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So far, I have been discussing PLM experiences and best practices that have changed due to introducing electronic drawings and affordable 3D CAD systems for the mainstream. From vellum to PDM to item-centric PLM to manage product designs and manufacturing specifications.

Although the technology has improved, the overall processes haven’t changed so much. As a result, disciplines could continue to work in their own comfort zone, most of the time hidden and disconnected from the outside world.

Now, thanks to digitalization, we can connect and format information in real-time. Now we can provide every stakeholder in the company’s business to have almost real-time visibility on what is happening (if allowed). We have seen the benefits of platformization, where the benefits come from real-time connectivity within an ecosystem.

Apple, Amazon, Uber, Airbnb are the non-manufacturing related examples. Companies are trying to replicate these models for other businesses, connecting the concept owner (OEM ?), with design and manufacturing (services), with suppliers and customers. All connected through information, managed in data elements instead of documents – I call it connected PLM

Vendors have already shared their PowerPoints, movies, and demos from how the future would be in the ideal world using their software. The reality, however, is that implementing such solutions requires new business models, a new type of organization and probably new skills.

The last point is vital, as in schools and organizations, we tend to teach what we know from the past as this gives some (fake) feeling of security.

The reality is that most of us will have to go through a learning path, where skills from the past might become obsolete; however, knowledge of the past might be fundamental.

In the upcoming posts, I will share with you what I see, what I deduct from that and what I think would be the next step to learn.

I firmly believe connected PLM requires the usage of various models. Not only the 3D CAD model, as there are so many other models needed to describe and analyze the behavior of a product.

I hope that some of my readers can help us all further on the path of connected PLM (with a model-based approach). This series of posts will be based on the max size per post (avg 1500 words) and the ideas and contributes coming from you and me.

What is platformization?

In our day-to-day life, we are more and more used to direct interaction between resellers and services providers on one side and consumers on the other side. We have a question, and within 24 hours, there is an answer. We want to purchase something, and potentially the next day the goods are delivered. These are examples of a society where all stakeholders are connected in a data-driven manner.

We don’t have to create documents or specialized forms. An app or a digital interface allows us to connect. To enable this type of connectivity, there is a need for an underlying platform that connects all stakeholders. Amazon and Salesforce are examples for commercial activities, Facebook for social activities and, in theory, LinkedIn for professional job activities.

The platform is responsible for direct communication between all stakeholders.

The same applies to businesses. Depending on the products or services they deliver, they could benefit from one or more platforms. The image below shows five potential platforms that I identified in my customer engagements. Of course, they have a PLM focus (in the middle), and the grouping can be made differently.

Five potential business platforms

The 5 potential platforms

The ERP platform
is mainly dedicated to the company’s execution processes – Human Resources, Purchasing, Finance, Production scheduling, and potentially many more services. As platforms try to connect as much as possible all stakeholders. The ERP platform might contain CRM capabilities, which might be sufficient for several companies. However, when the CRM activities become more advanced, it would be better to connect the ERP platform to a CRM platform. The same logic is valid for a Product Innovation Platform and an ERP platform.  Examples of ERP platforms are SAP and Oracle (and they will claim they are more than ERP)

Note: Historically, most companies started with an ERP system, which is not the same as an ERP platform.  A platform is scalable; you can add more apps without having to install a new system. In a platform, all stored data is connected and has a shared data model.

The CRM platform

a platform that is mainly focusing on customer-related activities, and as you can see from the diagram, there is an overlap with capabilities from the other platforms. So again, depending on your core business and products, you might use these capabilities or connect to other platforms. Examples of CRM platforms are Salesforce and Pega, providing a platform to further extend capabilities related to core CRM.

The MES platform
In the past, we had PDM and ERP and what happened in detail on the shop floor was a black box for these systems. MES platforms have become more and more important as companies need to trace and guide individual production orders in a data-driven manner. Manufacturing Execution Systems (and platforms) have their own data model. However, they require input from other platforms and will provide specific information to other platforms.

