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I have talked a lot the past years about Digital Transformation and in particular its relation to PLM. This time I want to focus a little more on Digital Transformation and my observations related to big enterprises and small and medium enterprises. I will take you starting from the top, the C-level to the work floor and then try to reconnect through the middle management. As you can imagine from the title of this post, there is a challenge. And I am aware I am generalizing for the sake of simplicity.

Starting from the C-level of a large enterprise

Large and traditional enterprises are having the most significant challenge when aiming at a digital transformation for several reasons:

  • They have shareholders that prefer short-term benefits above long-term promising but unclear higher benefits. Shareholders most of the time have no personal interest in these companies, they just want to earn money above the average growth.
  • The CEO is the person to define the strategy which has to come with a compelling vision to inspire the shareholders, the customers and the employees in the company – most of the time in that order of priority.
  • The role of the CEO is to prioritize investments and stop or sell core components to make the transformation affordable. Every transformation is about deciding what to stop, what to start and what to maintain.
  • After four to seven years (the seven years’ itch) it is time for a new CEO to create a new momentum as you cannot keep the excitement up too long.
  • Meanwhile, the Stop-activities are creating fear within the organization – people start fearing their jobs and the start-activities are most of the time of such a small-scale that their successes are not yet seen. So at the work floor, there will be reservations about what’s next

Companies like ABB, Ericsson, GE, Philips – in alphabetical order – are all in several stages of their digital transformation and in particular I have followed GE as they were extremely visible and ambitious. Meanwhile, it is fair to say that the initial Digital Transformation plan from GE has stalled and a lot of lessons learned from that.

If you have time – read this article: The Only Way Manufacturers Can Survive – by Vijay Govindarajan & Jeff Immelt (you need to register). It gives useful insights about what the strategy and planning were for digital transformation. And note PLM is not even mentioned there J

Starting from the C-level of a small and medium enterprise

In a small or medium enterprise, the distance between the C-level and the work floor is most of the time much shorter and chances are that the CEO is a long-term company member in case of a long-standing family-owned business. In this type of companies, a long-term vision can exist and you could expect that digital transformation is more sustainable there.

Unfortunate most of the time it is not, as the C-level is often more active in current business strategies and capabilities close to their understanding instead of investing energy and time to digest the full impact of a digital transformation. These companies might invest in the buzz-words you hear in the market, IoT, Digital Twins and Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality, all very visionary topics, however of low value when they are implemented in an isolated way.

In this paragraph, I also need to mention the small and medium enterprises that are in the hands of an investment company.  Here I feel sorry as the investment company is most of the time trying to optimize the current ways of working by simplifying or rationalizing the business, not creating a transformative vision (as they do not have the insights. In this type of companies, you will see on a lower scale the same investments done as in the other category of small and medium enterprises, be it on a lesser scale.

Do people need to change?

Often you hear that the problem with any change within the companies is because people do not want to change. I think this is too much a generalization. I have worked in the past five years with several companies where we explored the benefits and capabilities of PLM in a modern way, sometimes focusing on an item-centric approach, sometimes focusing on a model-based approach. In all these engagements there was no reluctance from the users to change.

However, there were two types of users in these discussions. I would characterize as evolutionary thinkers (most of the time ten years or more in the company) and love-to-change thinkers (most of them five years or less in the company). The difference between these groups was that the evolutionary thinkers were responding in the context of the existing business constraints where the love-to-change thinkers were not yet touched by the “knowledge how good everything was”.

For digital transformation, you need to create the love-to-change attitude while using the existing knowledge as a base to improve. And this is not a people change, it is an organizational change where you need to enable people to work in their best mode. It needs to be an end-to-end internal change – not changing the people, but changing the organizational parameters: KPIs, divisions, departments, priorities. Have a look at this short movie, you can replace the word ERP by PLM, and you will understand why I like this movie (and the relaxing sound)

The Middle Management dilemma

And here comes my last observation. At the C-level we can find inspiring visions often outcome-based, talking about a more agile company, closer to the customer, empowered workers, etc.  Then there is the ongoing business that cannot be disrupted and needs to perform – so the business units, the departments all get their performance KPIs, merely keeping the status quo in place.

Also, new digital initiatives need to be introduced. They don’t fit in the existing business and are often started in separation – like GE Digital division, and you can read Jeff Immelt’ s thoughts and strategy how this could work. (The Only Way Manufacturers Can Survive). However as the majority of the business runs in the old mode, the Digital Business became another business silo in the organization, as the middle management could not be motivated to embed digital in their business (no KPIs or very low significance of new KPIs)

I talked about the hybrid/bimodal approach several times in my blog posts, most recently in The Challenges of a Connected Ecosystem.  One of the points that I did not address was the fact that probably nobody wants to work in the old mode anymore once the new approach is successful and scaled up.

When the new mode of business is still small, people will not care so much and continue business as usual. Once the new mode becomes the most successful part of the company, people do want to join this success if they can. And here the change effort is needed. An interesting article in this context is The End of Two-Speed IT from the Boston Consultancy Group (2016). They already point at the critical role of middle management. Middle management can kill digital transformation or being part of it, by getting motivated and adopting too.

Conclusion

Perhaps too much text in this post and even more content when you dive more in-depth in the provided content. Crucial if you want to understand the digital transformation process in an existing company and the critical place of middle management. They are likely the killers of digital transformation if not give the right coaching and incentives.  Just an observation – not a thought 😉

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Two weeks ago I wrote about the simplification discussion around PLM – Why PLM never will be simple.  There I focused on the fact that even sharing information in a consistent, future proof way of working, is already challenging, despite easy to use communication tools like email or social communities.

I mentioned that sharing PLM data is even more challenging due to their potential revision, version, status, and context.  This brings us to the topic of configuration management, needed to manage the consistency of information, a challenge with the increasingly sophisticated products or systems. Simple tools will never fix this complexity.

To manage the consistency of a product,  configuration management (CM) is required. Two weeks ago I read the following interesting post from CMstat: A Brief History of Configuration Management Software.

An excellent introduction if you want to know more about the roots of CM, be it that the post at the end starts to flush out all the disadvantages and reasons why you should not think about CM using PLM systems.

The following part amused me:

 The Reality of Enterprise PLM

It is no secret that PLM solutions were often sold based in good part on their promise to provide full-lifecycle change control and systems-level configuration management across all functions of the enterprise for the OEM as well as their supply and service chain partners. The appeal of this sales stick was financial; the cost and liability to the corporation from product failures or disasters due to a lack of effective change control was already a chief concern of the executive suite. The sales carrot was the imaginary ROI projected once full-lifecycle, system-level configuration control was in effect for the OEM and supply chain.

Less widely known is that for many PLM deployments, millions of budget dollars and months of calendar time were exhausted before reaching the point in the deployment road map where CM could be implemented. It was not uncommon that before the CM stage gate was reached in the schedule, customer requirements, budget allocations, management priorities, or executive sponsors would change. Or if not these disruptions within the customer’s organization, then the PLM solution provider, their software products or system integrators had been changed, acquired, merged, replaced, or obsoleted. Worse yet for users who just had a job to do was when solutions were “reimagined” halfway through a deployment with the promise (or threat) of “transforming” their workflow processes.

Many project managers were silently thankful for all this as it avoided anyone being blamed for enterprise PLM deployment failures that were over budget, over schedule, overweight, and woefully underwhelming. Regrettably, users once again had to settle for basic change control instead of comprehensive configuration management.

I believe the CMstat-writer is generalizing too much and preaches for their parish. Although my focus lies on PLM, I also learned the importance of CM and for that reason I will share a view on CM from the PLM side:

Configuration Management is not a target for every company

The origins of Configuration Management come from the Aerospace and Defense (A&D) industries. These industries have high quality, reliability and traceability constraints. In simple words, you need to prove your product works correctly specified in all described circumstances and keep this consistent along the lifecycle of the product.

Moreover, imagine you delivered the perfect product, next implementing changes require a full understanding of the impact of the change. What is the impact of the change on the behavior or performance? In A&D is the question is it still safe and reliable?

Somehow PLM and CM are enemies. The main reason why PLM-systems are used is Time to Market — bringing a product as fast as possible to the market with acceptable quality. Being first is sometimes more important than high quality. CM is considered as a process that slows down Time to Market as managing consistency, and continuous validating takes time and effort.

