In today’s product landscape, almost all CAD manufacturers have developed their own data management tool. I think that basic PDM capabilities such as data revisions, changes, and support for multiple locations have become very connected to a particular CAD system. The main reasons for this are customer needs and the growing complexity of CAD tools. This means that very soon we will find ourselves in the world of CAD+PDM bundles.
Will CAD/PDM bundles affect PLM in any way? My assumption is that the standardization of CAD/PDM bundles can provide the next steps in the development of Product Lifecycle Management in an organization. When this happens, basic data management problems will already be resolved and manufacturers will start looking how to organize a single product development process and single product lifecycle process for an organization.
In my opinion, the following four technologies are good candidates to resolve these challenges: (1) Business Process Management; (2) Enterprise Search and 3D Search; (3) 3D Technologies (4) Mashups.
Let’s talk about them in more details:.
1. Business Process Management focuses on definition, execution and monitoring of processes. The definition portion is important – if a meta model of Business Process Management tools will be able to support product and related organizational models, it will be capable of serving as a technological layer to keep product lifecycle in an organization. The key problem of today’s BPM(s) tools is that they are rather agnostic with regards to content. As soon as meta-data modeling capabilities of BPM technologies will improve, t we will probably see them connect well with CAD/PDM bundles.
2. Enterprise Search and 3D Search will be able to coordinate product data and lifecycle data. Enterprise Search technologies were boosted during the last year or two. The main reasons for this boost were the increased amount of data and a very proactive position of Google and its GSA offering. Enterprise Search technologies have become more vertical – together with a cheap GSA offering and the growing interest of vendors like Microsoft providing ES as part of MOSS, are very promising. Another part of search technologies is the 3D search. This can add a special flavor for CAD-related models and engineering activities. Just imagine maintenance people being able to find part numbers by scanning the picture of the defected part…
3. 3D technologies is another valid technological option. Since most of product development can be presented in 3D, this 3D experience can absorb and provide a single organizational view for the product lifecycle. One example of such a technology is Dassault Systèmes’ 3DLive product which continues following 3D Lifelike experience in V6. Future connections to gaming and other 3D technologies can create a solid platform for unifying all CAD/PDM product bundles used by designers.
4. Mashups technologies combines data came from different sources. Initially, heavily promoted by GIS and map based products, this technology has improved and become useful for combining various pieces of data. This also provides required functionality when a product is developed by multiple CADs systems and managed by multiple PDM systems.
Bottom line – I believe that the technologies I mentioned (and may be some other technologies) can take Product Lifecycle Management from multiple PDM systems to a single PLM environment. Who will actually do it? This is an open call…