More often PLM starts as a CAD/Design data vault for many companies, later evolving to a design data exchange platform . Most successful companies are taking PLM beyond just a design data exchange and access control platform; to a knowledge driven decision support system. This means PLM not only needs to manage the multitude of information generated at various stages of the product lifecycle , but also capture the product development knowledge and feed it back to the product lifecyccle. For example, the requirements and design for a newer version of a product needs to be also driven by the knowledge elements captured from the previous version’s lefecycle, from inception to design to manufacturing and service.
When PLM stays just in the Design Engineering world, it’s constrained to exchange information and capture knowledge from downstream stages managed by disconnected, silo based systems. This results in engineers spending huge amount of time in data acquisition tasks. Industry studies shows that information workers spend 30-40% of their time only for information gathering and analysis, thus wasting time in searching for nonexistent information, failing to find existing information, validating the information or recreating information that can’t be found.
Quality escapes is another challenge with such disconnected systems when product doesn’t confirm with the engineering definition. Non-conformances found on the shop floor are costly to review and dispose and even more severe when the product is already on service. Reconciling change is also extremely challenging, especially its downstream propagation, resulting in significant productivity losses. Slow change processing along with quality escapes cause delays in new product introduction affecting the overall ability of the companies to compete.
The first step towards transforming PLM to a true knowledge driven decision support system is to extend it to the CAD/CAM/CNC process chain, thus taking it to the shopfloors. Such a solution helps to establish a continuous loop from Engineering into the shop floor for operations management and manufacturing execution systems (MES). Such a continuous loop system provide more ways to capture the business intelligence and then suggest solutions based on the previous patterns. Then it’s much easier to capture information and use analytics to synthesize valuable knowledge elements compared to the fragmented solutions many companies have today. It’s also a foundational element for establishing a Digital Twin per Industry 4.0 vision
Other key benefits of extending PLM to manufacturing include
Reducing the time to market
- Enhanced collaboration between Product and Manufacturing Engineering
- Enhanced Traceability and Faster Change Management
- Manufacturing plans comprehend product variability/complexity
- “What if” scenarios for optimized decision making
- Manufacturing Simulation and validation integrated in PLM
- Up-to-date 3D work instructions delivered to the shop floor
- Ongoing process optimization based on Closed loop feedback of utilization data
- Reuse of common methods/tooling