How to Make PLM Easy
Ask nearly any design/manufacturing enterprise why PLM has become one of the most important ways for them to speed product development, reduce costs and generate higher revenues, and they’ll tell you it’s “because it works!” Ask these same companies how easy it was to implement their PLM and the answers may not be as positive.
The reason for the gap between how well it works and how (un)easy it may be to implement is because PLM is less about the actual technology and more about business process transformation. And, nearly any psychologist can tell you that “change is difficult.”
But, PLM is a change well-worth making!
PLM got its start in automotive, aerospace, and other industries that build large, complex products and systems. These are the very same customers that we at CAD/CAM Services provide with CAD drafting, conversion and 3D services, so we were early adapters of PLM technology. We like PLM because it provides everyone involved (including outsource companies like us) with an up-to-date view of every product throughout its lifecycle.
Since we’re frequently called upon to make last-minute or time-sensitive changes to drawings or 3D models, having access to the most recent revision makes our job easier and less likely to perpetuate any errors.
PLM Observations and Recommendations
Because of our relationships with multiple companies and multiple PLM implementations and integrations, we’ve had a bit of a “birds-eye-view” of the process. And here are some things we’ve learned that all companies should consider as they implement and use PLM:
- Make sure you understand what problems you’re trying to resolve with PLM
- Every company is unique and a one-size-fits-all solution does not exist
- The most pervasive and common problems are inefficient end-to-end processes and fragmented data systems
- The correct remedies depend on the company, industry, specific needs, and competitive dynamics
- Make sure that all stake-holders are involved in the change (this includes frequently used outsource CAD services).
Benefits of PLM for Outside Resources
Since we frequently come in as an outside resource, often mid-stream in the design process – or even retrofitting old designs, we know the value of understanding the processes and systems involved in product development from the original product conception through the end of its life. It often helps us to determine the methodology we use when generating new drawings, data or models from the existing files.
Product lifecycle management often involves marketing, engineering, manufacturing, purchasing, and, yes, outsource CAD conversion services, when they’re used. When we step into the process from outside, it’s helpful to understand the global processes and systems that the manufacturers, designers, scientists and engineers “inside” are using. This is far more than just software knowledge, although that is part of it. Importantly, it’s also “process knowledge,” which differs from company to company.
With product development crucial to the strategic financial performance of manufacturing companies, outsource services like ours must understand and appreciate the problems that PLM addresses and the benefits it can reap if we are to be effective in providing sophisticated CAD modeling and versioning.
By helping lower production costs, accelerate new product designs and provide scalable workforces that are available 24/7, sophisticated PLM-savvy CAD services help important manufacturers accelerate launch schedules for new products, reduce engineering cycle times and innovate product development.