What Is PLM: Four Strategies for Digital Transformation

Written by: Mark Taber

Read Time: 2.5 min

In today’s world, discrete manufacturers face multiple challenges to ensure they are in tune with customer needs and can deliver the best quality and satisfaction. This requires close coordination and communication between multiple departments - Engineering/R&D, Design, Manufacturing, Service - and out to aftermarket fulfillment.

With every industry facing disruptive trends , we suggest that company’s leadership think thoroughly about how they successfully execute digital transformation to achieve long term success. This is where product lifecycle management (PLM) comes into the picture.

What Is PLM?

PLM, in the most basic terms, enables end to end management and tracking of all product related processes that start from inception, design, development, and quality management out to manufacturing and service maintenance.

PLM serves to orchestrate multi-system data, enabling different teams across the company to leverage critical data during all phases of the product lifecycle. The success of digital transformation for a company depends on how well the PLM software integrates and connects through various data sources and breaks down silos of information. Ultimately, this aligns to the company goals of increasing revenue, reducing costs, faster time-to-market and delivering better quality products.

Watch how Groupe Beneteau uses Windchill to manage options and variants, connect engineering data to manufacturing, and act as the backbone to their digital transformation strategy.



Four Key Strategies to Achieve Value Through Digital Transformation

Strategic Enterprise Systems

Leveraging key strategic enterprise systems is critical for digital transformation. A company’s enterprise systems manage highly interrelated data within a single domain. Well-established ERP, CRM, PLM systems will leverage that data for specific purposes and functions within and across departments. For discrete manufacturers, digital transformation typically begins with the digital product definition inside engineering, where CAD models and data are typically used.

Specifically, product data in PLM includes software, electrical/electronics, mechanical/ hardware product definitions and distributing or visualizing this data for strategic processes across design, service and manufacturing. This also includes governance and levels of access required within the system. Companies that focus on maintaining product data throughout the product development lifecycle can save time and maximize the information value within these strategic systems.

Enterprise Digital Thread

To further enable transformation, it is important that the strategic enterprise systems are connected to upstream and downstream data. Leveraging continuity and connectivity of data between strategic systems is the foundation for a digital thread. The digital thread establishes a virtual collaboration platform to reduce time for data prep, removes manual handovers and improves associativity and traceability to provide a single access point to enterprise data.

Digital Twin

Building digital models that virtually represent physical counterparts in the field is key to realizing digital twins. Product, process and factory digital twins enable data to be seen in the context of each process. Data from the physical counterpart in the field can be collected through IoT and sent back to Engineering, directly contributing to improved product design, aftermarket service and increasing overall revenue. Digital twins and virtual product development reduce engineering changes and increase digital design capabilities. Real-time linkage between the physical and the digital worlds has a direct impact on quality improvements and early issue detection.

Digital Deployment

Companies must modernize enterprise systems in an optimal manner, based on their own organizations. Digital deployment options include on-premises, in the cloud or even hybrid options.  System monitoring, migration and security are critical factors providing the highest value and output, especially for enterprise-wide projects. Important attributes for optimal digital infrastructure include modern, scalable, upgradable and performant architecture to deliver services to the enterprise and the customers.

A Successful Digital Transformation Journey Starts with the Right PLM

Successful digital transformation depends on how well these four strategies are aligned to the overall company goals. PLM is the backbone of data and product development management. Company executives empowering their stakeholders to deploy strategic enterprise PLM, IoT and deliver visualization strategies with AR (augmented reality) solutions will drive enterprise-wide transformational changes.

The benefits of PLM are far reaching and will enable organizations to meet their customers’ requirements while becoming industry leaders. Are you ready?

Windchill PLM Software

See how Windchill can help you realize value quickly with standardized, out-of-the-box functionality across a comprehensive portfolio of core PDM and advanced PLM applications. Click Here
Tags: CAD Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Aerospace and Defense Automotive Electronics and High Tech Industrial Equipment Life Sciences Oil and Gas Digital Transformation Digital Twin

About the Author

Mark Taber

Mark Taber is Vice President of Marketing. In his current role, Mark is focused on helping manufacturers drive digital transformation, with a foundation of PLM and the digital thread, within the enterprise and across enterprises.

Mark has more than 30 years of experience working in the areas of process automation, application integration, cyber security, and development. Prior to PTC, Mark was CEO of Active Endpoints (acquired by Informatica), a process automation firm. A graduate of the Wharton School, Mark currently lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.