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

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

 

The traditional PLM frame.

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

The traditional ENOVIA PLM backbone

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

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

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

Aras – Bills of Information creating the Digital Thread

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

PLM as a business strategy

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

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

One of the most neglected best practices.

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

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

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

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

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

Halfway conclusion:

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

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

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

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

 

Connected is the game changer

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

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

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

 

Is connected PLM a utopia?

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

The image below gives an impression of an evolution.

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

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

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

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

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

The conclusion led to the image below.

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

 

Splitting PLM?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Their definition:

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

No Conclusion – but a question this time:

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

What are your thoughts?

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Digitization of the PLM domain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

PLM and Sustainability

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

Why is PLM important for Sustainability?

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

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

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

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

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

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

More on Sustainability this year.

 

PLM Education at all levels

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

CIMdata defines PLM as:

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

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

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

  • Integrating people, processes, business systems, and information

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Conclusion

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

PTC

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

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


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

 

What we have learned

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

Want to learn more

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

 

Conclusions

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

Where is PLM @ Startups?

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

His point, and I quote Alex:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The PLM Doctor knows it all.

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

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

You can see the conversation here:

 

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

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

 

There are two paths – path #1

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

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

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

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

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

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

And don’t forget PowerPoint to sell the solution.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

There are two paths – path #2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Conclusion

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

 

 

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

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

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

The notion of urgency

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Too many software demos”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The impact of legacies – data, processes & people

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Why PLM and Sustainability?

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

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

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

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

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

 

Virtual products / Digital Twins

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

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

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

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

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

I will publish more on this topic in the future.

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

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

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

 

Our mission

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

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

Conclusion

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope you all remained curious after last week’s report from day 1 of the PLM Roadmap / PDT Europe 2022 conference in Gothenburg. The networking dinner after day 1 and the Share PLM after-party allowed us to discuss and compare our businesses. Now the highlights of day 2

 

The Power of Curiosity

We started with a keynote speech from Stefaan van Hooydonk, Founder of the Global Curiosity Institute. It was a well-received opener of the day and an interesting theme concerning PLM.

According to Stefaan, in the previous century, curiosity had a negative connotation. Curiosity killing the cat is one of these expressions confirming the mindset. It was all about conformity to the majority, the company, and curiosity was non-conformant.

The same mindset I would say we have with traditional PLM; we all have to work the same way with the same processes.

In the 21st century, modern enterprises stimulate curiosity as we understand that throughout history, curiosity has been the engine of individual, organizational, and societal progress. And in particular, in modern, unpredictable times, curiosity becomes important, for the world, the others around us and ourselves.

As Stefaan describes in his book, the Curiosity Manifesto, organizations and individuals can develop curiosity. Stefaan pushed us to reflect on our personal curiosity behavior.

  • Are we really interested in the person, the topic I do not know or do not like?
  • Are we avoiding curious steps out of fear? Fear for failing, judgment?

After Stefaan’s curiosity storm, you could see that the audience was inspired to apply it to themselves and their PLM mission(s).

I hope the latter – as here there is a lot to discover.


 

Digital Transformation – Time to roll up your sleeves

In his presentation, Torbjörn Holm, co-founder of Eurostep, addressed one of the bigger elephants in the modern enterprise: how to deal with data?

Thanks to digitization, companies are gathering ad storing data, and there seem to be no limits. However, data centers compete for electricity from the grid with civilians.

Torbjörn also introduced the term “Dark data – the dirty secret of the ICT sector. We store too much data; some research mentions that only 12 % of the data stored is critical, and the rest clogs up on some file servers. Storing unstructured and unused data generates millions of greenhouse gasses yearly.

It is time for a data cleanup day, and inspired by Torbjörn’s story, I have already started to clean up my cloud storage. However, I did not touch my backup hard disks as they do not use energy when switched off.

Further, Torbjörn elaborated that companies need to have end-to-end data policies. Which data is required? And in the case of contracted work or suppliers, data is crucial.

