Towards PLM 4.0: Hyperconnected Asset Performance Management Framework


Edited on 14 April 2020 following a discussion with Kirk Carlsen as he had already published about “PLM 4.0” in 2019 which precedes this article — please follow the link to his blog here as it is definitely worth a read and it also relates to the Oracle PLM suite.


Whether or not it is called “PLM”, Product Lifecycle Management has evolved across a number of disciplines, functions, industries, processes and systems. The fact is that there is more to it than only collaborative tools and data integration technologies.

Without attempting to rewrite PLM history which has already been done a number of times, it is interesting to acknowledge the switch from CAD centric, engineering and manufacturing, then product innovation and open innovation networks to asset performance management and customer experience applications.

Everyone would agree with Carlsen’s view that if PDM was PLM 1.0, it has gradually evolved into PLM 2.0 to cover the full product development cycle.

PLM1.0: PDM / CAD data repository

PDM and CAD were there at the beginning 30-40 years ago, and so PLM initiated through these tools and technologies. It was then about basic data access, security and revisioning / versioning rules. It is still an emotional topic to align data across engineering and manufacturing functions and systems – due to complexity and different schools of thought.

In the beginning, it was about:

  • Building a secured and structured CAD repository to store data and control access and maturity (basic lifecycle).
  • Providing change management tools to track versions and revisions, and how data is used in context of a given product or product range.
  • Defining and maintaining acceptable standards and material catalogue to control product quality and (to some extent) supplier data integrated to the product.

PLM2.0: product development and collaboration hub

Since then, PLM has always been about cross-functional and cross-discipline collaboration, across the so-called “connected” supply chain. A significant step-up from the previous stage includes the integration of BOM data:

All functions supporting product development became aware of product changes and their implications to product launch, cost, marketing and technical attributes, engineering and assembly requirements, virtual build simulation, CAx and xBOM integration with data mastered in ERP systems.

PLM3.0: enterprise-wide integrated product innovation platform

As Carlsen (2019) put it, there is a lot to PLM than just Engineering:

No longer is PLM just about data and CAD management; it even extends beyond the boundaries of an innovation platform.

Carlsen (2019)

Over time, PLM solutions became central to channelling creative data and open innovation – joining together people, technologies an systems across the extended enterprise:

  • Joining the dot between product and project / program management, related data and resources.
  • Enabling functional integration to support development of ever smarter products (non only across mechanical or electrical functions, but with embedded software lifecycle management).
  • Integrating downstream into product related services and maintenance, feeding to the SBOM and maintenance work instructions and other technical publications.
  • Embedding CAD and simulation under the same umbrella to control the overall generative design and associated feedback loops.
  • Extending data alignment between PLM-ERP and MES solutions to enable smart factories and downstream / upstream integration with product IOT.
  • Aligning Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) and covering the full software requirement to release agile process.
  • Enabling cloud and hosting infrastructure deployment with modern security models.
  • Extending to numerous data intelligence reporting and web-based dash-boarding capabilities across the entreprise – accessible from smart phones and tablets.

The lines between PLM and ERP have blurred. PLM is no more a “system” but a strategic platform covering a fundamental set of principles on how product data integrate.

PLM4.0: hyperconnected enterprise and asset performance platform

Connecting digital twins across disciplines and functions is the next leap forward to enable new business models:

  • Combining smart products and factories, with enterprise wise analytics to overlay existing enterprise platforms.
  • Allowing for more agile product development iterations and shortening test and validation cycle (e.g. using generative design and combined 3D printing techniques).
  • Extending product and process visualisation to another level using immersive VR / AR technologies.
  • Building further on the power of real-time analytics, leveraging AI to develop predictive data models.
  • Enabling shift from product to service and maintenance from both product and manufacturing perspectives.
  • Leveraging manufacturing IIOT data loops with ability to monitor performance and update during in-field operations, for true smart product / smart factory integration.
  • Extending Asset Performance Management (APM) to all enterprise assets, including product service-CRM feedback loops and customer experience integration.
  • Moving to Platform-as-a-Service models to allow for full scalability (user base, number of transactions, data volume, cost, infrastructure performance, supportability, etc.).
  • Allowing for Industry 4.0 enablement and Model-Based System Engineering (MBSE) to integrate end-to-end all of the above… where everything has the potential to become “connected“, or even “hyperconnected”…

These views will obviously have variations from one industry to another, based on maturity or the nature of both the products manufactured and the related services offering.

Hats off to Oracle Cloud if the platform covers the full scope of PLM 4.0 in a unified way.

What are your thoughts?


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