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This year started for me with a discussion related to federated PLM. A topic that I highlighted as one of the imminent trends of 2022. A topic relevant for PLM consultants and implementers. If you are working in a company struggling with PLM, this topic might be hard to introduce in your company.

Before going into the discussion’s topics and arguments, let’s first describe the historical context.

 

The traditional PLM frame.

Historically PLM has been framed first as a system for engineering to manage their product data. So you could call it PDM first. After that, PLM systems were introduced and used to provide access to product data, upstream and downstream. The most common usage was the relation with manufacturing, leading to EBOM and MBOM discussions.

The traditional ENOVIA PLM backbone

IT landscape simplification often led to an infrastructure of siloed solutions – PLM, ERP, CRM and later, MES. IT was driving the standardization of systems and defining interfaces between systems. System capabilities were leading, not the flow of information.

As many companies are still in this stage, I would call it PLM 1.0

PLM 1.0 systems serve mainly as a System of Record for the organization, where disciplines consolidate their data in a given context, the Bills of Information. The Bill of Information then is again the place to connect specification documents, i.e., CAD models, drawings and other documents, providing a Digital Thread.

Aras – Bills of Information creating the Digital Thread

The actual engineering work is done with specialized tools, MCAD/ECAD, CAE, Simulation, Planning tools and more. Therefore, each person could work in their discipline-specific environment and synchronize their data to the PLM system in a coordinated manner.

However, this interaction is not easy for some of the end-users. For example, the usability of CAD integrations with the PLM system is constantly debated.

Many of my implementation discussions with customers were in this context. For example, suppose your products are relatively simple, or your company is relatively small. In that case, the opinion is that the System or Record approach is overkill.

That’s why many small and medium enterprises do not see the value of a PLM backbone.

This could be true till recently. However, the threats to this approach are digitization and regulations.

Customers, partners, and regulators all expect more accurate and fast responses on specific issues, preferably instantly. In addition, sustainability regulations might push your company to implement a System of Record.

 

PLM as a business strategy

For the past fifteen years, we have discussed PLM more as a business strategy implemented with business systems and an infrastructure designed for sharing. Therefore, I choose these words carefully to avoid overhanging the expression: PLM as a business strategy.

The reason for this prudence is that, in reality, I have seen many PLM implementations fail due to the ambiguity of PLM as a system or strategy. Many enterprises have previously selected a preferred PLM Vendor solution as a starting point for their “PLM strategy”.

One of the most neglected best practices.

In reality, this means there was no strategy but a hope that with this impressive set of product demos, the company would find a way to support its business needs. Instead of people, process and then tools to implement the strategy, most of the time, it was starting with the tools trying to implement the processes and transform the people. That is not really the definition of business transformation.

In my opinion, this is happening because, at the management level, decisions are made based on financials.

Developing a PLM-related business strategy requires management understanding and involvement at all levels of the organization.

This is often not the case; the middle management has to solve the connection between the strategy and the execution. By design, however, the middle management will not restructure the organization. By design, they will collect the inputs van the end users.

And it is clear what end users want – no disruption in their comfortable way of working.

Halfway conclusion:

Rebranding PLM as a business strategy has not really changed the way companies work. PLM systems remain a System of Record mainly for governance and traceability.

To understand the situation in your company, look at who is responsible for PLM.

  • If IT is responsible, then most likely, PLM is not considered a business strategy but more an infrastructure.
  • If engineering is responsible for PLM, then you are still in the early days of PLM, the engineering tools to be consulted by others upstream or downstream.

Only when PLM accountability is at the upper management level, it might be a business strategy (assume the upper management understands the details)

 

Connected is the game changer

Connecting all stakeholders in an engagement has been a game changer in the world. With the introduction of platforms and the smartphone as a connected device, consumers could suddenly benefit from direct responses to desired service requests (Spotify, iTunes, Uber, Amazon, Airbnb, Booking, Netflix, …).

The business change: connecting real-time all stakeholders to deliver highly rapid results.

What would be the game changer in PLM was the question? The image below describes the 2014 Accenture description of digital PLM and its potential benefits.

 

Is connected PLM a utopia?

Marc Halpern from Gartner shared in 2015 the slide below that you might have seen many times before. Digital Transformation is really moving from a coordinated to a connected technology, it seems.

The image below gives an impression of an evolution.

I have been following this concept till I was triggered by a 2017 McKinsey publication: “our insights/toward an integrated technology operating model“.

This was the first notion for me that the future should be hybrid, a combination of traditional PLM   (system of record) complemented with teams that work digitally connected; McKinsey called them pods that become product-centric (multidisciplinary team focusing on a product) instead of discipline-centric (marketing/engineering/manufacturing/service)

In 2019 I wrote the post: The PLM migration dilemma supporting the “shocking” conclusion “Don’t think about migration when moving to data-driven, connected ways of working. You need both environments.”

One of the main arguments behind this conclusion was that legacy product data and processes were not designed to ensure data accuracy and quality on such a level that it could become connected data. As a result, converting documents into reliable datasets would be a costly, impossible exercise with no real ROI.

The second argument was that the outside world, customers, regulatory bodies and other non-connected stakeholders still need documents as standardized deliverables.

The conclusion led to the image below.

Systems of Record (left) and Systems of Engagement (right)

 

Splitting PLM?

In 2021 these thoughts became more mature through various publications and players in the PLM domain.

We saw the upcoming of Systems of Engagement – I discussed OpenBOM, Colab and potentially Configit in the post: A new PLM paradigm. These systems can be characterized as connected solutions across the enterprise and value chain, focusing on a platform experience for the stakeholders.

These are all environments addressing the needs of a specific group of users as efficiently and as friendly as possible.

A System of Engagement will not fit naturally in a traditional PLM backbone; the System of Record.

Erik Herzog with SAAB Aerospace and Yousef Houshmand at that time with Daimler published that year papers related to “Federated PLM” or “The end of monolithic PLM.”. They acknowledged a company needs to focus on more than a single PLM solution. The presentation from Erik Herzog at the PLM Roadmap/PDT conference was interesting because Erik talked about the Systems of Engagement and the Systems of Record. He proposed using OSLC as the standard to connect these two types of PLM.

It was a clear example of an attempt to combine the two kinds of PLM.

And here comes my question: Do we need to split PLM?

When I look at PLM implementations in the field, almost all are implemented as a System of Record, an information backbone proved by a single vendor PLM. The various disciplines deliver their content through interfaces to the backbone (Coordinated approach).

However, there is low usability or support for multidisciplinary collaboration; the PLM backbone is not designed for that.

Due to concepts of Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) and Model-Based Definition (MBD), there are now solutions on the market that allow different disciplines to work jointly related to connected datasets that can be manipulated using modeling software  (1D, 2D, 3D, 4D,…).

These environments, often a mix of software and hardware tools, are the Systems of Engagement and provide speedy results with high quality in the virtual world. Digital Twins are running on Systems of Engagements, not on Systems of Records.

Systems of Engagement do not need to come from the same vendor, as they serve different purposes. But how to explain this to your management, who wants simplicity. I can imagine the IT organization has a better understanding of this concept as, at the end of 2015, Gartner introduced the concept of the bimodal approach.

Their definition:

Mode 1 is optimized for areas that are more well-understood. It focuses on exploiting what is known. This includes renovating the legacy environment so it is fit for a digital world. Mode 2 is exploratory, potentially experimenting to solve new problems. Mode 2 is optimized for areas of uncertainty. Mode 2 often works on initiatives that begin with a hypothesis that is tested and adapted during a process involving short iterations.

