PLM And Sustainability: Where Is The Problem?

April 22, 2010

Last week during COFES 2010 I had chance to attend DaS Symposium. This half-day Sustainability Think Tank was fully loaded with presentations and discussions about various issues related to sustainability. You can take a brief look on additional information about DaS Symposium on this link. I have to say that this topic seems to be HOT and vendors are trying to approach it with multiple solutions these days. I just want to mention few – SolidWorks Sustainability Xpress, PTC InSight, Autodesk also made the impressive presentation with a significant emphasize of the digital prototyping role. More about Autodesk Sustainability is here. This is, of course, not a full list of sustainability projects and resources. Another interesting discussion was about US Lifecycle Inventory Database – project that focuses on environmental information.

The meeting at DaS Symposium was moderated by Ken Hall, Director, Sustainable Design Systems, Gensler and Brad Holtz of Cyon Research. I’m sure COFES is going to publish all materials from DaS and we’ll be able to see it more in details. I want to put some initial thoughts related to the sustainability in the context of product lifecycle management. There are two main aspects of sustainable product lifecycle management I’d like to figure out: product information and environmental information.

Product Information is obviously data about all product characteristics, design materials, supplied components, etc. This information is actually what we design with sustainability in mind. The second one is all environmental information related to materials and products. This is the information that needs to be in hands of designer or any other person and/or organization that thinks how to design with sustainability in their minds.

So, how to make our design sustainable? I see it as the main question to ask. My take on this is relatively simple. If want to manage something, we to know how to measure it. So, sustainability need to be measures. Another aspect is how you can estimate your desired product performance and characteristics in the context of sustainability. In order to do so, we need to cross paths some information about a product with environmental characteristics. Knowing today product design environment it seems to me as a not trivial task. In most cases design data is in CAD or other design oriented environment. The real manufacturing or supply data and environmental data are separate.

What is my conclusion today? The whole issue of sustainability seems to me as one big data problem. There are too many pieces of data and lots of intersections. Current products almost cannot do it easily and especially with high changing rate. So, thinking about sustainability, my conclusion is to invest in new data management technologies that can handle data about product and corresponding disciplines (i.e. Lifecycle Inventory Database and other regulatory and environmental data). The problem there is hard. Data belongs to separate organizations and managed in different environments.

Just my thoughts… It will be interesting to hear what is your take on this.
Best, Oleg

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Regulation and Future PLM Renaissance

February 22, 2010

I’ve been reading white paper by Kalypso – 4 Reasons Why Industry Leaders Aren’t Losing Sleep. Max Cochet explained four best practices how industry companies need to manage in order to sleep well during turbulent regulation rules. Some of them made me think about opportunity regulation rules created for Product lifecycle Management. Before talking about it in detail, I’d like to put some quotes from Kalypso paper. You can read the full paper following this link.

Consumer goods industry leaders follow an informed vision. Regulations may be going in one direction today and in another direction a couple of years from now, so it doesn’t make sense to base a long-term strategy on upcoming regulations. Companies need to make million-dollar bets on strategies that fit their vision while allowing some flexibility. Adaptation, rather than reaction, is the most efficient method to handle changes to the business environment. a couple of years

Integrated product lifecycle management (PLM) systems and processes enable companies to manage their existing and future product data and act efficiently to adapt to regulations. Smart investments such as these enable best-in-class companies to keep their house in order and prepare for future transformations of their environments.

Now, why I found this paper interesting? Regulation becomes a serious driver to organize product record in the company. This is something a company cannot avoid and need to follow. At the same time, regulation is something that is going to change all the time. What Kalypso paper offers are to follow PLM strategy and create flexible PLM that can keep full product information record in the company and make it compliant to the future regulation rules. Sounds like very smart? Flexible PLM option makes a lot of sense.

Pre-configured PLM best practices and Flexibility
Looking on many websites of PLM companies these days, I see a huge effort into presenting industry solutions and best practices for available PLM solutions. I can find it on almost every PLM vendor website. So, I started to think how a recommendation to have flexible and integrated PLM can live together with pre-configured business practices. My hunch is that marketing is working extra-hours these days by trying to present how PLM solution can fit business requirements. However, flexibility as one of the basic requirements have been left behind.

PLM Renaissance, Regulation and Flexibility
Why I see regulation as one of the drivers for PLM renaissance? The huge amount of regulation rules has a potential to burden life of manufacturers in industries. The number of industries going under regulation is growing and these companies will be looking for a solution. At the same time, as it was mentioned in Kalypso’s paper, regulation is dynamic and going to change within the time. So, investing into specific solution for regulation doesn’t make a lot of sense. To invest into a flexible system (and PLM can be such a system) to organize data in the organization to make it compliant to the many regulation rules – this can be a good opportunity for PLM Industry.

Just my thought…  Does it make sense to you? What do you think?
Best, Oleg.

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Do We Need Reporting Standards in PLM?

January 27, 2010

I want to raise discussion about reporting in PLM. We don’t see it much in marketing materials about PLM. I asked myself why? Maybe in there is no need for reports? Maybe the way to present report is obsolete and people are interested to see information by using normal UI of PLM and other systems? If it is so, why so many customers are in love from their “PLM Excels” with all information presented in cells and rows? My hunch is that we have a problem here… Yesterday I had chance to read blog by Joe Barkai about PLM and Sustainability, which led me to some reporting standards initiatives. So, it was a trigger to investigate it more in deep.

Reports in PDM/PLM systems
In my view, reports in PDM and PLM systems are on the very primitive level. Technologically, they seem as an obvious and during evaluation, customers, are ending up by the conclusion that all is possible, and they can extract, re-format, modify data when they will be a real need to do so. However, in practice, reports are rarely coming to the agenda of implementers (correct me, please, if I’m wrong), since normally, they’re so much other things to do…

Hidden Loss
The problem, I see that absence of reporting capabilities is not allowing to the customers to get information about a product in a timely manner and in a readable form. When user interfaces are complicated, most of the users that might be interested to see information, actually cannot put their hands on it.

Is there a place for Reporting Standards?
I don’t see any standard activity in this place, for the moment. However, getting back to IDC blog post,  as much as we can see growing regulation activities, I’d expect increases in potential to establish reporting standards. So, requests for reports will come from regulators. In these case , regulations, will play a role of the trigger in establishing of reporting standards.

What is my conclusion? In my view, reporting capabilities are undervalued by PLM systems today. PLM vendors see reports as a commodity with low value. The reporting activities for the best are part of PLM services and/or implementers. However, looking again, I’d expect to grow an interest from customers to have the ability to provide reports based on data we have in PLM systems. What do you think? What was your “reporting” experience with PLM?

Best, Oleg

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