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data-silos-architecture

Data is an essential part of every PLM implementation. It all starts from data – design, engineering, manufacturing, supply chain, support, etc. Enterprise systems are fragmented and representing individual silos of enterprise organization. To manage product data located in multiple enterprise data silos is a challenge for every PLM implementation.

To “demolish enterprise data silos” is a popular topic in PLM strategies and deployments. The idea of having one single point of truth is always in mind of PLM developers. Some of my latest notes about that here – PLM One Big Silo.

MCADCafe article – Developing Better Products is a “Piece of Cake” by Scott Reedy also speaks about how PLM implementation can help to aggregate all product development information scattered in multiple places into single PLM system. The  picture from the article presents the problem:

product-data-silos

The following passage is the most important, in my view:

Without a PLM system, companies often end up with disconnected silos of information. These silos inhibit the ability to control the entire product record and employees waste unnecessary time searching for the correct revision of the product design. As companies outsource design or manufacturing, it becomes even harder to ensure the right configuration of the product is leveraged by external partners.

Whether your company makes medical devices, industrial equipment, laptops, cell phones or other consumer products – PLM provides a secure, centralized database to manage the entire product record into a “Single Record of the Truth”… With a centralized product record, it is easy to propose and submit changes to the product design, track quality issues and collaborate with your internal teams and supply-chain partners.

The strategy of “single record of truth” is a centerpiece of each PLM implementation. However, here is the thing… if you look on the picture above you can certainly see some key enterprise  systems – ERP, CRM, MES, Project and program management, etc. PLM system can contain scattered data about product design, CAD files,  Part data, ECO records, Bill of Materials. However, some of the data will still remain in other systems. Some of the data gets duplicated. This is what happens in real world.

It made me think about 3 important data architecture aspects of every PLM implementation: data management, data reporting and data consistency.

Data management layer is focusing on what system is controlling data and providing master source of information.  Data cannot be mastered in multiple places. Implementation needs to organize logical split of information as well as ability to control “data truth”. This is the most fundamental part of data architecture.

Data reporting is focusing how PLM can get data extracted from multiple sources and presented in seamless way to end user. Imagine, you need to provide an “open ECO” report. The information can reside in PLM, ERP and maybe some other sources. To get right data in a right moment of time, can be another problem to resolve.

Last, but not least - data consistency. When data located in multiple places system will rely on so-called “eventual consistency” of information. The system of events and related transactions is keeping data in sync. This is not a trivial process, but many systems are operating in such way. What is important is to have a coordinated data flow between systems supporting eventual consistency and data management and reporting tools.

What is my conclusion? To demolish silos and manage single point of truth is a very good and important strategic message. However, when it comes to nuts and bolts of implementation, an appropriate data architecture must be in place to insure you will have right data at right time. Many PLM implementations are underestimating the complexity of data architecture. It leaves them with marketing slogans, burned budgets and wrong data. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

picture credit MCADCafe article

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future-of-plm-for-sme

This week is very fruitful for PLM events. PTC Live 2014, Siemens PLM connection, GrabCAD media event. Twitter and other social networks can help you catch up with multiple events at the same time with minimum time. So, in 1-2 hours, you can get up to speed with news and updates. Chad Jackson’s and Allan Behrens’ tweets from GrabCAD media event turned my head back to small companies and customers that not using PDM/PLM systems these days.

“Per an @SiemensPLM research report, only 70% of #CAD user utilize #PDM.” @hardi_meybaum @GrabCAD briefing; @hardi_Maybaum @grabcad says that 70% of cad users don’t use PDM or PLM. That’s their target market.

In one of my earlier posts I wrote – Why PLM stuck to provide solution for SME? Low cost and efficiency – these are two topics on the list of PLM characteristics to be delivered to smaller companies. Easy to say, but very hard to achieve. CAD /PLM vendors are trying to get it done for the last couple of decades. I’ve been scratching my head trying to think what else can be done by PLM vendors to become more successful in SME manufacturing eco-system.

One of the trends that getting more visible these days is related to growing dominance of small organizations or groups. Large companies leaning towards small team to get more agile and efficient. Agile development methods. Two pizza box teams. Many other buzzwords…

My attention caught the following blog post – Cells, Pods, and Squads: The Future of Organizations is Small. Article speaks about what can future organization looks like. Read the article and draw your opinion. Here is my favorite passage that speaks about matrix product organization:

At Spotify, engineers and product people work within a kind of matrix organization that evolved out of a need to scale agile teams. Their basic unit or “cell” is called a “squad,” a cross-functional, self-organizing, co-located team of less than eight people that has autonomy on what to build and how. While each squad has a mission to work towards, they still have to harmonize across many levels — on product, company priorities, strategies, and other squads. The trick, Kniberg explains, is not to frame autonomy and alignment as poles on a spectrum but as dimensions. The goal is high autonomy/high alignment within this framework.

I liked the term – autonomous alignment. You may ask me how is it connected to PLM? Here is the thing… Majority of PLM systems today are designed for high level of alignment and low autonomy. PLM is focusing on how to support processes, getting people fill their role in the process. Then PLM can run the show. The combination of high autonomy and high alignment doesn’t fit existing top-down hierarchical PLM models.

