Do We Have Enough Maps in PLM?

October 19, 2009

For many years Maps are one of the most popular ways to interact with the environment. In my view, thinking in terms of a map is something that makes people clearer understand the situation. I think, integration of maps in computer systems was very slow until two fundamental events happened – 1/ popularization of GPS and location devices, 2/ combination of search and map. Today, I hardly can imaging our computer interfaces without a map option.

I’ve been thinking about possible implementation of Maps in Product Lifecycle Management. Actually, my first thoughts was -Why do we need it? PLM Is not GPS – we don’t need to map directions etc .. However, second thinking was different. I see map-based user interface can be very powerful from many aspects:

1. We are working in a global environment. Connection between people is very important. I think, people feel better connected when they see themselves on the map. So, by integrating map services in collaboration you can improve communication.

2. Activity of manufacturing companies is also very GEO oriented. To be able to project various data on the map can create a very interesting user experience. Sometime, you can see trends that you can hardly see without the map user interface. For example, by projecting reported problem in your product onto the map, you can discover country/GEO based problems in your product design or maintenance. Actually, I can see many additional cases.

Playing around a map topic, I found an interesting serviceMaker. Maker allows you to create interactive maps with embedding a lot of additional data. I found it as a pretty cool service. Actually, this service is featuring in a very good way a potential in Map based user experience.

Picture 2

Of, course Maker is not the only one. And I’m not getting to analyze all use cases Google Map has today. However, I want to share this with you and ask – do you see use cases for Map-based user experience in your Product Lifecycle Management implementations? Does it make sense? Can it improve user adoption? Collaboration?

Please, let me know what do you think?

Best, Oleg

PLM Collaboration on Steroids – Google Shared Folders

October 16, 2009

When I discussed a cloud options for PLM yesterday in my article, I mentioned that a very significant opportunity comes in ability to share and collaborate on the product related content (drawings, models, bills) when using cloud models. This option comes as a pathway for those companies and people that have a concern to store overall product IP on cloud storage.

So, latest feature introduced by Google Docs- Shared Folders is the best example of cloud based technology to implement collaboration approach. Actually, I think PLM vendors need to take a very careful look on such capabilities of Google Docs. I do see an option when many of the smaller customers will be able to use Share Folders in their current configuration to facilitate document exchange and collaboration with suppliers and across the enterprise.

A very good review of Google Shared Folders is here.
What do you think? Do you see it practical and useful for day-to-day collaboration?

Best, Oleg

3D Perspectives: How Can You Hear The Voice of Your Customers?

October 15, 2009

My new post on 3D Perspectives:

How Can You Hear The Voice of Your Customers?


Best, Oleg

Cloud of Data – can it work for PLM?

October 15, 2009

data-cloudI’m continuing to explore a world of cloud for PLM. Today, I want to take and discuss a direction which looks for me very promising as advanced collaboration capabilities. Yes, we are very aware about a concern many companies have with regards to placement of their IP on cloud/ internet. However, on the other side, there is lots of product information that disclosed and becomes public anyway. When a company releases their products to the market, it stops becoming a secret. Also, companies are very often disclosing data for purposes of collaboration with external partners and customers.

So, why we cannot be use cloud platform for these purposes? Yes, I think, we can. I had chance to see videos of Factual- company focuses on the creation repository of open data. Pretty cool, it reminds our lovely Microsoft Excels, but on cloud. I see these are potential services for engineers, marketers and sales people in the company to collaborate and share data they need.

factualHow To Create a Table With Factual on Howcast

I have to say, Factual is not the only company trying to do so.I can point on Freemix project by Zepheira, Freebase and some others.

What is my conclusion today? I think cloud storage of data will continue to growth. Its up to PLM vendors to explore potential opportunity and way to use it for customer benefits.

Best, Ole

Seven Rules Towards Single Bill of Material

October 14, 2009

I’d like to continue discussion around the topic raised yesterday by Jim Brown and this is about “single bill of material”. I was reading Jim’s post and my thoughts was about why managing of single bill of material is questionable? I think the key answer to that is because in a real company we have multiple systems and everybody are touching bill of material. So, since I hardly believe business owners of these systems will agree how to share Bill of Material, we do have a “multiple bill of material” status-quo.

