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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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

It has been busy recently in the context of the PLM Global Green Alliances (PGGA) series: PLM and Sustainability, where we interview PLM-related software vendors, discussing their sustainability mission and offering.

We talked with SAP, Autodesk, and Dassault Systèmes and last week with Sustaira. Now the discussion was with the team from Aras.  Aras is known as a non-traditional PLM player, having the following slogan on their website:

It is a great opening statement for our discussion. Let’s discover more.

Aras

The discussion was with Patrick Willemsen, Director of Technical Community EMEA and Matthias Fohrer, Director of Global Alliances EMEA at Aras. It was an interesting interview; as we discussed, Aras focuses on the digital thread, connecting data from all sources with an infrastructure designed to support a company in its PLM domain.

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, PLM and Sustainability  – if we want to work efficiently on Sustainability, we need to have a data-driven and connected infrastructure.

And this made this discussion interesting to follow– please look/listen to the 30 minutes conversation below.

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

What we have learned

There were several interesting points in our discussion where we were aligned; first of all, the sustainable value of bringing your solutions to the cloud.

So we discussed the topic of Sustainability and the cloud, and it was interesting to read this week McKinsey’s post The green IT revolution: A blueprint for CIOs to combat climate change containing this quote:

“Moving to the cloud has more impact than optimizing data centers”– the article is quite applicable for Aras.

Next, I liked the message that it is all about collaboration between different parties.

As Matthias mentioned, nobody can do it on their own. According to Aras’ studies, 70% see Sustainability as an important area to improve themselves; nobody can do it on his own. Partnerships are crucial, as well as digital connections between the stakeholders. It is a plea for systems thinking in a connected manner, connecting to existing material libraries.

 

The third point we were aligned with is that PLM and Sustainability are a learning journey. As Patrick explained, it is about embracing the circular economy and learning step by step.

<– Click on the image to enlarge.

 

Want to learn more?

Aras has published several white papers and surveys and hosted webinars related to Sustainability. Here are a few of them:

Aras Survey Challenges 2022: From Sustainability to Digitalization

White Paper: The Circular Economy as a Model for the Future

Webinar: Greener Business, PLM, Traceability, and Beyond

Webinar: How PLM Paves the Way for Sustainability

Blog: The Circular Economy as a Model for the Future

 

Conclusions

It is clear that Aras provides an infrastructure for a connected enterprise. They combine digital PLM capabilities with the option to extend their reach by supporting sustainability-related processes, like systems thinking and lifecycle assessments. And as they mention, no one can do it alone; we depend on collaboration and learning for all stakeholders.

On more week to go – join us if you can – click here

 

As human beings, we believe in the truth. We claim the truth. During my holiday in Greece, the question was, did the Greek Prime Minister tell the truth about the internal spy scandal?

In general, we can say, politicians never speak the real truth, and some countries are trying to make sure there is only one single source of truth – their truth. The concept of a Single Source Of Truth (SSOT) is difficult to maintain in politics.

On social media, Twitter and Facebook, people are claiming their truth. But unfortunately, without any scientific background, people know better than professionals by cherry-picking messages, statistics or even claiming non-existing facts.

Nicely described in The Dunning-Kruger effect. Unfortunately, this trend will not disappear.

If you want to learn more about the impact of social media, read this long article from The Atlantic:  Why the Past 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid. Although the article is about the US, the content is valid for all countries where social media are still allowed.

The PLM and CM domain is the only place where people still rely on the truth defined by professionals. Manufacturing companies depend on reliable information to design, validate, manufacture and support their products. Compliance and safe products require an accurate and stable product definition based on approved information. Therefore, the concept of SSOT is crucial along the product lifecycle.

The importance may vary depending on the product type. The difference in complexity between an airplane and a plastic toy, for example. It is all about the risk and impact of a failure caused by the product.

During my holiday, the SSOT discussion was sparked on LinkedIn by Adam Keating, and the article starts with:

The “Single Source of Truth (SSOT)” wasn’t built for you. It was built for software vendors to get rich. Not a single company in the world has a proper SSOT.

