With our fourth year of sponsorship in the books, this year’s PI PLMx content evolved similar to how the PLM industry is evolving — from systems to platforms, and model-based initiatives to drive consistent product development processes.  On a side note, the location was great! Who can complain about being in San Diego with these views?

As the reality of PLM is coming into focus, much like how ERP moved from hype to reality, the official theme for this conference was on how PLM plays a role in the digital value chain. After all, PLM touches many areas of a business, even though its core roots are in engineering and product development. We observed three recurring themes in our conversations this year:

  1. Integration
  2.  Digital Thread
  3. Looking for more PLM options

Let’s take these one at a time.

Integration

The need for integration has never been stronger as more organizations have disparate systems across geographies with valuable product data in pockets that need to come together to support a workflow or business process.  The challenge with integration is that it is often overlooked or the last thing planned in a PLM system implementation. The nature of PLM with its large drawing files makes it difficult to use just any point to point integration pipe. Often times business process logic is needed to fully support a workflow and deliver the right piece of data to that system. Further large file size exchange can create bandwidth issues. Razorleaf has developed our own PLM-centric integration platform called Clover to address many of the integration hurdles that exist in PLM.  Learn more about Clover here.

Digital Thread

Piggybacking on the integration theme, integration is essential to support the creation and sustainment of a comprehensive digital thread.  In our conversations, we heard many are working toward the efforts of creating a digital thread and saw it as an evolving process, not a destination.  One of the more difficult parts of establishing a digital thread is knowing what data to capture to best support downstream processes.  It’s really easy to go wide and include many data points, but this creates other data management issues and in many instances, it is too much. Storage also becomes an issue – where will the data live? Do you need a data lake? Or can your integration strategy support viewing data when needed but not necessarily storing it?  Razorleaf has been helping our clients map out what a digital thread could look like, and our senior consultants help create a process and integration strategy to drive that initiative. Call us if you are in the midst of a program like this, we can help you mitigate risks and get you on a path to success.

Looking for more PLM options

The maturity of PLM has gotten to the point where initial implementations have either been successful or not, and there is an attitude of disillusionment with current solutions. This is a natural part of evolving technologies like PLM, the same thing happened with ERP. The “promise” of what PLM was supposed to be is missing the mark. Program goals get off track, schedules slow down to a crawl and there is usually some level of a project stall. As a result, many users were walking around the exhibit floor trying to get a sense of what else is out there, and if an alternative solution would be a better fit based on what their organization needs. Over the years, Razorleaf has led many PLM selection projects for customers. Our consultant team has implemented and configured many of the leading PLM systems (legacy and new), and we can provide an objective viewpoint to help support an informed, detailed comparison of current system gaps and where the business wants to go. Let us know if we can help.

Conclusions

No matter where your current PLM system implementation is Razorleaf is available to provide objective, vendor agnostic advice around PLM systems, integration, and more. We’ve helped architect model-based enterprise and digital thread initiatives and then supported those implementations from start to finish.

What’s interesting is that no matter what company we are working with, and no matter what the project, overcoming cultural issues remains the biggest internal hurdle that exists for organizations. PLM strategies drive change in the way people and teams work across an organization. Even when there is executive commitment behind technologies like PLM, it is still hard work to encourage adoption across teams. We have been working on new ideas and approaches to help support and drive cultural adoption. There is no silver bullet, but we have learned some things along the way. Contact Us, and we can tell you more about them.