Manufacturing Web and the Future of Product Lifecycle

Manufacturing Web and the Future of Product Lifecycle

Earlier this week, I had a privilege to present at IDE 2019 Summer School. The topic Beyond Transformation and Digital Enterprise brought a wide range of discussions from big data, artificial intelligence, product lifecycle and variety of industry examples demonstrating applications current and future of these technologies. In my presentation – Manufacturing Web for the Future of Product Lifecycle, I focused on the current challenges and opportunities I can see in product lifecycle management.

PLM definition is complex and usually very diverse from whom you’re speaking to. However, the traditional technological, product and process approach is not changed for the last two decades focusing on the selling of “single version of the truth”, which is ending up as a single database oriented paradigm.

Traditional PLM value is built bottom-up from integration to lifecycle around people, products and processes. However, the percent of PLM failures is very high. Specifically, the current PLM paradigm is mostly appealing to large companies and all solutions are usually multi-year projects with high licenses/subscription cost and a significant amount of services and custom integrations required.

Cloud technologies made progress in PLM recently. Companies like Arena Solutions pioneered SaaS products a long time ago. However, since Autodesk in 2012 and later all large CAD / PLM vendors introduced SaaS /cloud options for their existing PLM platforms, the situations changed.

Together with advanced development of SaaS application and adoption of online products across different industry, there is an opportunity for digital transformation in manufacturing.

PLM companies have a real chance to lead this innovation because of their industry presence and connectivity to fundamental product IP assets. These assets are represented by all CAD and related information.

However, existing solutions are experiencing two major challenges – downstream information availability is hard because of complexity. Also, PLM connectivity to business processes and profit centers in manufacturing companies is limited.

At the same time, the demand for collaboration and communication is huge. Manufacturing is not done in a single place anymore like it was 100 years at Ford Motors and other large companies. Today, even the smallest manufacturing companies and projects are more reminding a giant web of resources and activities.

Therefore I can see a real opportunity for new PLM paradigm -network based. In the past several years, we’ve seen the growing success of companies built around networks – Facebook, Uber, Airbnb, and others. The network is connecting people, provides a foundation for the marketplace and serves as a technological and data platform for application development.

Network multi-tenant platforms can solve a problem of complex collaboration and communication in large companies and complex supply chain. The same multi-tenant data management technologies can provide a foundation for low TCO solutions for the underserved manufacturing market – mostly small to medium enterprises and manufacturing shops.

I brought an example of OpenBOM (disclaimer – I’m CEO and co-founder), which demonstrated an opportunity to build a network platform for manufacturing companies with unique real-time Google-like collaboration capabilities. The solution can be used as a multi-tenant platform for multiple companies as well as a platform for large enterprises with extensive supply chain collaboration needs.

Here is a slide deck from my keynote. If you have questions, please contact me directly.

What is my conclusion? PLM is moving from an era of a single database to network paradigm. The inspiration of many network-based business models creates a great foundation to connect manufacturing companies and build a manufacturing network to serve a large number of companies as well as building an intelligence going beyond the lifecycle of a single product. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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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