Integration is one of the key problems in manufacturing these days. After all years of innovation and technology development, lot of things in manufacturing are siloed. Look at the landscape of enterprise software deployed in a typical mid-large size manufacturing companies. You will see multiple engineering databases, PDM, PLM, ERP and other systems. Integration is a problem and one of the reasons – existing data architecture.
In this siloed model, data ownership as one of the fundamental models. To own data and allow access in a silo (such as PLM, ERP or SCM) was one of the first priorities. But it creates a problem – communication speed. And these days, it gets even more important. To make collaboration and communication fast will be a criteria for future models to survive. Therefore, integration is one of the most critical element of PLM implementation requirements.
Few days ago, I had a chance to read Octopart blog – One click manufacturing: could it be that easy? The article speaks about a new trend or concept in modern eco-system of 3D printing – One click manufacturing (OCM). Here is a snippet of article explaining that.
One click manufacturing (OCM) is a concept that arose from the 3D printing world: design a 3D model of a part, upload it to an OCM company like Shapeways or Ponoko, click “build,” and wait for the physical object to be delivered to your door. Now, OCM is making inroads into the more traditional electronic manufacturing and assembly world. You can upload a PCB design and a bill of materials, and receive assembled boards on your doorstep. This capability, combined with the rise of startups building IoT devices, has far-reaching implications for the electronic component supply chain.
Speed is a huge advantage of OCM process. I found it very much connected to the problem of manufacturing companies trying to solve a problem of inefficiency in integration between PLM and ERP. The core element of the integration is Bill of Materials. In a traditional integration, data is synchronized between systems. Engineering bill of material is managed by PLM system and manufacturing BOM is managed by ERP. There are lot of complexity and manual “data wiring” to make this integration happen. ERP system is typically responsible for procurement and quotation process.
You can see some similarity in the OCM process explained by Octopart blog. Companies are partnering on creation of component libraries that will allow to simplify supply chain sourcing process.
OCM is bound to the existing supply chain force that all purchasers must contend with: getting the parts to the production line on time. For OCM to leverage their biggest advantage—speed—the submitted BOM must contain only parts that are easily sourced through the existing supply chain.
But I found question asked by Octopart article very interesting . Is it possible to expand OCM process from small quantity orders to larger scale?
Today, OCM is generally confined to small-quantity production. While large volumes can be produced, it is not possible to do the hard legwork of negotiating the best price on a component-by-component basis through these web applications. This will likely change in the future as the influence of OCM companies increase and they develop ways to negotiate large component buys programmatically.
In my view, companies involved into OCM will have to solve similar problems traditional manufacturing companies have integrating PLM and ERP environments.
But here is the thing… New manufacturing environment is relying on internet infrastructure. Cloud-based application and software architecture can simplify integration and make easier connection between companies involved into OCM process.
What is my conclusion? Manufacturing is under going tremendous transformation process. Build to order, speed and engagement with consumer are most important competitive factors. The challenge for manufacturing companies is to lower cost of products. At the same time, customers’ demand is mass-customization, which potentially increasing the cost. The speed of one click manufacturing process can change value chain economics and change the way companies will organize manufacturing processes. Guess what? Connected processes will change old-fashion PLM-ERP by streamlining communication and removing outdated siloed approach in data management. Just my thoughts…
picture credit Octopart.com