No meaningful digitalization without PLM
Munich, 1oth January 2017
Expert comment from Stephan Ellenrieder, Senior Vice President of Central and Eastern Europe as well as Managing Director of Germany, PTC
Product lifecycle management systems (PLM systems) have been and are being discussed in the manufacturing industry since they existed. Too big, too sophisticated, too expensive - so many IT managers had to overcome the real hurdles to get such a system approved and implemented. For me, one thing is certain: without a functioning and comprehensive PLM system, no digitalization strategy in companies will be of use. Above all, not in times of changing products and production systems, which are increasingly intelligent and connected, and can also be visualized and experienced thanks to AR technologies.
Clearly, the requirements for PLM systems are changing not just a little. You need to allow an even broader user community to easily access data and functions. This requires new, cloud-based operator models, which enable smaller companies to implement them quickly. They must be able to record sensor data of connected products and to return them to the development, for example, to analyze them using a digital twin. And they must support the interdisciplinary development of these products through integrated application lifecycle management (ALM).
These are just a few examples of the new requirements, which many PLM vendors as well as PTC or industry experts have been discussing for a long time. In the summer of 2016 alone, the thesis paper of the ProSTEP iViP initiative on the future of PLM in the age of digitization lists 22 theses on this subject. The fact is, however, that the data management and the connecting of these data with all relevant internal and external systems and sources must be more than ever required. The boundaries of the company's progress will otherwise be reached quickly.
Again just bare theory? Not at all. The practice speaks for it. In the first paragraph, I deliberately chose the term "IT managers". Precisely they understood the meaning and the potential of a PLM system at the outset, but had to present a large number of arguments to implement their plan. From then on they were under constant observation - of course more "felt" and according to own statement. But times are changing here as well. No matter which company in which industry we are talking to about IoT and AR strategies, all of these discussions revolve around the implementation of a PLM system. This is exactly how it is implemented. First comes PLM, only then the IoT and AR strategy are executed. The executive management of both existing customers and prospects is becoming increasingly aware of the importance of a solid PLM basis as the starting point for digital transformation.
On the other hand, the companies that already work with a PLM system, of course, have been approved after often lengthy evaluations and discussions. The then "advocates" of this idea often today receive the true knighthood from the management as confirmation of the then investment.