People love their toys.  You do.  I do.  Anyone reading this does.Cell phones, laptops, cars, televisions, clothes, video game consoles, tablets- you name it.  These conveniences have become a large and important part of everyday life.

Consumers know that they like their Samsung Galaxy, Apple IPad, or Microsoft Xbox, but most are oblivious to all of the complex workings that go into the creation of such things.  Even commodities like pens and pencils have a methodical and systematic “behind the scenes” way they are designed, assembled, and marketed by manufacturers.  It is in the best interest of manufacturers to come up with a superior product, build it quickly (with as little waste as possible), and put it on the shelves before its competition does.

PLM

Product Lifecycle Management, or PLM, is a system that is used today to enhance a manufacturer’s ability to accomplish this goal, and in the process, become a highly competitive force in today’s market.  PLM systems help organizations in coping with the increasing complexity and engineering challenges of developing new products for the global competitive markets.

Far from a “nice to have”, PLM is now used by most discrete manufacturers today.  It streamlines production and makes for faster product to market.  Manufacturers considering adopting a fully integrated PLM system from an established maker, stand to benefit in so many ways.  Documentation exists which confirms each of the following benefits that result from a competent PLM implementation:

  • Rapid time to market
  • Maximize supply chain collaboration
  • Better quality of product, reliability improvements
  • Prototype expenses are reduced
  • Contract Manufacturers are able to give more timely & accurate quotes
  • Using a single source of data provides opportunity for savings
  • Enables the fine-tuning of successful processes
  • Less material, prototype, and product waste
  • Savings through the complete integrations of engineering workflows
  • Gives contract manufacturers access to centralized records, reports, documentation
  • Improved forecasting to reduce material cost

The implementation is crucial to a successful PLM integration.  

To see an ROI there has got to be an “I”.  It is easy to get carried away with, and dream solely about the “R” rather than focusing on the “I”.  How then can a manufacturer properly invest in PLM?

  • Employees must be properly prepared for PLM, as they may be reluctant to change.  We are creatures of habit, after all.
  • Current processes should be optimized.  PLM fine-tunes manufacturing processes which are already in effect.  Sadly it is not a miracle, business-saving system.  PLM implementation makes good processes, better.
  • PLM works in conjunction with other programs.  It’s important to do the necessary research before-hand to ensure the PLM consulting company can provide the necessary adapters.  Some can.  Some can’t.
  • PLM implementations take time; therefore, it would be prudent to ensure a positive working relationship between the provider and manufacturer.
  • New or very small businesses who are not geared to grow or who do not generate enough revenue may not be able to afford an implementation.  The promises associated with PLM integrations are tantalizing, but until a PLM candidate reaches a critical level, it won’t be beneficial.

PLM is a proven technology.  With the proper preparation and willingness to invest certain amounts of time, money, and effort, the payoff will be all that was hoped for and more.