The Internet of Thing is coming and it capturing imagination and budgets of PLM vendors and manufacturing companies. Earlier this week, I raised the question – what is wrong with PLM of Things? The problem I see is related to building information silos. This is very similar to a “single source of truth” model create by PLM for the last two decades. Nothing wrong with capturing data from sensors and making analysis. I can bring zillions bytes of information from sensor about what happens with products. Now what? The message PLM vendors bring to user- it will help to improve product design and manufacturing process. But how?
Bringing more information is usually a good thing, but it can create an additional complexity problem. Engineers can be overwhelmed by the amount of information. To prevent it, new information should be connected in a meaningful form to basic product information managed manufacturing companies. I can see 3 major groups of such basic information.
1- Part information. It all starts from components, part numbers, suppliers and variety of information that can impact product operation and maintenance. Don’t have this information available in a way that can be related to information coming from sensors can potentially prevent to deliver bright IoT vision.
2- Bill of Materials. The way manufacturing company is managing bill of materials can impact the ability to trace information between engineering, manufacturing, support and maintenance. As-built BoM is usually poorly manage by most of PLM systems that traditionally focused on design and engineering. To connect dots of single bill of materials can help to make sense of data captured by sensors.
3- Quality and inspection data. Quality is one of the top fields of concern for every manufacturer. Your quality process should capture relevant information that can be connected to combined sets of information coming from sensors and fields. The information about Quality processes is usually lives in another silo in the organization.
What is my conclusion? Connecting the dots. This is a biggest challenge of manufacturing company in a modern information era. Bringing more information won’t help unless company will be able to organize and to make sense of data that today located in silos. PLM companies are acquiring tools to capture information from devices and to create another set of information that will live in separate databases. How to connect this information together to drive decision making? This is a question to ask CIOs and PLM information architects. Just my thoughts…