PLM Platforms and PLM Automotive Future

PLM Platforms and PLM Automotive Future

A couple of weeks ago, I posted PLM Platform Wars: Who is Right or Who is Left? The following short article in Dasssault 3D Perspective struck me to think more about the future PLM technologies and innovation. Watch the video and make your opinion.

Kate is asking: “Can the automotive industry build cars of the future with old technology?” In my view, devil is in details. PLM is a bit different from iPad 2. Despite some marketing presentations showing V6 as a PLM 2.0 technology, PLM technologies are not created from scratch every 2-3 years.

PLM Platforms

The notion of a platform in enterprise software is very specific, in my view. When we are talking about software platforms, we often can think about .NET, Java, iOS or similar stuff. Platform is an obvious target for every technology. By achieving the level of a platform, your technology can leverage value of all applications running on top of this platform.

However, the enterprise software created a special notion of “platform” in my view. In such a context, platform always becomes a set of technologies coming out of a specific software vendor successfully created a rich set of applications and dependent products. There are few enterprise software platforms that approached a high level of partner’s software development. However, enterprise platforms are controlling the ability of additional software components to run on top of so called “platform” in a strong way.

PLM mindshare vendors are often using the term “platform”. TeamCenter platform, Windchill platform, V6 platform. In my view, these solutions are more representing a rich set of vertical and horizontal applications rather than a software platform. The core of all these platforms is database-oriented software product. These products are supporting core data modeling capabilities of these platforms. Until the recent time, the integration between these data management components and CAD elements was very weak.

PDM in CAD Innovation

One of the innovations created by Dassault V6 platform was bundling of Enovia V6 (platform) with CATIA technologies. By providing CATIA with RDBMS based data modeling backbone, DS created few very interesting capabilities in management of CAD data as well as product development processes. Other PLM vendors approached a slightly different scenario. At the same time, the recent announcement about PTC Creo came with a definition of something called “common data model”. For me, it is not clear what will be relationships between “common data model” and Windchill platform capabilities.

Do you think combining of PDM and CAD is a fundamental PLM innovation of 2010s? Well, the CAD/PDM integration was always a complicated part of the game. The ability to achieve a successful integration was a critical element in most of CAD/PDM/PLM implementations. The fact PLM vendors decided to solve it by providing tighter bundling between CAD and PDM tools is extremely positive. However, as a result, we are going to see a larger amount vertically integrated product suites. It can make many customers happy. However, the same solution can make a lot of complications in case of companies’ mergers, usage of heterogeneous products, etc.

What is my conclusion? Building large vertically integrated product suites is not a new approach. It can be very successful. However, we cannot mislead ourselves- companies are running heterogeneous application set. In my view, this is a reality. To have the ability to implement a granular solution set, with the intensive support of Open Standards can be a key for a future success. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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  • Hello Oleg,
    I would consider the platforms as a mixed blessing: yes, it creates vendor lock-in, but it also enables the integrated solutions for PLM that companies are looking for. It would be nice to be able to just plug-in the best-in-class solutions from different vendors, but this would require comprehensive standards on different levels such as data, processes and even GUI.
    As discussed earlier, one success factor is to have product data as the main asset under control (http://whyblogwith44.blogspot.com/2011/02/end-to-end-ootb-vs-open-standards-based.html).
    I would consider a clear PDM-TDM architecture another key factor: bundling MCAD with a Team Data Manager might make sense in terms of supporting persistence for complex data, but you don’t necessarily want to be forced to source your complete PDM/PLM solutions from the MCAD vendor.
    Best regards,
    Jens

  • Awadhesh Singh Parihar

    Hi Oleg
    Vertical Integration strategy and Open standards are opposing trends in my opinion. Also, my opinion of bringing CAD and PLM data together (well, won’t there be CAD files?) is driven by internal needs and benefits to businesses is incidental. There have been several confused offerrings, getting more confused due to take-over of competing products – debate between LCA, VPM and eMatrix had to get settled for good or bad..

    If an evolutionary trend has to be discerned amongst the PLM/CAD products, it has to be in two dimensions
    a) How closely is it supporting the evolving business needs e.g. does it streamline the DMU process, does it get the suppliers early on in the new product development, does it help to get timely, quality product data to manufacturing? Analytical framework and tools inbuilt in PLM to measure its business effectiveness!!
    b) How significant are the techonology changes in line with the information technology trends at large e.g. is it cloud native or is it cloudy, is it refactored around web 2.0 or is it compliant to web 2.0, is it taking cognizance of emerging delivery ‘channels’ (SaaS/PaaS) or does it profess a hungrier licensing regime

    We need to parametrize the effectiveness of newer platform and judge it on business outcome than mere marketing messages. And cars of the future or any product evolution will be derivative of such awareness in the ecosystem. It is sad to see that some of the business processes locked in these systems still belong to 80’s mass production philosophy while the business have long embraced mass customization or ‘n=1, R=G’ philosophy professed by C.K. Prahlad (in his book titled ‘New Age of Innovation…’)

    Regards
    Awadhesh

  • beyondplm

    Jens, the link you provided is dead. With regards to the topic, vendors need to figure out the right proportion of openness, standards and flexibility. Each of these elements is not a “silver bullet” to solve a problem. Bundle o CAD-PDM is a good practice, which will grow, in my view, for the next 3-5 years and become a norm. Just my thoughts… Best, Oleg

  • beyondplm

    Awadhesh, thanks for commenting! I’d disagree with you about vertical integration and standards. The growth of “local standards” for a specific vertical can be a very positive. However, the technological of the openness is a key. Something, like Web, can be very helpful as a horizontal foundation. Just my thoughts… best, Oleg