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Jul 8 th, 2017
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IoT and changing PLM paradigms

According to IDC research, manufacturing industry is going to invest near $178bn in the next 4 years in IoT solutions. I captured this information from Raconteur article – Internet of things shaking up product production.

For almost two decades, PLM was mostly solving a problem of product data management and collaboration. PLM came from an early effort to manage design data (PDM) into the need to control a broad set of information, collaborate between teams and manage product development processes. Even PLM was far from perfection, it kept a strong position at the very bottom of product development process by controlling 3D CAD files, engineering BOM and related product information.

The Raconteur article brings an interesting perspective on the intersection of IoT and PLM businesses.

Innovative IoT solutions are on course to shake up product lifecycle management (PLM) for the better as it becomes increasingly important for companies to monitor products throughout their whole life cycle. “IoT enables harmonisation of physical and digital life cycles spanning the entire digital thread from PLM design team, to manufacturing, to transportation and logistics, and to customer usage, powering the modern supply chain of the future,” says Atul Mahamuni, vice president of IoT at Oracle.

Most manufacturers currently only receive a limited amount of feedback on product use and performance from consumers, mainly through returns and complaints. However, this falls far short of the real-time responses IoT-enabled devices can provide. With the advent of IoT, Mr Mahamuni explains, manufacturers are now able to gain a level of insight into product design, ordering, fulfilment and transportation that was never before possible.

The article made me think that such approach can turn around the fundamentals of PLM business, which was for years focusing on product data management, workflow and collaboration. I can see an unique opportunity for paradigm shift in PLM. Until now, PLM was a productivity tool for most of its parts. Even PLM vendors never acknowledged and agreed about that, PLM rarely went beyond managing a complete set of product data and workflow processes enhanced by the ability to integrate with other systems. But here is a change. PLM systems capable to predict actions and provide an insight on decisions about maintenance, suppliers, inventory, components, etc. is actually going to play a different role in a company. A completely new and a very important role -decision making.

What is my conclusion? IoT is going to change and turn existing PLM paradigms upside down. Instead of controlling CAD and related product data, new PLM paradigm will focus on how to gather a measurable data input about product performance, to augment this information with product data and provide decision support software as a service to manufacturing companies. The information collected by IoT systems will be transformed into product intelligence service. And that will become a future PLM paradigm. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Want to learn more about PLM? Check out my new PLM Book website.

Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of openBoM developing cloud based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.

Image credit raconteur

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