PLM and Bottom Up Option

PLM and Bottom Up Option

The following publication in VEKTORRUM got me to review again a book “3D Manufacturing Innovation” by Dr. Hiroshi Toriya. I had a chance to read this book last year and it contains some very impressive examples every PLM software company need to learn. The book is pricey. As alternative, navigate your browser on Google Book link and you will have about 30% of this book for free. This book and Randal’s post – “3D Manufacturing Innovation- Explains the Japanese Quest for an Alternative to PLM” made me think about PLM strategies that were developed over the last decade and their potential improvements.

3D Master Top-Down
This is a dominant concept used today for Product Lifecycle Management. It supported by mindshare PLM leaders (Dassault, PTC, and Siemens PLM). Their strategies as well as portfolios are aligned straight from the CAD / 3D products, and they built infrastructure to manage and proliferate in 3D information downstream. Dassault is the dominant in their vision of 3D for all, PTC and Siemens PLM, in my view, provide more balanced between CAD/3D and Process orientation. As a consequence of competition with major ERP vendors, PLM mindshare companies are shifting towards better modeling of downstream data, engineering and manufacturing options as well as industry businesses.

Process is King
This model supported by PLM companies that have roots in ERP domain. 3D is definitely not the strongest side of their portfolio. So, building their product with “a process in mind” makes a lot of sense to them. These companies can be leverage a very strong enterprise architecture and infrastructure. By doing so, they can provide a support for development and manufacturing process. The advantage and disadvantage of this approach is a very weak connection to design and 3D data. Therefore, we had a chance to see investments of ERP companies in acquisition of 3D viewing technologies.

Bottom Up Approach
Both approaches – “3D Master” and “Process is King” are very focused on top down methodologies. This is, in my view, a significant weak point. What if we need to move from top down approach to bottom up? Dr. Hiroshi Toria mentioned in his  something that can be considered as an alternative bottom up when 3D data will be accumulated by company in a central database and access by everybody. Here is a quote from his book:

What is my conclusion? PLM is one of the strategies that introduced by software companies to improve design and manufacturers. It was adopted by manufacturing companies. However, it faces a significant criticism. There are two main criticisms – (1) need to make a reform in a company in one day and (2) complex implementation following this decision. I can see multiple alternatives on the table. One of them is a top down approach and decline in a massive 3D CAD top down dominance in PLM implementation. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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  • Good one. We are seeing a similar trend in product development, where engineers work more bottom-up than top down. The Lean PD folks also back this approach. Of course, not everyone will be successful with big CAD, so SpaceClaim becomes a concept modeler with the accuracy of a CAD system but the simplicity of a viewer.

    It’s also interesting how the Lean advocates approach PLM. When anyone can make a change to the process, complicated phase-gate process tools can get in the way. Is ad hoc PLM possible? Vuuch?

  • beyondplm

    Blake, thanks for commenting. I think “lean” is an appropriated way of thinking. Lean PLM (in case of processes) can be associated with “ad-hoc” processes. PLM considers it as part of collaboration. Not sure about Vuuch – in my view, Chris is distancing from collaboration towards “enterprise social software”. Let him answer, he is reading my blog… Best, Oleg

  • The problem with any top down implementation is that it is revolutionary. The kind of revolution that requires that you win a war to be successful. With any war you must accept the pain, suffering and collateral damage. The final outcome is usually devastating to some, and disappointing to all involved.

    I have seen much more success with incremental, evolutionary change that is rolled out in such a way as to minimize disruption to the organization. PLM and PDM are a means to an end, not an end unto themselves.

  • beyondplm

    Rod, thank you for comment! I think you are right. When you come to implement a top – down system, you obviously need to create a change. To manage this change is not a simple goal. Bottom up evolution is much easier, in my view. Best, Oleg

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