Integrating Businesses with PLM Capabilities

By Vivek Mahajan, National Technical Support Manager-PLM, DesignTech Systems Ltd

Geoffrey Moore in his book, Crossing the Chasm explains five categories of companies based on Technology Adoption Life cycle. They are innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards. Wherein early adopters are companies willing to experiment new technology and early majority are companies using proven technologies. In India, Product Life Cycle Management solutions are transitioning from early adopters to early majority category especially in the SME segment. Earlier, the more the companies adopts these technologies, the more competitive edge they enjoy in the market. Once the technology is availed by everyone to reap the benefits, the edge or competitive advantage diminishes in greater proportion.

4 critical success factors for Companies in Product design and development to succeed are: 
• Innovation
• Quality
• Time and cost of development
• Competitive pricing

Today a product can make or break a company. Innovation is key to success. If an iPhone can elevate Apple to new heights, then lack of innovation can take down Blackberry which was once an unmatched leader in the consumers markets. These days, the product shelf lives are decreasing, the bargaining power of the consumers is high, competition is intense and if companies want to succeed, they need to be the early adopters of the new technology that can help them achieve their goals such as

• Get designs right the first time
• Appealing and robust products 
• Hit the market early

Momentarily, multi-faceted processes of product design, engineering and manufacturing have evolved to become much more inter-dependent, inter-disciplinary, entangled in iterative, long and complex design and development processes. How can company make sense of it? How can they create order and symmetry in this cross functional and multilateral working environment? How does a company streamline processes and optimize workflows to increase productivity? These are the challenges faced by any company involved in product development. Huge investments in infrastructure and resources, enormous amount of data generation, Silo departments or dispersed manufacturing and R&D set-ups, big budgets and lower bottom-line, maximizing productivity and throughput through best use of existing facilities, make it monstrous task for the companies to align these functions in a cohesive, coordinated and structured environment to build an agile, lean, competitive and productive organization. 
The solution to these challenges can be found in latest technology, Product Life Cycle Management, popularly referred to as PLM. This technology can help companies 

• Compress Design and develop product cycle
• Augment product design innovation
• Streamline workflows and con figure optimized production processes, 
• Manage, control and reuse the design data, 
• Optimize use of resources including machines, money, man-efforts and materials
• Facilitate seamless cross department functioning and achieve better data integration between geographically dispersed facilities 
• Achieve cost and time efficiency 

PLM basically helps companies integrate, configure and manage their design data, processes, and work flows right from the initial stages of Product Development cycle, i.e. Concept stage to Design, Simulation and Validation, right through to Manufacturing and releasing the product to market. It helps companies with the setting up of effective data management systems, efficient workflow and process configurations, and overall system validation. PLM also automates the work flows that helps exert a strong grip on the product development process, and thereby bring more control and discipline, and streamline the overall development cycle. It helps unite the entire eco-system of Product Development under one virtual roof and empowers them to work and act as one. PLM integrates the best and coherent workflows within the development cycle which are self-monitored.

PLM typically works within and addresses these primary functional areas namely:
• Requirements Management
• Project Management
• Design Change Management
• Engineering Process Management

Manufacturing Process Management
• Supplier Relationship Management

Benefits of PLM:
• End to end management of Data, information, Process, resources.
• Collaborative Product Development.
• Synchronized Development Process, Zero Idle time.
• Early time to Market 
• Increased Market Success

PLM software is scalable, and can also be customized to integrate the distinct processes and workflows of the companies to address the specific needs as per their requirement.
PLM is rightly known as a People Centric Technology as it administers and manages the whole eco-system of Product Design and Development of the company. It helps company set-up lean processes of product design and development thus increasing productivity and reducing wastage of Money, Man efforts, Material, Machines, Time and other resources, building a collaborative, and in-sync working environment enhancing the overall efficiency of the company.

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