A bit provocative, as there is nothing wrong with software vendors being profitable. Profitability guarantees the long-time support of the software solution. Remember the PLM consolidation around 2006, when SmarTeam, Matrix One (Dassault), Agile and Eigner & Partner (Oracle) were acquired, disappeared or switched to maintenance mode.

Therefore it makes sense to have a profitable business model or perhaps a real open source business model.

Still, the rest of the discussion was interesting, particularly in the LinkedIn comments. Adam mentioned the Authoritative Source of Truth (ASOT) as the new future. And although this concept becomes more and more visible in the PLM domain, I believe we need both. So, let’s have a look at these concepts.

 

Truth 1.0 – SSOT

Historically, manufacturing companies stored the truth in documents, first paper-based, later in electronic file formats and databases.

The truth consists of drawings, part lists, specifications, and other types of information.

Moreover, the information is labeled with revisions and versions to identify the information.

By keeping track of the related information through documents or part lists with significant numbers, a person in the company could find the correct corresponding information at any stage of the lifecycle.

Later, by storing all the information in a central (PLM) system, the impression might be created that this system is the Single Source Of Truth. The system Adam Keating agitated against in his LinkedIn post.

Although for many companies, the ERP has been the SSOT  (and still is). All relevant engineering information was copied into the ERP system as attached files. Documents are the authoritative, legal pieces of information that a company shares with suppliers, authorities, or customers. They can reside in PLM but also in ERP. Therefore, you need an infrastructure to manage the “truth.”

Note: The Truth 1.0 story is very much a hardware story.

Even for hardware, ensuring a consistent single version of the truth for each product remains difficult. In theory, its design specifications should match the manufacturing definition. The reality, however, shows that often this is not the case. Issues discovered during the manufacturing process are fixed in the plant – redlining the drawing  – is not always processed by engineering.

As a result, Engineering and Manufacturing might have a different version of what they consider the truth.

The challenge for a service engineer in the field is often to discover the real truth. So the “truth” might not always be in the expected place – no guaranteed Single Source Of Truth.

Configuration Management is a discipline connected to PLM to ensure that the truth is managed so that as-specified, as-manufactured, and as-delivered information has been labeled and documented unambiguously. In other words, you could say Configuration Management(CM) is aiming for the Single Source Of Truth for a product.

If you want to read more about the relation between PLM and CM  – read this post: PLM and Configuration Management (CM), where I speak with Martijn Dullaart about the association between PLM and CM.

Martijn has his blog mdux.net and is the Lead Architect for Enterprise Configuration Management at our Dutch pride ASML. Martijn is also Chairperson I4.0 Committee IPX Congress.

Summarizing: The Single Source Of Truth 1.0 concept is document-based and should rely on CM practices, which require skilled people and the right methodology. In addition, some industries require Truth 1.0.

Others take the risk of working without solid CM practices, and the PLM system might create the impression of the SSOT; it will not be the case, even for only hardware.

 Truth 2.0 – ASOT

Products have become more complex, mainly due to the combination of electronics and software. Their different lifecycles and the speed of change are hard to maintain using the traditional PLM approach of SSOT.

It will be impossible to maintain an SSOT, particularly if it is based on documents.

As CM is the discipline to ensure data consistency, it is important to look into the future of CM. At the end of last year, I discussed this topic with 3 CM thought leaders. Martijn Dullaart, Maxime Gravel and Lisa Fenwick discussed with me what they believe the change would be. Read and listen here: The future of Configuration Management.


From the discussion, it became clear that managing all the details is impossible; still, you need an overreaching baseline to identify the severity and impact of a change along the product lifecycle.

New methodologies can be developed for this, as reliable data can be used in algorithms to analyze a change impact. This brings us to the digital thread. According to the CIMdata definition used in the A&D digital twin phase 2 position paper:

The digital thread provides the ability for a business to have an Authoritative Source of Truth(ASOT), which is information available and connected in a core set of the enterprise systems across the lifecycle and supplier networks

The definition implies that, in the end, a decision is made on data from the most reliable, connected source. There might be different data in other locations. However, this information is less reliable. Updating or fixing this information does not make sense as the effort and cost of fixing will be too expensive and give no benefit.

Obviously, we need reliable data to implement the various types of digital twins.