Configuration Management in Aviation is crucial as everyone understands that you cannot afford to discover a severe problem during a flight. All the required verification and validation efforts make CM a costly process along the product lifecycle. Airplane parts are 2 – 3 times more expensive than potential the same parts used in other industries. The main reason: airplane parts are tested and validated for all expected conditions along their lifecycle.  Other industries do not spend so much time on validation. They validate only where issues can hurt the company, either for liability or for costs.

Time to Market even impacts the aviation industry  as we can see from the commercial aircraft battle(s) between Boeing and Airbus. Who delivers the best airplane (size/performance) at the right moment in the global economy? The Airbus 380 seemed to miss its targets in the future – too big – not flexible enough. The Boeing 737 MAX appears to target a market sweet spot (fuel economy) however the recent tragic accidents with this plane seemed to be caused by Time to Market pressure to certify the aircraft too early. Or is the complexity of a modern airplane unmanageable?

CM based on PLM-systems

Most companies had their configuration management practices long before they started to implement PLM. These practices were most of the time documented in procedures, leading to all kind of coding systems for these documents. Drawing numbers (the specification of a part/product), Specifications, Parts Lists, all had a meaningful identifier combined with a version/revision and status. For example, the Philips 12NC coding system is famous in the Netherlands and is still used among spin-offs of Philips and their supplier as it offers a consistent framework to manage configurations.

Storing these documents into a PDM/PLM-system to provide centralized access was not a big problem; however, companies also expected the PLM-system to support automation and functionality to support their configuration management procedures.

A challenge for many implementers for several reasons:

  • PLM-systems do not offer a standard way of working – if they would do so, they could only serve a small niche market – so it needs to be “configured/customized.”
  • Company configuration management rules sometimes cannot be mapped to the provided PLM data-model and their internal business logic. This has led to costly customizations where, in the best case, implementer and company agreed somewhere in the middle. Worst case as the writer from the CM blog is mentioning it becomes an expensive, painful project
  • Companies do not have a consistent configuration management framework as Time to Market is leading – we will fix CM later is the idea, and they let their PLM –implementer configure the PLM-system as good a possible. Still, at the management level, the value of CM is not recognized.
    (see also: PLM-CM-ALM – not sexy ?)

In companies that I worked with, those who were interested in a standardized configuration management approach were trained in CMII. CMII (or CM2) is a framework supported by most PLM-systems, sometimes even as a pre-configured template to speed-up the implementation. Still, as PLM-systems serve multiple industries, I would not expect any generic PLM-vendor to offer Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) CM-capabilities – there are too many legacy approaches. You can find a good and more in-depth article related to CMII here: Towards Integrated Configuration Change Management (CMII) from Lionel Grealou.

 

What’s next?

Current configuration management practices are very much based on the concepts of managing document. However, products are more and more described in a data-driven, model-based approach. You can find all the reasons why we are moving to a model-based approach in my last year’s blog post. Important to realize is that current CM practices in PLM were designed with mechanical products and lifecycles as a base. With the combination of hardware and software, integrated and with different lifecycles, CM has to be reconsidered with a new holistic concept. The Institute of Process Excellence provides CM2 training but is also active in developing concepts for the digital enterprise.

Martijn Dullaart, Lead Architect Configuration Management @ ASML & Chair @ IPE/CM2 Global Congress has published several posts related to CM and a Model-Based approach – you find them here related to his LinkedIn profile. As you can read from his articles organizations are trying to find a new consistent approach.

Perhaps CM as a service to a Product Innovation Platform, as the CMstat blog post suggests? (quote from the post below)

In Part 2 of this CMsights series on the future of CM software we will examine the emerging strategy of “Platform PLM” where functional services like CM are delivered via an open, federated architecture comprised of rapidly-deployable industry-configured applications.

I am looking forward to Part2 of CMsights . An approach that makes sense to me as system boundaries will disappear in a digital enterprise. It will be more critical in the future to create consistent data flows in the right context and based on data with the right quality.

Conclusion

Simple tools and complexity need to be addressed in the right order. Aligning people and processes efficiently to support a profitable enterprise remains the primary challenge for every enterprise. Complex products, more dependent on software than hardware, are requiring new ways of working to stay competitive. Digitization can help to implement these new ways of working. Experienced PLM/CM experts know the document-driven past. Now it is time for a new generation of PLM and CM experts to start from a digital concept and build consistent and workable frameworks. Then the simple tools can follow.

 

Every time the message pops-up that there is a problem with PLM because it is not simple. Most of these messages come from new software vendors challenging the incumbents, other from frustrated people who tried to implement PLM directly and failed. The first group of people believe that technology will kill, the second group usually blames the vendors or implementers for complexity, never themselves. Let’s zoom in on both types:

The Vendor pitch

Two weeks ago Oleg Shilovitsky published: Why complexity is killing PLM and what are future trajectories and opportunities?. His post contained some quotes from my earlier posts (thanks for that Oleg J ). Read the article, and you will understand Oleg believes in technology, ending with the following conclusion/thoughts:

What is my conclusion? It is a time for new PLM leadership that can be built of transparency, trust and new technologies helping to build new intelligent and affordable systems for future manufacturing business. The old mantra about complex PLM should go away. Otherwise, PLM will shrink, retire and die. Just my thoughts…

It is a heartbreaking statement. I would claim every business uses these words to the outside world. Transparency as far as possible, as you do not want to throw your strategy on the table unless you are a philanthropist (or too wealthy to care).

Without trust, no long-term relationship can exist, and yes new technology can make some difference, but is current technology making PLM complex?

Vendors like Aras, Arena, FusePLM, Propel PLM all claim the new PLM space with modern technology – without strong support for 3D CAD/Model-Based approaches, as this creates complications. Other companies like OpenBOM, OnShape, and more are providing a piece of the contemporary PLM-puzzle.

Companies using their capabilities have to solve their PLM strategy /architecture themselves. Having worked for SmarTeam, the market leader in easy client-server PLM, I learned that an excellent first impression helps to sell PLM, but only to departments, it does not scale to the larger enterprise. Why?

PLM is about sharing (and connecting)

Let’s start with the most simplistic view of PLM.  PLM is about sharing information along all the lifecycle phases. Current practices are based on a coordinated approach using documents/files. The future is about sharing information through connected data. My recent post: The Challenges of a connected ecosystem for PLM zooms in on these details.

Can sharing be solved by technology? Let’s look at the most common way of information sharing we currently use: email. Initially, everyone was excited, fast and easy! Long live technology!

Email and communities

Now companies start to realize that email did not solve the problems of sharing. Messages with half of the company in CC, long, unstructured stories, hidden, local archives with crucial information all have led to unproductive situations. Every person shares based on guidelines, personal (best) practices or instinct. And this is only office communication.

Product lifecycle management data and practices are xxxx times more complicated. In particular, if we talk about a modern connected product based on hardware and software, managed through the whole lifecycle – here customers expect quality.

I will change my opinion about PLM simplicity as soon as a reasonable, scalable solution for the email problem exists that solves the chaos.

Some companies thought that moving email to (social) communities would be the logical next step see Why Atos Origin Is Striving To Be A Zero-Email Company.  This was in 2011, and digital communities have reduced the number of emails.

Communities on LinkedIn flourished in the beginning, however, now they are also filled with a large amount of ambiguous content and irrelevant puzzles. Also, these platforms became polluted. The main reason: the concept of communities again is implemented as technology, easy to publish anything (read my blog 🙂 ) but not necessarily combined with an attitude change.

Learning to share – business transformation

Traditional PLM and modern data-driven PLM both have the challenge to offer an infrastructure that will be accepted by the end-users, supporting sharing and collaboration guaranteeing at the end that products have the right quality and the company remains profitable.

Versions, revisions, configuration management, and change management are a must to control cost and quality. All kinds of practices the end-user hates, who “just wants to do his/her job.”
(2010 post: PLM, CM and ALM – not sexy 😦 )

And this is precisely the challenge of PLM. The job to do is not an isolated activity. If you want your data to be reused or make your data discoverable after five or ten years from now, there is extra work to do and thinking needed. Engineers are often under pressure to deliver their designs with enough quality for the next step. Investing time in enriching the information for downstream or future use is considered a waste of time, as the engineering department is not rewarded for that. Actually, the feeling is that productivity is dropping due to “extra” work.

The critical mindset needed for PLM is to redefine the job of individuals. Instead of optimizing the work for individuals, a company needs to focus on the optimized value streams. What is the best moment to spend time on data quality and enrichment? Once the data is created or further downstream when it is required?

