Nowadays everything is getting connected with ‘smart‘ products and devices transmitting and sharing useful information. In the manufacturing industry, data become more and more available with embedded software and sensors for analysis, optimization and intelligent control. Industry 4.0 is to bring smart, virtual and digital factories. The Internet of Things (IoT) will ultimately help to improve products and related services. It is also referred as ‘Internet of Everything‘, including device to device, machine to machine and people to people communication. Although the concept wasn’t named until 1999, the IoT has been in development for decades.
When applied to Product Life-cycle Management (PLM), the IoT requires effective business analytics and data management, data integration, and system to system interdependency management.
- Business analytics effectiveness assumes data accuracy, traceability, live access and intelligent analysis; this is not a new concept or business requirement. Many platforms already exist to provide real-time easy to consume intelligence from ‘shop floor to top floor‘. In the context of PLM, this is also nowadays a common capability requirement and expectation, with a view to replace out-of-date reports by live intelligent dashboards.
- Data integration assumes seamless and automated interfaces or other levels of integration between IT systems; in the world of PLM, integration has gone a long way since PDM; there is still a big step change required in the Engineering world to overcome data complexity and PLM latency.
- System Engineering assumes ‘end-to-end traceability‘ based on system to system connectivity and requirement alignment with (e.g. double V process, validation & verification). This is not a new concept either in the PLM space, but it is taking requirement management to a whole new level.
New technologies enable IoT in the world of PLM, to bring digital product developmentand digital manufacturing to the next level, e.g.cloud it to provide global access, flexibility, usage-based service models and hopefully the end of heavy customized PLM solutions. Today, there is only limited PLM capabilities enabled by cloud technology but this is bound to change. More complex business rules and current ‘brown field‘ PLM solutions will take time to transition to IoT-powered solutions compared to ‘green field‘ implementations.
Combining PLM and the IoT, the Internet of PLM is to bring:
- Robust data model and security.
- Simpler PLM solutions requiring only configuration and simple customization.
- Better integrated IT solutions built on recognized standards, open technologies, open APIs, open data models or common message models.
- Better data traceability and accessibility for improved business analytics and intelligence, with a view to drive better operational responsiveness.
- More sophisticated service models and lighter PLM solutions.
- Redesigned boundaries between PLM and ERP, or perhaps even a new definition of PLM?
- Most importantly: improved productivity, efficiency, and intelligent control of machines and resources.
What are your thoughts?
This post was originally published on LinkedIn on 25 May 2015.