For example, if we want to know the serial number of a product and the exact production details of this product (used parts, quality status), we would use an MES platform. Examples of MES platforms (none PLM/ERP related vendors) are Parsec and Critical Manufacturing

The IoT platform

these platforms are new and are used to monitor and manage connected products. For example, if you want to trace the individual behavior of a product of a process, you need an IoT platform. The IoT platform provides the product user with performance insights and alerts.

However, it also provides the product manufacturer with the same insights for all their products. This allows the manufacturer to offer predictive maintenance or optimization services based on the experience of a large number of similar products.  Examples of IoT platforms (none PLM/ERP-related vendors) are Hitachi and Microsoft.

The Product Innovation Platform (PIP)

All the above platforms would not have a reason to exist if there was not an environment where products were invented, developed, and managed. The Product Innovation Platform PIP – as described by CIMdata  -is the place where Intellectual Property (IP) is created, where companies decide on their portfolio and more.

The PIP contains the traditional PLM domain. It is also a logical place to manage product quality and technical portfolio decisions, like what kind of product platforms and modules a company will develop. Like all previous platforms, the PIP cannot exist without other platforms and requires connectivity with the other platforms is applicable.

Look below at the CIMdata definition of a Product Innovation Platform.

You will see that most of the historical PLM vendors aiming to be a PIP (with their different flavors): Aras, Dassault Systèmes, PTC and Siemens.

Of course, several vendors sell more than one platform or even create the impression that everything is connected as a single platform. Usually, this is not the case, as each platform has its specific data model and combining them in a single platform would hurt the overall performance.

Therefore, the interaction between these platforms will be based on standardized interfaces or ad-hoc connections.

Standard interfaces or ad-hoc connections?

Suppose your role and information needs can be satisfied within a single platform. In that case, most likely, the platform will provide you with the right environment to see and manipulate the information.

However, it might be different if your role requires access to information from other platforms. For example, it could be as simple as an engineer analyzing a product change who needs to know the actual stock of materials to decide how and when to implement a change.

This would be a PIP/ERP platform collaboration scenario.

Or even more complex, it might be a product manager wanting to know how individual products behave in the field to decide on enhancements and new features. This could be a PIP, CRM, IoT and MES collaboration scenario if traceability of serial numbers is needed.

The company might decide to build a custom app or dashboard for this role to support such a role. Combining in real-time data from the relevant platforms, using standard interfaces (preferred) or using API’s, web services, REST services, microservices (for specialists) and currently in fashion Low-Code development platforms, which allow users to combine data services from different platforms without being an expert in coding.

Without going too much in technology, the topics in this paragraph require an enterprise architecture and vision. It is opportunistic to think that your existing environment will evolve smoothly into a digital highway for the future by “fixing” demands per user. Your infrastructure is much more likely to end up congested as spaghetti.

In that context, I read last week an interesting post Low code: A promising trend or Pandora’s box. Have a look and decide for yourself

I am less focused on technology, more on methodology. Therefore, I want to come back to the theme of my series: The road to model-based and connected PLM. For sure, in the ideal world, the platforms I mentioned, or other platforms that run across these five platforms, are cloud-based and open to connect to other data sources. So, this is the infrastructure discussion.

In my upcoming blog post, I will explain why platforms require a model-based approach and, therefore, cause a challenge, particularly in the PLM domain.

It took us more than fifty years to get rid of vellum drawings. It took us more than twenty years to introduce 3D CAD for design and engineering. Still primarily relying on drawings. It will take us for sure one generation to switch from document-based engineering to model-based engineering.

Conclusion

In this post, I tried to paint a picture of the ideal future based on connected platforms. Such an environment is needed if we want to be highly efficient in designing, delivering, and maintaining future complex products based on hardware and software. Concepts like Digital Twin and Industry 4.0 require a model-based foundation.

In addition, we will need Digital Twins to reach our future sustainability goals efficiently. So, there is work to do.

Your opinion, Your contribution?

 

 

 

 

 

 

In April this year, I published the post PLM and Modularity in which I had a dialogue with Daniel Strandhammar from Brick Strategy. Daniel and his colleague Bjorn Eriksson published the book “the Modular Way” written during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

We promised a recorded follow-up discussion with readers from the book. The follow-up initially planned for somewhere in May happened last week in June, with a significant contribution from the participants.

