Every Product Realization Strategy Needs a PLM Strategy

Lionel Grealou Digital, PLM, Strategy


Products are developed (designed and engineered), manufactured and managed throughout their lifecycle through a collaborative approach across  a combination of functions (people, departments, organizations), processes and IT tools.

Every manufacturing organization that create products “does” some sort of Product Life-cycle Management (PLM); it might be fully enabled by tools and technology or not. Business benefits, effectiveness and efficiency will link to the PLM maturity (is it fit for purpose or not?) and its level of adoption (is it used properly or not?). Also, the relative maturity of one domain vs another, or one capability vs another, will inform about the overall maturity.

Full PLM (i.e. the right tools for the right purpose)Paper based PLM (i.e. limited tools)
DigitalIT tools to simulate Product Development (milestones, risks and issues, BoM data, CAD data, requirements, product configuration, etc.)Only basic CAD (some people are happy with just that, but they miss significant business benefits), no integration of data, manual and people-based interpretation (not scalable, limited reliability and traceability, not sustainable for growth)
VirtualVirtual series simulation, tracking of deliverables, virtual validation, accurate data reporting and live dashboardManual and / or limited traceability, lack of efficiency, data duplication and subject to interpretation, only supported by few key people, not scalable
SmartVarious levels of integration, contribution to leveraging technologies for product development and the way the product data is managedNo automation, lost of manual operations and activities

Whether product portfolios are managed on paper (without IT solutions, or using Excel type of tools) or using advanced IT-integrated solutions, the same PLM principles apply:

  • PLM is an enable to manage complex enterprise data that relates to the product realization (BoMproduct configuration, attributes, requirements, cost, etc.)
  • Engineering data is mastered in PLM, manufacturing and service data is typically mastered in Enterprise Ressource Process (ERP); it varies based on make-to-buy strategies, product complexity, manufacturing complexity, functional interdependencies, etc.
  • PLM enables effective and efficient product realization (not only product creation); it accelerates maturity growth in product development projects by providing means to control key parameters of New Product Introduction (NPI).
  • Virtual design and validation simulations enable faster developments while reducing the cost of new product introduction (greater simulation accuracy, faster product validation and verification, better outcome quality, reduction in a number of physical prototypes, greater data visibility and traceability, etc.).
  • PLM is equally about engineering and product efficiency – enabled by better processes, better ways of working (organizational structures and culture); with the support of some IT tools. 

Product efficiency is about make-to-buy strategies, purchasing coordination, effective cross-functional design reviews (part of a robust new product introduction framework), product quality management, error avoidance or control, quality assurance, complexity management (ie simplification and control), effective data searchability, alignment to compliance requirements and standards, data re-use optimization, on-time delivery and mis-revenue avoidance. 

Engineering efficiency is easier to measure (eg resource efficiency by the number of heads or work hours reduced for non value-added activities) and improve than product efficiency.

Product efficiency has the potential to yield more tangible benefits: for instance, it can contribute to improving revenue with open innovation, access to new solution networks, enhance products and associated services, increase sales (top-line improvement) and efficiency through better delivery and engagement model, healthier competition, reduction of poor quality (bottom line improvement) by 2 to 3 fold by reducing direct and indirect material cost.

Digital technologies are disrupting and changing businesses, and this includes PLM tools and technologies, capability solutions and their integration to Enterprise-IT. Product innovation, development and manufacturing are at the forefront of the ‘digitalization‘ of product realization lifecycle. Bridging functional silos, integration of data, processes, business and IT is ‘stimulating’ innovation in product and service delivery. 

What are your thoughts?


This post was originally published on LinkedIn on 12 November 2015.

About the Author
Lionel Grealou

Lionel Grealou

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Lio is founder and independent consultant with Xlifecycle Ltd—helping organizations make the most from their digital enterprise strategies and manage the 'Lifecycle of Things' across PLM, MES, ERP, IOT, SCM platforms.

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