Structured vs. Unstructured – should PLM be reinforced by additional technologies?

Structured vs. Unstructured – should PLM be reinforced by additional technologies?


The question I’d like to raise is how to manage various type of data about your product? In today’s world information is very diversified. Obviously we have design models, product structure, bill of materials – all this is pretty structured. On the other side we have requirements, customer requests, sales, marketing materials, simulations, tests, mails, internet references etc.

We do have technologies to maintain and manage structured information about design and models. On the other side there are quite many excellent technologies comes from consumers and internet domain – search, content collaboration, web 2.0, wikis, blogs, semantic technologies etc. There is real opportunity to use technology for content search, collaboration, wiki, data share for PLM.

I’d like to know examples of mixed technological usage between PDM/PLM systems and web 2.0, collaboration and other consumer oriented technologies together.

Any comments on this?


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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  • The issue I see is that in the begining of a design project you want NO SRUCTURE so using PLM just will not work. As the project goes on individual Part will need structure, but not everything, you just don’t release everything at once… So the tools need to allow for structure increase based on each element of the product over time. PLM just does not do this and a wiki or like technology cannot deliver on the back end.

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  • Alec Gil

    I think we all tend to inject “rigidity” into definitions of PLM and structure. I believe just about any design activity inherently brings structure to the content that is being created. Any cause and effect activities represent structure. In other words, a perceived need that results in a set of the specification/requirements documents, that, in turn, engenders a conceptual virtual mock-up is a structure that can be supported by a PLM tool. I think it’s a bit limiting to think of PLM as a sort of stage gate mechanism that just moves design “packages” from one state to another. A robust PLM tool must be able to deal with the vertical structures as well as with all the horizontal dependencies of every vertical node on the granularity level that is appropriate to every component of that structure.

  • Alec, My point was that not always we need to use “structure” abstraction and some of the technologies – like tagging and wiki, for example, can provide good instrument for PLM. Regards – Oleg

  • Chris, I’d like to use “relation” and not “structure”. This is something make more sense, since don’t assume “whole structural content”, but allow to see items (whatever it means) and relations. This is can create mechanism of discovery- really doesn’t exist much in many PLM systems. Regards. Oleg