As I am intrigued by the power of the brain – its strengths and weaknesses – the concept of ASOT can also be found in our brains. Daniel Kahneman’s book, Thinking Fast and Slow talks about the two systems/modes our brain uses. The Fast one (System 1 – low energy usage) could be the imaginary SSOT, whereas the Slow one (System 2 – high energy required) is the ASOT. The brain needs both, and I believe this is the same in our PLM domain.

A new PLM Paradigm

In this context, there is a vivid discussion about the System of Record and Systems of Engagement. I wrote about it in June (post: A new PLM paradigm); other authors name it differently, but all express a similar concept. Have a look at these recent articles and statements from:

Author Link to content

Authentise

 

The challenge of cross-discipline collaboration …….

Beyond PLM

 

When is the right time to change your PLM system + discussion

Colab

 

The Single Source Of Truth wasn’t built for you …….

Fraunhofer institute

 

Killing the PLM Monolith – the Emergence of cloud-native System Lifecycle Management (SysLM)

SAAB Group

 

Don’t mix the tenses. Managing the Present and the Future in an MBSE context

Yousef Hooshmand

 

From a Monolithic PLM Landscape to a Federated Domain and Data Mesh

If you want to learn more about these concepts and discuss them with some of the experts in this domain, come to the upcoming PLM Roadmap PTD Europe conference on 18-19 October in Gothenburg, Sweden. Have a look at the final agenda here

Register before September 12 to benefit from a 15 % Early Bird discount, which you can spend for the dinner after day 1. I look forward to discussing the SSOT/ASOT topics there.


Conclusion

The Single Source Of Truth (SSOT) and the Authoritative Source of Truth (ASOT) are terms that illustrate the traditional PLM paradigm is changing thanks to digitization and connected stakeholders. The change is in the air. Now, the experience has to come. So be part of the change and discuss with us.

 

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.

While preparing my presentation for the Dutch Model-Based Definition solutions event, I had some reflections and experiences discussing Model-Based Definition. Particularly in traditional industries. In the Aerospace & Defense, and Automotive industry, Model-Based Definition has become the standard. However, other industries have big challenges in adopting this approach. In this post, I want to share my observations and bring clarifications about the importance.

 

What is a Model-Based Definition?

The Wiki-definition for Model-Based Definition is not bad:

Model-based definition (MBD), sometimes called digital product definition (DPD), is the practice of using 3D models (such as solid models, 3D PMI and associated metadata) within 3D CAD software to define (provide specifications for) individual components and product assemblies. The types of information included are geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T), component level materials, assembly level bills of materials, engineering configurations, design intent, etc.

By contrast, other methodologies have historically required the accompanying use of 2D engineering drawings to provide such details.

When I started to write about Model-Based definition in 2016, the concept of a connected enterprise was not discussed. MBD mainly enhanced data sharing between engineering, manufacturing, and suppliers at that time. The 3D PMI is a data package for information exchange between these stakeholders.

The main difference is that the 3D Model is the main information carrier, connected to 2D manufacturing views and other relevant data, all connected in this package.

 

MBD – the benefits

There is no need to write a blog post related to the benefits of MBD. With some research, you find enough reasons. The most important benefits of MBD are:

  • the information is and human-readable and machine-readable. Allowing the implementation of Smart Manufacturing / Industry 4.0 concepts
  • the information relies on processes and data and is no longer dependent on human interpretation. This leads to better quality and error-fixing late in the process.
  • MBD information is a building block for the digital enterprise. If you cannot master this concept, forget the benefits of MBSE and Virtual Twins. These concepts don’t run on documents.

To help you discover the benefits of MBD described by others – have a look here:

 

MBD as a stepping stone to the future

When you are able to implement model-based definition practices in your organization and connect with your eco-system, you are learning what it means to work in a connected matter. Where the scope is limited, you already discover that working in a connected manner is not the same as mandating everyone to work with the same systems or tools. Instead, it is about new ways of working (skills & people), combined with exchange standards (which to follow).

Where MBD is part of the bigger model-based enterprise, the same principles apply for connecting upstream information (Model-Based Systems Engineering) and downstream information(IoT-based operation and service models).

