One of the things that always amazed me is how long takes to convince engineers to change something in their environment. Typically, engineers’ relationships with CAD software is almost religious. Enterprise software such as PDM, PLM and ERP once installed used by manufacturing companies many years.
Gizmodo article This Old-Ass Commodore 64 Is Still Being Used to Run an Auto Shop in Poland is telling us an amazing story demonstrating the level of inertia you can meet in manufacturing industry.
We need to learn a lesson about needless consumerism from this auto repair shop in Gdansk, Poland. Because it still uses a Commodore 64 to run its operations. Yes, the same Commodore 64 released 34 years ago that clocked in at 1 MHz and had 64 kilobytes of RAM. It came out in 1982, was discontinued in 1994, but it’s still used to run a freaking company in 2016. That’s awesome.
To be sure, small businesses around the world often use technology that’s a bit more outdated than what the rest of us use in our daily lives but damn, flexing a Commodore 64 for work in a time when babies are given smartphones before pacifiers is pretty damn bad ass.
Inertia is one of the biggest challenges for PLM sales and competition. However, there are 3 situations when manufacturing company can consider to replace existing PDM / PLM products.
1. Existing product is not supported anymore. There reasons for that can be different. OS replacement, browser replacement, mergers of vendors and discontinuing of existing software, etc. Usually PLM vendors are selling extended support. So, it is not unusual to see software packages running decades after actually development was discontinued.
2. PLM “sponsor” is retiring or leaving a company. PLM software is almost always has sponsor in a company. PLM implementation is usually his “baby” and it heavily supervised by this person. If such person is “leaving the building”, it creates an opportunity to make a change.
3. New manufacturing programs. In some industries such as aerospace and defense, new manufacturing programs can create an opportunity to decide to use a new software.
4. Existing software cannot support new business processes. This is the most interesting use case. Because manufacturing environment and business are changing. Globalization, new manufacturing technologies, business models, product requirements – all these things are creating an opportunity for new software.
What is my conclusion? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If there is no evidence of a real problem, and fixing the “problem” would not improve the process significantly, manufacturing companies prefer not to waste time and resources to replace it. Even if something is slightly broken, but new software will require significant changes and impact many people, the decision sometimes can be still to stay with existing known processes and software. Don’t underestimate it when you try to sell PLM software and ask manufacturing companies to replace an old software with new one. Just my thoughts…
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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.
Picture credit Gizmodo article