According to the latest supply research done by IBM,, one of the challenges of the supply chain having to manage fragmented data. This is the main outcome of the importance of visibility as part of a successful supply chain. Data is fragmented between OEM and Suppliers as a result of decisions being based on a specific subset of data. Even if the IBM report wasn’t specifically about manufacturing and product development, I still regard product data as being very distributed. OEM designs and distributes data to the suppliers who work on their designs. Sometimes, the same design is used for manufacturing by multiple providers/suppliers…, and there are many other scenarios.
I see one of the biggest promises of PLM 2.0 is being able to have data management platforms used behind CAD/design and product development platforms. This is a good step for rationalizing data management as opposed to the case where data is located in multiple CAD files. To be able to manage data globally, across the supply chain, collaboration among suppliers may decrease data fragmentation.
Another piece of technology that can work together with PLM 2.0 is cloud data services. The latest development in this area can be seen in the plans of Amazon, Microsoft and other companies to build data centers – this is a big promise, in my view. Usage of cloud data services will eliminate the need for companies to establish shared IT infrastructure. For the larger companies, it will provide the required level of security. For smaller suppliers today, this is the biggest showstopper, since the most expensive infrastructure they can afford these days is email only.
Of course, this is not simple and has a long way to go. OEMs and suppliers act as separate organizations and not always can share data between them. But these technologies, in my view, provide a solid technological foundation to provide a better supply chain solution for tomorrow.
I would be interested to hear about your challenges and to discuss if you are starting to evaluate these technologies in the near future.