Oleg Shilovitsky addresses the same need from a data point of view in his recent blog: PLM Strategy For Post COVID Time. He makes an important point about the Digital Thread:

Digital Thread is one of my favorite topics because it is leading directly to the topic of connected data and services in global manufacturing networks.

I agree with that statement as the digital thread is like MBD, another steppingstone to organize information in a connected manner, even beyond the scope of engineering-manufacturing interaction. However, Digital Thread is an intermediate step toward a full data-driven and model-based enterprise.

To master all these new ways is working, it is crucial for the management of manufacturing companies, both OEM and their suppliers, to initiate learning programs. Not as a Proof of Concept but as a real-life, growing activity.

Why MBD is not yet a common practice?

If you look at the success of MBD in Aerospace & Defense and Automotive, one of the main reasons was the push from the OEMs to align their suppliers. They even dictated CAD systems and versions to enable smooth and efficient collaboration.

In other industries, there we not so many giant OEMs that could dictate their supply chain. Often also, the OEM was not even ready for MBD. Therefore, the excuse was often we cannot push our suppliers to work different, let’s remain working as best as possible (the old way and some automation)

Besides the technical changes, MBD also had a business impact. Where the traditional 2D-Drawing was the contractual and leading information carrier, now the annotated 3D Model has to become the contractual agreement. This is much more complex than browsing through (paper) documents; now, you need an application to open up the content and select the right view(s) or datasets.

In the interaction between engineering and manufacturing, you could hear statements like:

you can use the 3D Model for your NC programming, but be aware the 2D drawing is leading. We cannot guarantee consistency between them.

In particular, this is a business change affecting the relationship between an OEM and its suppliers. And we know business changes do not happen overnight.

Smaller suppliers might even refuse to work on a Model-Based definition, as it is considered an extra overhead they do not benefit from.

In particular, when working with various OEMs that might have their own preferred MBD package content based on their preferred usage. There are standards; however, OEMs often push for their preferred proprietary format.

It is about an orchestrated change.

Implementing MBD in your company, like PLM, is challenging because people need to be aligned and trained on new ways of working. In particular, this creates resistance at the end-user level.

Similar to the introduction of mainstream CAD (AutoCAD in the eighties) and mainstream 3D CAD (Solidworks in the late nineties), it requires new processes, trained people, and matching tools.

This is not always on the agenda of C-level people who try to avoid technical details (because they don’t understand them – read this great article: Technical Leadership: A Chronic Weakness in Engineering Enterprises.

I am aware of learning materials coming from the US, not so much about European or Asian thought leaders. Feel free to add other relevant resources for the readers in this post’s comments. Have a look and talk with:

Action Engineering with their OSCAR initiative: Bringing MBD Within Reach. I spoke with Jennifer Herron, founder of Action Engineering, a year ago about MBD and OSCAR in my blog post: PLM and Model-Based Definition.

Another interesting company to follow is Capvidia. Read their blog post to start with is MBD model-based definition in the 21st century.

The future

What you will discover from these two companies is that they focus on the connected flow of information between companies while anticipating that each stakeholder might have their preferred (traditional) PLM environment. It is about data federation.

The future of a connected enterprise is even more complex. So I was excited to see and download Yousef Hooshmand’s paper:  ”From a Monolithic PLM Landscape to a Federated Domain and Data Mesh”.

Yousef and some of his colleagues report about their PLM modernization project @Mercedes-Benz AG, aiming at transforming a monolithic PLM landscape into a federated Domain and Data Mesh.

This paper provides a lot of structured thinking related to the concepts I try to explain to my audience in everyday language. See my The road to model-based and connected PLM thoughts.

This paper has much more depth and is a must-read and must-discuss writing for those interested – perhaps an opportunity for new startups and a threat to traditional PLM vendors.

Conclusion

Vellum drawings are almost gone now – we have electronic 2D Drawings. The model-based definition has confirmed the benefits of improving the interaction between engineering, manufacturing & suppliers. Still, many industries are struggling with this approach due to process & people changes needed. If you are not able or willing to implement a model-based definition approach, be worried about the future. The eco-systems will only run efficiently (and survive) when their information exchange is based on data and models. Start learning now.

p.s. just out of curiosity:
If you are model-based advocate support this post with a

 

Once and a while, the discussion pops up if, given the changes in technology and business scope, we still should talk about PLM. John Stark and others have been making a point that PLM should become a profession.