Changing this behavior is called business transformation, as it requires a redesign of processes and responsibilities. PLM implementations always have a transformational aspect if done right.

The tool will perform the business transformation

At the PLM Innovation Munich 2012 conference, Autodesk announced their cloud-based PLM 360 solution. One of their lead customers explained to the audience that within two weeks they were up and running. The audience as in shock – see the image to the left. You can find the full presentation here on SlideShare: The PLM Identity Crisis

Easy configuration, even sitting at the airport, is a typical PLM Vendor-marketing sentence.

Too many PLM implementations have created frustration as the management believed the PLM-tools would transform the business. However, without a proper top-down redesign of the business, this is asking for failure.

The good news is that many past PLM implementations haven’t entirely failed because they have been implemented close to the existing processes, not really creating the value PLM could offer. They maintained the silos in a coordinated way. Similar to email – the PLM-system may give a technology boost, but five to ten years later the conclusion comes that fundamentally data quality is poor for downstream usage as it was not part of the easy scope.

Who does Change Management?

It is clear PLM-vendors make a living from selling software. They will not talk about the required Change Management as it complicates the deal.  Change Management is a complex topic as it requires a combination of a vision and a restructuring (a part of) the organization. It is impossible to outsource change management –  as a company you need to own your strategy and change. You can hire strategy consultants and coaches but is a costly exercise if you do not own your transformation.

Therefore, it remains a “soft” topic depending on your company’s management and culture.  The longer your company exists, the more challenging change management will be, as we can see from big American / European enterprises, where the individual opinion is strongest, compared to upcoming Asian companies (with less legacy)

Change Management in the context of digital transformation becomes even more critical as, for sure, existing processes and ways of working no longer apply for a digital and connected enterprise.

There is so much learning and rethinking to do for businesses before we can reap all the benefits PLM Vendors are showing. Go to the upcoming Hannover Messe in Germany, you will be impressed by what is (technically) possible – Artificial Intelligence / Virtual Twins and VR/AR. Next, ask around and look for companies that have been able to implement these capabilities and have transformed their business. I will be happy to visit them all.

Conclusions

PLM will never be pure as it requires individuals to work in a sharing mode which is not natural by nature. Digital transformation, where the sharing of information becomes connecting information requires even more orchestration and less individualism. Culture and being able to create a vision and strategy related to sharing will be crucial – the technology is there.

 

“Technology for its own sake is a common trap. Don’t build your roadmap as a series of technology projects. Technology is only part of the story in digital transformation and often the least challenging one.”

(from “Leading Digital: Turning Technology into Business Transformation (English Edition)” by George Westerman, Didier Bonnet, Andrew McAfee)

 

In this post, I will explain the story behind my presentation at PI PLMx London. You can read my review of the event here: “The weekend after ……” and you can find my slides on SlideShare: HERE.

For me, this presentation is a conclusion of a thought process and collection of built-up experiences in the past three to  five years, related to the challenges digital transformation is creating for PLM and what makes it hard to go through compared to other enterprise business domains.  So here we go:

Digital transformation or disruption?

Slide 2 (top image) until 5 are dealing with the common challenges of business transformation. In nature, the transformation from a Caterpillar (old linear business) to a Butterfly (modern, agile, flexible) has the cocoon stage, where the transformation happens. In business unfortunate companies cannot afford a cocoon phase, it needs to be a parallel change.

Human beings are not good at change (slide 3 & 4), and the risk is that a new technology or a new business model will disrupt your business if you are too confident – see examples from the past. The disruption theory introduced by Clayton Christensen in his book, the Innovators Dilemma is an excellent example of how this can happen.  Some of my thoughts are in The Innovator’s dilemma and generation change (2015)

Although I know some PLM vendors consider themselves as disruptor, I give them no chance in the PLM domain. The main reason: The existing PLM systems are so closely tied to the data they manage, that switching from one PLM system to a more modern PLM system does not pay off.  The data models are so diverse that it is better to stay with the existing environment.

What is clear for modern digital businesses is that if you could start from scratch or with almost no legacy you can move faster forward than the rest. But only if supported by a strong leadership , a(understandable) vision and relentless execution.

The impression of evolution

Marc Halpern’s slide presented at PDT 2015 is one of my favorite slides, as it maps business maturity to various characteristics of an organization, including the technologies used.

 

Slide 7 till 18 are zooming in on the terms Coordinated and Connected and the implications it has for data, people and business. I have written about Coordinated and Connected recently: Coordinated or Connected (2018)

A coordinated approach: Delivering the right information at the right moment in the proper context is what current PLM implementations try to achieve. Allowing people to use their own tools/systems as long as they deliver at the right moment their information (documents/files) as part of the lifecycle/delivery process. Very linear and not too complicated to implement you would expect. However it is difficult ! Here we already see the challenge of just aligning a company to implement a horizontal flow of data. Usability of the PLM backbone and optimized silo thinking are the main inhibitors.

In a connected approach: Providing actual information for anyone connected in any context the slide on the left shows the mental picture we need to have for a digital enterprise. Information coming from various platforms needs to be shareable and connected in real-time, leading, in particular for PLM, to a switch from document-based deliverables to models and parameters that are connected.

Slide 15 has examples of some models.  A data-driven approach creates different responsibilities as it is not about ownership anymore but about accountability.

The image above gives my PLM-twisted vision of which are the five core platforms for an enterprise.  The number FIVE is interesting as David Sherburne just published his Five Platforms that Enable Digital Transformation and in 2016 Gartner identified Five domains for the digital platform .- more IT-twisted ? But remember the purpose of digital transformation is: FIVE!

From Coordinated to Connected is Digital Transformation

Slide 19 till 27 further elaborate on the fact that for PLM there is no evolutionary approach possible, going from a Coordinated technology towards a Connected technology.

For three reasons:  different type of data (document vs. database elements), different people (working in a connected environment requires modern digital skills) and different processes (the standard methods for mechanical-oriented PLM practices do not match processes needed to deliver systems (hardware & software) with an incremental delivery process).

Due to the incompatibility of the data, more and more companies discover that a single PLM-instance cannot support both modes – staying with your existing document-oriented PLM-system does not give the capabilities needed for a model-driven approach. Migrating the data from a traditional PLM-environment towards a modern data-driven environment does not bring any value. The majority of the coordinated data is not complete and with the right quality to use a data-driven environment. Note: in  a data-driven environment you do not have people interpreting the data – the data should be correct for automation / algorithms.

The overlay approach, mentioned several times in various PLM-blogs, is an intermediate solution. It provides traceability and visibility between different data sources (PLM, ALM, ERP, SCM, …). However it does not make the information in these systems better accessible.

So the ultimate conclusion is: You need both approaches, and you need to learn to work in a hybrid environment !

What can various stakeholders do?

For the management of your company, it is crucial they understand the full impact of digital transformation. It is not about a sexy customer website, a service platform or Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality case for the shop floor or services. When these capabilities are created disconnected from the source (PLM), they will deliver inconsistencies in the long-term. The new digital baby becomes another silo in the organization. Real digital transformation comes from an end-to-end vision and implementation.  The result of this end-to-end vision will be the understanding that there is a duality in data, in particular for the PLM domain.

Besides the technicalities, when going through a digital transformation, it is crucial for the management to share their vision in a way it becomes a motivational story, a myth, for all employees. As Yuval Harari, writer of the book Sapiens,  suggested, we (Home Sapiens) need an abstract story, a myth to align a larger group of people to achieve a common abstract goal. I discussed this topic in my posts: PLM as a myth? (2017)  and PLM – measurable or a myth?

Finally, the beauty of new digital businesses is that they are connected and can be monitored in real-time. That implies you can check the results continuously and adjust – scale of fail!

Consultants and strategists in a company should also take the responsibility, to educate the management and when advising on less transformational steps, like efficiency improvements: Make sure you learn and understand model-based approaches and push for data governance initiatives. This will at least narrow the gap between coordinated and connected environments.

This was about strategy – now about execution:

For PLM vendors and implementers, understanding the incompatibility of data between current PLM practices – coordinated and connected – it will lead to different business models. Where traditionally the new PLM vendor started first with a rip-and-replace of the earlier environment – no added value – now it is about starting a new parallel environment.  This implies no more big replacement deals, but more a long-term. strategic and parallel journey.  For PLM vendors it is crucial that being able to offer to these modes in parallel will allow them to keep up their customer base and grow. If they would choose for coordinated or connected only it is for sure a competitor will work in parallel.