Now, I don’t believe systems like we have in manufacturing companies – all these EDM, PDM, PLM, ERP, CRM, MDM… will be magically agree on how to share bill of material in short term. But at the same time, I think, our industry is spending mega-bucks trying to synchronize all these bill of whatever we have (materials, documents, processes, requirements, configurations etc.). So, since Daily PLM Think Tank is about ideas, I decided to put key seven rules that can bring us to the new status quo of “single bill of material”. May be definition of this bill of material in the beginning will be shared between multiple systems, but even so, it will create movement toward single bill of material.

So, here are my seven rules.

1. Complete Data Representation. Data in Bill of Material starting from Part Number and ending all characteristics need to be complete to satisfy needs on all “company-customers” in every department starting from sales and ending up in manufacturing and services.

2. Unique Part Numbers. We need to establish a central system to maintain by single system. If Part is going to change from Form Fit and Function standpoint, new unique Part Number need to be created.

3. Synchronized Changes. We need to prevent changes that potential can be made on partial data representation. Example could be changes in Design System without appropriated changes in manufacturing and all other systems or data collections.

4. To use Part Numbers only.
Bill of Materials need to be made of Part Numbers only. We need to prevent usage of any alternative identification such as – drawing numbers etc.

5. Include all scheduled items. We need to include all items that need to scheduled for manufacturing and shop-flow. Everything that going to production need to be incuded into bill. There is no item that will be excluded for whatever reason (i.e. non completed assemblies and semi-finished items).

6. Less levels will be better.
The simple solution is the most complicated one. Today manufacturing is struggling to become lean. I think to manage as less as possible levels in Bill of Material will allow to simplify significantly everything we are doing (including way to synchronize or management bill of material).

7. Complete Approval before change. All requested to change need to be approved by all people that are using Bill of Material before bill is going to change. This is will allows trust between users of the bill of materials.

So, in my view, by following such rules we can get much better quality Bill of Material in organization. This is not requires religious discussions about single vs. multiple bill of materials. In the end, nobody cares in how many databases/files/servers we are going to store this (or these) bill of materials.

As usual, I’m very interesting in your feedback. Especially on such non-technological topic. Please, let me know what do you think?

Best, Oleg

Can We Improve Usability of PLM Software?

October 13, 2009

First of all, I’m sorry about such a topic. Yes, Usability! I think we have been talking about usability for last 20 or maybe even more years. Why this is very important today? In my view, we are going to achieve an interesting point of intersection between consumer software and enterprise software. From my standpoint, there are few consumer-oriented or general enterprise software are getting very close to some of the functional capabilities provided by PDM/PLM providers.

1. Management and sharing on documents
2. Messages and Flow
3. Content collaboration

Few interesting blog posts got to my attentions related to the topic of usability in enterprise software. One is Enterprise Software Can NoLonger Remain Unusable. What was very cool is to see a fresh user experience of IFS- nice, and I’d say iPhone like.

One more observation came out of the following post by Scott Monty. I found the following comparison between Apple, Google and Enterprise Software pretty smart and make sense. I’d say PLM (and not only PLM) vendors need to think about that seriously.


I will continue with  more posts related to usability. But, what is my conclusion for today? Despite the fact, I see a very significant level of improvement in specific product in the market and some very nice and fresh UIs, on the broad range, change is demanded.

What do you think?
Best, Oleg

Engineering and Manufacturing Data Management back in 1992

October 12, 2009

Reading again some books from 1992. Engineering and Manufacturing Data structures and Engineering Information Management Systems.

eng-manuf-data eng-inf-systems

I’d like to share some mixed feeling. We moved forward in many topics for the last 17 years in CAD/PDM/PLM/…. But some fundamental things remain the same, and we continue to discuss it heavily during implementation with customers.

Multiple Bill of Materials
Relations between Design, Engineering BOM and Routing
Early visibility of design information for manufacturing planning
Maintenance and Repair Bill of Materials
Design to Manufacturing process

So, my conclusion is as following:

1/ We are far from excellence in such implementations.
2/ Reading old books is an interesting exercise allows you to zoom out on what you are doing.

Enjoy Columbus Day holiday!
Best, Oleg

The New Efficiency of PLM

October 9, 2009

The new efficiency is where cost saving, productivity and innovation meet. I was reading “The New Efficiency” letter from Steve Balmer. Microsoft sees themselves changing toward a new economical situation. Also, take a look on Microsoft New Efficiency web site with some interesting examples.

