Manufacturing future will depend on solving old PLM/ERP integration problems

Manufacturing future will depend on solving old PLM/ERP integration problems


How to integrated PLM and ERP? This is such an old topic. I’ve been discussing it on the blog so many times. Here are just few of them – The ugly truth about PLM/ERP integration volleyball, BOM and CAD-PDM-PLM-ERP Integration Challenges, 3 steps how to put PLM / ERP each in their place. The good news – the importance of PLM/ERP integration is well known and recognized by everybody. The bad news – it sounds like not solved problem after all years and attempts.

My attention caught last year Wired article – The ‘Smarter’ Manufacturing Enterprise. Article speaks about communicating between devices and people in manufacturing organization and extended enterprise. The common goal – fast production. Speed and efficiency are two factors that rule modern manufacturing and looks like will be even more dominant factors in the future.

However, every manufacturing today is managed by multiple enterprise systems. Communication and integration between these systems will be a show stopper to make the future smart manufacturing dream into reality. Here is my favorite passage from the article.

Why are serious people talking about this now? Because for the first time, the essential technologies that make it possible finally exist at all levels, across not only the factory, but up and down the entire enterprise. Intelligence permeates every corner of today’s manufacturing enterprise, from the RFID tag on the part, to the machine that moves it on the production line, to the truck that hauls it away. Now the trick is to make all these systems work in harmony as one.

In other words, the fundamental systems of manufacturing — enterprise resource planning (ERP), product lifecycle management (PLM), manufacturing execution systems (MES) and industrial automation—have to operate together, seamlessly, like a single well-oiled machine. 

It made me think again that current PLM/ERP integration model with complicated data synchronization is bad and won’t work for future of manufacturing. It is heavily relies on the idea of data synchronization and replication between systems. It is too costly to implement and maintain. It is sometimes too slow and requires lots of data manipulation and transformation.

What is my conclusion? Previous siloed enterprise models used data ownership as one of the fundamental models. To own data and allow access in a silo (such as PLM, ERP or MES) was one of the first priorities. Today and tomorrow the speed of communication will be more important. To make collaboration and communication fast will be a criteria for future models to survive. For manufacturing companies and PLM vendors today it means one simple thing – to fix old PLM/ERP integration problems. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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