Ultimately companies that want to benefit from a virtual twin of their asset in operation need to have processes in place to acquire the correct data and maintain the valid data. Digital twins do not run on documents; as mentioned in some of my blog posts, they need accurate data.

Torbjörn once more reminded us that the PLCS objective is designed for that.


 

Heterogeneous and federated PLM – is it feasible?

One of the sessions that upfront had most of my attention was the presentation from Erik Herzog, Technical Fellow at Saab Aeronautics and Jad El-Khoury, Researcher at the KTH/Royal Institute of Technology.

Their presentation was closely related to the pre-conference workshop we had organized by Erik and Eurostep. More about this topic in the future.

Saab, Eurostep and KTH conducted a research project named Helipe to analyze and test a federated PLM architecture. The concept was strongly driven by engineering. The idea is shown in the images below.

First are the four main modular engineering environments; in the image, we see mechanical, electrical, software and engineering environments. The target is to keep these environments as standard as possible towards the outside world so that later, an environment could be swapped for a better environment. Inside an environment, automation should provide optimal performance for the users.

In my terminology, these environments serve as systems of engagement.

The second dimension of this architecture is the traceability layer(s) – the requirements management layer, the configuration item structures, change control and realization structures.

These traceability structures look much like what we have been doing with traditional PLM, CM and ERP systems. In my terminology, they are the systems or record, not mentioned to directly serve end-users but to provide traceability, baselines for configuration, compliance and more.

The team chose the OSLC standard to realize these capabilities. One of the main reasons because OSLC is an existing open standard based on linked data, not replicating data. In this way, a federated environment would be created with designated connections between datasets.

Jad El-Koury demonstrated how to link an existing requirement in Siemens Polarion to a Defect in IBM ELM and then create a new requirement in Polarion and link this requirement to the same defect. I never get excited from technical demos; more important to learn is the effort to build such integration and its stability over time. Click on the image for the details

The conclusions from the team below give the right indicators where the last two points seem feasible.

Still, we need more benchmarking in other environments to learn.

I remain curious about this approach as I believe it is heading toward what is necessary for the future, the mix of systems of record and systems of engagement connected through a digital web.

The bold part of the last sentence may be used by marketers.


 

Sustainability and Data-driven PLM – the perfect storm 

For those familiar with my blog (virtualdutchman.com) and my contribution to the PLM Global Green Alliance, it will be no surprise that I am currently combining new ways of working for the PLM domain (digitization) with an even more hot topic, sustainability.

More hot is perhaps a cynical remark.

In my presentation, I explained that a model-based, data-driven enterprise will be able to use digital twins during the design phase, the manufacturing process planning and twins of products in operation. Each twin has a different purpose.

The virtual product during the design phase does not have a real physical twin yet, so some might say it is not a twin at this stage. The virtual product/twin allows companies to perform trade-offs, verification and validation relatively fast and inexpensively. The power of analyzing this virtual twin will enable companies to design products not only at the best price/performance range but even as important, with the lowest environmental impact during manufacturing and usage in the field.

The virtual world of digital twins – (c) 2018 Boeing – diamond

As the Boeing diamond nicely shows, there is a whole virtual world for digital twins. The manufacturing digital twin allows companies to analyze their manufacturing process and virtually analyze the most effective manufacturing process, preferably with the lowest environmental impact.

For digital twins from a product in the field, we can analyze its behavior and optimize performance, hopefully with environmental performance indicators in mind.

For a sustainable future, it is clear that we need to implement concepts of the circular economy as the earth does not have enough resources and renewables to support our current consumption behavior and ways of living.

Note: not for everybody on the globe,  a quote from the European Environment Agency below:

Europe consumes more resources than most other regions. An average European citizen uses approximately four times more resources than one in Africa and three times more than one in Asia, but half of that of a citizen of the USA, Canada, or Australia

To reduce consumption, one of the recommendations is to switch the business model from owning products to products as a service. In the case of products as a service, the manufacturer becomes the owner of the full product lifecycle. Therefore, the manufacturer will have business reasons to make the products repairable, upgradeable, recyclable and using energy efficiently, preferably with renewables. If not, the product might become too expensive; fossil energy will be too expensive as carbon taxes will increase, and virgin materials might become too expensive.

