How PLM helps

DN Staff

February 18, 2002

4 Min Read
How PLM helps

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) services and products are the next wave of strategic tools, which go beyond concurrent engineering and product data management (PDM) to make vast amounts of product design, performance, and functionality-related information accessible and understandable across and between organizations. Here are answers to some common questions about PLM:

PLM links existing technologies together

Q: What is PLM?

PLM is not so much a new technology, as it is a set of existing technologies linked together in a new way and from a new perspective, making product information available and relevant to anyone in the organization who needs it. PLM is a set of technologies incorporating design, simulation and testing information, procurement and logistics documentation (BOM, shipping information and PO's, etc.), manufacturing data, and even customer relationship management/sales data (CRM), all within the confines of an overarching information architecture. It is built around the fundamental idea that performance of a product is the driver of the product lifecycle.

Q: How does PLM differ from PDM and ERP?

With PLM, all of an organization's processes can run in parallel, including design, simulation, marketing, purchasing, manufacturing, and repair and maintenance. This distinguishes PLM from other technologies, including concurrent engineering, which focuses on running just engineering processes in parallel. PLM provides access to all types of information, not just documents, which differentiates it from PDM, enterprise resource planning (ERP), and other document and logistics systems. Also, current ERP and PDM systems are not equipped to deal with the design- and performance-related data created during the design and manufacturing.

Q: How will PLM improve the organization?

PLM allows the design engineer to reuse engineering designs and performance data that have already been tested and proven. For example, after reviewing a new customer requirement for automotive crash testing, a design engineer remembering a similar past design and testing project will be able to initiate a query, based on tags and information, to quickly locate the design and testing data and all of the supporting information. Since the design's manufacturability, or a certain percentage of it, has already been proven, the cycle time and costs are reduced.

Q: How will PLM affect existing technologies at the organization?

PLM tools will bring together all of the technologies required for improving processes, products, and performance from concept to grave, including integration between CAD, simulation, PDM, collaboration, BOM, materials databases, supply chain management (SCM), and ERP software.

Q: What will the effect of PLM be on the design engineer?

PLM extends the value of what the design engineer does, maximizing his influence. He can leverage knowledge faster and help others inside and outside of his organization because that knowledge is captured within the PLM system. It ensures that others downstream understand the 'whys' of the design-why the engineer did what he did and why he specified a particular component. To take advantage of the benefits of PLM, design engineers will need to adhere to corporate standards. But de-sign engineers have much to gain, because PLM increases their influence to all aspects of the product's lifecycle.

Q: What is the business value of PLM?

PLM is a big step for an organization, requiring it to integrate a number of different processes and systems. Ultimately, information must be moved through an organization as quickly as possible to reduce cycle time and increase profitability. The faster different groups know that a new component or design change is on its way, the faster they can react, get it manufactured or reengineered, and out the door...And the sooner the organization can recognize revenue from the customer, giving it higher valuation and increased profitability.

With PLM technology, design engineers will continue to be the driving force in product development, innovation, and lifecycle. PLM will effectively leverage the design engineer's knowledge, making it accessible throughout the organization, increasing communication, efficiency, and profitability. With the integration of simulation and other PLM tools, the design engineer's value to the organization will continue to grow in importance and the organization will get products to market faster and for less cost, which is the goal.

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