No Conclusion – but a question this time:

At the management level, unfortunately, there is most of the time still the “Single PLM”-mindset due to a lack of understanding of the business. Clearly splitting your PLM seems the way forward. IT could be ready for this, but will the business realize this opportunity?

What are your thoughts?

 

Happy New Year to all of you, and may this year be a year of progress in understanding and addressing the challenges ahead of us.

To help us focus, I selected three major domains I will explore further this year. These domains are connected – of course – as nothing is isolated in a world of System Thinking. Also, I wrote about these domains in the past, as usually, noting happens out of the blue.

Meanwhile, there are a lot of discussions related to Artificial Intelligence (AI), in particular ChatGPT (openAI). But can AI provide the answers? I believe not, as AI is mainly about explicit knowledge, the knowledge you can define by (learning) algorithms.

Expert knowledge, often called Tacit knowledge, is the knowledge of the expert, combining information from different domains into innovative solutions.

I started my company, TacIT, in 1999 because I thought (and still think) that Tacit knowledge is the holy grail for companies.

Let’s see with openAI how far we get ……

 

Digitization of the PLM domain

The PLM domain is suffering from its legacy data (documents), legacy processes (linear – mechanical focus) and legacy people (siloed). The statement is a generalization.

More details can be found in my blog series: The road to model-based and connected PLM.

So why should companies move to a model-based and connected approach for their PLM infrastructure?

There are several reasons why companies may want to move to a model-based and connected approach for their Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) infrastructure:

  • Increased efficiency: A model-based approach allows for creating a digital twin of the product, which can be used to simulate and test various design scenarios, reducing the need for physical prototypes and testing. This can lead to faster and more efficient product development.
  • Improved collaboration: A connected PLM infrastructure allows for better collaboration between different teams and departments, as all product-related information is stored in a central location and can be accessed by authorized personnel. This can improve communication and decision-making within the organization.
  • Enhanced visibility: A model-based PLM system provides a single source of truth for all product-related data, giving management a clear and comprehensive view of the product development process. This can help identify bottlenecks and areas for improvement.
  • Reduced risk: By keeping all product-related information in a centralized location, the risk of data loss or inconsistencies is reduced. This can help ensure that the product is developed in accordance with regulatory requirements and company standards.
  • Increased competitiveness: A model-based and connected PLM infrastructure can help companies bring new products to market faster and with fewer errors, giving them a competitive advantage in their industry.

The text in italics was created by ChatGPT. After three learning cycles, this was the best answer I got. What we are missing in this answer is the innovative and transformative part that modern PLM can bring. Where is the concept of different ways of working, and new business models, both drivers for digitalization in many businesses?

Expert knowledge related to Federated PLM (or Killing the PLM Monolith) are topics you will not find through AI. This is, for me, the most interesting part to explore.

We see the need but lack a common understanding of the HOW.

Algorithms will not innovate; for that, you need Tacit intelligence & Curiosity instead of Artificial Intelligence. More exploration of Federated PLM this year.

 

PLM and Sustainability

Last year as part of the PLM Global Green Alliance, we spoke with six different PLM solution providers to understand their sustainability goals, targets, and planned support for Sustainability. All of them confirmed Sustainability has become an important issue for their customers in 2022. Sustainability is on everyone’s agenda.

Why is PLM important for Sustainability?

PLM is important for Sustainability because a PLM helps organizations manage the entire lifecycle of a product, from its conception and design to its manufacture, distribution, use, and disposal. PLM can be important for Sustainability because it can help organizations make more informed decisions about the environmental impacts of their products and take steps to minimize those impacts throughout the product’s lifecycle.

For example, using PLM, an organization can consider the environmental impacts of the materials that are used in a product, the energy consumption of the manufacturing process, the product’s end-of-life disposal, and other factors that may affect its overall Sustainability. By considering these factors early in the design process, organizations can make more sustainable choices that reduce the environmental impact of their products over their lifecycle.

In addition, PLM can help organizations track and measure the Sustainability of their products over time, allowing them to continuously improve and optimize their products for Sustainability. This can be particularly important for organizations that are looking to meet regulatory requirements or consumer demand for more sustainable products.

Again not a wrong answer, but there is no mention of supporting the concepts of the circular economy, the potential of using digital twins at the various lifecycle stages of the products to perform trade-off studies in the virtual world, or to analyze the product behavior from the physical world in the virtual world for optimization.

This is (again), for me, the most interesting part to explore.

We see the need but lack the sense of urgency on the NOW.

More on Sustainability this year.

 

PLM Education at all levels

Historically PLM was framed as an “engineering thing” or a system needed for R&D/Engineering. Modern PLM is much broader and, unfortunately, more hard to grasp. I support the CIMdata definition:

CIMdata defines PLM as:

  • A strategic business approach that applies a consistent set of business solutions that support the collaborative creation, management, dissemination, and use of product definition information

  • Supporting the extended enterprise (customers, design and supply partners, etc.)

  • Spanning from concept to end of life of a product or plant

  • Integrating people, processes, business systems, and information

And even here, I would say this definition is challenging as the scope is extensive and could touch a lot of activities inside an enterprise. As I wrote last year in my series of posts related to PLM and Education, there is:

Strategy education (what are the trends/potential of digital transformation in the business domain related to the company’s products)

Methodology/ Academic Education (independent from tools, what are the best practices, where they reside, potential lessons learned and pitfalls to avoid)

Organisational Change Management (the Education and support needed to enable a business transformation – modern PLM is a transformation enabler)

By asking ChatGPT for their opinion, we learn the following:

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) education refers to training and development programs that focus on teaching individuals how to effectively manage the lifecycle of a product within an organization. This can include a wide range of topics, such as product design, development, and engineering; supply chain management; quality control and assurance; and product retirement and disposal.

Some specific types of PLM education that a company may need to provide to its employees include:

  1. Introduction to PLM: This type of training is designed to provide a general overview of PLM concepts and practices and may be suitable for employees who are new to the field or who have limited experience with PLM.
  2. PLM software training: Many companies use specialized PLM software to manage their product lifecycle processes. Employees who will be using this software will need training on how to use it effectively.
  3. Industry-specific PLM training: Depending on the industry in which a company operates, there may be specific PLM practices and regulations that employees need to be familiar with. For example, a company in the aerospace industry may need to provide training on PLM practices that are specific to the aerospace industry.
  4. Leadership and management training: For employees who are responsible for leading and managing PLM projects or teams, additional training in leadership and project management may be necessary.

Overall, the types of PLM education that a company needs will depend on the specific needs and goals of the organization, as well as the roles and responsibilities of its employees.

In general, we see from the answer that strategy and organizational change management beyond the tool are not considered.

This is precisely the area where a PLM Expert can help.

We see the need for Education, but we lack the willingness to invest in it.

 

Conclusion

It was an exciting exercise to combine my blogging thoughts with the answers from OpenAI. I am impressed by the given answers, knowing that the topics discussed about PLM are not obvious. On the other hand, I am not worried that AI will take over the job of the PLM consultant. As I mentioned before, the difference between Explicit Knowledge and Tacit Knowledge is clear, and business transformations will largely depend on the usage of Tacit knowledge.

I am curious about your experiences and will follow the topics mentioned in this post and write about them with great interest.

 

 

 

We are happy to close the year with the first round of the PLM Global Green Alliances (PGGA) series: PLM and Sustainability.

We interviewed PLM-related software vendors in this series, discussing their sustainability mission and offering.

We talked with SAP, Autodesk, Dassault Systèmes, Sustaira and Aras and now with PTC. It was an exciting discussion, looking back at their Lifecycle Analysis (LCA) history and ending with a cliffhanger about what’s coming next year.

