PLM (product lifecycle management) is a tool for managing products from the design phase, through ramp up, and all the way to obsolescence and retirement. Using PLM for manufacturing is as essential as an ERP—perhaps even more so in fast-moving industries. No other enterprise software product can provide the same functions as PLM for manufacturing:
- Manage product introductions and retirements
- Optimize profitability and processes
- Keep product costs low while maintaining quality
Using PLM for manufacturing is as essential as your ERP system.
Benefits of PLM for Manufacturing
Facilitate Your Digital Transformation Strategy
Today, many companies are undergoing digital transformations and adopting innovative technologies such as augmented reality (AR), artificial intelligence (AI), digital twins, and connected devices. PLM solutions like PTC Windchill are designed to integrate with other systems, so selecting one as the backbone of your Industry 4.0 strategy makes perfect sense. Windchill, specifically, integrates with other products from PTC that address the other components of the digital transformation, such as ThingWorx IIoT platform with its powerful analytics and Creo 3D CAD with its emphasis advanced modeling and simulation capabilities.
Using PLM for manufacturing operations helps organizations implement a successful digital transformation strategy.
Create Better Products
PLM solutions can manage bills of materials (BoMs) and ensure that they are not released to manufacturing prematurely. They also promote the reuse of existing parts, cutting down on the proliferation of inventory items and the problems that can cause. PLM also handles change and configuration management, so if your product is volatile—as in high tech, medical devices, or manufacturing equipment—managing changes is much simpler.
Manage New Product Introductions
Smooth product introductions can be the difference between success and failure across all industries. PLM solutions provide the tools you need to manage schedules, facilitate team collaboration, complete customer testing, and maximize profits by coordinating the entry of new products with the retirement of the products they replace.
Minimize Product Retirement Costs
One of the hardest parts of managing a product’s life cycle is knowing the best time to retire the product so you don’t get stuck with obsolete goods and components. ERPs can’t manage this, but a PLM solution can. Sure, you could manage it in a spreadsheet if you’ve got a spreadsheet genius on staff who has plenty of time to monitor the demand and usage of hundreds or thousands of components, doing “what ifs” for various production quantities, and analyzing margin trends. But even if you have such a person, the result will be, at best, an approximation of the optimum. Using PLM for manufacturing allows you to analyze demand and compare it to inventory on hand, so you can order the exact set of components to bridge the demand until the new product is ready without leaving too many components in stock.
Use a PLM for manufacturing to ensure smooth product retirement transitions that don’t leave you with leftover components in stock.
No other enterprise system coordinates the retirement of old products with the introduction of new replacement products with an eye for maximizing profitability like PLM. PLM also helps you optimize production process to ensure that they are as efficient and cost-effective as possible—all without compromising product quality goals. This is exactly what PLM solutions do, and it’s the reason we say that PLM is equally or even more important than ERP.
Connect People and Things
The industrial internet of things (IIoT) can connect devices both in production for monitoring processes and quality, or at a customer’s site to monitor the need for preventive maintenance or disposable supplies. In either case, capturing the data is crucial to digital transformation, and PLM simplifies the process.
Ensure Adherence to Standards
PLM can help you calculate MTBF (mean time between failures) for your products during the design phase by using digital twins that replicate real-world processes. Then it can continue monitoring MTBF after product releases by monitoring results from deployed connected devices. These tools allow you to analyze processes and determine the best times to schedule preventive maintenance to reduce unplanned downtime or how often setups must be checked to prevent poor production quality.
Improve Customer Satisfaction
Customers are delighted when your new products are released and arrive on schedule, and PLM can ensure that happens by monitoring the design and product introduction throughout every step of product rollout. Plus, your customers will enjoy products that have been tested for usability using AR or VR, and they will appreciate the consistent quality you’re able to deliver.
Modern PLM solutions integrate with solutions that offer AR and VR capabilities so your products can be tested for customer satisfaction before manufacturing even begins.
Use Windchill as Your PLM for Manufacturing
Unlike many ERP or CRM platforms, not all PLM solutions have the same functionality. Some don’t have the latest technologies built-in, so you may not be able to use digital twins or IIOT, for example. Some make it hard to integrate with other PLM or CAD solutions because they require proprietary file formats. Some don’t offer collaboration portals for customers, suppliers, and global teams.
The ideal PLM for manufacturing is smart, connected, flexible and complete.
When searching for a PLM for your organization, make sure to look for a solution that is:
- Smart: The system keeps all members of the team connected with a secure collaboration portal. Also makes it easy to find and reuse parts and subassemblies so you don’t recreate the wheel with each new product.
- Connected: Top shelf PLM for manufacturing includes tools for connecting to smart devices. Some, like PTC Windchill, also connect to support sites when they uncover system issues that need to be addressed.
- Flexible: Multiple deployment options such as cloud, SaaS, and on-premise so it can keep pace with your internal IT strategy.
- Complete: Able to interact or integrate with other essential engineering and manufacturing tools, such as 3D CAD or IIoT platforms, using files in their native formats rather than requiring complex conversions.
We may be prejudiced, but we think you’ll find that PTC Windchill is the best PLM for manufacturing solution available. If you’d like to learn more about Windchill’s advanced capabilities, contact us today.