PLMx Chicago – Killing PLM, Factory as Social Network and PLM Police

PLMx Chicago – Killing PLM, Factory as Social Network and PLM Police

I just came from PLMx Chicago. Great conference organized by MarketKey – practically the only independent PLM event in U.S. not related to a specific PLM vendor. I’ve had a chance to attend sessions and enjoyed many discussions with attendees. Q&A Panel with PLM vendors was special and I will talk about it in my next blog. Today, I want to comment on few sessions that caught my special attention.

Future of PLM with Peter Bilello of CIMdata. My discussion with Peter actually started even before the event by sharing my thought about the idea “to kill” PLM acronym. The discuss continued in Chicago. I also asked PLM vendors how much they do care about three letters P.L.M. Here is CIMdata answer. PLM seems to be outdated acronym nobody really likes. But with the absence of alternatives and strong connection to “Lifecycle”, it continued to be used by many. Can we replace P.L.M. acronym? I don’t think another fancy name like digital transformation will replace it. I can see an opportunity to build a simpler and clearer terminology for PLM domain that will be easier to understand.

A very inspirational keynote by Mike “Mouse” McCoy is the CEO/Co Founder and Creative Director of Hackrod – an outfit developing new type of experience to design and manufacture cars. Factory as a gaming with interesting user experience, Siemens PLM software at the back and UPS fulfillment service for supply chain. I think he has lot of great ideas and many of them will be seen in production of manufacturing companies very soon.

Last but not least – the discussion about SSOT (Single Source of Truth). I already said a lot about it in my session. SSOT is an old paradigm that still serves most of PLM implementations and explains value proposition. I attended the session talking about experience of full scope  multi-year PLM project based on SAP PLM. The project was successful and gave clear ROI. Nevertheless, as it was clear stated, it required significant organizational effort to bring people on the same page about understanding PLM values and enforcing PLM rules in the organization.

What is my conclusion?  PLM remains complex and dynamic space with lot of opportunities and huge amount of legacy. It is interesting to see how companies and vendors are navigating through these jungles. It is not simple for both sides – vendors and customers. While people factor is still significant for success of PLM projects, I can see a huge opportunity in building a new value on top of existing PLM assets, which can turn current data control and management paradigm into future PLM intelligence. Just my thoughts..

Best, Oleg

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


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  • We have an independent PLM event, the PLM Road Map series.

    Killing acronyms is hard. You need to have something to replace it with. In my talk about Industry 4.0 at our PLM Market & Industry Forum workshops series in the spring I used a figure from a previous “PLM replacement” discussion around platforms and platformization. We talked about three levels: the product innovation platform, an alternative positioning that some of the solution providers have adopted.

    This is subsumed under a broader “innovation platform” that is more about organizational and strategic innovation. This is important for broader digitalization initiatives which requires changes throughout the organization.

    This all is subsumed under the broadest category “business platforms”. This level is necessary for Industry 4.0 because one of the elements of the vision is being able to dynamically configure global value chains with “App store simplicity.” Many of the leading PLM solution providers are working in this area: SAP with Ariba, Infor with GT Nexus, Dassault Systemes with their Marketplace, etc.

    The other part of the Forum presentation, and others I have given at events in 2018, is that if you are product company and are pursuing a digitalization strategy then your PLM “game” must be on point, to use some current lingo. Whether you call it PLM or something else you need to manage the digital thread to help animate digital twins across the lifecycle to help you reach your digitalization/Industry 4.0 objectives.

    Stan Przybylinski
    Vice President
    CIMdata, Inc.

  • beyondplm


    thanks for sharing your insight with readers. It is fair to say that CIMdata has an independent event. Even so, that event is connected to a vendor event – PDT and it is owned by CIMdata. I should have been mentioned that (I will make an update in the article).

    I see your point about business platforms and digital thread. But these things are so vague and still in a very early days of formation. PLM vendors is strong identity. “Digital thread” vendors is not (at least yet). Another danger is picking on something that much bigger. It is like saying IoT is PLM now. While it makes total sense, IoT is much broader domain with significantly larger vendor set.

    In my view, PLM vendors should go back to basic and focus on core functions and how to contain data and build value from the data.Expanding is good when you have a solid foundation. Unfortunately, PLM vendors doens’t have it. For the best, their foundation is CAD and PDM platforms. Most of them aren’t ready for digital transformation and future data management.


  • David

    I caught this one a bit late , but was fascinated to learn about Hackrod. As you know I have a background in CAD and PLM and more recently I got into AR and VR developing in unity and our own game engine. The more I used game engines the more I realised they are a critical component of the digital twin. They add interaction and simulation to the otherwise dead CAD data, and bridge the gap into operation. As far as I know nobody is looking at Game engine work flow and PLM in conjunction but I sure will be now…!

  • beyondplm

    David, Actually… I was looking into what Unity does earlier this week at AU2018 in Vegas. They have common work on going with Autodesk construction unit.

  • David

    Unity (with pixyz) are just catching up with unreal here , who have been looking at the Content creation tools to game engine workflow for a while with their data smith product. As a PLMer I really don’t like that both are doing a copy with reference to get the models and data into the game engine, as this makes keeping the digital twin in sync an addtioanal challenge. Boeing have extra middleware just to ensure the AR applications they deploy are based on configured models for example. When I was working on the pipeline fromCAD to game engine we did a direct referencing into the CAD database to read the geometry I the game engine,i.e. No copies! That approach does have limitations but for design review type activities (in VR) it kept the master model intact.

  • beyondplm

    I can see your point. It reminds me discussion about fully normalized databases 20-30 years ago. Eventual consistency and polyglot persistence will be winning the game IMO.

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