Theodor Ernstson, Henk Jan Pels, Jan Johansson and François Sychowicz shared their impression of the book with Daniel and Bjorn. Next, the following questions were posed and discussed:

  • Modular design as a concept is already more than 50 years old, using different definitions, approaches and methodologies. In the book, an interesting list of steps is proposed. Is this list shared across modularity experts, or are they specific to this book?
  • Do you see different ways of approaching modularity depending on the industry, or is it the same?
  • When implementing modularization, which departments need to change their way of working most?
  • How big a factor is the use of common technology in modularization?
  • How do you position modularization vs. system engineering?
  • As a measure of module quality, the concept of “independent” modules is often used to avoid that adding or changing a module might cause another module to fail. Have you seen this happening in your projects, and do you consider the concept of an “independent” module realizable?
  • How do we make modularization stand out on the C-level agenda?

Watch the discussion here:

 

We felt that with this discussion, we only touched the tip of the iceberg. Each of the questions could be a theme for a deep conversation for some of us. Perhaps also for you – feel free to comment on this post or express your opinion. Based on the feedback, I am happy to moderate more detailed discussions related to modularity.

Conclusion

Reading books makes sense. Having a discussion afterward with some readers and the authors makes even more sense. Normally we would do this during a physical conference, meanwhile enjoying a drink or a snack. However, having a global and sustainable model of discussing and learning these virtual events might be the future. An entry point for enriching your network and knowledge.

Last week I wrote about the recent PLM Road Map & PDT Spring 2021 conference day 1, focusing mainly on technology. There were also interesting sessions related to exploring future methodologies for a digital enterprise. Now on Day 2, we started with two sessions related to people and methodology, indispensable when discussing PLM topics.

Designing and Keeping Great Teams

This keynote speech from Noshir Contractor, Professor of Behavioral Sciences in the McCormick School of Engineering & Applied Science, intrigued me as the subtitle states: Lessons from Preparing for Mars. What Can PLM Professionals Learn from This?

You might ask yourself, is a PLM implementation as difficult and as complex as a mission to Mars? I hoped, so I followed with great interest Noshir’s presentation.

Noshir started by mentioning that many disruptive technologies have emerged in recent years, like Teams, Slack, Yammer and many more.

The interesting question he asked in the context of PLM is:

As the domain of PLM is all about trying to optimize effective collaboration, this is a fair question

Structural Signatures

Noshir shared with us that it is not the most crucial point to look at people’s individual skills but more about who they know.
Measure who they work with is more important than who they are.

Based on this statement, Noshir showed some network patterns of different types of networks.

Click on the image to see the enlarged picture.

It is clear from these patterns how organizations communicate internally and/or externally. It would be an interesting exercise to perform in a company and to see if the analysis matches the perceived reality.

Noshir’s research was used by NASA to analyze and predict the right teams for a mission to Mars.

Noshir went further by proposing what PLM can learn from teams that are going into space. And here, I was not sure about the parallel. Is a PLM project comparable to a mission to Mars? I hope not! I have always advocated that a PLM implementation is a journey. Still, I never imagined that it could be a journey into the remote unknown.

Noshir explained that they had built tools based on their scientific model to describe and predict how teams could evolve over time. He believes that society can also benefit from these learnings. Many inventions from the past were driven by innovations coming from space programs.

I believe Noshir’s approach related to team analysis is much more critical for organizations with a mission. How do you build multidisciplinary teams?

The proposed methodology is probably best for a holocracy based organization. Holocrazy is an interesting concept for companies to get their employees committed, however, it also demands a type of involvement that not every person can deliver.  For me, coming back to PLM, as a strategy to enable collaboration, the effectiveness of collaboration depends very much on the organizational culture and created structure.

DISRUPTION – EXTINCTION or still EVOLUTION?

We talk a lot about disruption because disruption is a painful process that you do not like to happen to yourself or your company. In the context of this conference’s theme, I discussed the awareness that disruptive technologies will be changing the PLM Value equation.