In a way, I like the vagueness of the definition and the fact that the PLM profession is not written in stone. There is an ongoing change, and who wants to be certified for the past or framed to the past?

However, most people, particularly at the C-level, consider PLM as something complex, costly, and related to engineering. Partly this had to do with the early introduction of PLM, which was a little more advanced than PDM.

The focus and capabilities made engineering teams happy by giving them more access to their data. But unfortunately, that did not work, as engineers are not looking for more control.

Old (current) PLM

Therefore, I would like to suggest that when we talk about PLM, we frame it as Product Lifecycle Data Management (the definition). A PLM infrastructure or system should be considered the System of Record, ensuring product data is archived to be used for manufacturing, service, and proving compliance with regulations.

In a modern way, the digital thread results from building such an infrastructure with related artifacts. The digital thread is somehow a slow-moving environment, connecting the various as-xxx structures (As-Designed, As-Planned, As-Manufactured, etc.). Looking at the different PLM vendor images, Aras example above, I consider the digital thread a fancy name for traceability.

I discussed the topic of Digital Thread in 2018:  Document Management or Digital Thread. One of the observations was that few people talk about the quality of the relations when providing traceability between artifacts.

The quality of traceability is relevant for traditional Configuration Management (CM). Traditional CM has been framed, like PLM, to be engineering-centric.

Both PLM and CM need to become enterprise activities – perhaps unified.

Read my blog post and see the discussion with Martijn Dullaart, Lisa Fenwick and Maxim Gravel when discussing the future of Configuration Management.

New digital PLM

In my posts, I talked about modern PLM. I described it as data-driven, often in relation to a model-based approach. And as a result of the data-driven approach, a digital PLM environment could be connected to processes outside the engineering domain. I wrote a series of posts related to the potential of such a new PLM infrastructure (The road to model-based and connected PLM)

Digital PLM, if implemented correctly, could serve people along the full product lifecycle, from marketing/portfolio management until service and, if relevant, decommissioning). The bigger challenge is even connecting eco-systems to the same infrastructure, in particular suppliers & partners but also customers. This is the new platform paradigm.

Some years ago, people stated IoT is the new PLM  (IoT is the new PLM – PTC 2017). Or MBSE is the foundation for a new PLM (Will MBSE be the new PLM instead of IoT? A discussion @ PLM Roadmap conference 2018).

Even Digital Transformation was mentioned at that time. I don’t believe Digital Transformation is pointing to a domain, more to an ongoing process that most companies have t go through. And because it is so commonly used, it becomes too vague for the specifics of our domain. I liked Monica Schnitger‘s LinkedIn post: Digital Transformation? Let’s talk. There is enough to talk about; we have to learn and be more specific.

 

What is the difference?

The challenge is that we need more in-depth thinking about what a “digital transformed” company would look like. What would impact their business, their IT infrastructure, and their organization and people? As I discussed with Oleg Shilovitsky, a data-driven approach does not necessarily mean simplification.

I just finished recording a podcast with Nina Dar while writing this post. She is even more than me, active in the domain of PLM and strategic leadership toward a digital and sustainable future. You can find the pre-announcement of our podcast here (it was great fun to talk), and I will share the result later here too.

What is clear to me is that a new future data-driven environment becomes like a System of Engagement. You can simulate assumptions and verify and qualify trade-offs in real-time in this environment. And not only product behavior, but you can also simulate and analyze behaviors all along the lifecycle, supporting business decisions.

This is where I position the digital twin. Modern PLM infrastructures are in real-time connected to the business. Still, PLM will have its system of record needs; however, the real value will come from the real-time collaboration.

The traditional PLM consultant should transform into a business consultant, understanding technology. Historically this was the opposite, creating friction in companies.

Starting from the business needs

In my interactions with customers, the focus is no longer on traditional PLM; we discuss business scenarios where the company will benefit from a data-driven approach. You will not obtain significant benefits if you just implement your serial processes again in a digital PLM infrastructure.

Efficiency gains are often single digit, where new ways of working can result in double-digit benefits or new opportunities.

