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Sep 5 th, 2017
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Manufacturing Integrations and the demand for PDM agnostic and ERP friendly PLM tools

Manufacturing is end-to-end process. You design a machine, plan to build it, buying parts, ship to assembly line to get them on-time for product delivery, make an assembly, ship the production to a customer. Simple and straightforward.

If I think about engineering software, the story is less simple and not straightforward. CAD tools are generally focusing on design. You can get output in a different formats, which might be not compatible with formats of your design contractors. Things are getting better in CAD interoperability, but then next step complication is coming. PDM systems are helping you to to send a wrong version of the drawing and CAD model to contractor of shop-floor. PLM systems sometime can go even future and help you to organize release process and to support product lifecycle.

New buzzword term – “business of engineering” is supposed to take PLM beyond PDM implementations according to CIMdata commentary. PLM integration by itself was always a hard task for every manufacturing company. The goal always was to created integrated PLM-ERP environment.

But in a real life, integration is hard thing to accomplish and it often custom-build process. Few days ago, one of my readers put a comment in my blog – we need ERP friendly PLM tools. The message is resonating. The days of over the wall engineering are over and manufacturing companies are looking how to make systems integrated in a single change from design to manufacturing.

Razorleaf article Moving beyond CAD: PDM vs PLM brings another interesting buzzword – PDM agnostic PLM tools.

Can PDM and PLM be in different environments? PDM is best focused on managing CAD data Inside of CAD. Most often the best tool for this situation is designed for that particular tool, released in concert with that package, and guaranteed to interface as seamlessly as possible with the intricacies of those file types and configurations. Users have a single point of contact and support, and the tools are likely to work effortlessly together.

PLM, as it has been addressed for many years, has been too big a bite for any but the largest companies to digest leading to a plethora of homegrown solutions from paper based systems to email and MS Access databases that pull data from various sources and push it to others. These systems work for a while, but when there is a change in the business ecosystem they can break down with little hope of an easy repair. We are entering a new era of PLM that is not only CAD agnostic, but PDM agnostic.

It made me think about two aspects of future PLM development – granularity and design-to-manufacturing integration. Big monolithic PLM systems are the thing in the most. Modern manufacturing environment is demanding a new set of agile tools in design, production planning, manufacturing and support capable to provide a solution and not require long implementation cycle.

I’m coming to Design to Manufacturing summit in New York next month. Check here for more details here. The modern manufacturing process is starting early during the multi-disciplinary design phase covering mechanical, electronic and software design, then going into manufacturing planing and supply chain. There are multiple systems involved and to have them integrated is extremely important in modern manufacturing.

What is my conclusion? PLM is a weak link between design and manufacturing. Modern cloud-based service agnostic to a specific design and PDM and, at the same time, more friendly and better integrated with ERP, can provide a new solution for manufacturing companies with fast ROI and lower TCO. Just my thoughts.

Best, Oleg

You can register to DFM Summit in New York with the following link and 50% discount.

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.

Picture By Dennis E. Wisnosky [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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