Process improvement was the goal of PLM projects for many years. Streamline processes in product delivery, end to end lifecycle support, expanding beyond engineering and many other themes came in the scope of what PLM vendors advertised as a big value behind PLM.
The modern manufacturing process is a complex process and to make it efficiently takes more than organizing efficient engineering data and change management. It is a weekend and I was skimming tech news. CB Insight 14 tech trends for 2020 came across. Check this out here. You can get this report by giving away one of your business domain names, which I did.
The one topic that was very much resonating and related to the technology I’m working on these days was #11 in the list – Big businesses embrace sustainable ‘cradle-to-cradle’ supply chains and the tech enabling them. It also reminded me of a book I was reading many years ago – Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things.
As consumers increasingly demand more sustainable products, companies from sectors as varied as consumer electronics, retail, and healthcare are leveraging tech to redesign their supply chains. They aim to reduce waste, boost profit margins, and offer more transparency.
Cradle-to-cradle supply chains are designed to encompass the entire lifecycle of a product — from input materials to manufacturing processes, to distribution, to promoting reuse and recycling. Typically, the intent is to better manage waste and efficiency. Profits might be boosted through better use of resources and more effective monetizing of byproducts. But there’s also a halo effect when a brand or product can boost its sustainability credentials.
Cradle-to-cradle can be tough and challenging and requires multi-disciplinary technology to deliver. The article states AI, blockchain and other global platforms as an opportunity to provide sustainable inventory management. Sustainable inventory starts from product data available globally for analytics and decision processes. Knowing what exactly is produced, who can provide the service, material, manufacturing resources is a complex network that can be optimized.
The foundation of this manufacturing network is a new generation of PLM technologies that capable to get out of current “company boundaries” and provide a multi-disciplinary analysis of what is needed to manufacture a specific product.
In my view, vendors involved in PLM, supply chain, ERP, logistic and other connected fields will find themselves cooperating and competing at the same time. The data that can be targeted to run analysis and AI algorithms will be the key.
In my article PLM 2030: The point of no return for the fax machine, I gave a few examples of how intelligence will provide decision support in new product development, maintenance, and service. Check my 3 examples – custom guitar manufacturing, new transportation device and maintenance of a fleet of vehicles. I envision a giant online environment connecting people, companies, and services together in a big network. The foundation of the network is data about products. Think bill of materials and connected product information. Pick a product from the shelf today and tell me who was a supplier, what manufacturing plant was used, cost of the components, alternatives, regulatory rules and many other pieces of data. The technology capable to provide such information is a foundation of cradle-to-cradle supply chains.
What is my conclusion? The time is coming to think about global systems. The last decades of PLM was about how to figure out engineering control and data management. PLM vendors did it, but the value is shifting from data control to data intelligence. It is not only about how to manage and control the data, but also about how to provide a way to glean intelligence of the Bill of Materials, purchasing information, vendors, suppliers, maintenance schedules and many other pieces of data in the end-to-end product lifecycle. Just my thoughts…
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.
picture credit CB Insight article