PTC

The discussion was with Dave Duncan,  VP Sustainability at PTC, focusing on industrial Sustainability as well as PTC’s internal footprint reduction programs, joined by James Norman, who globally leads PTC’s Community of Practice for PLM and Design-for-Sustainability.

Interesting to notice from this discussion, listen to the introduction of Dave and James and their history with Sustainability long before it became a buzzword and then notice how long it takes till digital thread and digital twin are mentioned – enjoy the 38 minutes of interaction below


Slides shown during the interview combined with additional company information can be found HERE.

 

What we have learned

  • It was interesting to learn that just before the financial crisis in 2008, PTC invested (together with James Norman) in lifecycle analysis. But, unfortunately, a focus on restoring the economy silenced this activity until (as Dave Duncan says) a little more than six months ago, when Sustainability is almost in the top 3 of every company’s agenda.
  • Regulation and financial reporting are the current drivers for companies to act related to Sustainability.
  • The digital thread combined with the notion of relying on data quality are transformational aspects.
  • Another transformational aspect is connecting sustainability as an integrated part of product development instead of a separate marketing discipline.
  • Early next year, we will learn more about the realization of the PTC Digital Twin.

Want to learn more

Here are some links to the topics discussed in our meeting:

 

Conclusions

It was great to conclude with PTC this year. I hope readers following this series:  “The PLM Global Green Alliance meets  …” has given a good first impression of where PLM-related vendors are heading regarding their support for a sustainable future.

We touched base with them, the leaders, and the experts in their organizations. We discussed the need for data-driven infrastructures, the relation with the circular economy and compliance.

Next year we plan to follow up with them, now looking more into the customer experiences, tools, and methodology used.

 

 

 

 

This week there was an interesting discussion on LinkedIn initiated by Alex Bruskin from Senticore Technologies. I have known Alex for over 20 years, starting from the SmarTeam days and later through encounters in the PLM space. Alex is a real techie on the outside but also a person with a very creative mind to connect technology to business.

You can see his LinkedIn featured posts here to get an impression.

 

Where is PLM @ Startups?

This time Alex shared an observation from an event organized by the Pittsburgh Robotics Network, where he spoke with several startups.

His point, and I quote Alex:

Then, I spoke to a number of presenters there, explaining Senticore capabilities and listening to their situation around engineering/ manufacturing.

– many startups offered an add-on to other platforms => an autonomous module for UAV/helicopter/Vehicle. Some offered robotic components or entire robots (robot-dog).

– all startups use #solidworks , and none use #catia or #nx

– none of them have a PLM system nor an MES. I am 90% certain none of them have ERP, either. They all are apparently using #excel for all these purposes.

– only a handful of them are considering getting a PLM system in the near future.

Read the full post here and the comments below to get a broader insight into the topic.

 

The PLM Doctor knows it all.

The point reminded me of an episode I did together with Helena Gutierrez from Share PLM last year. She asked the same question to the PLM Doctor.

Do you think PLM is only for big corporations or can startups also benefit from it?

You can see the conversation here:

 

Meanwhile, the PLM Doctor is unemployed due to the lack of incoming questions.

When looking at startups, I could see two paths. One is the traditional path based on historical mechanical PLM, and a second (potential) approach which is based on understanding the future complexity of the startup offering.

 

There are two paths – path #1

The first evolutionary path you might have seen a few times before in my blog post is the one depicted by Marc Halpern from Gartner in 2015. At that time, we started discussing Product Innovation Platforms and the new generation of PLM. You can see Marc’s slide below, which is still valid for most situations.

In the slide above, you see the startup company on the left side.

Often the main purpose of a startup company is to be visible on the market with their concept as fast as possible. Startups are often driven by a small group of multifunctional people developing a solution. In this approach, there is no place for people and reflection on processes as they are considered overhead.

Only when you target your solution in a strongly regulated environment, e.g., medical devices and aerospace, you need to focus on the process too.

Therefore it is logical that most startup companies focus on the tools to develop their solution. A logical path, as what could you do without tools? Next, the choice of the tools will be, most of the time, driven by the team’s experience and available skills in the market.

Again statistics show it is not likely that advanced tools like NX or CATIA will be chosen for the design part. More likely mid-market products like SolidWorks or Autodesk products. And for data management and reporting, the logical tools are the office tools, Excel, Word and Visio.

And don’t forget PowerPoint to sell the solution.

The role of investors is often also here to question investments that are not clearly understood or relevant at that time.

How a startup scales up very much depends on the choices they make for Repeatable business. This is the moment that a company starts to create its legacy. Processes and best practices need to be established and why you often see is that seasoned people join the company. These people have proven their skills in the past, and most likely, they are willing to repeat this.

And here comes the risk – experienced people come with a much better holistic overview of the product lifecycle aspects. They know what critical steps are needed to move the company to an Integrated business. These experiences are crucial; however, they should not become the new single standard.

Implementing the past is not a guarantee for success in a digital and connected future.

Implementing their past experiences would focus too much on creating a System of Record (PLM 1.0), which is crucial for configuration management, change management and compliance. However, it would also create a productivity dip for those developing the product or solution.

This is the same dilemma that very small and medium enterprises face. They function reasonably well in a Repeatable business. How much should they invest in an Integrated or Collaborating business approach?

Following the evolution path described by Marc Halpern always brings you to the point where technology changes from Coordinated to Connected. This is a challenging and immature topic, which I have discussed in my blog posts and during conferences.

See: The Challenges of a connected ecosystem for PLM or this full series of posts:  The road to model-based and connected PLM.

 

There are two paths – path #2

Another path that startups could follow is a more forward-looking path, understanding that you need a coordinated and connected approach in the long term. For the fastest execution, you would like to work in a multidisciplinary mode in real time, exactly the characteristic of a startup.

However, in path #2, the startup should have a longer-term vision. Instead of choosing the obvious tools, they should focus on their company’s most important value streams. They have the opportunity to select integrated domains that are based on a connected, often model-based approach. Some examples of these integrated domains:

  • An MBSE environment focusing on real-time interaction related to product architecture and solution components(RFLP)
  • A connected product design environment, where in real-time a virtual product can be created, analyzed, and optimized – connected software might be relevant here.
  • A connected product realization environment where product engineering and suppliers work together in real time.

All three examples are typical Systems of Engagement. The big difference with individual tools is that they already focus on multidisciplinary collaboration on a data-driven, model-based approach.

In addition, having these systems in place allows the startup company to invest separately in a System of Record(s) environment when scaling up. This could be a traditional PLM system combined with a Configuration Management System or an Asset Management System.

System of Record choices, of course, depends on the industry needs and the usage of the product in the field. We should not consider one system that serves all; it is an infrastructure.

In the image below, you see the concept of this approach described by Erik Herzog from SAAB Aeronautics during the recent PLM Roadmap / PDT Europe conference. You can read more details of this approach in this post: The Week after PLM Roadmap PDT Europe.

Note: SAAB is not a startup; therefore, they must deal with their legacy. They are now working on business sustainable concepts for the future: Heterogeneous and federated PLM.

My opinion: The heterogeneous and federated approach is the ultimate target for any enterprise. I already mentioned the importance of connected environments regarding digital twins and sustainability. Material properties, process environmental impacts and product behavior coming from the field will all work only efficiently if dealt with in a connected and federated manner.

 

Conclusion

The challenge for startups is that they often start without the knowledge and experience that multidisciplinary collaboration within a value stream is crucial for a connected future. This a topic that I would like to explore further with startups and peers in my ecosystem. What do you think? What are your questions? Join the conversation.

 

 

In the last few weeks, I thought I had a writer’s block, as I usually write about PLM-related topics close to my engagements.
Where are the always popular discussions related to EBOM or MBOM? Where is the Form-Fit-Function discussion or the traditional “meaningful numbers” discussions?