The “new normal”, becomes something very important, and I tried to think about – what are the potential implications on Product Lifecycle Management? So, where I do see challenges for PLM in the context of “new normal”.

1. Technological Revolution. From the early beginning, CAD, CAM, CAE, PDM, PLM was very technologically oriented areas. I think, all we did in the past was founded by new technologies and new ideas. In the past, technological revolution came from big companies and founded by big research programs. I think, we are in front of new wave of technological revolution. However, this technological wave will be funded by wisdom of the crowd. This new technological revolution will come to PLM from consumer market and tools.

2. Lean implementation
processes. I think, the way we are implementing Product Lifecycle Management is very structural. With the significant focus on corporate processes, PLM becomes very top-down in the organization. Unfortunately, I think, this way in many cases becomes not very efficient for an organization and brings additional cost to PLM. I believe, we need to bring new ideas about how introduce PLM processes differently.

3. Support for innovation in product development. How we can make  innovation in product development? How we can sponsor product development innovation? In many cases PDM and PLM considered as something “about data, revisions, approvals”. In short – boring… I think this is a very important place to change. PLM needs to support innovation by technologies we provide.

So, how do you think our industry need to deal with new efficiency and challenges “new normal” put in front of us? Let me know what do you think? How “new normal” is impacting your PLM-related plans and operations? What do you see as the biggest challenges?

Best, Oleg

Future PLM Connection between Physical and Virtual Worlds – Google Power Meter

October 8, 2009

Do you remember, PLM Think Tank is about future crazy ideas? So, here you go - one that I liked very much. However, let me tell you few words before. During these days, a lot of innovative presentations were done on DS Customers Conference in Orlando. Demonstration connection of virtual and physical worlds was part of Bernard Charles presentation on DSCC. You can find an interesting summary about it from Jim Brown in his blog. I had chance to write about 3DVIA mobile early on plmtwine too- Connect PLM with World Content.

However, back original topic. The idea sparked in my mind when I was reading about Google PowerMeter. Take a deeper review here.The bottom line - Google’s services via special devices will be able to monitor power consumption in your house…. cool?I think so too.

However, this is not all. Now let’s dream. Since these special devices (you see announcement about the first device here), will be more and more connected to all electrical devices in your house (fridge, hairdryer, owen and… in the future, if you will be using an electrical car plugged in your house). This is an excellent place where initial device usage information will be gathered from consumers. Now imaging, if such information will be magically available to designers and manufacturers of all consumer goods, automobiles etc. You can open a lot of new opportunities how to design better products in the future.

Isn’t it a good innovation for future PLM products? I think we will see more and more connections between the PLM and consumer world in the future.

do you think about this?

Best, Oleg

Emerging Social Economies and PLM communities

October 7, 2009

Two published stories drove my attention and got me to think again about various dimensions of social PLM development. Dion Hinchcliffe “Twenty-two power laws of the emerging social economy” and “DS Web 2.0 community platform“.

I’d put an interest of PLM providers to discover values of relationship in the new economical situation as something very positive and powerful. The new social approach will allow to get out of a closed world of organizational structures and very structured business processes. However, I see few potential conflicts that PLM can face following these directions.

1. Openness and Social Collaboration.
In my view content is the kind in social communication. This is true when we discuss blogs and social networks, but this is even truer when we want to discover the power of social communication for communities of manufacturers, developers, PLM service providers and independent consultants. All these companies and individuals are working using different CAD/PDM/PLM software and this software is not coming from the same PLM vendor. My question is how organizations will build their social communication based on software incompatibility and proprietary formats? Big question for me and I’m not sure PLM vendors have a good answer today.

2. Business Processes and Flexibility. PLM, ERP and BPM companies spent a significant effort and investment in showing values of business processes, industry best practices and well organized collaboration. Now, this is a time to change it or combine with very open and unpredictable social communication. Does it fit? I’m sure it will, but in order to make it happen the community of PLM vendors, VARs, integrators and resellers will need to spend time and effort to establish new collaboration principles and  approaches and find the right balance between organized business processes and PLM communities.

So, what is my conclusion today? PLM is trying to adopt social trends. Like in the childhood initial steps are not always well organized and not always in the right direction. I think, an importance of this social trend is well understood in PLM vendor’s community. This is time to have customers on board. Only together, we’ll be able to bring PLM solution on the next social level.

Best, Oleg


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