PLM : Complete file on the product cycle management software

PLM is software specifically designed to manage the life cycle of a product. It is a powerful tool that companies use to ensure product quality while reducing various costs.

The life cycle of a product starts from its conception to its retirement, passing through procurement and marketing. These steps are crucial and require careful management. Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software facilitates the tracking and sharing of product data along the value chain. Its use allows to reduce various costs and to guarantee the product quality. For those who have not yet had the time to dig into the subject, here is everything there is to know about PLM. But first, let’s spend a few lines to understand the life cycle of a product.

Table of Contents

The product life cycle in PLM

In the manufacturing industry, there is what is called the life cycle of a productThis is why we call it life cycle management (PLM). This cycle brings together the different stages of product development. It begins with the ideation, the design and ends when the product is taken out of service. The life cycle of a product has a total of 5 stages, which we will see in this paragraph.

Design and concept

This is the first step in the life of any product. It is theideation during which designers gather the different criteria such as competitive analysis and consumer needs.

Development

Once the various ideas have been gathered, it is time to develop the product. In this stage, the team responsible will develop prototypes and then test them in the field. This step also includes collecting comments and criticisms following the analysis and testing in order to improve the product.

Production and launch

After the various tests on the product, the team brought additional improvements in order to adapt it to the customers’ needs. Then, the time comes to release a new version of the product. This one will immediately join the market via the distribution channel.

Customer service and support

When a new product is launched, it is sometimes necessary to give customers time to familiarize themselves with. For this, the company provides a service and support to facilitate its use.

Retirement

This last phase marks the end of the product life cycle. It means that the product must be retired out of the distribution circuit.

What do we mean by PLM?

PLM software, or Product Lifecycle Management, refers to the software for managing the life cycle of a product. The life cycle of a product starts from its conception, through manufacturing, sales and services, to its retirement. The purpose of product life cycle management is to accelerate the time to market and to ensure quality at lower costs. It also involves the governance and the traceability of the product.

With the help of such technology, any company can easily proceed with the development of a new product. PLM allows the organization and monitoring of the circuit that the product must undertake before the end of its life cycle. As a technology, it allows a multidisciplinary team to collaborate despite the disparity of their geographical location. It is also an appropriate tool to create and maintain collaborations with partners and customers.

Evolution of PLM

PLM had its beginnings in the automotive industry. AMC, or American Motors Corporation, was a small company without a large budget. This was a hindrance to its development. It was not a major competitor for the large companies already present in the sector.

In the 1980s, the small firm opted for a new strategy that allowed for a efficient follow-up of its productsfrom their creation. This was done in order to improve processes, and thus to better compete with its competitors. This was the first aspect of PLM.

In this policy, AMC used the collected information for better decision making regarding design, procurement and production process. This strategy was quite successful, which is why AMC increased its market share before its acquisition by Chrysler. By the mid-1990s, the company was producing the cheapest automobiles on the market.

As a result of this success, manufacturing industries have embraced PLM as a tool for managing andproduction process improvement.

How does PLM software work?

To understand how PLM works, you first need to know the two essential concepts: the digital thread and the digital twin.

What is the digital thread?

The digital wire is, as its name suggests, a kind of wire that connects all the constituent elements of an enterprise to all its data. The goal is to give the company a overview of the physical and digital data of a product from its conception to the end of its life.

The digital thread starts where product ideation and design begins. It provides a seamless flow of data between the company and its various direct collaborators as well as processes and ecosystems.

PLM and the notion of the digital twin

Then there is the so-called digital twin, referring to the digital representation of a physical asset. The digital twin is used on a computer to model the characteristics of the real object. In this way, at each stage of the product’s life, the company, via the PLM software, has a digital profile of this object. This allows a quick and efficient decision making.

However, the digital twin is not as effective ‘it is not supported by interconnected systems. Thus, the digital wire acts to obtain the up-to-date data with real-time accuracy. The information obtained is then used to create an optimal quality product with a reasonable cost.

PLM software also allows for the simulation of different scenarios. This then allows for the prediction of costs and benefits in order to adjust the production, marketing and eventually decommissioning technique.

The main advantages of PLM

If PLM is gaining ground, there are many reasons. In fact, it has a number of advantages, the most well known of which are:

An impeccable engineering asset

PLM software enables engineering development and improves the production process of the product. By using PLM software, the company has real-time data in a bidirectional manner. This improves the efficiency of the engineering team by making them more productive. At the same time, product engineers and designers can exchange and share their knowledge and can collaborate more easily.

On-time error detection and correction

When one or more errors are discovered during the production process, they can be solve them in time. Better yet, when these problems are detected earlier, it takes less time for the company to resolve them and this reduces the costs associated with resolution. In addition, PLM helps optimize resource allocation. This means less industrial waste.

A shorter time to market

The faster the product reaches the market, the easier it can be sold. Indeed, customers are easily convinced when they see the product in front of them. PLM, which provides a single source of truth shortens the time to market for the product. Furthermore, the information collected in real time gives project managers the ability to manage and control this time.

Better executed projects

PLM can also be leveraged as a cross-enterprise solution. In this case, advanced workflow management is included. For example, the PLM software is able to output the accurate cost values products. It can also manage the transfer of new designs to the manufacturing process.

Good design quality

Using a PLM solution allows design teams to have a a deeper understanding of the constraints related to the product. This then provides them with a better design idea to come out with a better quality product. In addition, when the system incorporates machine learning, the feedback and statistics provided by customers and performance analyses are transformed into new feature proposals. These numbers and comments include various information from both internal and external sources.

Some examples of PLM solution providers

There are many PLM software providers. In this file, we will limit ourselves to two solutions including Oracle Cloud PLM and SAP PLM.

Oracle Cloud PLM

Oracle Cloud provides software for businesses, in this case PLM software. Its cloud-based system 4.0 follows a SaaS model, allowing its functionality to be up-to-date and convenient. The Oracle Cloud PLM solution operates regular updates so that the customer company can benefit from it. The continuous updates result in new features. This means that the company benefits from integrated predictive analytics, AI/ML, IoT and digital assistance.

SAP PLM

Another company also provides a PLM solution to companies in order to ensure speedy decision making and lower cost production. This company is SAP, a software provider designed to facilitate the activities of a company. SAP PLM is an integral part of the software SAP Business Suites. Apart from PLM software, SAP provides other ERP software to meet the needs of companies. For example, there is the SAP SCM (Supply Chain Management) software, the SAP CRM (Customer Relationship Management), etc.

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