PLM Syncs Up With Service
Design News (03/12) Stackpole, Beth
For the better part of the last decade, Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) has been stuck in the engineering-specific part of the development cycle, with a primary focus on how to leverage PLM technology and process change to improve how engineers collaborate on 3D designs. While everyone has made great strides leveraging PLM tools in the design phase, the grander vision of PLM as an end-to-end product development system has remained somewhat elusive. Lately, however, the idea of syncing the service organization with engineering to create a closed-loop product development environment is starting to gain some traction, particularly as companies look for opportunities to extend their reach, and include other functional areas as part of a broader PLM strategy. Service is one of the more compelling extensions of PLM as it fosters improvement in two key business processes critical to a company's success: improving its overall service performance for customers; and providing invaluable information and feedback to engineering that can help advance the development and quality of existing and future products. Service is also starting to play a more critical role in manufacturers' competitive stories, especially for OEMs selling products with extremely long serviceable lifecycles. While most PLM platforms have traditionally lacked the capabilities to include service information as part of the primary product repository, platforms are evolving to support this broader view of PLM, as well. Still, PLM experts contend companies need to augment their own internal processes to address this increasingly important requirement. For example, Autodesk, a newcomer to the PLM arena, plans to make sure its platform can factor in service data as part of a closed-loop development environment. As part of its Autodesk 360 for PLM cloud-based platform, Autodesk will offer quality and compliance capabilities, including those around corrective and preventive action (CAPA). Eventually, the company plans to address maintenance and service capabilities as part of an end-to-end PLM strategy. While Autodesk's end-to-end PLM vision is still a work in progress, PTC, with a string of related acquisitions under its belt, has been the most active of the PLM vendors in addressing the service piece as part of its PLM value proposition. As part of its vision to take a holistic, product-centric view of both development and service, PTC aims to move organizations seamlessly between an engineering BOM and a service BOM.