For PLM users, an organization should understand that they are the most valuable resources, realizing these people cannot make a drastic change in their behavior. People will adapt within their capabilities but do not expect a person who grew up in the traditional ways of working (linear / analogue) to become a successful worker in the new mode (agile / digital). Their value lies in transferring their skills and coaching new employees but do not let them work in two modes. And when it comes to education: permanent education is crucial and should be scheduled – it is not about one or two trainings per year – if the perfect training would exist, why do students go to school for several years ? Why not give them the perfect PowerPoint twice a year?

Conclusions

I believe after three years of blogging about this theme I have made my point. Let’s observe and learn from what is happening in the field – I remain curious and focused about proof points and new insights. This year I hope to share with you new ideas related to digital practices in all industries, of course all associated with the human side of what we once started to call PLM.

Note: Oleg Shilovitsky just published an interesting post this weekend: Why complexity is killing PLM and what are future trajectories and opportunities? Enough food for discussion. One point: The fact that consumers want simplicity does not mean PLM will become simple – working in the context of other information is the challenge – it is human behavior – team players are good in anticipating – big egos are not. To be continued…….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was happy to take part at the PI PLMx London event last week. It was here and in the same hotel that this conference saw the light in 2011  – you can see my blog post from that event here: PLM and Innovation @ PLMINNOVATION 2011.

At that time the first vendor-independent PLM conference after a long time and it brought a lot of new people together to discuss their experience with PLM. Looking at the audience that time, many of the companies that were there, came back during the years, confirming the value this conference has brought to their PLM journey.

Similar to the PDT conference(s) – just announced for this year last week – here – the number of participants is diminishing.

Main hypotheses:

  1. the PLM-definition has become too vague. Going to a PLM conference does not guarantee it is your type of PLM discussions you expect to see?
  2. the average person is now much better informed related to PLM thanks to the internet and social media (blogs/webinars/ etc.) Therefore, the value retrieved from the PLM conference is not big enough any more?
  3. Digital Transformation is absorbing all the budget and attention downstream the organization not creating the need and awareness of modern PLM to the attention of the management anymore. g., a digital twin is sexier to discuss than PLM?

What do you think about the above three hypotheses – 1,2 and/or 3?

Back to the conference. The discussion related to PLM has changed over the past nine years. As I presented at PI from the beginning in 2011, here are the nine titles from my sessions:

2011       PLM – The missing link
2012       Making the case for PLM
2013       PLM loves Innovation
2014       PLM is changing
2015       The challenge of PLM upgrades
2016       The PLM identity crisis
2017       Digital Transformation affects PLM
2018       PLM transformation alongside Digitization
2019       The challenges of a connected Ecosystem for PLM

Where the focus started with justifying PLM, as well as a supporting infrastructure, to bring Innovation to the market, the first changes became visible in 2014. PLM was changing as more data-driven vendors appeared with new and modern (metadata) concepts and cloud, creating the discussion about what would be the next upgrade challenge.

The identity crisis reflected the introduction of software development / management combined with traditional (mechanical) PLM – how to deal with systems? Where are the best practices?

Then from 2017 on until now Digital Transformation and the impact on PLM and an organization became the themes to discuss – and we are not ready yet!

Now some of the highlights from the conference. As there were parallel sessions, I had to divide my attention – you can see the full agenda here:

How to Build Critical Architecture Models for the New Digital Economy

The conference started with a refreshing presentation from David Sherburne (Carestream) explaining their journey towards a digital economy.  According to David, the main reason behind digitization is to save time, as he quoted Harvey Mackay an American Businessman and Journalist,

Time is free, but it is priceless. You cannot own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you have lost it, you never can get it back

I tend to agree with this simplification as it makes the story easy to explain to everyone in your company. Probably I would add to that story that saving time also means less money spent on intermediate resources in a company, therefore, creating a two-sided competitive advantage.

David stated that today’s digital transformation is more about business change than technology and here I wholeheartedly agree. Once you can master the flow of data in your company, you can change and adapt your company’s business processes to be better connected to the customer and therefore deliver the value they expect (increases your competitive advantage).

Having new technology in place does not help you unless you change the way you work.

David introduced a new acronym ILM (Integrated Lifecycle Management) and I am sure some people will jump on this acronym.

David’s presentation contained an interesting view from the business-architectural point of view. An excellent start for the conference where various dimensions of digital transformation and PLM were explored.

Integrated PLM in the Chemical industry

Another interesting session was from Susanna Mäentausta  (Kemira oy)  with the title: “Increased speed to market, decreased risk of non-compliance through integrated PLM in Chemical industry.” I selected her session as from my past involvement with the process industry, I noticed that PLM adoption is very low in the process industry. Understanding Why and How they implemented PLM was interesting for me. Her PLM vision slide says it all:

There were two points that I liked a lot from her presentation, as I can confirm they are crucial.

  • Although there was a justification for the implementation of PLM, there was no ROI calculation done upfront. I think this is crucial, you know as a company you need to invest in PLM to stay competitive. Making an ROI-story is just consoling the people with artificial number – success and numbers depend on the implementation and Susanna confirmed that step 1 delivered enough value to be confident.
  • There were an end-to-end governance and a communication plan in place. Compared to PLM projects I know, this was done very extensive – full engagement of key users and on-going feedback – communicate, communicate, communicate. How often do we forget this in PLM projects?

Extracting More Value of PLM in an Engineer-to-Order Business

Sami Grönstrand & Helena Gutierrez presented as an experienced duo (they were active in PI P PLMx Hamburg/Berlin before) – their current status and mission for PLM @ Outotec. As the title suggests, it was about how to extract more value from PL M, in an Engineering to Order Business.

What I liked is how they simplified their PLM targets from a complex landscape into three story-lines.

If you jump into all the details where PLM is contributing to your business, it might get too complicated for the audience involved. Therefore, they aligned their work around three value messages:

  • Boosting sales, by focusing on modularization and encouraging the use of a product configurator. This instead of developing every time a customer-specific solution
  • Accelerating project deliverables, again reaping the benefits of modularization, creating libraries and training the workforce in using this new environment (otherwise no use of new capabilities). The results in reducing engineering hours was quite significant.
  • Creating New Business Models, by connecting all data using a joint plant structure with related equipment. By linking these data elements, an end-to-end digital continuity was established to support advanced service and support business models.

My conclusion from this session was again that if you want to motivate people on a PLM-journey it is not about the technical details, it is about the business benefits that drive these new ways of working.

Managing Product Variation in a Configure-To-Order Business

In the context of the previous session from Outotec, Björn Wilhemsson’s session was also addressing somehow the same topic of How to create as much as possible variation in your customer offering, while internally keep the number of variants and parts manageable.

Björn, Alfa Laval’s OnePLM Programme Director, explained in detail the strategy they implemented to address these challenges. His presentation was very educational and could serve as a lesson for many of us related to product portfolio management and modularization.

Björn explained in detail the six measures to control variation, starting from a model-strategy / roadmap (thinking first) followed by building a modularized product architecture, controlling and limiting the number of variants during your New Product Development process. Next as Alfa Laval is in a Configure-To-Order business, Björn the implementation of order-based and automated addition of pre-approved variants (not every variant needs to exist in detail before selling it), followed by the controlled introduction of additional variants and continuous analysis of quoted and sold variant (the power of a digital portfolio) as his summary slides shows below:

Day 1 closed with an inspirational keynote; Lessons-Learnt from the Mountaineering Experience 8848 Meter above sea level  – a mission to climb the highest mountain on each of the continents in 107 days – 9 hours – setting a new world record by Jonathan Gupta.

There are some analogies to discover between his mission and a PLM implementation. It is all about having the total picture in mind. Plan and plan, prepare step-by-step in detail and rely on teamwork – it is not a solo journey – and it is about reaching a top (deliverable phase) in the most efficient way.

The differences: PLM does not need world records, you need to go with the pace an organization can digest and understand. Although the initial PLM climate during implementation might be chilling too, I do not believe you have to suffer temperatures below 50 degrees Celsius.

During the morning, I was involved in several meetings, therefore unfortunate unable to see some of the interesting sessions at that time. Hopefully later available on PI.TV for review as slides-only do not tell the full story. Although there are experts that can conclude and comment after seeing a single slide. You can read it here from my blog buddy Oleg Shilovitsky’s post : PLM Buzzword Detox. I think oversimplification is exactly creating the current problem we have in this world – people without knowledge become louder and sure about their opinion compared to knowledgeable people who have spent time to understand the matter.