These topics always create a lot of interaction and discussion, as many of us have mature opinions.

However, last month I spent most of the time discussing the connection between digital PLM strategies and sustainability. With the Russian invasion of Ukraine, leading to high energy prices, combined with several climate disasters this year, people are aware that 2022 is not a year as usual. A year full of events that force us to rethink our current ways of living.

The notion of urgency

Sustainability for the planet and its people has all the focus currently. COP27 gives you the impression that governments are really serious. Are they? Read this post from Kimberley R. Miner, Climate Scientist at NASA, Polar Explorer& Professor.

She doubts if we really grasp the urgency needed to address climate change. Or are we just playing to be on stage? I agree with her doubts.

So what to do with my favorite EBOM-MBOM discussions?

Last week I attended an event organized by Dassault Systems in the Netherlands for their Dutch/Belgium customers.

The title of the event was: Sustainable innovation for a digital future. I expected a techy event. Click on the image to see the details.

Asking my grandson, who had just started to his study Aerospace Engineering in Delft (NL), learning to work with CAD and PLM-tools, to join me – he replied:

“Too many software demos”

It turned out that my grandson was wrong. The keynote speech from Ruud Veltenaar made most of the audience feel uncomfortable. He really pointed to the fact that we are aware of climate change and our impact on the planet, but in a way, we are paralyzed. Nothing new, but confronting and unexpected when going to a customer event.

Ruud’s message: Accept that we are at the end of an existing world order, and we should prepare for a new world order with the right moral leadership. It starts within yourself. Reflect on who you really are, where you are in your life path, and finally, what you want.

It sounds simple, and I can see it helps to step aside and reflect on these points.

Otherwise, you might feel we are in a rat race as shown below (recommend to watch).

The keynote was the foundation for a day of group and panel discussions on sustainability. Learning from their customers their sustainability plans and experiences.

It showed Dassault Systems, with its 2012  purpose (click on the link to see its history), Harmonizing Products, Nature and Life is ahead of the curve (at least they were for me).

The event was energizing, and my grandson was wrong:
“No software – next time?”

 

The impact of legacies – data, processes & people

For those who haven’t read my previous post, The week after PLM Roadmap / PDT Europe 2022, I wrote about the importance of Heterogeneous and federated PLM, one of the discussions related to data-driven PLM.

Looking back, I have been writing about data-driven PLM since 2014, and few companies have made progress here. Understandable, first of all, due to legacy data, which is not in the right format or quality to support data-driven processes.

However, also here, legacy processes and legacy people are blocking the change. There is no blame here; it is difficult to change. You might have a visionary management team, but then it comes down to the execution of the strategy. The organizational structure and the existing people skills are creating more resistance than progress.

For that reason, I wrote this post in 2015: PLM and Global Warming, where I compared the progress we made within our PLM community with the lack of progress we are making in solving global warming. We know the problem, but we are unable to act due to the lack of feeling the urgency.

This blog post triggered Rich McFall to start together in 2018 the PLM Global Green Alliance.

 

In my PLM Roadmap / PDT Europe session Sustainability and Data-driven PLM – the perfect storm, I raised the awareness that we need to speed up. We have 10 perhaps 15 years to implement radical changes, according to scientists, before we reach irreversible tipping points.

 

Why PLM and Sustainability?

Sustainability starts with the business strategy. How does your company want to contribute to a more sustainable future? The strategy to follow with probably the most impact is the concept of a circular economy – image below and more info here.

The idea behind the circular economy is to minimize the need for new finite materials (the right side) and to use for energy delivery only renewables. Implementing these principles clearly requires a more holistic design of products and services. Each loop should be analyzed and considered when delivering solutions to the market.

Therefore, a logical outcome of the circular economy would be transforming from selling products to the market towards a product-as-a-service model. In this case, the product manufacturer becomes responsible for the full product lifecycle and its environmental impact.

And here comes the importance of PLM. You can measure and tune your environmental impact during production in your ERP or MES environment. However, 80 % of the environmental impact is defined during the design phase, the domain of PLM. All these analysis together are called Life Cycle Analysis or Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). A practice that starts at the moment you start to think about a product or solution – a specialized systems thinking approach.

So how to define and select the right options for future products?

 

Virtual products / Digital Twins

This is where sustainability is pushing for digitization of the product lifecycle. Building and analyzing products in the virtual world is much cheaper than working with physical prototypes.

The importance of a model-based approach here allows companies efficiently deal with trade-off studies for each solution.

In addition, the choice and the behavior of materials also have an impact. These material properties will come from various databases, some based on hazardous substances, others on environmental parameters. Connecting these databases to the virtual model is crucial to remain efficient.

Imagine you need manually collect and process in these properties whenever studying an alternative. The manual process will be too costly (fewer trade-offs and not finding the optimum) and too slow (time-to-market impact).

That’s why I am greatly interested in all the developments related to a federated PLM infrastructure. A monolithic system cannot be the solution for such a model-based environment. In my terminology, here we need an architecture with systems of engagement combined with system(s) of record.

I will publish more on this topic in the future.

In the previous paragraphs, I wrote about the virtual product environment, which some companies call the virtual twin. However, besides the virtual twin, we also need several digital twins. These digital models allow us to monitor and optimize the production process, which can lead to design changes.

Also, monitoring the product in operation using a digital twin allows us to optimize the performance and execution of the solutions in the field.

The feedback from these digital twins will then help the company to improve the design and calibrate their simulation models. It should be a closed loop. You can find a more recent discussion related to the above image here.

 

Our mission

At this moment, sustainability is at the top of my personal agenda, and I hope for many of you. However, besides the choices we can make in our personal lives, there is also an area where we, as PLM interested parties, should contribute: The digitization of the product lifecycle as an enabler for a sustainable business.

Without mature concepts for a connected enterprise, implementing sustainable products and business processes will be a wish, not a strategy. So add digitization to your skillset and use it in the context of sustainability.

Conclusion

It might look like this PLM blog has become an environmental blog. This might be right, as the environmental impact of products and solutions is directly related to product lifecycle management. However, do not worry. In the upcoming time, I will focus on the aspects and experiences of a connected enterprise. I will leave the easier discussions (EBOM/MBOM/FFF/Smart Numbers) from a coordinated enterprise as they are. There is work to do shortly. Your thoughts?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With great pleasure, I am writing this post, part of a tradition that started for me in 2014. Posts starting with “The weekend after …. “describing what happened during a PDT conference, later the event merged with CIMdata becoming THE PLM event for discussions beyond marketing.

For many of us, this conference was the first time after COVID-19 in 2020. It was a 3D (In person) conference instead of a 2D (digital) conference. With approximately 160 participants, this conference showed that we wanted to meet and network in person and the enthusiasm and interaction were great.

The conference’s theme, Digital Transformation and PLM – a call for PLM Professionals to redefine and re-position the benefits and value of PLM, was quite open.

There are many areas where digitization affects the way to implement a modern PLM Strategy.

Now some of my highlights from day one. I needed to filter to remain around max 1500 words. As all the other sessions, including the sponsor vignettes, were informative, they increased the value of this conference.


Digital Skills Transformation -Often Forgotten Critical Element of Digital Transformation

Day 1 started traditionally with the keynote from Peter Bilello, CIMdata’s president and CEO. In previous conferences, Peter has recently focused on explaining the CIMdata’s critical dozen (image below). If you are unfamiliar with them, there is a webinar on November 10 where you can learn more about them.

All twelve are equally important; it is not a sequence of priorities. This time Peter spent more time on Organisational Change management (OCM), number 12 of the critical dozen – or, as stated, the Digital Transformation’s Achilles heel. Although we always mention people are important, in our implementation projects, they often seem to be the topic that gets the less focus.

