PLM and Manufacturing in Networked World

PLM and Manufacturing in Networked World


Our dependence on networks in our life is growing every day. Look around you and you see networks everywhere. Just cut network cable in your house – chances are you are loosing most of your communication channels. But, our network dependencies are not limited to communication. Networks have more transformative influence on how we live, work and do business. It comes in a way of building network-related dependencies. I’ve been talking about some of them in my COFES 2015 presentation – Product Lifecycle, Supply Chain and Data Networks.

LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman published a great article about future of driving in network age. The article is a bit long, but I recommend you to have a read. With examples of car and driving eco-system, the article shows the magnitude of changes network transformation can bring in the industry – improving highway throughput, reduce collisions, optimize parking process. The follow passage is my favorite:

Already, the car as network node is what drives apps like Waze, which uses smartphone GPS capabilities to crowd-source real-time traffic levels, road conditions, and even gas prices. But Waze still depends on humans to apprehend the information it generates. Autonomous vehicles, in contrast, will be able to generate, analyze, and act on information without human bottlenecks. And when thousands and then even millions of cars are connected in this way, new capabilities are going to emerge. The rate of innovation will accelerate – just as it did when we made the shift from standalone PCs to networked PCs.

…technologies that allow cars to talk to each other, through Wi-Fi-like networks that use dedicated short-range communications frequencies, exist too. In these vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) networks, cars share information with each other and other smart infrastructure elements – traffic signals, sensor-embedded roads, roadside cameras, eye-in-the-sky traffic drones, etc.

The same networking paradigm will apply to other industry segments as well. For the last few decades, manufacturing became global with companies leveraging market, design, engineering and manufacturing facilities located around the globe. The growing specialization in specific manufacturing verticals created industry of contract manufacturers and suppliers. Many of them are acting like independent vehicles on the road today – following rules, infrastructure limitations and trying to optimize their own local path towards the goal. While cost are still top manufacturing concern, similar to single car on the road, to optimization is highly unpredictable. It happens to manufacturing companies acting independently as well as divisions of large manufacturing giants separated by siloed organization and software.

What is my conclusion? Manufacturing companies are going to have a lesson of networked world. It will be impossible to optimize the performance of single manufacturing entity without relevant network information. It will not happen overnight. Companies will try to gain more information about networked world around them similarly to how GPS developers gathered information from other cars. Intelligent PLM software with network mind can provide a competitive power to future manufacturing. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG at



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