Have a look at the Dunning-Kruger effect here (if you take the time to understand).

 

PLM: Enabling the Future of a Smart and Connected Ecosystem

Peter Bilello from CIMdata shared his observations and guidance related to the current ongoing digital business revolution that is taking place thanks to internet and IoT technologies. It will fundamentally transform how people will work and interact between themselves and with machines. Survival in business will depend on how companies create Smart and Connected Ecosystems. Peter showed a slide from the 2015 World Economic Forum (below) which is still relevant:

Probably depending on your business some of these waves might have touched your organization already. What is clear that the market leaders here will benefit the most – the ones owning a smart and connected ecosystem will be the winners shortly.

Next, Peter explained why PLM, and in particular the Product Innovation Platform, is crucial for a smart and connected enterprise.  Shiny capabilities like a digital twin, the link between virtual and real, or virtual & augmented reality can only be achieved affordably and competitively if you invest in making the source digital connected. The scope of a product innovation platform is much broader than traditional PLM. Also, the way information is stored differs – moving from documents (files) towards data (elements in a database).  I fully agree with Peter’s opinion here that PLM is conceptually the Killer App for a Smart & Connected Ecosystem and this notion is spreading.

A recent article from Forbes in the category Leadership: Is Your Company Ready For Digital Product Life Cycle Management? shows there is awareness.  Still very basic and people are still confused to understand what is the difference with an electronic file (digital too ?) and a digital definition of information.

The main point to remember here: Digital information can be accessed directly through a programming interface (API/Service) without the need to open a container (document) and search for this piece of information.

Peter then zoomed in on some topics that companies need to investigate to reach a smart & connected ecosystem. Security (still a question hardly addressed in IoT/Digital Twin demos), Standards and Interoperability ( you cannot connect in all proprietary formats economically and sustainably) A lot of points to consider and I want to close with Peter’s slide illustrating where most companies are in reality

The Challenges of a Connected Ecosystem for PLM

I was happy to present after Peter Bilello and David Sherburne (on day 1) as they both gave a perspective on digital transformation complementary to what I submitted. My presentation was focusing on the incompatibility of current coordinated business systems and the concept of a connected ecosystem.

You can already download my slides from SlideShare here: The Challenges of a Connected Ecosystem for PLM . I will explain my presentation in an upcoming blog post as slides without a story might lead to the wrong interpretation, and we already reached 2000 words. Few words to come.

How to Run a PLM Project Using the Agile Manifesto

Andrew Lodge, head of Engineering Systems at JCB explained how applying the agile mindset towards a PLM project can lead to faster and accurate results needed by the business. I am a full supporter for this approach as having worked in long and waterfall-type of PLM implementations there was always the big crash and user dissatisfaction at the final delivery. Keeping the business involved every step seems to be the solution. The issue I discovered here is that agile implementation requires a lot of people, in particular, business, to be involved heavily. Some companies do not understand this need and dropped /reduced business contribution to the least, killing the value of an agile approach

 

Concluding

For me coming back to London for the PI PLMx event was very motivational. Where the past two, three conferences before in Germany might have led to little progress per year, this year, thanks to new attendees and inspiration, it became for me a vivid event, hopefully growing shortly. Networking and listening to your peers in business remains crucial to digest it all.

 

I promised to write some more down-to-earth post this year related to current PLM practices. If you are eager for my ideas for the PLM future, come to PI PLMx in London on Feb 4th and 5th. Or later when reading the upcoming summary: The Weekend after PI PLMx London 2019.

ECO/ECR for Dummies was the most active post over the past five years. BOM-related posts, mainly related to the MBOM are second: Where is the MBOM? (2007) or The Importance of a PLM data model: EBOM – MBOM (2015)  are the most popular posts.

In this post, an update related to current BOM practices. For most companies, their current focus while moving from CAD-centric to Item-centric.

Definitions

The EBOM (Engineering BOM) is a structure that reflects the engineering definition of a product, constructed using assemblies (functional groups of information) and parts (mechanical/electrical or software builds – specified by various specifications: 3D CAD, 2D CAD / Schematics or specifications). The EBOM reflects the full definition from a product how it should appear in the real-world and is used inside an organization to align information coming from different disciplines.

Note: This differs from the past, where initially the EBOM often was considered as a structure derived from the Mechanical Part definition.

The MBOM (Manufacturing BOM) is a structure that reflects the way the product is manufactured. The levels in the MBOM reflect the processing steps needed to build the product. Here based on the same EBOM different MBOMs can exist, as a company might decide that in one of their manufacturing plants they only assemble the product, wherein another plant they have tools to manufacture some of the parts themselves, therefore the MBOM will be different. See the example below:In case your company delivers products to their customers, either in a B2B or B2C model, the communication towards the customer is based on a product ID, which could be the customer part number (in case of B2B) or a catalog part number.  The EBOM/MBOM for this product might evolve over time as long as the product specifications remain the same and are met.

Does every company need an EBOM and MBOM?

Historically most companies have worked with a single BOM definition, due to the following reasons:

  • In an Engineering-To-Order process or Build-to-Print process the company the target is to manufacture a product at a single site – Most of the time one product for ETO or one definition to many products in BTP. This means the BOM definition is already done with manufacturing resources and suppliers in mind.
  • The PLM (or PDM) system only contained the engineering definition. Manufacturing engineers build the manufacturing definition manually in the local ERP-system by typing part numbers again and structuring the BOM according to the manufacturing process for that plant.

Where the first point makes sense, there might be still situations where a separate EBOM and MBOM is beneficial. Most of the time when the Build To Print activity is long-lasting and allows the company to optimize the manufacturing process without affecting the engineering definition.

The second point is describing a situation you will find at many companies as historically the ERP-system was the only enterprise IT-systems and here part numbers were registered.

Creating a PLM-ERP connection is usually the last activity a company does. First, optimize the silos and then think about how to connect them (unfortunate). The different structures on the left and right lead to a lot of complex programming by services-eager PLM implementers.Meanwhile, PLM-systems have evolved in the past 15 years, and a full BOM-centric approach from EBOM to MBOM is supported although every PLM vendor will have its own way of solving digital connectivity between BOM-items.You should consider an EBOM / MBOM approach in the following situations:

  • In case you have a modular product the definition of the EBOM and MBOM can be managed at the module As modules might be manufactured at different locations, only the MBOM of the module may vary per plant. Therefore, fewer dependencies on the EBOM or the total EBOM of a product.
  • In case a company has multiple manufacturing plants or is aiming to outsource manufacturing, the PLM-system is the only central place where all product knowledge can reside and pushed to the local ERPs when needed for potential localization. Localization means for me, using parts that are sourced in the region, still based on the part specification coming from the EBOM.

Are EBOM and MBOM parts different?

There is no real academic answer to this question. Let’s see some of the options, and you can decide yourself.

An EBOM part is specified by documents – this can be a document, a 3D model combined with 2D drawings or a 3D annotated model. In case this EBOM part is a standard part, the specification may come from a part manufacturer through their catalog.

As this part manufacturer will not be the only one manufacturing the standard part, you will see that this EBOM-part has potentially several MBOM-parts to be resolved when manufacturing is planned. The terms Approved Manufacturing List (AML) – defined by Engineering and Approved Vendor List (AVL) – based on the AML but controlled by purchasing apply here.Now the case that the EBOM-part is not a standard part. In that case, there are two options:

  • The EBOM-part holds only the specifications and the EBOM-part will be linked to one or more MBOM-parts (depending on manufacturing locations). In case the part is outsourced, your company might not even be interested in the MBOM-part as it is up to the supplier to manufacture it according to specifications
  • The EBOM-part describes a specification but does not exist as such individuals. For example, 1.2-meter hydraulic tube, or the part should be painted (not specified in the EBOM with quantity) or cut out of steel with a certain thickness. In the MBOM you would find the materials in detailed sizes and related operations.

Do we need an EBOM and MBOM structure?

In the traditional PLM implementations, we often see the evolution of BOM-like structures along the enterprise: Concept-BOM, Engineering BOM, Manufacturing BOM, Service BOM, and others. Each structure could consist of individual objects in the PLM-system. This is an easy to understand approach, where the challenge is to keep these structures up-to-date and synced with the right information.

See below an old image from Dassault Systemes ENOVIA in 2014:

Another more granular approach is to have connected data sets that all have their unique properties and by combining some of them you have the EBOM, and by combining other elements, you have the MBOM. This approach is used in data platforms where the target is to have a “single version of the truth” for each piece of information and you create through apps an EBOM or MBOM-view with related functionality. My blog-buddy Oleg Shilovitsky from OpenBOM is promoting this approach already for several years – have a look here.

