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Binding Cloud, PLM 2.0, and Industry 4.0 into cohesive digital transformation


In the environment of Industry 4.0, the role of PLM is expanding. The interplay between PLM and Industry 4.0 technologies – like the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, AR/VR, Model-Based Enterprise (MBE), and 3D Printers – is on the rise. But Industry 4.0 is unlike any previous industrial revolution. The last three, from 1.0 to 3.0, were aimed at driving innovation in manufacturing. 4.0 is different. It is changing the way of thinking. And PLM is at the heart of this new way of thinking.

Industry 4.0 is marked by pervasive connectedness. Smart devices, sensors, and systems are connected, creating a digital thread across Supply Chain Management (SCM), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and Customer Experience (CX) applications. This demands that new digital PLM solutions be placed at the core, making it the key enabler of digital transformation.

However, organizations cannot take a big bang approach to digital transformation €“ or, by implication, to PLM. Issam Darraj, ELIT Head Engineering Applications at ABB Electrification, says that organizations need to take this one step at a time. They need to first build the foundation for digital transformation, then create a culture that supports it. They should invest in skills and collaboration, focus on change management, become customer-centric, and should be able to sell anytime anywhere. Simultaneously, PLM must evolve into PLM 2.0 as well.

PLM 2.0 is widely seen as a platform whose responsibility does not end when a design is handed over to manufacturing. PLM 2.0 impacts operations, marketing, sales, services, end-of-life, recycling, etc. What began as an engineering database with MCAD and ECAD, is now an enabler of new product design, with features such as Bill of Material, collaboration, and release processes rolled into it.

As the role of PLM evolves, it is moving to Cloud. We believe that SaaS PLM is the future. This is because Cloud is central to Industry 4.0.  With connected systems and products sending back a flood of real-time data to design, operations, and support functions, Cloud has become the backbone for data and to drive real-time decisions. Organizations that were once using Cloud to bring down costs must change that focus. Availability and scalability should be the primary considerations.

Digital Transformation, Industry 4.0 technologies, PLM and Cloud are complex pieces of the puzzle. Most organizations need partners who understand every individual piece of the puzzle and know how to bring them together to create a picture of a successful, competitive, and customer-focused organization. An experienced partner will be able to connect assets, create data-rich decisioning systems, leverage Industry 4.0 technologies, and leverage Cloud to expand the role of PLM.


Sundaresh Shankaran

President, Manufacturing & CPG,

ITC Infotech