We all agree on the statement: People, Process, Tools & Data. Often the reality is that we start with the tools, try to build the processes and push the people in these processes. Is it a coincidence that even CIMdata puts Digital Skills transformation as number 12? An unconscious bias?

This time, the people’s focus got full attention. Peter explained the need for a digital skills transformation framework to educate, guide and support people during a transformation. The concluding slide below says it all.


Transformation Journey and PLM & PDM Modernization to the Digital Future

The second keynote of the day was from Josef Schiöler, Head of Core Platform Area PLM/PDM from the Volvo Group. Josef and his team have a huge challenge as they are working on a foundation for the future of the Volvo Group.

The challenge is that it will provide the foundation for new business processes and the various group members, as the image shows below:


As Josef said, it is really the heart of the heart, crucial for the future. Peter Bilello referred to this project as open-heart surgery while the person is still active, as the current business must go on too.

The picture below gives an impression of the size of the operation.

And like any big transformation project also, the Volvo Group has many questions to explore as there is no existing blueprint to use.

To give you an impression:

  • How to manage complex documentation with existing and new technology and solution co-existing?
    (My take: the hybrid approach)
  • How to realize benefits and user adoption with user experience principles in mind?
    (My take: Understand the difference between a system of engagement and a system of record)
  • How to avoid seeing modernization as pure an IT initiative and secure that end-user value creation is visible while still keeping a focus on finalizing the technology transformation?
    (My take: think hybrid and focus first on the new systems of engagement that can grow)
  • How to efficiently partner with software vendors to ensure vendor solutions fit well in the overall PLM/PDM enterprise landscape without heavy customization?
    (My take: push for standards and collaboration with other similar companies – they can influence a vendor)

Note: My takes are just a starting point of the conversation. There is a discussion in the PLM domain, which I described in my blog post: A new PLM paradigm.

 

The day before the conference, we had a ½ day workshop initiated by SAAB and Eurostep where we discussed the various angles of the so-called Federated PLM.

I will return to that topic soon after some consolidation with the key members of that workshop.


Steering future Engineering Processes with System Lifecycle Management

Patrick Schäfer‘s presentation was different than the title would expect. Patrick is the IT Architect Engineering IT from ThyssenKrupp Presta AG. The company provides steering systems for the automotive industry, which is transforming from mechanical to autonomous driving, e-mobility, car-to-car connectivity, stricter safety, and environmental requirements.

The steering system becomes a system depending on hardware and software. And as current users of Agile PLM, the old Eigner PLM software, you can feel Martin Eigner’s spirit in the project.

I briefly discussed Martin’s latest book on System Lifecycle Management in my blog post, The road to model-based and connected PLM (part 5).

Martin has always been fighting for a new term for modern PLM, and you can see how conservative we are – for sometimes good reasons.

Still, ThyssenKrupp Presta has the vision to implement a new environment to support systems instead of hardware products. And in addition, they had to work fast to upgrade their current almost obsolete PLM environment to a new supported environment.

The wise path they chose was first focusing on a traditional upgrade, meaning making sure their PLM legacy data became part of a modern (Teamcenter) PLM backbone. Meanwhile, they started exploring the connection between requirements management for products and software, as shown below.

From my perspective, I would characterize this implementation as the coordinated approach creating a future option for the connected approach when the organization and future processes are more mature and known.

A good example of a pragmatic approach.


Digital Transformation in the Domain of Products and Plants at Siemens Energy

Per Soderberg, Head of Digital PLM at Siemens Energy, talked about their digital transformation project that started 6 – 7 years ago. Knowing the world of gas- and steam turbines, it is a domain where a lot of design and manufacturing information is managed in drawings.

The ultimate vision from Siemens Energy is to create an Industrial Metaverse for its solutions as the benefits are significant.

Is this target too ambitious, like GE’s 2014 Industrial Transformation with Predix? Time will tell. And I am sure you will soon hear more from Siemens Energy; therefore, I will keep it short. An interesting and ambitious program to follow. Sure you will read about them in the near future. 


Accelerating Digitalization at Stora Enso

Stora Enso is a Finish company, a leading global provider of renewable solutions in packaging, biomaterials, wooden construction and paper. Their director of Innovation Services, Kaisa Suutari, shared Stora Enso’s digital transformation program that started six years ago with a 10 million/year budget (some people started dreaming too). Great to have a budget but then where to start?

In a very systematic manner using an ideas funnel and always starting from the business need, they spend the budget in two paths, shown in the image below.

Their interesting approach was in the upper path, which Kaisa focused on. Instead of starting with an analysis of how the problem could be addressed, they start by doing and then analyze the outcome and improve.

I am a great fan of this approach as it will significantly reduce the time to maturity. However, how much time is often wasted in conducting the perfect analysis?

Their Digi Fund process is a fast process to quickly go from idea to concept, to POC and to pilot, the left side of the funnel. After a successful pilot, an implementation process starts small and scales up.

There were so many positive takeaways from this session. Start with an MVP (Minimal Viable Product) to create value from the start. Next, celebrate failure when it happens, as this is the moment you learn. Finally, continue to create measurable value created by people – the picture below says it all.

It was the second time I was impressed by Stora Enso’s innovative approach. During the PI PLMX 2020 London, Samuli Savo, Chief Digital Officer at Stora Enso, gave us insights into their innovation process. At that time, the focus was a little bit more on open innovation with startups. See my post:  The weekend after PI PLMx London 2020. An interesting approach for other businesses to make their digital transformation business-driven and fun for the people


 A day-one summary

There was Kyle Hall, who talked about MoSSEC and the importance of this standard in a connected enterprise. MoSSEC (Modelling and Simulation information in a collaborative Systems Engineering Context) is the published ISO standard (ISO 10303-243) for improving the decision-making process for complex products. Standards are a regular topic for this conference, more about MoSSEC here.

There was Robert Rencher, Sr. Systems Engineer, Associate Technical Fellow at Boeing, talking about the progress that the A&D action group is making related to Digital Thread, Digital Twins. Sometimes asking more questions than answers as they try to make sense of the marketing definition and what it means for their businesses. You can find their latest report here.

There was Samrat Chatterjee, Business Process Manager PLM at the ABB Process Automation division. Their businesses are already quite data-driven; however, by embedding PLM into the organization’s fabric, they aim to improve effectiveness, manage a broad portfolio, and be more modular and efficient.

The day was closed with a CEO Spotlight, Peter Bilello. This time the CEOs were not coming from the big PLM vendors but from complementary companies with their unique value in the PLM domain. Henrik Reif Andersen, co-founder of Configit; Dr. Mattias Johansson, CEO of Eurostep; Helena Gutierrez, co-founder of Share PLM; Javier Garcia, CEO of The Reuse Company and  Karl Wachtel, CEO, XPLM discussed their various perspectives on the PLM domain.

 

Conclusion

Already so much to say; sorry, I reached the 1500 words target; you should have been there. Combined with the networking dinner after day one, it was a great start to the conference. Are you curious about day 2 – stay tuned, and your curiosity will be rewarded.

 

Thanks to Ewa Hutmacher, Sumanth Madala and Ashish Kulkarni, who shared their pictures of the event on LinkedIn. Clicking on their names will lead you to the relevant posts.

 

As I promised I would be enjoying my holidays in the upcoming month there as still a few points I want to share with you.

Not a real blog post, more an agenda and a set of questions for potential follow-up.

Here are five topics for the upcoming months, potentially also relevant and interesting for you. Have a look.