It is a business change; however, sustainability will push organizations to change faster than we are used to. For example, we learned this week that the peeking energy prices and Russia’s current war in Ukraine have led to strong investments in renewables.

As a result, many countries no longer want to depend on Russian energy. The peak of carbon emissions for the world is now expected in 2025.
(Although we had a very bad year so far)

Therefore, my presentation concluded that we should use sustainability as an additional driver for our digital transformation in the PLM domain. The planet cannot wait until we slowly change our traditional working methods.

Therefore, the need for digital twins to support sustainability and systems thinking are the perfect storm to speed up our digitization projects.

You can find my presentation as usual, here on SlideShare and a “spoken” version on our PGGA YouTube channel here


 

Digitalization for the Development and Industrialization of Innovative and Sustainable Solutions

This session, given by  Ola Isaksson, Professor, Product Development & Systems Engineering Design Research Group Leader at Chalmers University, was a great continuation on my part of sustainability. Ola went deeper into the aspects of sustainable products and sustainable business models.

The DSIP project (Digital Sustainability Implementation Package – image above) aims to help companies understand all aspects of sustainable development. Ola mentioned that today’s products’ evolution is insufficient to ensure a sustainable outcome. Currently, not products nor product development practices are adequate enough as we do not understand all the aspects.

For example, Ola used the electrification process, taking the Lithium raw material needed for the batteries. If we take the Nissan Leaf car as the point of measure, we would have used all Lithium resources within 50 years.

Therefore, other business models are also required, where the product ownership is transferred to the manufacturer. This is one of the 9Rs (or 10), as the image shows moving from a linear economy towards a circular economy.

Also, as I mentioned in my session,  Ola referred to the upcoming regulations forcing manufacturers to change their business model or product design.  All these aspects are discussed in the DSIP project, and I look forward to learning the impact this project had on educating and supporting companies in their sustainability journey.

Click on the image to discover the scope


 

A day 2 summary

We had Bernd Feldvoss, Value Stream Leader PLM Interoperability Standards at Airbus, reporting on the progress of the A&D action group focusing on Collaboration. At this stage, the project team has developed an open-service Collaboration Management System (CMS) web application, providing navigation through the eight-step guidelines and offering the potential to improve OEM-supplier collaboration consistency and efficiency within the A&D community.

We had Henrik Lindblad, Group Leader PLM & Process Support at the European Spallation Source, building and soon operating the world’s most powerful neutron source, enabling scientific breakthroughs in research related to materials, energy, health and the environment. Besides a scientific breakthrough, this project is also an example of starting with building a virtual twin of the facility from the start providing a multidisciplinary collaboration space.


 

Conclusion

I left the conference with a lot of positive energy. The Curiosity session from Stefaan van Hooydonk energized us all, but as important for our PLM domain, I saw the trend towards more federated PLM environments, more discussions related to sustainability, and people in 3D again. So far, my takeaways this time.  Enough to explore till the next event.

The summer holidays are over, and with the PLM Global Green Alliance, we are glad to continue with our series: PLM and Sustainability, where we interview PLM-related software vendors, talking about their sustainability mission and offering.

We talked with SAP, Autodesk, and Dassault Systèmes. This week we spoke with Sustaira, and soon we will talk with Aras.  Sustaira, an independent Siemens partner, is the provider of a sustainability platform based on Mendix.

SUSTAIRA

The interview with Vincent de la Mar, founder and CEO of Sustaira, was quite different from the previous interviews. In the earlier interviews, we talked with people driving sustainability in their company and software portfolio. Now with Sustaira, we were talking with a relatively new company with a single focus on sustainability.

Sustaira provides an open platform targeting purely sustainability by offering relevant apps and infrastructure based on Mendix.

Listen to the interview and discover the differences and the potential for you.

Slides shown during the interview and additional company information: Sustaira Overview 2022.