However, disruptive technologies are not alone sufficient. In PLM, we have to deal with legacy data, legacy processes, legacy organization structures, and often legacy people.

A disruption like the switch from mini-computers to PCs (killed DEC) or from Symbian to iOS (killed Nokia) is therefore not likely to happen that fast. Still, there is a need to take benefit from these new disruptive technologies.

My presentation was focusing on describing the path of evolution and focus areas for the PLM community. Doing nothing means extinction; experimenting and learning towards the future will provide an evolutionary way.

Starting from acknowledging that there is an incompatibility between data produced most of the time now and the data needed in the future, I explained my theme: From Coordinated to Connected. As a PLM community, we should spend more time together in focus groups, conferences on describing and verifying methodology and best practices.

Nigel Shaw (EuroStep) and Mark Williams (Boeing) hinted in this direction during this conference  (see day 1). Erik Herzog (SAAB Aeronautics) brought this topic to last year’s conference (see day 3). Outside this conference, I have comparable touchpoints with Martijn Dullaert when discussing Configuration Management in the future in relation to PLM.

In addition, this decade will probably be the most disruptive decade we have known in humanity due to external forces that push companies to change. Sustainability regulations from governments (the Paris agreement),  the implementation of circular economy concepts combined with the positive and high Total Share Holder return will push companies to adapt themselves more radical than before.

What is clear is that disruptive technologies and concepts, like Industry 4.0, Digital Thread and Digital Twin, can serve a purpose when implemented efficiently, ensuring the business becomes sustainable.

Due to the lack of end-to-end experience, we need focus groups and conferences to share progress and lessons learned. And we do not need to hear the isolated vendor success stories here as a reference, as often they are siloed again and leading to proprietary environments.

You can see my full presentation on SlideShare: DISRUPTION – EXTINCTION or still EVOLUTION?

 

Building a profitable Digital T(win) business

Beatrice Gasser,  Technical, Innovation, and Sustainable Development Director from the Egis group, gave an exciting presentation related to the vision and implementation of digital twins in the construction industry.

The Egis group both serves as a consultancy firm as well as an asset management organization. You can see a wide variety of activities on their website or have a look at their perspectives

Historically the construction industry has been lagging behind having low productivity due to fragmentation, risk aversion and recently, more and more due to the lack of digital talent. In addition, some of the construction companies make their money from claims inside of having a smooth and profitable business model.

Without innovation in the construction industry, companies working the traditional way would lose market share and investor-focused attention, as we can see from the BCG diagram I discussed in my session.

The digital twin of construction is an ideal concept for the future. It can be built in the design phase to align all stakeholders, validate and integrate solutions and simulate the building operational scenarios at almost zero materials cost. Egis estimates that by using a digital twin during construction, the engineering and construction costs of a building can be reduced between 15 and 25 %

More importantly, the digital twin can also be used to first simulate operations and optimize energy consumption. The connected digital twin of an existing building can serve as a new common data environment for future building stakeholders. This could be the asset owner, service companies, and even the regulatory authorities needing to validate the building’s safety and environmental impact.

Beatrice ended with five principles essential to establish a digital twin, i.e

I think the construction industry has a vast potential to disrupt itself. Faster than the traditional manufacturing industries due to their current needs to work in a best-connected manner.

Next, there is almost no legacy data to deal with for these companies. Every new construction or building is a unique project on its own. The key differentiators will be experience and efficient ways of working.

It is about the belief, the guts and the skilled people that can make it work – all for a more efficient and sustainable future.

 

 

Leveraging PLM and Cloud Technology for Market Success

Stan Przybylinski, Vice President of CIMdata, reported their global survey related to the cloud, completed in early 2021.  Also, Stan typified Industry 4.0 as a connected vision and cloud and digital thread as enablers to implementing this vision.

The companies interviewed showed a lot of goodwill to make progress – click on the image to see the details. CIMdata is also working with PLM Vendors to learn and describe better the areas of beneft. I remain curious about who comes with a realization and business case that is future-proof. This will define our new PLM Value Equation.