Besides traditional pressure on companies to remain competitive, there is now a new additional driver that I have been discussing in my previous post, the Innovation Dilemma. To survive on our planet, we and therefore also companies, need to switch to sustainable products and business models.

This is a push for innovation; however, it requires a coordinated, end-to-end change within companies.

Be the change

When do you decide to change your business model from pushing products to the marker into a business model of Product as a Service? When do you choose to create repairable and upgradeable products? It is a business need. Sustainability does not start with the engineer. It must be part of the (new) DNA of a company.

Interesting to read is this article from Jan Bosch that I read this morning: Resistance to Change. Read the article as it makes so much sense, but we need more than sense – we need people to get involved. My favorite quote from the article:

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man”.

Conclusion

PLM consultants should retrain themselves in System Thinking and start from the business. PLM technology alone is no longer enough to support companies in their (digital/sustainable) transformation. Therefore, I would like to introduce BLM (Business Lifecycle Management) as the new TLA.

However, BLM has been already framed as Black Lives Matter. I agree with that, extending it to ALM (All Lives Matter).

What do you think should we leave the comfortable term PLM behind us for a new frame?

In the past four weeks, I have been discussing PLM education from different angles through interviews with Peter Bilello (CIMdata), Helena Gutierrez (Share PLM), John Stark (John Stark Associates) and Dave Slawson (Quick Release). Each of these persons brought their specialized focus on PLM.

In this post, I want to conclude and put their expertise in the context of PLM – people, processes and tools.

CIMdata

Originally CIMdata became known for their CAD/CAM market analysis, later expanding into simulation and PLM vendors analysis. And they are still a reference for everyone following the PLM Market. They provide market numbers and projections related to PLM for that part. Together with ARC, they are for me the two sources to understand what is happening business-wise in the PLM market.

Thanks to the contacts with all the vendors, they have a good overview of what is happening. That makes their strategic advice and training useful for companies that want to benchmark where they are and understand the current trends, all vendor-independent.

Their PLM Roadmap conferences have been one of the few consistent vendor-independent conferences that still take place.

If you search for the term “The weekend after PLM Roadmap …..” you will find many of my reviews of these conferences.

Besides these activities, they are also facilitating industry action groups where similar companies in an industry discuss and evaluate various methodologies and how they could be implemented using various PLM systems – the most visible for me is the Aerospace & Defense PLM Action Group

Share PLM

Share PLM is still a young organization focusing on Humanizing PLM. Their focus is on the end-to-end PLM education process. Starting from an education strategy focusing on people, they can organize and help you build attractive and didactical training or elearnings related to your PLM processes and systems in use.

Besides their core offering, they are also justifying their name; they really share PLM information. So have a look at their Our Work tab with samples. In particular, as I mentioned in my interview with them, I like their podcasts.

 

In this post, I try to find similar people or companies to those I interviewed.

When looking at Share PLM, Action Engineering in the US comes to my mind. They are the specialists dedicated to helping organizations large and small achieve their Model-Based Definition (MBD) and Model-Based Enterprise (MBE) goals.

To refresh your memory, read my post with Jennifer Herron, the founder of Action Engineering here: PLM and Model-Based Definition

 

John Stark

Although John might be known as a leading writer of PLM books, he is also active in advising companies in their PLM journeys. Somehow similar to what I do, the big difference is that John takes the time to structure the information and write it down in a book. Just have a look at his list of published PLM books here.

My blog posts are less structured and reflect my observations depending on the companies and people I meet. Writing a foundational book about PLM would be challenging, as concepts are radically changing due to globalization and digitization.

John’s books are an excellent foundation for students who want to learn PLM’s various aspects during their academic years. Students can sit down and take the time to study PLM concepts. Later, suppose you want to acquire PLM knowledge relevant to your company.

In that case, you might focus on specialized training, like the ones CIMdata provides.

There are many books on PLM – have a look at this list. Which book to read depends probably a lot on your country and the university you are associated with. In my network, I have recently seen books from Martin Eigner and  Uthayan Elangovan.   Rosemary Astheimer’s book Model-Based Definition in the Product Lifecycle is still on my to-read list.

And then, there is a lot of research done by universities worldwide. So, if you are lucky, there is good education for PLM-related practices in your country.