So the answer do you need multiple BOM structures is:
Probably YES currently but not anymore in the future once you are data-driven.

Ultimately we want to be data-driven to allow extreme efficient data handling and speed of operations (no more conversions / no more syncing to be controlled by human resources – highly automated and intelligent is the target)

 

Conclusion

Even this post is just showing the tip of the iceberg for a full EBOM-MBOM discussion. It is clear that this discussion now is more mature and understood by most PLM-consultants as compared to 5 – 10 years ago.

It is a necessary step to understand the future, which I hope to explain during the upcoming PI PLMx event in London or whenever we meet.

 

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year to all of you. It has been a period of reflection – first disconnected from PLM and then again slowly getting my PLM-twisted brain back to work. And although my mind is already running in a “What’s next mode,” I would like to share with you first some of the lessons learned from last year.

Model-Based confusion

Most of the topics related to model-based approaches, from systems engineering, through engineering and manufacturing, leading to digital twins, are very futuristic; an end-to-end model-driven enterprise is not in reach for most of us. There are several reasons for that:

  • Not every company has this need or discovered the need to have digital continuity and almost real-time availability of information end-to-end. There are still slow businesses.
  • Understanding the needs for a model-driven enterprise takes time and effort. There are no available solutions on the market yet, so there is no baseline available to discuss and compare. For sure solutions will be a combination of connected capabilities based on  model-driven paradigms. It will take time to develop and understand the benefits.
  • Model-Based approaches are not just a marketing invention as some disbelievers suggest. In particular in Asia, where people deal with less legacy (and skepticism) than our western engineering/manufacturing world, companies are embracing these concepts faster. One more time, if you haven’t looked at Zhang Xin Guo’s keynote speech at the Incose annual symposium last year, watch the speech below and learn to understand the needed paradigm change. Is it a coincidence that a Chinese speaker is giving the best explanation so far?

Technology hype ?

The (Industrial) Internet of Things, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented reality, Virtual Reality, Digit Twin are all appearing in the news. Most of the time they are associated with tremendous opportunities, changing business models and potentially high profits. For example, read this quote from Jim Heppelmann after the acquisition of Frustum:

“PTC is pushing the boundaries of innovation with this acquisition,” said Jim Heppelmann, president and CEO, PTC. “Creo is core to PTC’s overall strategy, and the embedded capabilities from ANSYS and, later, Frustum will elevate Creo to a leading position in the world of design and simulation. With breakthrough new technologies such as AR/VR, high-performance computing, IoT, AI, and additive manufacturing entering the picture, the CAD industry is going through a renaissance period, and PTC is committed to leading the way.”

Of course, vendors have to sell their capabilities, the major challenge for companies is to make a valuable business from all these capabilities (if possible). In that context I was happy to read one of Joe Barkai’s recent posts: When the Party is Over — Industrial Internet of Things Industry Snapshot and Predictions where he puts the IIoT hype in a business perspective.

Can technology change business?

If you look back over the past 50 years, there have been various changes in technology that affected the world of PLM. Assuming the current definition of PLM could exist in 1970 even without a PLM-system – PLM was invented in 1999.  First, there was the journey from drawing board towards electronic drawings and 3D models. Next global connectivity and an affordable infrastructure gave a boost for product development collaboration. Still, many organizations work in a silo-ed way, inside the organization and outside with their suppliers. Still the 2D Drawing is the legal information carrier combined with additional specification documents. Changing the paradigm to a connected 3D Model is already possible, however not pushed or implemented by manufacturing companies as it requires a change in ways of working (people) and related processes.

A business change has to come from the top of an organization, and this is the challenge for PLM. What is the value of collaboration? How do you measure innovation capabilities? How do you impact time to market?

Time to market might be understood at the board level. There is an existing NPI (New Product Introduction) process in place and by analyzing the process, fixing bottlenecks, an efficiency gain can be achieved. Every innovation goes through the same process. This is where traditional PLM is playing a significant role as it is partly measurable.

But how to improve collaboration or innovation speed?

At the board level often numbers rule and based on numbers decisions are taken. This mindset often leads to narrow thinking. Adjustments are doing by prioritizing one topic above the other and most of the time complex topics like the needed change of business and business models are not really understood and passed to the middle management (who will kill it, to guarantee the status quo).

Organizations need a myth!

One of the significant challenges for PLM is that there is no end-to-end belief in what is its purpose. According to Yuval Noah Harari in his book Sapiens, the primary success factor why homo sapiens became the dominant species on earth because they are able to collaborate in large groups driven by abstract themes. It can be religion, a lot is done on behalf of faith. It can also be a charismatic CEO who is able to create the myth – think about Steve Jobs, Elon Musk.

Organizations that want to go through a digital transformation need to create their myth and deliver product/business innovation through new ways of working should be part of that. I wrote about myths in the context of PLM in the past: PLM as a myth? . I believe the domain of PLM is too small for a myth still it is a crucial part of digital transformation.

In the upcoming year, I will focus again on how organizations can take benefit from new technologies. Not focusing on WHAT is possible, but mainly on WHY and HOW – all based on the myth that we can do so much better as organizations when innovation and customer-focus are part of everyone’s empowered mind.

I am looking forward to meet, either in face-to-face discussions, Skype calls or during events and conferences.
Let’s understand and create the myth together – first in London.

This is the moment of the year to switch-off from the details. No more talking and writing about digital transformation or model-based approaches. It is time to sit back and relax. Two years ago I shared the PLM Songbook, now it is time to see one or more movies. Here are my favorite top five PLM movies:

Bruce Almighty

Bruce Nolan, an engineer in Buffalo, N.Y., is discontented with almost everything in the company despite his popularity and the love of his draftswoman Grace. At the end of the worst day of his life, Bruce angrily ridicules and rages against PLM and PLM responds. PLM appears in human form and, endowing Bruce with divine powers op collaboration, challenges Bruce to take on the big job to see if he can do it any better.

A movie that makes you modest and you realize there is more than your small ecosystem.

 

The good, the bad and the ugly

Blondie (The Good PLM consultant) is a professional who is out trying to earn a few dollars. Angel Eyes (The Bad PLM Vendor) is a PLM salesman who always commits to a task and sees it through, as long as he is paid to do so. And Tuco (The Ugly PLM Implementer) is a wanted outlaw trying to take care of his own hide. Tuco and Blondie share a partnership together making money off Tuco’s bounty, but when Blondie unties the partnership, Tuco tries to hunt down Blondie. When Blondie and Tuco come across a PLM implementation loaded with dead bodies, they soon learn from the only survivor (Bill Carson – the PLM admin) that he and a few other men have buried a stash of value on a file server. Unfortunately, Carson dies, and Tuco only finds out the name of the file server, while Blondie finds out the name on the hard disk. Now the two must keep each other alive in order to find the value. Angel Eyes (who had been looking for Bill Carson) discovers that Tuco and Blondie met with Carson and knows they know the location of the value. All he needs is for the two to ..

A movie that makes you realize that it is a challenging journey to find the value out of PLM. It is not only about execution – but it is also about all the politics of people involved – and there are good, bad and ugly people on a PLM journey.

The Grump

The Grump is a draftsman in Finland from the past. A man who knows that everything used to be so much better in the old days. Pretty much everything that’s been done after 1953 has always managed to ruin The Grump’s day. Our story unfolds The Grump opens a 3D Model on his computer, hurting his brain. He has to spend a weekend in Helsinki to attend a model-based therapy. Then the drama unfolds …….

A movie that makes you realize that progress and innovation do not come from grumps. In every environment when you want to do a change of the status quo, grumps will appear. With the exciting Finish atmosphere, a perfect film for Christmas.

Deliverance

The Cahulawassee River Valley company in Northern Georgia is one of the last analog companies in the state, which will soon change with the imminent implementation of a PLM system in the company, breaking down silos everywhere. As such, four Atlanta city slickers, alpha male Lewis Medlock, generally even-keeled Ed Gentry, slightly condescending Bobby Trippe, and wide-eyed Drew Ballinger decide to implement PLM in one trip, with only Lewis and Ed having experience in CAD. They know going in that the area is ethnoculturally homogeneous and isolated, but don’t understand the full extent of such until they arrive and see what they believe is the result of generations of inbreeding. Their relatively peaceful trip takes a turn for the worse when half way through they encounter a couple of hillbilly moonshiners. That encounter not only makes the four battle their way out of the PLM project intact and alive but threatens the relationships of the four as they do.

