Traditional PLM have reached their limits

Traditional PLM have reached their limits


To sell PLM to small and medium enterprise (SME) companies is a challenging tasks. I guess many of my readers will agree with me. I expressed some of my thoughts here – Why PLM stuck to provide solutions for SME? Opposite to that, large manufacturing companies, especially in aerospace, automotive and defense industries, were always a sweet spot to sell PLM solutions. Actually not any more…

Earlier this week, my attention was caught by CIMdata article – CIMdata Announces the Formation of an Aerospace & Defense PLM Action Group. Here is how CIMdata President, Peter Bilello defines the objective of the group:

“PLM solution providers continually deliver new products, architectures, and solutions to market, while industrial customers must cope with previous product launches, attempting to realize the value from existing PLM investments. The Aerospace & Defense PLM Action Group will define and direct the research efforts on key areas needed to meet future challenges. Current experiences with PLM-related implementations, best practice research, and close examination of emerging technologies will help define what the PLM solution providers should be offering

Another article by ConnectPress speaks about top three challenges of PLM in A&D industry – Global collaboration, Integration and obsolescence management.

Aerospace & Defense Action Group Addresses The Big 3:  via @ConnectPressLtd

Integration is a topic that near and dear my heart. In my view, the future of manufacturing will be heavy dependent on the solving of old integration problems. Multiple enterprise software systems is a reality of all large manufacturing companies. I guess aerospace and defense companies are an absolutely extreme case of multiple systems integrated together. This is a place where existing PLM system might have a challenge. Here is my favorite passage from ConnectPress article:

According to Roche, most major aerospace companies make a major investment in PLM, either changing to a new system or upgrading their current system, roughly every five to 10 years. But in more recent iterations of this cycle aerospace companies have been spending more money and seeing smaller returns on their investments. The reason for this appears to be because the traditional PLM components have reached the limits of what they can offer.

The following areas mentioned are expecting to bring maximum ROI from PLM investment – non-core PLM domains such as requirements management, configuration management, change management, service lifecycle, etc.

It made me think, the integration of these solutions to core PLM modules can introduce a significant problem. For most of PLM systems, the architecture and technologies of core functions such as CAD data management and BOM management were designed back 10-15 years ago. To connect and interplay between heavily customized core PLM modules and expanded PLM solutions can bring significant service and implementation expenses.

In my view the following four major paradigms used by existing core PLM modules will require some sort of architectural upgrade to take them to the next level of integration in large global companies: 1. Global data management; 2. Concurrent design and related content access; 3. Management of multiple Bill of Materials; 4. Cross system data federation and integration.

What is my conclusion? Redesign the core PLM functions can be an interesting challenge for major PLM suppliers. In my view, this is something that will require a significant revamp in existing platforms and data management paradigms. Cloud can help to solve global collaboration challenge. Will cloud help vendors to solve a problem of multiple system integration? It looks to me a good topic to discuss. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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  • Very interesting thoughts, indeed! Innovation typically does not come from established players in any established industry, it’s high time we lay some infrastructure to encourage PLM innovation at the grassroots level:

  • beyondplm

    Ed, thanks for your comments and article sharing. The investment in PLM and CAD/PLM incubator is a tricky thing. The industry is promising and contains lots of opportunities. However, the slow software lifecycle requires lots of patience from entrepreneurs and investors.

  • I think that patience and the value proposition for investors is absolutely there. If industries like healthcare and pharmaceuticals manage incubation infrastructure then so can PLM and other enterprise software. Startups don’t have to replace a top-tier system right out of the gate and shouldn’t aim to; remember that the SMB market is largely untapped.

  • beyondplm

    Ed, you are right! Manufacturing companies have lots of patience. It is natural for them, because of long software lifecycle. Maybe “new PLM” should come out of a specific industry domain and then get broad adoption. What we know today as “PLM” was mostly developed back 20-30 years ago for aerospace, defense and automotive. I think, the definition and meaning SME manufacturers is going to change too.

  • marclind

    Good post. Agree 100% on all points. “New” versions of the other major PLM systems are really updates, not ‘from the ground up’ architectural redesigns.

    While your post is talking about SME/SMB, we’re seeing rethinking at the OEM / F500 level as well.

    Complexity is skyrocketing… both in products / systems and processes… and the pace that complexity grows is accelerating. Every company I talk with is struggling and knows that tomorrow will be even more complicated.

    The big box PLM / PDM systems were never designed to deal with these levels of complexity or rates of change. It’s why we’re doing what we’re doing at Aras.

    We see a future that’s really dynamic and fluid, especially at the largest global companies. PLM has to be able to adapt quickly and connect with existing enterprise systems much more easily.

    I think you did a pretty good job with your post on our position a while back

    “Aras PLM lines up against Windchill, Enovia, and TeamCenter”

    Just my thoughts,


  • beyondplm

    Marc, thanks for your comment! You are absolutely right- the complexity is a huge deal. Today, even a smallest devices is a combination of multiple domains (mechanical, electronic, software) including scaling as well. Thanks for pointing on my old post about Aras from 2011. It would be interesting to learn more about your progress for the last 3 years. Best, Oleg

  • Bibek Banerjee

    Very true – although its obvious to a few, ironically most folks out there do not yet realize the need to think beyond just PLM.

    The need to manage requirements, test, software configuration & change needs has always existed but is becoming more and more evident with products and systems today becoming more and more software intensive. Cars today are no longer a mechanical engine on wheels but a network of computers with up to 80 Electronic Control Units driven by as many as a million lines of code. This not only highlights the need to have ALM to manage the software that drives these products and systems but also for a tight integration of PLM with ALM. I am not saying this because PTC provides singular solutions with tight integrations but because the market driven need made PTC realize the need to come up with tightly integrated in house solutions for discrete manufacturers.

    ALM + PLM is no longer a nice to have but a need to have. Companies that don’t realize may soon sink into oblivion…

  • Bibek Banerjee

    You are bang on – products are increasingly becoming complex. This skyrocketing complexity is primarily due to software, indicating the need to bring in ALM for mechatronic manufacturers along with traditional PLM.

  • beyondplm

    Bibek, thanks for sharing of your insight. I like the way you call a car – a network of computers on wheels driven by million lines of code :). This is why I’m speaking about management of multiple bill of materials as a one of 4 paradigm shifts in PLM to support current level of product complexity.

  • beyondplm

    Agree 100%. Bill of Materials need to be unified and not handled separately between mechanical parts, electronic and software.

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