 

Conclusion

These were two exciting days with enough mentioning of disruptive technologies. Our challenge in the PLM domain will be to give them a purpose. A purpose is likely driven by external factors related to the need for a sustainable future.  Efficiency and effectiveness must come from learning to work in connected environments (digital twin, digital thread, industry 4.0, Model-Based (Systems) Engineering.

Note: You might have seen the image below already – a nice link between sustainability and the mission to Mars

This Friday, February 26th, we had a PLM Green Global Alliance (PGGA) core team meeting to discuss our current status and next steps for 2021. If you are a PGGA member, you joined us because of the PLM Green Global Alliance LinkedIn group. The LinkedIn group is currently our primary channel for social interaction with the outside world.

Meanwhile, in the background, Rich McFall has been working on structuring the PLM Green Alliance website, which you can find here.

The PLM Green Alliance website is the place where we consolidate information and will experiment with forum discussions. LinkedIn is not the place to serve as an archive for information. Neither is LinkedIn a place for discussion on sensitive topics. Viewpoints on LinkedIn might even damage your current or future career if you have a controversial opinion. More about the forum discussions soon.

The PLM Green Alliance website

Therefore, the PLM Green Alliance website will be the place where interested parties can obtain information and active members can participate in forum discussions.
As a reminder, all our actions are related to PLM and PLM-related technologies – a niche environment bringing PLM-related skills and a Green and Sustainable society together.

Our actions are driven by a personal interest to contribute. With the limited time and means, we are aware of the differences with more prominent and professional organizations addressing a much broader scope and audience.

What makes us unique is the focus on PLM and PLM-related practices/technologies.

The PLM Green Themes

Although the website is still under development, our intentions become visible through the home page header.  I want to zoom in on the area where we are currently focusing, the PLM Green Themes.

We decided on five PLM Green Themes, with each of them having their dedicated moderation and focus. Although the themes can overlap, they will help us to specialize and dive deeper into specific topics.

PLM and Climate Change

You might argue PLM and its related technologies do not directly impact activities related to climate change. However, as the moderators of this theme group, Klaus Brettschneider, and Richard McFall state:

The goal of this PLM Green discussion forum and working group on Climate Change is to promote activities to understand, analyze and reduce human-generated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through PLM-enabling technologies. We hope to help to answer the question of what the role and value of PLM technologies is in addressing the most critical challenge facing humankind this century, climate change.

And although there are still individuals with other opinions, the group will focus on the targeted outcome: reducing greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. What are the types of innovations that make this possible? Find interesting posts here and start contributing.

PLM and Sustainability

This theme will be moderated by me, Jos Voskuil. We are still looking for one or more volunteers to extend our capabilities here.

The topic of sustainability is again broad, as you can read on the Sustainability theme page.
To be more precise, the page states:

Specific topics we wish to discuss further in this forum include how PLM can be used to:

  • Make products and processes more efficient and greener.
  • Understand and measure the impact on the carbon footprint of design decisions and production processes, along with changes to them.
  • Develop, distribute, and use new sources of renewable green energy.
  • Design products and their lifecycles to be sustainable.
  • Recycle, reuse, or repurpose assets, materials, and natural resources.
  • Enhance the resiliency and Sustainability of infrastructures, communities, and economies.

In my early 2021 survey asked participants their viewpoint on PLM and Sustainability. As you can see from the scores, the majority of us are currently observing what is happening.

One of the interesting “other” responses I highlighted here: “I am not sure if you mean real sustainability or just greenwashing.”

Good point. Greenwashing is needed when you know you have something to fix/hide. We are not fixing or hiding; we will discuss and share information and probably dismantle greenwashing attempts.

PLM and Green Energy

Green energy is an important topic on its own as many of the issues related to a green and sustainable society are dealing with the transition from limited fossil energy sources to a sustainable energy model. The moderator of this theme group, Bjorn Fidjeland, is well known for his skills and coaching on PLM in the context of Plant Lifecycle Management through his PLMpartner website.

