Management of product data was always a first and most important imperative for PLM solutions. Depends on vendor strategy and various historical reasons, vendors are focusing on different dimensions of data – CAD design, bill of materials, manufacturing data, supply chain, etc. Regardless on the priority and marketing differentiation, any PLM solution today is trying to cover all data dimensions I mentioned above.
The ease and flexibility of data management is what makes some PLM solutions shine better than others. At the end of the day, customers are expecting PLM solution to provide out-of-the-box yet flexible data model to support CAD, Bill of Material, Part, ECO, Simulation and sometimes other data as well. The last one (Simulation) was actually very challenging piece for PLM vendors. To manage significant amount of simulation data together with CAD and BOM data is not a simple tasks. Some vendors built simulation process management solutions for that purpose.
However, PLM vendors might be caught by something unknown and unexpected. New tsunami of data is expected in manufacturing world. Yesterday, I was talking about IoT trend here. Earlier this morning I was drinking my coffee and skimming Manufacturing Trends to Watch in 2014 article. One of them, caught my attention – The ‘Industrial Internet’ Will Flourish. Here is the passage I specially liked:
If you think the data generated by today’s back office, MES, control, supply chain, and warehouse management systems is overwhelming, just wait. Increasingly, manufactured products from cars to airplane engines to medical devices are being outfitted with sensors and Internet connectivity that allow them to broadcast back to manufacturers information on things like how they’re being used and why they broke, and when they need to be serviced. In fact, it’s estimated that, by 2020, 40% of all data generated will come from such sensors. GE calls this trend the Industrial Internet and estimates that it will add between $10 trillion and $15 trillion to global GDP in coming years.
It made me think, PLM data architecture can be challenged by the wave of data that can be compared to Google and Facebook scale. To process, store, access and analyze this data will take time and resources. Traditional SQL databases will be probably not an ideal solution, which brings me back to my writeup about PLM and Data Management in 21st century.
What is my conclusion? The amount of data is growing exponentially. Soon we will be coming to Yottabytes of data. Industrial internet alert should be a wake-up call for many PLM vendors to think about future data architectures. Just my thoughts…
* image credit to trainordaviesdesign.com