 

Peer Check

This week the discussion I had with Adam Keating, Colab’s CEO and founder, was published on their podcast channel, Peer Check. As I slowly discovered the content, I mentioned their podcast in my last blog post.  I was impressed by the first episodes I could listen to and listened to all of them last week.

Digesting the content from these episodes, I have the impression that we are following Adam’s or Collab’s lifecycle. From understanding the market, the people, and the industry towards the real collaboration topics, like MBD, their product offering and ultimately the connection with PLM. I am curious about what is next.

For me discovering their podcast and being able to participate was an exciting and learning moment. I am still waiting for the readers of this blog to mention their favorite podcasts.

Let us know in the comments.

PLM Global Green Alliance

With the PLM Global Green Alliance (PGGA), we plan to have monthly ZOOM discussions with our LinkedIn members, moderated by one of the PGGA core team members.

The idea of these sessions is that we pick a topic, the moderator sets the scene and then it is up to the members to discuss.

Participants can ask questions and bring in their points. In our understanding, many companies believe they have to do something about sustainability beyond writing it in their mission, but where and how to start?

So the PGGA discussion will be a place to get inspired and act.

Potential topics for the discussion are: What technologies must I master to become more sustainable? How can I motivate my company to become real sustainable? What is a lifecycle assessment (LCA), and how to introduce it in my company? What is the circular economy, and what is needed to become more circular in the context of PLM?

If you like one of the topics, let us know in the comments or add your favorite discussion topic. More on the agenda in early September

 

PGGA meets ….

In this series with PLM vendors and solution providers, we try to understand their sustainability drivers, their solutions, their roadmap and their perception of what is happening in the field. So far, SAP, Autodesk and Dassault Systèmes have contributed to these series. After the summer, we continue with two interviews:

Early in September, the PGGA will discuss sustainability with Sustaira. Sustaira is a Siemens partner, and they offer an all-in-one Sustainability platform, domain-specific Sustainability app templates, and custom Sustainability web and mobile initiatives. Expect the interview to be published early in September.

In the last week of September, the PGGA will have a meeting with Aras in our series related to sustainability. Aras is one of the main PLM providers and we will discuss sustainability even more with them as you can read further on in this agenda. Expect the interview to be released by the end of September.

No actions here for you, just stay tuned in September with the PGGA.

 

CIMdata PLM Roadmap and PDT

On 18 and 19 October, the CIMdata PLM Road Map and PDT 2022 Conference is scheduled as an in-person event in Gothenburg.

The agenda is almost secured and can be found here.

It will be a conference with guidance from CIMdata and Eurostep completed with major Aerospace, Defense and Automotive companies sharing their experience towards a model-based and digital enterprise.

So no marketing but real content; however, there will also be forward-looking presentations related to new PLM paradigms and the relation to data and sustainability.

So if you are curious, come to his conference as you will be triply rewarded: by the content, the keynotes and discussions with your peers.

Register before September 12 to benefit from a 15 % Early Bird discount, which you can spend for the dinner after day 1. The conference dinner has always been a good moment for networking and discussion.

 

A Sustainable Future – Seize Opportunities When Someone Else Sees Costs

Last part of this agenda.

On  October 25th, I will participate as a PGGA member in a webinar with Aras, discussing sustainability in more depth compared to our earlier mentioned standard PGGA interview.

Here I will be joined by Patrick Willemsen from Aras. Patrick is the technical director of the Aras EMEA community, and together we will explore how companies aiming to deliver profitable products and solutions also can contribute to a more sustainable future for our planet.

Feel free to subscribe to this free webinar and discuss your thoughts with us in the Q&A session – here is the registration link.

 

Conclusion

No conclusion this time – all thinking is in progress and I hope to see your feedback or contribution to one of these events in person or through social media.

July and August are the quiet summer months here in Europe when companies slow down to allow people to recharge themselves.

However, the speed and hectic are not the same overall, nor is the recharging time. I will be entering a six-week thinking break, assembling thoughts to explore after the summer break. Here are some topics – and you may note – they are all connected.

The MBOM discussion

Although my German is not as good as my English, I got intrigued by a post from Prof. Dr. Jörg W. Fischer.

He claims there is no meaning to the MBOM  and, therefore, the “expensive” PLM concept of the MBOM has to disappear – read the original post here.

Jörg claims there are three reasons why the MBOM why we should not speak about the MBOM – here are the google translated quotes – and I left out some details to keep a place for the thoughts – not the answer yet:

  1. The MBOM as the structure for deriving the assembly drawings. No BOM! (here, I fully agree)
  2. The structure that comes out as a result when planning the assembly. Again, no BOM. (here, I tend to agree – however, we could extend this structure to an MBOM)
  3. The MBOM as the classic parts list in the ERP, the one with which the MRP run is performed. Is that an MBOM? Until recently, I thought so. But it isn’t. So again, no MBOM. (here, I tend to agree – however, we could extend this structure to an MBOM)

The topic on LinkedIn here initiated an interesting sharing of viewpoints. I am quite aligned with Martin Eigner’s comment. It is a pity that this type of discussion is hidden in a LinkedIn environment and in the German language. It would be great to discuss such a topic at a PLM conference. For example, the CIMdata PLM roadmap conference had several Multiview BOM discussions coming from Aerospace and Defense action groups.

Perhaps comparing these two viewpoints – preferably in English – could lead to a better understanding for all of us. Now communication language and system dependencies might blur the methodology discussion.

Cheryl Peck (CIMdata PLM Roadmap organizer)/ Jörg W. Fischer, are you open to this suggestion? BOM discussions have always been popular.

PLM Roadmap & PDT 2022

The good news is the upcoming PLM Roadmap & PDT 2022 event is scheduled as an in-person event on the 18th and 19th of October in Gothenburg, Sweden. Let’s hope no new corona-variant will destroy this plan. I am confident to be there as the Swedish COVID-19 approach has kept society open as much as possible.

Therefore, I am collecting my topics to discuss and preparing my luggage and presentation to be there.

The theme of the conference: Digital Transformation and PLM – a call for PLM Professionals to redefine and re-position the benefits and value of PLM, is close to my experience.

New PLM paradigms are coming up, while at the same time, we are working on solidifying existing concepts, like the Multiview BOM. The PDT part of the conference always brought interesting sessions related to sustainability and, often, the circular economy.

I am curious to see the final agenda. Hakan Karden already gave us some insights into why it is good to be curious – read it here.

Sustainability

Talking and learning about sustainability at PDT Europe is not a luxury. In particular, we experienced an unforeseen heatwave in western Europe, reminding us that the climate is not slowing down. More the contrary, rapid climate change caused by human influence becomes more and more visible.

Unfortunately, the people that suffer from droughts, bushfires, and famine are not the ones that can be held responsible for these effects. It is a global crisis, and the strongest shoulders must carry the weight to address these issues.

In that context, we had an internal meeting with the PLM Global Green Alliance core team members to plan our activities for the rest of the year.

Besides interviews with PLM vendors and technology solution providers, we want to create opportunities for PGGA members to discuss PLM technology, methodology or change topics of interest, moderated by one of our core team members.

One of our observations is that awareness of the need for a more sustainable society exists. In polls all around the world, the majority of people mention their concerns.

However, where to start? What does matter, and how to influence companies as individuals? We also need to learn what is real and what is greenwashing. Therefore we want to schedule open discussions with PGGA members (are you already a member?) to share knowledge and thoughts about a topic. More about the agenda after the summer break.

Discussions & Podcasts

While I remain open for discussions and those who contacted me with a direct message on LinkedIn will acknowledge there is always a follow-up.

Whenever I have time – most of the time, I target Fridays for ad-hoc discussions – I am happy to schedule a zoom session to learn and discuss a particular topic without obligations. It will be a discussion, not a consult.

