The idea behind Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) in relation to analysis is quite simple. Basically, it involves collecting and managing the related information and processes for all stages of product development.

PLM can be useful for any professional, anywhere, regardless of where they work in a manufacturing company. However, one of the challenges for PLM is to extend its application beyond just the engineering department. The roots of PLM solutions go back to systems (CAD), design and engineering, and this association has impeded a broader acceptance of PLM software.

However, times are changing. A number of trends and technologies are affecting the future of product lifecycles: Big Data, mobility, Internet of Things (IoT), Industry 4.0 and the explosive growth of automation and manufacturing software.

We can cite some trends that are already impacting the way we see PLM, and which will still have more profound impacts on current practices.

Connected devices

Connected devices will significantly change how we communicate with products, starting with the ability to enter the real physical environment with customers. IoT data improves our understanding of customer requirements and monitors product performance in real life. Increasingly, sensors are improving and becoming more accessible and efficient, opening up new opportunities for tracking and researching how customers are using products across all industries. In the aerospace, automotive, consumer goods and other industries, real-time product monitoring opens up opportunities for developing new kinds of maintenance and operation solutions.

IoT can impact applications and lifecycle technologies of existing products in three ways:

  • Maintenance, repair, and scheduled service: Maintenance and service areas are expanding these days, and manufacturing companies are increasingly interested in advanced service business models. Sensors can provide a database for connecting and communicating with products for maintenance purposes.
  • Requirements management: This helps provide a view of how customers use products. Knowing that some product features are not being used, and using this information in future requirements analysis, management tools can be very beneficial.
  • Product Performance Monitoring: What if you could get real performance data from the engine and other parts of a car, airplane, computer or even a hairbrush? This data also helps to comply with the growing set of regulations and environmental requirements.

Workflows or experience enhancement?

Currently, workflow is one of the fundamental paradigms of corporate software: every engineering and business process can be modeled and executed as a set of tasks, with conditions and rules. Workflows have been an effective, formal way of organizing operations, but they can be too challenging for existing organizations to incorporate them. In addition, the new generation is rejecting the current paradigms of the user experience, especially those related to formal workflows. The demand for new interactive experiences is coming from a new generation of users.

What does this demand mean for developers of PLM technology? In short, interactive technologies – from mobile phones to websites, mobile apps and software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications – need to provide the user with experiences that are more practical, self-guided, bureaucracy-free and efficient.

Total integration

Software is taking over the world, which can have an interesting impact on product lifecycle. Bills of Materials need to cover not only mechanical and electronic parts, but also software elements. As the complexity of software in manufacturing increases, products require increasingly greater integration in the product development process and the overall lifecycle. Companies will find it difficult to keep mechanical, electronic and software teams in silos, since enhanced integration between the mechanical, electronic and software elements of product data will be in high demand.

The future

Consumer demand for integration in product development and global operations may lead to a new form of interactive experience, starting with obtaining product requirements and ending with predictive maintenance of products and services.

The combined information on virtual and physical products is expected to result in a new level of demand for data analysis and management, and the data scale, with its complexity, will present a challenge for the companies and information systems that will make this future possible.

 

Tobias Schroeder

Author

Tobias Schroeder

MBA in Strategic Management from UFPR. Business and market analyst at SoftExpert, a software provider for enterprise-wide business processes automation, improvement, compliance management and corporate governance.

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