PLM can be thought of as both (a) a repository for all information that affects a product, and (b) a communication process between product stakeholders: principally marketing, engineering, manufacturing and field service. The PLM system is the first place where all product information from marketing and design comes together, and where it leaves in a form suitable for production and support.
Product information creation tools include word processors; spreadsheet and graphics programs; requirements analysis and market assessment tools; field trouble reports; and even emails or other correspondence. In our view, a PLM tool focuses exclusively on managing data that covers the breadth of a product’s lifecycle, without regard to how that data is developed.
Initially, Aerospace and Defense contractors led the way for managing data. Their initial focus was engineering drawings/documentation. They didn’t have just a few drawings lying around, they had thousands. No matter how hard they tried, the wrong drawings got used or they couldn’t find the drawing at all.
You can easily imagine the time lost looking for drawings/documentation and you just know that the drawings they couldn’t find were redrawn.
At the same time, they were complaining about the number of days required to turn around a change request. Back then, Email was just coming into use so the most common form of ‘routing’ was manual. A typical change process might look like this – A ‘program manager’ would log the change request in some kind of log book. They would determine who should review it and walk it to them. They would check to see if it was done and then walk down to pick it up. They would make the decision of where it would go next, and walk it there. You can see where this is going – It is too bad they weren’t paid mileage…
Over the last 10 years, other manufacturing companies have discovered the benefits of PLM solutions and the market has been growing at a rate above 10% annually. Still, many companies have not taken this step – even though the price of purchasing and implementing a PLM solution has dropped drastically.
You don’t have to own a large company to see a good return on investment from your successful PLM implementation. And, a down economy is a good time to make investments that can make you more efficient.
Has your company taken the plunge?