Of course, we are looking for an additional moderator to support Bjorn, so feel free to contact Bjorn through the website if you can and want to contribute. The theme group objectives are:

…. to share experiences, examples, and best practices in a collaborative mode to promote discussion, learning, and understanding with respect to the mentioned focus areas. We also plan to publish our own “industry heads up” news, articles and case studies illustrating all that is happening in the global race towards “going green” and a low-carbon economy.

PLM and a Circular Economy

As the Circular Economy is itself an innovation, it provides an opportunity to innovate business models and reimagine how we consider something to be a product, a service, or a product as a service. Similarly, a more circular way of thinking requires different expectations when it comes to Information Technology systems, including PLM, that support the enablement of these new business models and the execution of their commercial strategies.

This theme group is currently moderated by a real passionate follower of the Circular Economy, Hannes Lindfred, and also here we are looking to another volunteer.

A year ago, I saw Hannes Lindfred presentation at the TECHNIA PLM Innovation Forum and wrote about his lecture as one of the highlights from the first day.

See my blog post: The Weekend after the PLM Innovation Forum, where I mention his session in the Business drivers for Sustainable Manufacturing paragraph.

The circular economy framework nicely aligns with concepts like “Product as a Service” or Outcome-based services. The original manufacturer becomes responsible for the full lifecycle of their products. A theme group, I expect we can make a lot of progress through sharing.

Accordingly, the main objective within our theme discussion group is to provide a support network for PLM professionals who seek to overcome the legacy linear economy mindset that may be systemic in their jobs, products, employers, or industries. We hope to incite the development and use of road maps for employing both existing and new PLM technologies to implement Circular Economy principles and best practices.

 

PLM and Industry 4.0

A topic that is closely related to PLM is Industry 4.0. At first glance, Industry 4.0 is an initiative to manufacture products smarter, more flexible, more automated, more modular by using new technologies and practices, all with the goal for (initially German) companies to become more competitive.

We are pleased that the PLM and Industry 4.0 theme group’s moderator is Lionel Grealou, quite active in the area of knowledge sharing related to PLM. A second moderator would be more than welcome too for this theme.

Recently Lionel published this interesting article on engineering.com: Exploring the Intersection of PLM and Industry 4.0. In this article, Lionel touches briefly on the potential contribution of Industry 4.0 towards a circular economy, new business models, and waste reduction, thanks to the interaction of PLM and Industry 4.0.  There is a lot to explore, as Lionel states on the theme group introduction page:

This PLM Green theme group’s plan will explore the “intersection” of how PLM strategies and technologies enable the vision of Industry 4.0 for a more sustainable circular economy. In doing so, we plan to investigate the following questions concerning their green value:

  • How do data and product connectivity contribute to feeding smart factories and enhancing the product lifecycle practice?
  • How to improve feedback loops and data integration upstream-downstream of new product development to contribute positively to the circular economy?
  • How to drive downstream waste reduction by improving data traceability and accessibility with better product analytics throughout its lifecycle?
  • How to link more tightly manufacturing planning and execution?
  • How to more robustly connect and integrate engineering, manufacturing, and service/maintenance process operations?
  • How to reduce time to market, with both product development and production cost optimization, integrating co-creation from the design office to the shop floor?
  • How to align the digital and the physical worlds, delivering more customer-centric products enabled by fully horizontally-integrated PLM strategies, taking an ecosystem approach to collaboration, leveraging more agile and continual release processes?
  • How to reduce pre-launch costs and generate downstream manufacturing improvements?

Much more to do.

As you can see, the PLM Green Global Alliance is transforming slowly, as we are not marketing people, web designers, or a sponsored organization. We rely on our networks and your inputs to reach the next level of interaction. The majority of the PLM Themes need a second moderator to keep the workload balanced.

Do you want to contribute?

In the core team meeting, we also discussed improving ways to make the PLM Green Alliance more interactive, shifting and balancing the LinkedIn group’s activities and the persistent PLM Green Alliance website.

Conclusion

As a person, I cannot do big things for our future society; however, I can do small things. And if we all make sure our “small things” are directed to the same outcome, we achieve big things without a revolution. Be part of the active PLM Global Green Alliance with your small things.

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