During Covid-lockdowns, I learned to appreciate podcasts. While making the daily walk through the same environment, the entertainment came from listening to an interesting podcast.

I learned a lot about history, mysteries, and human behavior. Of course, I was also looking for PLM-related podcasts. Of course, the major vendors found their way to podcasts too. However, I think they are often too slick, only highlighting a vision and not enough discussing what really happens in the field.

Starting a PLM-related podcast, and I want to highlight three of them

The Share PLM podcast, with 11 episodes, started promising in 2020. After a first start, it becomes difficult to deliver continuous new content.

Currently, I am talking with the Share PLM team to see how we can build this continuity and extend the content. There are so many interesting persons in our network that have valuable opinions about PLM to share. More after the summer

The Peer Check podcast from CoLab is not a typical PLM podcast. More a focus on what engineering leaders should know. They started in 2022 and have already published ten episodes. I am in the process of listening to all of them, and I found them very refreshing.

This week I was happy to join Adam Keating, founder of CoLab, in a discussion related to Systems of Record and Systems of Engagement. More new after the summer.

The Change Troubleshooter podcast from Nina Dar, with already 34 episodes, is a podcast not focusing on PLM purely. Although Nina has a background in coaching PLM implementations, her episodes are around A Human Approach to Innovation and Change. You can imagine it is quite aligned with my area of interest.

In particular, Nina and I are having some side discussions about sustainability and (the lack of) human behavior to address climate change. You might hear more from Nina through our PGGA community.

More podcasts?

I am curious to learn if similar podcasts exist to the topics I mentioned in this post. If so, provide a link in the comments. With enough feedback, I will publish a top-ten list this year’s end.

 

Conclusion

In a society that seems to behave as if everything is black and white, to be solved by a tweet, we need people that can build a colorful opinion.  Conferences, discussions and podcasts can help you remain curious and learn. As it must be extremely boring if you know already everything.

Have a great summertime.

 

In the last weeks, I had several discussions related to sustainability. What can companies do to become sustainable and prove it? But, unfortunately, there is so much greenwashing at this moment.

Look at this post: 10 Companies and Corporations Called Out For Greenwashing.

Therefore I thought about which practical steps a company should take to prepare for a sustainable future, as the change will not happen overnight. It reminds me of the path towards a digital, model-based enterprise (my other passion). In my post Why Model-Based definition is important for all, I mentioned that MBD (Model-Based Definition) could be considered the first stepping-stone toward a Model-Based enterprise.

The analogy for Material Compliance came after an Aras seminar I watched a month ago. The webinar How PLM Paves the Way for Sustainability with  Insensia (an Aras implementer) demonstrates how material compliance is the first step toward sustainable product development.

Let’s understand why

The first steps

Companies that currently deliver solutions mostly only focus on economic gains. The projects or products they sell need to be profitable and competitive, which makes sense if you want a future.

And this would not have changed if the awareness of climate impact has not become apparent.

First, CFKs and hazardous materials lead to new regulations. Next global agreements to fight climate change – the Paris agreement and more to come – have led and will lead to regulations that will change how products will be developed. All companies will have to change their product development and delivery models when it becomes a global mandate.

A required change is likely going to happen. In Europe, the Green Deal is making stable progress. However, what will happen in the US will be a mystery as even their supreme court becomes a political entity against sustainability (money first).

Still, compliance with regulations will be required if a company wants to operate in a global market.

What is Material Compliance?

In 2002, the European Union published a directive to restrict hazardous substances in materials. The directive, known as RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances), was mainly related to electronic components. In the first directive, six hazardous materials were restricted.

The most infamous are Cadmium(Cd), Lead(Pb), and Mercury (Hg). In 2006 all products on the EU market must pass RoHS compliance, and in 2011 was now connected the CE marking of products sold in the European market was.

In 2015 four additional chemical substances were added, most softening PVC but also affecting the immune system. Meanwhile, other countries have introduced similar RoHS regulations; therefore, we can see it as a global restricting. Read more here: The RoHS guide.

Consumers buying RoHS-compliant products now can be assured that none of the threshold values of the substances is reached in the product. The challenge for the manufacturer is to go through each of the components of the MBOM. To understand if it contains one of the ten restricted substances and, if yes, in which quantity.

Therefore, they need to get that information from each relevant supplier a RoHS declaration.

Besides RoHS, additional regulations protect the environment and the consumer. For example, REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals) compliance deals with the regulations created to improve the environment and protect human health. In addition, REACH addresses the risks associated with chemicals and promotes alternative methods for the hazard assessment of substances.

The compliance process in four steps

Material compliance is most of all the job of engineers. Therefore around 2005, some of my customers started to add RoHS support to their PLM environment.

 

Step 1

The image below shows the simple implementation – the PDF-from from the supplier was linked to the (M)BOM part.

An employee had to manually add the substances into a table and ensure the threshold values were not reached. But, of course, there was already a selection of preferred manufacturer parts during the engineering phase. Therefore RoHS compliance was almost guaranteed when releasing the EBOM.

But this process could be done more cleverly.

 

Step 2

So the next step was that manufacturers started to extend their PLM data model with the additional attributes for RoHS compliance. Again, this could be done cleverly or extremely generic, adding the attributes to all parts.

So now, when receiving the material declaration, a person just has to add the substance values to the part attributes. Then, through either standard functionality or customization, a compliance report could be generated for the (M)BOM. So this already saves some work.

 

Step 3

The next step was to provide direct access to these attributes to the supplier and push the supplier to do the work.

Now the overhead for the manufacturer has been reduced again. This is because only the supplier needs to do the job for his customer.

 

Step 4

In step 4, we see a real connected environment, where information is stored only once, referenced by manufacturers, and kept actual by the part suppliers.

Who will host the RoHS databank? From some of my customer projects, I recall IHS as a data provider – it seems they are into this business when you look at their website HERE.

 

Where is your company at this moment?

Having seen the four stepping-stones leading towards efficient RoHS compliance, you see the challenge of moving from a document-driven approach to a data-driven approach.

Now let’s look into the future. Concepts like Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) or a Digital Product Passport (DPP) will require a fully connected approach.

Where is your company at this moment – have you reached RoHS compliance step 3 or 4? A first step to learn and work connected and data-driven.

 

Life Cycle Assessment – the ultimate target

A lifecycle assessment, or lifecycle analysis (two times LCA again), is a methodology to assess the environmental impact of a product (or solution) through its whole lifecycle. From materials sourcing, manufacturing, transportation, usage, service, and decommissioning. And by assessing, we mean a clear, verifiable, and shareable manner, not just guessing.

Traditional engineering education is not bringing these skills, although LCA is not new, as this 10-years old YouTube movie from Autodesk illustrates:

What is new is that due to global understanding, we are reaching the limits of what our planet can endure; we must act now. Upcoming international regulations will enforce life cycle analysis reporting for manufacturers or service providers. This will happen gradually.

Meanwhile, we all should work on a circular economy, the major framework for a sustainable planet- click on the image on the left.

In my post, I wrote about these combined topics: SYSTEMS THINKING – a must-have skill in the 21st century.

 

Life Cycle Analysis – Digital Twin – Digitization

The big elephant in the room is that when we talk about introducing LCA in your company, it has a lot to do with the digitization of your company. Assessment data in a document can require too much human effort to maintain the data at the right quality. The costs are not affordable if your competitor is more efficient.

When coming to the Analysis part, here, a model-based, data-driven infrastructure is the most efficient way to run virtual analysis, using digital twin concepts at each stage of the product lifecycle.

Virtual models for design, manufacturing and operations allow your company to make trade-off studies with low cost before committing to the physical world. 80 % of the environmental impact of a product comes from decisions in the virtual world.

