Why Quality Management can be low hanging fruit for cloud PLM?

Why Quality Management can be low hanging fruit for cloud PLM?


PLM can do everything. IoT is PLM, Digital Thread is PLM. The unfortunate behavior of sales people is to over-promise what Product Lifecycle Management software can do. So, it was very refreshing to see Tech-Clarity article Does Quality Management belong to PLM. Ebook and report are sponsored by Arena Solution. The research provides an interesting perspective on the intersection between two disciplines – PLM and QMS.

My favorite passage though is related to data duplication

PLM and QMS are both valuable solutions, but together can result in significant data and process duplication. The most practical way for most companies to get a single, rationalized quality management and PLM solution is to leverage PLM to support quality along with product innovation, product development, and engineering processes.

PLM is ideally suited to manage quality because it’s a collaborative system, spans the enterprise, and is built to connect the supply chain. Some leading PLM vendors have extended PLM to manage quality processes and put quality and product data into a unified, connected product record. This makes it easy to find information, develop insights using BI, and meet product documentation needs such as DMR and DHF.

The core element of duplication is Bill of Materials or product structure (depends what language you prefer) is absolutely needed to establish core elements of the both PLM and QMS. My hunch QMS use cases can provide a value on top of product data records (BOM), which can make PLM system more valuable for organization. While many traditional PLM systems are coming to organization as an extension to CAD management discipline, QMS doesn’t require tight connection to CAD, which can provide a unique fit for PLM systems with lack or insufficient CAD integration capabilities.

Historically SaaS PLM products were build without tight connection to CAD system. Because of web (browser) nature, these systems didn’t integrated well with desktop CAD systems. The situation is improving these days, but it still holds true for existing SaaS PLM systems. So, it made me think that QMS is an interesting opportunity for these vendors to provide an additional value for manufacturing companies.

What is my conclusion? The adoption speed is one of the biggest problems of enterprise software. While Quality is one of the top priorities for every manufacturing company to sell QMS solution can be a low hanging fruit for companies seeking to introduce their products and technologies to manufacturing companies. So, SaaS PLM vendors can come with QMS solution to break the ice of cloud PLM adoption. Typical SaaS PLM offering contains elements of BOM and change management. QMS can become a 3rd leg into cloud PLM portfolio. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Want to learn more about PLM? Check out my new PLM Book website.

Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of openBoM developing cloud based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups and supply chain. My opinion about BOM can be unintentionally biased.

Image credit Tech-Clarity.


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  • “I probably should read Jim’s article before commenting, but instead I’m just going to share what comes to mind while reading this. Forgive me if there is more information in Jim’s report.”

    I still think of PLM as a silo, focused on the data management and development cycle of a product. The remaining silos belong to MRP and MES.

    If you overlay each software solution against the V-Model for development, PLM is the left side of the V, MES is the right side of the V, and MRP is the vertex. Where is QMS?

    Before I answer that, I must first ask for clarification. Are we talking about QMS as a software solution or are we talking about QMS as a system of procedures a company follows in order to guarantee a quality product? In other words, does the end item meet the requirements?

    In a process, QMS is the gap between the sides of the V. For every requirement defined on the left side of the V-Model, there is a verification for it on the right side of the V. Business processes define how to bridge that gap.
    In a software solution, that means QMS must reside in MES, because that is where the product is “manufactured” and inspections take place at predefined steps within the manufacturing process. If I refer back to my original assumption of 3 silos, QMS therefore CANNOT reside in PLM.

    But, I’m left with one remaining question. What software solution bridges the gap in the V-Model between the requirements defined on the left side and the item produced on the right?

  • Hey Scott,
    Yes, you should read the eBook. 😉 And yes, we focused more on quality processes than on QMS as a system.

    I’m not sure I see MES/MOM as the right side of the Vee, and certainly not the entire thing. A lot of validation (or at least validation planning) needs to happen before the first article is ever produced. Where does that happen? Where are quality plans developed? Not typically in MES. And when something does go wrong, where do corrective actions and reporting come from? Also typically not MES.

    Where we agree is on the gaps. Connecting requirements to the associated validation plans and designs with test / QC operations is currently not well supported. Would you agree that an integrated PLM system should do that? I think so. I also think it requires integration with MES, which is why I’m not surprised to see so many PLM companies continue to invest in those solutions.

    Anyway, that’s my 2 cents.

  • I need to find my way to more conferences so our paths cross again. This conversation is going to get too complex to sustain via comments.

    1) I agree, planning should be done as early in the process as possible, which means planning for quality and inspection, as well as planning for manufacturability, should be done on the left side of the Vee at the same time the product and requirements are being developed. But, for example, Design for Manufacturability, which occurs on the left side, doesn’t mean that manufacturing occurs on the left side. Same goes for Quality operations.

    2) Manufacturing Operations (MO) include Quality Control steps. Those steps are part of the MO which resides in MES. Therefore, while Quality Plans may be developed early on, but they are documented within MES.

    3) When a discrepancy occurs, it should be documented at the earliest stage possible. In CMII, we actually have a two checkboxes for documenting a discrepancy: a) where was the discrepancy discovered and b) where did the discrepancy occur? For example, a discrepancy discovered at Receiving Inspection actually occurred at the Supplier.

    4) MES controls: work in process, lot/serial number traceability, and key performance indicators for production. Those are, essentially, Quality functions.

    So, back we’re back to the gaps. With all the early planning that we did, which resides in PLM, how do we bridge the gap and bring the QMS aspects into MES where the quality matter-of-record is executed and stored?

  • OK, it sounds like we need a whiteboard and a cocktail to discuss this one… All the best until then (and hello Oleg!)

  • beyondplm

    Jim, Scott,

    I’m catching up on your discussion. Great comments and questions.

    The complexity to support cross-departmental processes is the root of problems. It is hard (and sometimes almost impossible) to track process flow between silos (departments, systems, etc.)

    PLM is clearly data platform to connect silos. In my view, many companies are using PLM infrastructure for that purpose, but it is insanely complex with current platforms.

    I like the way Jim emphasized product data (BOM) as an overlap. In my view, single BOM is a bridge to cover the gap. From technological standpoint, BOM can reside in multiple-systems and still be connected.

    I think, traditional silos can changes. One of the possible ways is to “unbundle” specific functions – Future unbundling strategies in CAD/PLM — http://beyondplm.com/2013/11/06/the-future-unbundling-strategies-in-cadplm/

    As a data platform, distribution of processes and information is raising the question about information linkage to close the gap.
    PLM: from sync to link. http://beyondplm.com/2014/10/17/plm-from-sync-to-link/

    I can offer a whiteboard and join the conversation 🙂

    ….and hello Jim!