This movie, from 1972, makes you realize that in the early days of PLM starting a big-bang implementation journey into an area that is not ready for it, can be deadly, for your career and friendship. Not suitable for small children!

Diamonds Are Forever or Tron (legacy)

James Bond’s mission is to find out who has been drawing diamonds, which are appearing on blogs. He adopts another identity in the form of Don Farr. He joins up with CIMdata and acts as if he is developing diamonds, but everyone is hungry for these diamonds. He also has to avoid Mr. Brouwer and Mr. Kidd, the dangerous couple who do not leave anyone in their way when it comes to model-based. And Ernst Stavro Blofeld isn’t out of the question. He may have changed his looks, but is he linked with the V-shape? And if he is, can Bond finally defeat his ultimate enemy?

Sam Flynn, the tech-savvy 27-year-old son of Kevin Flynn, looks into his father’s disappearance and finds himself pulled into the same world of virtual twins and augmented reality where his father has been living for 20 years. Along with Kevin’s loyal confidant Quorra, father and son embark on a life-and-death journey across a visually-stunning cyber universe that has become far more advanced and exceedingly dangerous. Meanwhile, the malevolent program IoT, who dominates the digital world, plans to invade the real world and will stop at nothing to prevent their escape

I could not decide about number five. The future is bright with Boeing’s new representation of Systems Engineering, see my post on CIMdata’s PLM Europe roadmap event where Don Farr presented his diamond(s). However, the future is also becoming a mix of real with virtual and here Tron (legacy) will help my readers to understand the beauty of a mixed virtual and real world. You can decide – or send me your favorite PLM movies.

Note: All movie reviews are based on IMBd.com story lines, and I thank the authors of these story lines for their contribution and hope they agree with the PLM-related twist. Click on the image to find the full details and original review.

Conclusion

2018 has been an exciting year with a lot of buzzwords combined with the reality that the current PLM approach is incompatible with the future. How we can address this issue more in 2019 – first at PI PLMx 2019 in London (be there – last chance to meet people in the UK when they are still Europeans and share/discuss plans for the upcoming year)

Wishing you all the best during the break and a happy and prosperous 2019

 

Some of you following my blog this year might not feel so connected with the content I have written many posts related to digitization and the future needs for model-driven approaches, not so much about topics that might keep you awake at this time.

When I look in my blog statistics, the most popular post is ECO/ECR for Dummies, leading with more than 30.000 views since I wrote this post in 2010. You can read the original post here: ECR/ECO for Dummies (2010)

Meanwhile, in most companies, the scope of PLM has broadened, and instead of a change process within the engineering department, it will be part of enterprise change management, connecting all options for change. Therefore, in this post, I will explain the basics of a modern enterprise change process.

It can start with an Issue

Already 10 years ago I was promoting the Issue-object in a PLM data model as this could be the starting point for many activities in the enterprise, product-related, technology-related, customer-related and more.

My definition of an Issue is that it is something happening that was not expected and requires follow-up. In our day-to-day life, we solve many issues by sending an e-mail or picking up the phone, and someone down the chain will resolve the issue (or make it disappear).

The disadvantage of this approach is that there is no collective learning for the organization. Imagine that you could see in your PLM-system how many issues there were with a project, can you learn from that and improve it for the future. Or when you notice you have had several costly issues during manufacturing, but you were never aware of them, because it happened in another country and it was solved there.

By creating issues in the PLM-system related to the object(s), it concerns (a product, a part, a customer, a manufacturing process, an installation, …..) you will create traceability and visibility based on global facts. By classifying the issues, you can run real-time reports on what is happening and what has happened unforeseen in your enterprise.

The challenge is to find a user-interface that can compete with e-mail as an entry point. So far PLM-system providers haven’t invested in highly user-friendly Issue management, leaving the email path possible. PLM Vendors – there is work to do!

Next, depending on the Issue various follow-up processes can start en some of them will be connected. See the diagram below and forgive me my graphical talent.

In this post we will focus only on the ECR and ECO path, leaving the other processes above open for next time.

The Engineering Change Request-process

The term ECR, meaning Engineering Change Request, might not be correct anymore for requested changes in an enterprise. Therefore, sometimes, you might also see the term CR only, without the reference to Engineering. For example, in the software world, you will not follow the same process as used for the hardware world, due to the different lifecycle, speed, and cost involved with software changes.  I will focus only on the ECR here.

As the picture above shows, there are two entry points for an engineering change request. Either someone in the enterprise has an issue that leads to an ECR, or someone in the enterprise has an idea to improve the products and sends it in as a request.

The next steps are quite standard for a typical ECR-process:

Analysis

In the Analysis step assigned individuals will evaluate the request. If it is well understood. Potential solution paths will be evaluated and rated. In case it is a change on a running product, what is the impact of performing this change on current products, current, and future manufacturing, finance, etc. In the analysis-phase there will be no detail design, it is more a feasibility study. In companies already having a well-structured PLM and ERP infrastructure, many of the impact analysis can be done rather fast, as for example the “Where Used” capability is a standard in every PLM-system.

CCB

The abbreviation stands for Change Control Board, a term also used in the software industry. In the case of hardware products, the CCB usually consists of engineering, manufacturing, purchasing, finance and potentially sales, based on the context of the ECR. This group of people decides what will be the next step of the ECR. They have four options:

  1. Ask for further analysis – a decision is not possible.
  2. Mandate the proposed change to be planned immediately by promoting it to an Engineering Change Order, which means the change is going to be executed as needed (Immediate for example in case of a product stop/customer issue – Longer Term when old stock needs to be consumed first)
  3. The proposed change can become a Candidate for the next product release/upgrade and put on hold to be implemented together with other candidates for a release.
  4. The ECR can also be Cancelled meaning the proposed change will potential not create business benefits for the company. Implementing the change might create more complexity as desired.

Engineering Change Order

The image above is an illustration of a possible flow for an ECO. When an ECO is launched a first analysis and planning is required. The ECO can be based on multiple ECRs, or the ECO can be depending on other ECO’s that need to be coordinated.

The ECO process is quite similar to a release process. There will be multidisciplinary collaboration (mechanical/electrical/ …) leading to a complete engineering definition (based on the EBOM). Next Manufacturing Preparation and Planning can be done, where the implementation at the manufacturing plant(s) will be depending on the ECO context.

Note: When only a change in manufacturing will be implemented, for example when certain parts/materials are not available or affordable, we do not name it an ECO but an MCO instead. MCO stands for Manufacturing Change Order and assumes the engineering specification will remain the same.

Conclusion

The ECR/ECO-process is slowly changing due to digitization and a broader implementation scope for PLM – it is no longer a mechanical engineering change process. The availability of digital connected information will offer a base for algorithms in the future, speeding up the process and reducing the effort for a CCB during the ECR-process.

Will these processes still be there in 2025?

 

 

 

A week ago I attended the joined CIMdata Roadmap and PDT Europe conference in Stuttgart as you can recall from last week’s post: The weekend after CIMdata Roadmap / PDT Europe 2018. As there was so much information to share, I had to split the report into two posts. This time the focus on the PDT Europe. In general, the PDT conferences have always been focusing on sharing experiences and developments related to standards. A topic you will not see at PLM Vendor conferences. Therefore, your chance to learn and take part if you believe in standards.

This year’s theme: Collaboration in the Engineering and Manufacturing Supply Chain – the Extended Digital Thread and Smart Manufacturing. Industry 4.0 plays a significant role here.

 

Model-based X: What is it and what is the status?

I have seen Peter Bilello presenting this topic now several times, and every time there is a little more progress. The fact that there is still an acronym war illustrated that the various aspects of a model-based approach are not yet defined. Some critics will be stating that’s because we do not need model-based and it is only a vendor marketing trick again.  Two comments here:

  • If you want to implement an end-to-end model-based approach including your customers and supply chain, you cannot avoid standard. More will become clear when you read the rest of this post. Vendors will not promote standards as it reduces their capabilities to deliver unique So standards must come from the market, not from the marketing.
  • In 2007 Carl Bass, at that time CEO at Autodesk made his statement: “There are only three customers in the world that have a PLM problem; Dassault, PTC, and There are no other companies that say I have a PLM problem”. Have a look here. PLM is understood by now and even by Autodesk. The statement illustrates that in the beginning the PLM target was not clear and people thought PLM was a system instead of a strategic approach. Model-based ways of working have to go through the same learning path, hopefully, faster.