Once you have your digital twins for each phase of the product lifecycle, you can benchmark your models with data reported from the physical world. All these interactions can be found in the beautiful Boeing diamond below, which I discussed before – Read A digital twin for everybody.

 

Conclusion

Efficient and sustainable life cycle assessment and analysis will come from connected information sources. The old document-driven paradigm is too costly and too slow to maintain. In particular, when the scope is not only a subset of your product, it is your full product and its full lifecycle with LCA. Another stepping stone towards the near future. Where are you?

 

Stepping-stone 1:            From Model-Based Definition to an efficient Model-Based, Data-driven Enterprise

Stepping-stone 2:            For RoHS compliance to an efficient and sustainable Model-Based, data-driven enterprise.

A month ago, I wrote: It is time for BLM – PLM is not dead, which created an anticipated discussion. It is practically impossible to change a framed acronym. Like CRM and ERP, the term PLM is there to stay.

However, it was also interesting to see that people acknowledge that PLM should have a business scope and deserves a place at the board level.

The importance of PLM at business level is well illustrated by the discussion related to this LinkedIn post from Matthias Ahrens referring to the CIMdata roadmap conference CEO discussion.

My favorite quote:

Now it’s ‘lifecycle management,’ not just EDM or PDM or whatever they call it. Lifecycle management is no longer just about coming up with new stuff. We’re seeing more excitement and passion in our customers, and I think this is why.”

But it is not that simple

This is a perfect message for PLM vendors to justify their broad portfolio. However, as they do not focus so much on new methodologies and organizational change, their messages remain at the marketing level.

In the field, there is more and more awareness that PLM has a dual role. Just when I planned to write a post on this topic, Adam Keating, CEO en founder of CoLab, wrote the post System of Record meet System of Engagement.

Read the post and the comments on LinkedIn. Adam points to PLM as a System of Engagement, meaning an environment where the actual work is done all the time. The challenge I see for CoLab, like other modern platforms, e.g., OpenBOM, is how it can become an established solution within an organization. Their challenge is they are positioned in the engineering scope.

I believe for these solutions to become established in a broader customer base, we must realize that there is a need for a System of Record AND System(s) of Engagement.

In my discussions related to digital transformation in the PLM domain, I addressed them as separate, incompatible environments.

See the image below:

Now let’s have a closer look at both of them

What is a System of Record?

For me, PLM has always been the System of Record for product information. In the coordinated manner, engineers were working in their own systems. At a certain moment in the process, they needed to publish shareable information, a document(e.g., PDF) or BOM-table (e.g., Excel). The PLM system would support New Product Introduction processes, Release and Change Processes and the PLM system would be the single point of reference for product data.

The reason I use the bin-image is that companies, most of the time, do not have an advanced information-sharing policy. If the information is in the bin, the experts will find it. Others might recreate the same information elsewhere,  due to a lack of awareness.

Most of the time, engineers did not like PLM systems caused by integrations with their tools. Suddenly they were losing a lot of freedom due to check-in / check-out / naming conventions/attributes and more. Current PLM systems are good for a relatively stable product, but what happens when the product has a lot of parallel iterations (hardware & software, for example). How to deal with Work In Progress?

Last week I visited the startup company PAL-V in the context of the Dutch PDM Platform. As you can see from the image, PAL-V is working on the world’s first Flying Car Production Model. Their challenge is to be certified for flying (here, the focus is on the design) and to be certified for driving (here, the focus is on manufacturing reliability/quality).

During the PDM platform session, they showed their current Windchill implementation, which focused on managing and providing evidence for certification. For this type of company, the System of Record is crucial.

Their (mainly) SolidWorks users are trained to work in a controlled environment. The Aerospace and Automotive industries have started this way, which we can see reflected in current PLM systems.

Image: Aras impression of the digital thread

And to finish with a PLM buzzword: modern systems of record provide a digital thread.

 

What is a System of Engagement?

The characteristic of a system of engagement is that it supports the user in real-time. This could be an environment for work in progress. Still, more importantly, all future concepts from MBSE, Industry 4.0 and Digital Twins rely on connected and real-time data.

As I previously mentioned, Digital Twins do not run on documents; they run on reliable data.

A system of engagement is an environment where different disciplines work together, using models and datasets. I described such an environment in my series The road to model-based and connected PLM. The System of Engagement environment must be user-friendly enough for these experts to work.

Due to the different targets of a system engagement, I believe we have to talk about Systems of Engagement as there will be several engagement models on a connected (federated) set of data.

Yousef Hooshmand shared the Daimler paper: “From a Monolithic PLM Landscape to a Federated Domain and Data Mesh” in that context. Highly recommended to read if you are interested in a potential PLM future infrastructure.

Let’s look at two typical Systems of Engagement without going into depth.

The MBSE System of Engagement

In this environment, systems engineering is performed in a connected manner, building connected artifacts that should be available in real-time, allowing engineers to perform analysis and simulations to construct the optimal virtual solution before committing to physical solutions.

It is an iterative environment. Click on the image for an impression.

The MBSE space will also be the place where sustainability needs to start. Environmental impact, the planet as a stakeholder,  should be added to the engineering process. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) defining the process and material choices will be fed by external data sources, for example, managed by ecoinvent, Higg and others to come. It is a new emergent market.

The Digital Twin

In any phase of the product lifecycle, we can consider a digital twin, a virtual data-driven environment to analyze, define and optimize a product or a process. For example, we can have a digital twin for manufacturing, fulfilling the Industry 4.0 dreams.

We can have a digital twin for operation, analyzing, monitoring and optimizing a physical product in the field. These digital twins will only work if they use connected and federated data from multiple sources. Otherwise, the operating costs for such a digital twin will be too high (due to the inefficiency of accurate data)

In the end, you would like to have these digital twins running in a connected manner. To visualize the high-level concept, I like Boeing’s diamond presented by Don Farr at the PDT conference in 2018 – Image below:

Combined with the Daimler paper “From a Monolithic PLM Landscape to a Federated Domain and Data Mesh.” or the latest post from Oleg Shilovistky How PLM Can Build Ontologies? we can start to imagine a Systems of Engagement infrastructure.

 

You need both

And now the unwanted message for companies – you need both: a system of record and potential one or more systems of engagement. A System of Record will remain as long as we are not all connected in a blockchain manner. So we will keep producing reports, certificates and baselines to share information with others.

It looks like the Gartner bimodal approach.

An example: If you manage your product requirements in your PLM system as connected objects to your product portfolio, you will and still can generate a product specification document to share with a supplier, a development partner or a certification company.

So do not throw away your current System of Record. Instead, imagine which types of Systems of Engagement your company needs. Most Systems of Engagement might look like a siloed solution; however, remember they are designed for the real-time collaboration of a certain community – designers, engineers, operators, etc.

The real challenge will be connecting them efficiently with your System of Record backbone, which is preferable to using standard interface protocols and standards.

 

The Hybrid Approach

For those of you following my digital transformation story related to PLM, this is the point where the McKinsey report from 2017 becomes actual again.

 

Conclusion

The concepts are evolving and maturing for a digital enterprise using a System of Record and one or more Systems of Engagement. Early adopters are now needed to demonstrate these concepts to agree on standards and solution-specific needs. It is time to experiment (fast). Where are you in this process of learning?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  1. Jos, one could take the approach that there is an engineering transformation strategy that can be realized by implementing PLM…

  2. Jos, I agree we should break out from the monolithic approach as this typically means lock-in, risk and frustration. The…

  3. Jos, Thanks for these insights. I believe that the mature capabilities provided by advanced toolsets can also be of benefit…

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