Updated: Oct 10, 2022
“Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) has transcended well beyond simply organizing product data”
What does this mean? Well, simply put, there is a lot more to PLM in this day and age than there was even a decade ago - and a lot of that is down to the advancement in PLM tools and the introduction of all-encompassing organization-wide business platforms.
Product Data Management or PDM has long been almost synonymous with PLM. Typically, it is the application of a named-user software platform to maintain consistency across design versions and store other important product information. It can be used to track changes when versions of CAD are created, ensure unique part numbers are maintained and enforce check-in and check-out rules for files to make certain only one person is editing at a time. While this is very valuable capability, it doesn’t really make it any easier for us to manage workflows and it certainly isn’t fostering a culture of innovation that can be influenced by more than just a select group of individuals within the organization.
Next Gen PLM
For modern PLM to successfully meet the needs of innovation-driven product development processes, it needs to promote company-wide connection between previously siloed and disparate verticals. It needs to allow everyone to plug-in, share and transact as well as capturing the complete end-to-end product lifecycle. That means access for everyone in the company, regardless of specialization, and much greater capabilities than traditional PDM software, such as manufacturing support, simulation, sales & marketing and ongoing product care. To make this possible, we need to ditch outdated ways of thinking - the ways we think about communication, software and data as a whole. Cloud-based platforms, built on an architecture that allows a comprehensive set of capabilities to be packaged and configured, need to be utilized to establish and support standardized, end-to-end, business processes and single sources of data.
Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE Platform
In the middle of the last decade, Dassault released the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, which is aimed at meeting, and even defining, the business needs of organizations now and in the future. Since then, many of the most prestigious engineering companies in the world have taken advantage of the paradigm shift in technology – giants like Boeing, Exxon Mobil and EDF. The Platform is allowing companies to transform the relationships and roles across multifunctional business groups by removing intermediaries between strategists, designers, analysts, manufacturers and marketers. When everyone is involved in (or at least has visibility of) a project from start to finish, buy-in is dramatically improved and the whole can become much greater than the sum of the parts. Centralized metadata means there is one ‘single source of truth’ that everybody has access to.
Data is stored in an unstructured file system rather than a directory structure and can all be accessed based on content metadata. This metadata is organized in a database, such that it can be found with the click of a button and call upon the relevant content. This means no more File->Open menu. Further, 6WTags can be used to reveal and enrich the semantics of content and allow rapid filtering of search results. What this all means for users is that there is no checking-in and checking-out of files and, therefore, everyone is working from the same file. We’re not really talking about file management anymore, rather a platform for the management of the entire organization.
‘Software’ (Apps) Within the Platform
Software within the platform is included in the form of ‘Apps’ and these are accessed by purchasing ‘Roles’ that are essentially collections of apps corresponding to predefined job responsibilities. For example, a designer might have access to:
CATIA V6 (Traditional CAD)
Design Rule Management
Visual Experience Builder
Whereas a simulation analyst would be given access to:
Both team members are working from the same exact data on the same platform but using it for different parts of the product development process. Data is modified in real time, so a simulation analyst doesn’t need to wonder if they are, indeed, analyzing the most up-to-date CAD. Further, FEA models can automatically be modified in real time based on updated CAD data, which streamlines the once cumbersome process of handing off files between groups.
To learn more about the FEA simulation roles in the 3DEXPERIENCE, check out this blog that we wrote recently. It introduces the concept of roles in a little more detail and lays out the 5 main roles that FEA engineering should consider.
Being engineers, we’re excited about the design-simulation workflow benefits that allows all stakeholders to have an input into design and ensure that no design is left behind. Take the figure below as an example – traditional PLM would have design and analysis departments conversing via email, designs waiting to be analyzed and then results and recommendations sitting in inboxes for days. With ENOVIA apps such as ‘Change Management’ and ‘Product Release Engineer’ along with the interconnectivity between designers and analysts on the Platform, these interactions are seamless and instant. Stakeholders get notified of required actions, no matter where they are, via access to The Cloud from mobile devices and many tasks such as design reviews and even simple design changes can be carried out ‘on-the-go’ and ‘on-the-fly’.
PLM is morphing from being strictly data management focused, to become an integral part of all business operations. In the near future, Business Experience Platforms like the 3DEXPERIENCE will become essential for modern organizations to streamline operations and remain competitive in an ever more digitally-driven world.
If you think your company might benefit from the incredible collaborative power of the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at Fidelis and we can walk you through the entire buying and implementation process.