What is my conclusion? Old technology, new reality. This is what happens with PLM these days. And this is what happens in many small organizations. Existing PLM experience doesn’t fit. Try to apply existing PLM products cause failure and inefficiency. New type of systems needed – flexible, agile and social. It will help people to get work done autonomously and keep the alignment on goals, data, processes, deliveries and, what is more important, company outcome.  Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Photo credit idonethis.com blog. 
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PLM-lessons-from-tile-crowdfunding

About half year ago, I was looking for bluetooth location trackers. The solution that caught my attention was Tile. I liked the slick video and interesting design. At that time I learned that Tile grabbed $2.6M via crowdfunding – very remarkable result. However, I noticed that solution is not available. I followed Tile since than occasionally. TechCrunch article yesterday put my focus back on Tile. Navigate to the following link to read the article – Tile, The Lost-Item Tracker With Millions In Crowdfunding, Was Worth The Wait. Tile’s story in a nutshell is interesting – coming out of crowdfunding, heavily socialized via blog, twitter and other social media, looking how to ramp up their manufacturing efforts and keep growing. Here is an interesting passage talking about Tile’s challenges with ramp-up of manufacturing, communication with customers and shipments.

But the buzz around Tile has been both a blessing and a curse. Instead of being able to scale slowly, the company had more orders than it was prepared to handle. “It really changed the dynamics of manufacturing this in a really good way. However, one of the bad things it did was add delays,” Tile CEO Nick Evans says. “We had to go and find a different manufacturer — our current manufacturer couldn’t produce enough.” And, he adds, “we needed to make sure if we were shipping that many units, that they’re really, really going to work.”

Nearly a year after Tile achieved its multi-million-dollar crowdfunding raise, shipments finally began getting off the ground, and today the company is still working to get the device into the hands of those who’ve paid. And last week, a shipment schedule was finally posted. From the looks of it, Tile will be working through its pre-orders until September 2014. What that means for those buying from the website today is that their Tiles won’t ship until late September to early October, says Evans. After that point, Tiles will ship out more quickly, but how quickly may remain to be seen.

I don’t have insider’s information about Tile design, engineering and manufacturing. However, facts published in open press made me think about some interesting challenges that new type of manufacturing companies like Tile can face.

1. Intensive social design activity. Solution got viral via social campaign. It means some elements of design and functionality were disclosed probably even until prototype design was finished. Future communication with customers included discussion related to product availability.

2. Manufacturing scale-up is a big challenge. Company was ready to produce in small batches, but was caught as unprepared by the need to speed up deliveries and increase manufacturing capacities.

3. Engineering and manufacturing complexity.  Tile as a manufacturing product is a combination of mechanical parts, electronic components and software applications (some elements of software components are delivered via Apple App Store). So, my hunch, bill of materials should include traditional engineering BOM as well as electronic and software parts.

What is my conclusion? The story of Tile reminded me my blog post just few weeks ago - Why Kickstarted Projects Need PLM? Tile is clearly a good example of these stories.  Tile is completely new type of manufacturing companies. Bluetooth tag is not airplane or electric car with lots of configurations and hundred of millions lines of code. Nevertheless, to NPI (New Product Introduction) even for such a small product is probably a very challenging task. What existing PLM system is capable to help here? This is a good question. I hardly believe Tile had a chance to evaluate one of the existing PLM software. If yes, I would be eager to learn more. My hunch, we are going to see more companies of such type in the future. To help them to design socially as well as to ramp-up manufacturing quickly is an interesting challenge for PLM vendors. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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PLM Implementations Challenges and 3 Organizational Lenses

June 4, 2014

It is not unusual to hear people speaking about PLM implementation and changes that need to be done in the organization. Very often, PLM vendors or implementers are calling this process business transformation, which is literally supposed to make a change in everything that related to product design, engineering, manufacturing, support and services. So, to […]

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PLM Services, Department Stores and Digital Future

June 2, 2014

Don’t be surprised if your most trusted CAD/PLM service provider will be acquired tomorrow. According to Joe Barkai’s post- PLM Service Providers Ready To Deliver Greater Value, we have been witnessing a wave of mergers and acquisitions of PLM services companies (the examples – Accenture / PRION Group, Accenture / PCO Innovation, KPIT-Tech / I-Cubed […]

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Will PLM Vendors Jump into Microsoft Cloud Window in Europe?

April 10, 2014

Cloud is raising lots of controversy in Europe. While manufacturing companies in U.S. are generally more open towards new tech, European rivals are much more conservative. Many of my industry colleagues in Germany, France, Switzerland and other EU countries probably can confirm that. Europe is coming to cloud systems, but much slower. I’ve been posting […]

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Why PLM stuck in PDM?

April 5, 2014

I’ve been following CIMdata PLM market industry forum earlier this week on twitter. If you’re are on twitter, navigate here or search for #PLM4UM hash tag on twitter. The agenda of PLM forum is here. The following session discussed one of my favorite topics- PDM v PLM. PLM: Well Beyond Just PDM by Peter Bilello. […]

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Why hard to sell PLM over the phone

February 26, 2014

Life is transforming around us. Technology and communication are coming to our personal and business life. So, it comes to enterprise sales and PLM. The debates between new sales models and enterprise sales old schoolers are heating up. I posted about it last year and enjoyed many lovely conversations with sales people. My conclusion after […]

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CAD, Engineers and Online Communities

February 19, 2014

Remember our life before internet? The meaning of community was about social group that shares common values. Actually, the history of communities is longer than history of CAD software . So called “Community Rules” were mentioned in one of the first scrolls found in Qumran Cave. Community word often explains common geography or environment. However, […]

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PLM Role in Different Manufacturing Environments

February 9, 2014

One thing doesn’t fit all in engineering and manufacturing. Every manufacturing company is trying to innovate and differentiate the way they design and build their products. It comes in variety of ways and PLM system can play different roles depends on the type of manufacturing. PLM vendors are trying to deliver software tailored to a […]

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