Complete Product Lifecycle Management: The IoT Comes to PLM

Written By: Julie Pike
  • 3/2/2016

As the Internet of Things (IoT) technological revolution continues to take hold of industries worldwide – such as manufacturing, healthcare, energy, and transportation -- industry leaders are looking for ways to gain the analytical insight that IoT technology promises.

By gathering and analyzing data from sensors embedded in products and systems, organizations can begin to optimize use and production, determine if particular parts are showing signs that they are beginning to fail, and if the product or piece of equipment is operating in the field as it was designed to.

This technology is changing PLM as we know it. PLM, or Product Lifecycle Management, is the process of managing the design, development, and delivery of a product from inception through engineering and manufacturing, and out into the field. Until recently, PLM technology only continued through the lifecycle until the product rolled off the production line and was put into use. This meant that any failures or issues that occurred had to be manually reported by the customer. As not every failure or issue will necessarily be recorded, cataloged, and then analyzed, it has proven to be very difficult to notice patterns and make necessary changes to ensure that future products do not experience the same problems.

Now, with IoT technology, the PLM process continues out into the field, allowing all stakeholders in the product’s lifecycle to gain visibility into how the product is performing and being used by its customers – without waiting for customers to volunteer this information. Engineers are able to automatically make crucial edits to the product that manufacturing can begin integrating immediately. To take it a step further, by monitoring the product in the field, minor issues can be spotted and fixed before they grow into larger issues that can halt the product’s use – causing downtime that can severely affect customers’ bottom lines.

A recent Frost & Sullivan report says that the IoT means that when designing connected products, “designers now have to keep track of not just a couple of pieces of information like mechanical and electrical but also the complete product definition.” PLM technology that connects services with operations and manufacturing creates a closed-loop and enables manufacturers to create smart connected products that are able to leverage IoT data to improve product development processes.

David R. Brousell, global vice president and general manager of Frost & Sullivan’s Manufacturing Leadership Council, writes in the report that, “With the availability of more information that are all interconnected, in today’s smart, connected products, a “Closed-Loop Lifecycle Management” is what is required.”

Frost & Sullivan recently named PTC as the “Technology Leader in the IoT PLM Market”. Enabled by PTC’s IoT platform, Thingworx, PTC Windchill 11 has many features that make it completely IoT-enabled. In addition to its ability to gather product data from field performance and analyze it to determine reliability, failure modes, and failure effects, PTC Windchill 11 provides role-based applications to deliver relevant data that can be accessed and understood by users with different roles to play in the product’s lifecycle.

“Windchill’s robust range of Connected Services, Connected Operations, and Connected Manufacturing has visibly enhanced the capabilities of its PLM technology and improved the value proposition by enabling its clients to create smart, connected products and leverage IoT data to improve the product development processes,” Brousell writes in the report.

Read the complete Frost & Sullivan report here.




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  • Connected Devices
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  • Industrial Internet of Things
  • PLM

About the Author

Julie Pike

Julie Pike is the PLM Content Marketing Specialist at PTC. She has spent her career in marketing and communications primarily in the technology industry. Follow her on Twitter at @julie_pike.