Quick Release

My post with Quick Release illustrated the challenges of a PLM consultancy company. It showed their efforts to enable their consultants to be valuable for their customers and create a work environment that inspires them to grow and enjoy their work.

Quick Release aims for a competitive advantage to have their consultants participate in actual work for their customers.

Not only from the conceptual point of view but also to get their hands “dirty”.

There are many other PLM consultancy firms. Having worked with Atos, Accenture, Capgemini, Delloite, PWC, who have their PLM practices, you realize that these companies have their methodologies and preferences. The challenge of their engagements is often the translation of a vision into an affordable roadmap.

Example of Accenture Digital PLM message

Consultancy firms need to be profitable, too, and sometimes they are portrayed as a virus. Once they are in, it is hard to get rid of them.

I do not agree with that statement, as companies often keep relying on consultants because they do not invest in educating their own people. It is a lack of management prioritization or understanding of the importance. Sometimes the argument is: “We are too busy” – remember the famous cartoons.

Consultants cannot change your company; in the end, you have to own the strategy and execution.

And although large consultancy firms might have many trained resources, my experience with these companies is that success often depends on one or two senior consultants. Consultancy is also a human-centric job, being able to connect to the customer in their language and culture.

Good consultants show their value by creating awareness and clarity first. Next, by helping the customer execute their strategy without big risks or hiccups. Finally, a good consultant becomes redundant as the knowledge has been transferred and digested to the customer.

It is like growing up.

System Integrators

It is a small step from consultancy firms to system integrators, as many consultancy firms have specialists in their company that are familiar with certain vendors’ systems. And you might have discovered that the systems that require the most integration or configuration work have the largest practices globally.

So I did a “quick and dirty” search on LinkedIn, looking for people with the xxx PLM consultant role, where xxx is the name of the PLM Vendor.

This to understand how big is the job market for such a specialized PLM consultant.

The image shows the result and I let you draw your own conclusions.

System Integrators are usually the most important partners for a PLM implementation once you choose. Therefore, when I support a PLM selection process, I always look at the potential implementation partner. Their experience, culture and scale are as important as selecting the best tools.

System Integrators can benefit from their past experiences and best practices. It is a myth that every company is so unique and should be treated differently. Instead, companies are different because of historical reasons. And these differences to best practices are sometimes inhibitors instead of advantages.

Related to education, System Integrators are often focused on technical training. Still, they might also have separate experts in training or organizational change management.

 

PLM Vendors

For me, the PLM vendors are the ones that should inspire the customers. Have a look at the “famous” CIMdata slide illustrating the relation between vision, technology and implemented practices – there is a growing gap between the leaders and the followers.

PLM Vendors often use their unique technical capabilities as a differentiator to the competition and inspiration for C-level management. Just think about the terms: Industry 4.0, Digital Twin, Digital Thread, Digital Platform, Model-Based Enterprise and more about sustainability targeted offerings.

The challenge however is to implement these concepts in a consistent manner, allowing people in an organization to understand why and what needs to be done.

The PLM editor’s business model is based on software sales or rental. Therefore, they will focus on their benefits and what competitors fail to do. And as they have the largest marketing budgets, they are the most visible in the PLM-related media.

Of course reality is not that dramatic – education is crucial

You can compare PLM Vendors also with populists. The aim of a populist is to create an audience by claiming they can solve your problems (easily) by using simple framing sentences. However, the reality is that the world and the current digitalization in the PLM domain are not simple.

Therefore we need education, education and education from different sources to build our own knowledge. It is not about the tool first. It is people, process and then tools/technology

 

People, Process, Tools

Education and the right education for each aspect of PLM are crucial to making the right decision. To simplify the education message, I tried to visualize and rate each paragraph along with the People, Process and Tools assessment.

What do you think? Does this make sense related to education?

 

Conclusion

Education is crucial at every level of an organization and at every stage of your career. Take your time to read and digest the information you see and compare and discuss it with others. Be aware of the People, Process and Tools matrix when retrieving information. Where does it apply, and why.

I believe PLM is considered complex because we are dealing with people who all have different educational backgrounds and, therefore, an opinion. Invest in alignment to ensure the processes and tools will be used best.

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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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