Digital era brings new terminology – digital transformation. Very tasteful and nice term. I love it as much as I appreciate the power of new digital technologies developed for the last few years. However, be aware how old organization change management and business transformation is sold under the new name – digital transformation. It doesn’t mean your organization should reject digital transformation. Exactly opposite. Organizations must embrace digital transformation as an opportunity to bring new more efficient technologies and products that can eliminate business transformation with the purpose to adopt old, complex and fragile PLM platforms
So, both PLM vendors and manufacturing companies are trying to understand what does it mean for them. For many PLM vendors it’s nice and catchy sales buzzword. For me, it is where next PLM paradigm shift will come – moving from siloed data control to networks and data intelligence.
Unfortunately, PLM systems today are mostly “analog” and focusing on how to control a growing amount of data in a single data storage. Here are 3 reasons why I think so.
1. Information flow between product development stages is still very problematic. While the most advanced manufacturing companies developed PLM-ERP integration, for most of manufacturing, this is a manual export / import function. Connectivity with other activities such as sales, requirements, support even less automated. Integration of PLM systems to other databases and systems to capture information flow is very expensive and limited.
2. Iteration of design and manufacturing planning cycles, comparing options and optimizing design, manufacturing and supply chain is not well developed. Some CAD / PLM systems have developed cost estimation modules, but to provide an overall cost of the product including manufacturing and supply chain options isn’t feasible for most of companies via their PLM systems.
3. Ability to connect design data to manufacturing failures, maintenance problems and incidents in the field is questionable. As-built Bill of materials is rarely present in PLM system and companies have hard time to trace support and maintenance activities down to the design.
What is my conclusion? Digital transformation should change the way PLM systems are collecting and transforming data into knowledge and intelligence about the product. It is not enough to know that somebody made a design and release it into production by a specific date. It is also about getting information that this change decrease number of support calls, increase sales, improve customer satisfaction and made profit for the company. It is about how to show what is the optimal manufacturing location based on the design and who are the preferred suppliers based on real time information captured online. All these things together will create a digital continuity similar to what we have now in digital consumer web. Meantime, PLM is still analog. Just my thoughts…
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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 can be unintentionally biased.