Product complexity is on the rise. Manufacturers need to understand customer requirements, define, and design products, collaborate with global designers and suppliers, ensure material feed and recipe integration, use varied manufacturing techniques, seek regulatory approvals, make processes and products sustainable, keep pace with shorter product lifecycles…there are too many moving parts in manufacturing making it extremely challenging to meet quality, cost and time-to-market goals while staying competitive. What modern manufacturing needs is a giant can of WD-40 to make all the parts interact and work smoothly. That can is Product Lifecyle Management (PLM).
PLM is designed so that the domains of engineering, manufacturing, and distribution do not have to work in siloes. Industry 4.0 technologies such as IoT, AR, VR, and 3D Printing have become a catalyst to reduce the gap between these domains even further. Modern PLM integrates Industry 4.0 technologies, effectively stitching together once-isolated clusters of knowledge: PLM becomes the digital thread running across domains, like a system-of-systems, binding the value chain of development, manufacturing, and distribution.
Some of the world’s leading manufacturers know how difficult it can be to propagate changes made to one system or product configuration across domains. Every department, from supplies to manufacturing, marketing to sales, and distribution to service, needs up-to-the-minute information on product changes so that it can continue to meet its KPIs efficiently.
Achieving efficiency in a digital environment lies in channeling feedback from design, manufacturing, sales, service, recycling, etc., to rapidly evolve products and portfolios. As the clusters of knowledge grow, from design to end of life, PLM should allow the complex changes to flow flawlessly across the lifecycle of the product. Industry forecasts show that the demand for these capabilities, coupled with rapid digital adoption, will see the market for PLM grow from US$50.7 billion in 2019 to US$73.7 billion by 2024.[i]
While PLM has done well in discrete manufacturing, it is about to make a huge dent in process industries such as oil and gas, paper products, textiles, and chemicals. PLM is no longer constrained by on-premise infrastructure—which has traditionally taken long to get off the ground. Today, PLM has become available in the cloud, with attractive cost and time-to-implement models.
PLM will become central in process manufacturing to optimize operations and take rapid decisions. Manufacturers adopting PLM will also be able to examine the previously isolated clusters of wisdom—say, design, sourcing, and costing—with a right click of the mouse. They will be able to tell when a component in a plant is about to fail, the impact of the failure on downstream processes, and how they can avoid shutdowns. They will be able to navigate changes, from design and build to operations and recycle, in an instant. And they will be able to automate their decisions, change recipe cards and plant arrangements to meet dynamic demand changes with the least possible downtime. Manufacturers hoping to maximize ROI from their digital investments and industry 4.0 technologies will make PLM their ticket to success.
Director Enterprise Architect-PLM