PLM: Backward Evolution Into Lifelike 3D

PLM: Backward Evolution Into Lifelike 3D

Recent presentation on SolidWorks World 2010 about evolution of PLM drove me to think about what is the future of 3D and PLM in longer term. For those who haven’t had chance to see these materials, please take a look on the slide below. What we can see is the strategic move from the world of PLM to the world of (3D) Lifelike Experience

Does it mean PLM vendors is moving back to their 3D roots? Does it mean for PLM to be less involved into overall product lifecycle and processes? Maybe this move will allow better balancing between operational efficiency of ERP to manage corporate resources and combine it with the ability of PLM to manage a comprehensive set of product data?

Historically, PLM grew up from the ability to manage 2D and 3D geometry data. In the beginning, it was about CAD files. Ability to manage product data was the obvious strength of PLM in comparison to material-purchasing world of ERP. Unfortunately, PLM clashed with ERP on their interest to manage engineering product data and interest to drive processes in the organization. PLM made significant efforts to take over management of organizational processes around product design, planning, manufacturing and support. Nevertheless, “money talks” and PLM is still considered as a “step-child’ when you present this solution to CIO in comparison to ERP. In my view, by moving focus into Lifelike experience and Virtual 3D, PLM can become dominant in the overall product creation (from the requirement to material behavior) and leave ERP with operational responsibilities.

Does it mean PLM gave up? I don’t think so. In my view, move towards Lifelike experience, shows transformation from the process-focus into the end-to-end product-focus. PLM will be able to manage a complete set of product information. This is a very interesting move that can change enterprise system landscape. PLM (or 3D Lifelike Experience?) will be more focused on product engineering including all aspects of product requirement, design, manufacturing and user experience. ERP systems will be more focused on the processes and resources.

What is my conclusion? Move from PLM to advanced 3D can remove long term clash between ERP and PLM in the process management domain. ERP will expand into process management focus and PLM will be taking their position in the product engineering management with big emphasizing of 3D, Realistic Design and Manufacturing. Sounds like a rational decision to me.

Just my thoughts… What do you think about that?
Best, Oleg



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  • And its all about the geometry. Understanding the model and how it is going to be made, filed and used in the real world is all about the physical geometry. This is where Direct CAD and geometry-based PLM solutions like the Kubotek Validation tool are headed. I couldn’t agree with your more. We discuss this frequently on our blog at .

  • Scott, Good point! Thanks for the comment. However, in my view, this is not only about geometry. This is also about manufacturing characteristics, materials, ergonomic, user experience, user’s connections, etc… Does it make sense? Best, Oleg

  • I’d agree that PLM is for understanding the exact specifications of the development team; ERP will never completely encompass that. While 3D data (MCAD) is a large part of that understanding, let us not forget other engineering brethren: Software Designers, Electrical Engineers, and others like optical, RF, etc. I see the distinction of ERP and PLM as being the ability to share any product data with business associates.


  • George, I think, most of PLM vendors stack in the clash between PLM and ERP. Too many explanations why and who need to manage different Bill of Materials. They stack technologically and, therefore, continue the fight using marketing, etc. In the end, customers already tired of this clash and trying to find new values. Evolution to lifelike 3D, downstream 3D and many other advanced “design” apps can open a new way for PLM. Just my thoughts… Thanks for your comments! Best,Oleg