What we have learned

Using the proven technology of the Mendix platform allows you to build a data-driven platform focused on sustainability for your company.

As I wrote in my post: PLM and Sustainability, there is the need to be data-driven and connected with federated data sources for accurate data.

This is a technology challenge. Sustaira, as a young company, has taken up this challenge and provides various apps related to sustainability topics on its platform. Still, they remain adaptable to your organization.

Secondly, I like the concept that although Mendix is part of the Siemens portfolio, you do not need to have Siemens PLM installed. The openness of the Sustaira platform allows you to implement it in your organization independent of your PLM infrastructure.

The final observation – the rule of people, process, and technology – is still valid. To implement Sustaira in an efficient and valuable manner, you need to be clear in your objectives and sustainability targets within the organization. And these targets should be more detailed than the corporate statement in the annual report.

 

Want to Learn more

To learn more about Sustaira and the wide variety of offerings, you can explore any of these helpful links:

 

Conclusion

It was interesting to learn about Sustaira and how they started with a proven technology platform (Mendix) to build their sustainability platform. Being sustainable involves using trusted data and calculations to understand the environmental impact at every lifecycle stage.

Again we can state that the technology is there. Now it is up to companies to act and connect the relevant data sources to underpin and improve their sustainability efforts.

 

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?

Sustainability has been already a topic on my agenda for many years. So when Rich McFall asked me to start the PLM Global Green Alliance (PGGA) in 2018, I supported that initiative. You can read more about my PLM and Sustainability ideas in this post here.

I have been lecturing about the relation between PLM and Sustainability last year. In 2018, the PGGA was a niche alliance trying to find people who would like to work and share PLM-related practices with others for a greener and sustainable planet.

Thanks to, or actually due to, the pandemic, climate disasters and the return of the US supporting the Paris Climate agreements, it became clear companies need to act. And preferably as soon as possible, which led to sustainability activities in many companies.

Also, the main PLM vendors started to publish their support and vision for a sustainable future, the area where we believe the PGGA can contribute in spreading the practices and experiences.

For that reason, the PGGA is aiming this year to have a series of discussions with the main PLM Vendors and their sustainability programs.

SAP

This time we are happy to publish an interview with Darren West from SAP. Darren West is the product management lead for SAP’s Circular Economy solutions. His role is to work with customers, sales and pre-sales colleagues, partners, solutions teams and product owners to expand existing and build new sustainability products, particularly those impacting Circular Economy topics.

We are glad to speak with Darren, as we believe sustainability and the circular economy go hand in hand and it requires systems thinking. We believe SAP, strong in managing materials and manufacturing processes, should be a leader in providing insights in ESG reporting. Helping companies to improve their environmental impact of products and production processes as they have the data.

Have a look at this 34 minutes interview and discussion with Darren West

The slides shown in this recording can be found  here: Circular Economy -SAP for PLM Green Alliance

What we have learned

The interview showed that SAP is actively working on a sustainable future. Both by acting by themselves, but even more important, by helping their customers to change to more sustainable designs and production methods. There is still a way to go and we do not have too much time to sit back. The power of the current SAP Responsible Design and Production module is that it allows companies to understand their environmental impact and improve where possible. This is step 1 in my opinion to find a way to create sustainable products and business models.

The second, more general observation, is that we need to make our full product lifecycle management digital and connected. Data-driven is the only way to have efficient processes to estimate and calculate our environmental impact – my favorite From Coordinated to Connected topic.

Want to learn more?

In the context of this recording, Daren shared the following links for those of you who got inspired by the discussion (in alphabetical order):

Conclusion

This was a motivating session to see PLM-related vendors are taking action. Next time, you will learn more from the design side when we talk with Autodesk about their sustainability program.

Unfortunately the day after this motivating session we were shocked by the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.  So I am in a mixed mood, as having friends in both countries makes me realize that one dictator can kill people and hope.

Listen to president Zelensky’s speech to the Russian people and get inspired to act against any brainwashing or dictatorship. To my friends and readers, wherever you are, stay strong, informed and human.


 

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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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