Peter’s presentation was a good walk-through pointing out what exists, where we focus and that there is still working to be done. Not by vendors but by companies. Therefore I wholeheartedly agree with Peter’s closing remarks – no time to sit back and watch if you want to benefit from model-based approaches.

Smart Manufacturing

Kenny Swope, known from his presentations related to Boeing, now spoke to us as the Chair of the ISO/TC 184/SC 4 workgroup related to Industrial Data. To say it in decoded mode: Kenny is heading Sub-committee 4 with a focus on Industrial Data. SC4 is part of a more prominent theme: Automation Systems and integration identified by TC 184 all as part of the ISO framework. The scope:

Standardization of the content, meaning, structure, representation and quality management of the information required to define an engineered product and its characteristics at any required level of detail at any part of its lifecycle from conception through disposal, together with the interfaces required to deliver and collect the information necessary to support any business or technical process or service related to that engineered product during its lifecycle.

Perhaps boring to read if you think about all the demos you have seen at trade shows related to Smart Manufacturing. If you want these demos to become true in a vendor-independent environment, you will need to agree on a common framework of definitions to ensure future continuity beyond the demo. And here lies the business excitement, the real competitive advantages companies can have implementing Smart Manufacturing in a Scaleable, future-oriented way.

One of the often heard statements is that standards are too slow or incomplete. Incomplete is not a problem when there is a need, the standard will follow. Compare it with language, we will always invent new words for new concepts.

Being slow might be the case in the past. Kenny showed the relative fast convergence from country-specific Smart Manufacturing standards into a joined ISO/IEC framework – all within three years. ISO and IEC have been teaming-up already to build Smart Manufacturing Reference models.

This is already a considerable effort,  as the local reference models need to be studied and mapped to a common architecture. The target is to have a first Technical Specification for a joint standard final 2020 – quite fast!

Meinolf Gröpper from the German VDMA  presented what they are doing to support Smart Manufacturing / Industrie 4.0. The VDMA is a well-known engineering federation with 3200 member companies, 85 % of them are Small and Medium Enterprises – the power of the German economy.

The VDMA provides networking capabilities, readiness assessments for members to be the enabler for companies to transform. As Meinolf stated Industrie 4.0 is not about technology, it is about cross-border services and international cooperation. A strategy that every company has to develop and if possible implement at its own pace. Standards will accelerate the implementation of Industrie 4.0

The Smart Manufacturing session was concluded by Gunilla Sivard, Professor at KTH in Stockholm and Hampus Wranér, Consultant at Eurostep. They presented the work done on the DIgln project, targeting an infrastructure for Smart Manufacturing.

The presentation showed the implementation of the testbed using twittering bus communication and the ISO 10303-239 PLCS information standard as the persistent layer. The results were promising to further build capabilities on top of the infrastructure below:

The conclusion from the Smart Manufacturing session was that emerging and available standards can accelerate the deployment.

 

Enabling digital continuity in the Factory of the Future

Alcibiades Gonzalez-Noval from Airbus shared challenges and the strategy for Airbus’s factory of the future based on digital continuity from the virtual world towards the physical world, connecting with PLM, ERP, and MOM. Concepts many companies are currently working on with various maturity stages.

I agree with his lessons learned. We cannot think in silos anymore in a digital future – everything is connected. And please forget the PoC, to gain time start piloting and fail or succeed fast. Companies have lost years because of just doing PoCs and not going into action. The last point, networks segregation for sure is an issue, relevant for plant operations. I experienced this also in the past when promoting PLM concepts for (nuclear) owners/operators of plants. Network security is for sure an issue to resolve.

 

Cross-Discipline Lifecycle Collaboration Forum
Setting up the digital thread across engineering and the value chain.

Peter Gerber, Chairman of CDLC Forum and Data Exchange & Integration Leader at Schaefller and Pierre Bodin at Senior Manager Mews Partners, presented their findings related to the challenge of managing complex products (mechanical, electrical, software using system engineering methodology)  to work properly at affordable cost in a real-time mode, multidisciplinary and coordination across the whole value chain. Something you might expect could be done when reviewing all PLM Vendor’s marketing materials, something you might expect hard to do when remembering Martin Eigner’s statement that 95 % of the companies have not solved mechatronics collaboration yet. (See: The weekend after CIMdata PLM Roadmap and PDT Europe)

A demonstrator was defined, and various vendors participated in building a demonstrator based on their Out-Of-The-Box capabilities. The result showed that for all participants there were still gaps to resolve for full collaboration. A new version of the demonstrator is now planned for the middle of next year – curious to learn the results at that time. Multi-disciplinary collaboration is a (conceptual) pillar for future digital business – it needs to be possible.

 

A Digital Thread based on the PLCS standard.

Nigel Shaw, Eurostep’s managing director in the UK, took us through his evolution of PLCS (Product Life Cycle Support) and extension of the ISO 10303 STEP standard. (STEP Standard for Exchange of Product data). Nigel mentioned how over all these years, millions (and a lot of brain power) have been invested in PLCS to where it is now.

PLCS has been extremely useful as an interface standard for contracting, provide product data in a neutral way. As an example, last year the Swedish Defense organization (FMV) and France’s DGA made PLCS DEXs as part of the contractual conditions. It would be too costly to have all product data for all defense systems in proprietary vendor formats and this over the product lifecycle.

Those following the standards in the process industry will rely on ISO 15926 / CFIHOS as this standard’s dictionary, and data model is more geared to process data- and in particular the exchange of data from the various contractors with the owner/operator.

Coming back to PLCS and the Digital Twin – it is all about digital continuity of information. Otherwise, if we have to recreate information in every lifecycle stage of a product (design/manufacturing / operations), it will be too costly and not digital connected. This illustrates the growing needs for standards. I had nothing to add to Nigel’s conclusions:

It is interesting to note that product management has moved a long way over the last 10-20 years however as we include more and more into PLM, there are all the time new concepts to be solved. The cases we discuss today in our PLM communities were most of the time visions 10 years ago. Nowadays we want to include Model-Based Systems Engineering, 3D Modeling and simulation, electronics and software and even aftermarket, product support in true PLM. This was not the case 20 years ago. The people involved in the development of PLCS were for sure visionaries as product data connectivity along the whole lifecycle is needed and enabled by the standard.

 

Investing in Industry 4.0?
Hard Realities of the Grand Vision.

Marc Halpern from Gartner is one of the regular speakers at the PDT conference. Unfortunate he could not be with us that day, however, through a labor-intensive connection (mobile phone close to the speaker and Nigel Shaw trying to stay in sync with the presented slides) we could hear Marc speak about what we wanted to achieve too – a digital continuity.

Marc restated the massive potential of Industrie 4.0 when it comes to scalability, agility, flexibility, and efficiency.

Although technologies are evolving rapidly, it is the existing legacy that inhibits fast adoption. A topic that was also central in my presentation. It is not just a change in technology, there is much more connected.

Marc recommends a changing role for IT, where they should focus more on business priorities and business leadership strategies. This as opposed to the classical role of the IT organization where IT needed to support the business, now they will be part of leading the business too.

To orchestrate such an IT evolution, Marc recommends a “systems of systems” planning and execution across IT and Business. One of my recent blog posts: Moving to a model-based enterprise:  The business (information) model can be seen in that context.

How to deal with the incompatible future?

I was happy to conclude the sessions with the topic that concerns me the most at this time. Companies in their current business are already struggling to get aligned and coordinated between disciplines and external stakeholders, the gap to be connected is vast as it requires a master data management approach, an enterprise data model and model-based ways of working. Read my posts from the past ½ year starting here, and you get the picture.

Note: This image is based on Marc Halpern’s (Gartner) Technology/Maturity diagram from PDT 2015

I concluded with explaining companies need to learn to work in two modes. One mode will be the traditional way of working which I call the coordinated approach and a growing focus on operating in a connected mode.  You can see my full presentation here on SlideShare: How to deal with the incompatible future.

Conclusion

The conference was closed with a panel discussion where we shared our concerns related to the challenges companies face to change their traditional ways of working meanwhile entering a digital era. The positive points are there – baby steps – PLM is becoming understood, the significance of standards is becoming more clear. The need: a long-term vision.

 This concludes my review of an excellent conference – I learned again a lot and I hope to see you next year too. Thanks again to CIMdata and Eurostep for organizing this event

 

 

 

 

 

 

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