -- product disposal -- and everything in-between.
I agree, the PLM design approach is the way to go. In my ideal design process, all the relevant parties gather all the requirements in the beginning. Then all the concepts from all the parties are gathered and explored like an upside down pyramid, narrowing down the choices to one or two. Then the machine is designed, built, and tested...
This view of product development seems to be echoed by pundits and vendors and even the largest product producers in all of the major industry sectors, and the PLM sector is enjoying strong growth, which would indicate support for this vision.
Nevertheless, even though we now have the technology to support these practices, it's surprising how many companies are still so early on in this transition. It seems like a no-brainer for manufacturers to embrace core PLM concepts around developing and verifying product designs in the virtual world along with taking a product-centric, information-driven approach as opposed to siloed development groups. Why aren't more companies further along the path?
Digital healthcare devices and wearable electronic products need to be thoroughly tested, lest they live short, ignominious lives, an expert will tell attendees at UBM’s upcoming Designers of Things conference in San Jose, Calif.
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