PLM and Manufacturing in Networked World

July 21, 2015


Our dependence on networks in our life is growing every day. Look around you and you see networks everywhere. Just cut network cable in your house – chances are you are loosing most of your communication channels. But, our network dependencies are not limited to communication. Networks have more transformative influence on how we live, work and do business. It comes in a way of building network-related dependencies. I’ve been talking about some of them in my COFES 2015 presentation – Product Lifecycle, Supply Chain and Data Networks.

LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman published a great article about future of driving in network age. The article is a bit long, but I recommend you to have a read. With examples of car and driving eco-system, the article shows the magnitude of changes network transformation can bring in the industry – improving highway throughput, reduce collisions, optimize parking process. The follow passage is my favorite:

Already, the car as network node is what drives apps like Waze, which uses smartphone GPS capabilities to crowd-source real-time traffic levels, road conditions, and even gas prices. But Waze still depends on humans to apprehend the information it generates. Autonomous vehicles, in contrast, will be able to generate, analyze, and act on information without human bottlenecks. And when thousands and then even millions of cars are connected in this way, new capabilities are going to emerge. The rate of innovation will accelerate – just as it did when we made the shift from standalone PCs to networked PCs.

…technologies that allow cars to talk to each other, through Wi-Fi-like networks that use dedicated short-range communications frequencies, exist too. In these vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) networks, cars share information with each other and other smart infrastructure elements – traffic signals, sensor-embedded roads, roadside cameras, eye-in-the-sky traffic drones, etc.

The same networking paradigm will apply to other industry segments as well. For the last few decades, manufacturing became global with companies leveraging market, design, engineering and manufacturing facilities located around the globe. The growing specialization in specific manufacturing verticals created industry of contract manufacturers and suppliers. Many of them are acting like independent vehicles on the road today – following rules, infrastructure limitations and trying to optimize their own local path towards the goal. While cost are still top manufacturing concern, similar to single car on the road, to optimization is highly unpredictable. It happens to manufacturing companies acting independently as well as divisions of large manufacturing giants separated by siloed organization and software.

What is my conclusion? Manufacturing companies are going to have a lesson of networked world. It will be impossible to optimize the performance of single manufacturing entity without relevant network information. It will not happen overnight. Companies will try to gain more information about networked world around them similarly to how GPS developers gathered information from other cars. Intelligent PLM software with network mind can provide a competitive power to future manufacturing. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG at

PLM: from EGOsystem to ECOsystem

December 1, 2012

I just came back AU2012 in Las Vegas. Among many meetings, I had during AU, I attended Innovation Forum – The Reality of the cloud. The reality of events these days that you can attend actively by participating in social networking via Twitter. One of the tweets during the cloud presentation was Chad Jackson’s: – Think about data as an eco-system.

"Think about data as an ecosystem" from the #Cloud #Innovation forum at #AU2012…

— Chad Jackson (@ChadKJackson) November 29, 2012

It made me think about PLM as data eco-system. Watch Gerd Leonhard presentation- The future of the internet (SoLoMo) futuristic presentation with strange title – Big Data, Big Mobile, Big Social. I found it is interesting. Navigate here to take a look.

Few slides caught my special attention in the context of PLM and Data Ecosystem discussion. One of them is related to Paul Baran research back in 1960 (way before the internet and even early PLM systems). He was pioneering some of early work related to computer networks. Navigate to the following link to read more. Here is an interesting passage:

The pioneering research of Paul Baran in the 1960s, who envisioned a communications network that would survive a major enemy attacked. The sketch shows three different network topologies described in his RAND Memorandum. The distributed network structure offered the best survivability.

Another slide that sticks in my memory was the comparison of Egosystem and Ecosystem. That slide made me laugh. Especially when I put it next to one of my previous post about PLM Egoism. Think about PLM system transformation. A year ago, during AU2011, I was talking about transformation from Database to Networks. This slide is representing the way how ego-centric PLMs need to be transformed into reliable and modern PLM eco systems.

What is my conclusion? Today’s PLM EGOsystems are not sustainable. The centralized approach made PLM implementation weak and not able to survive long term lifecycle, evolution and business changes. The result is heavy PLM systems that require propriety maintenance. Change management of these systems is either expensive or impossible. It is a time to think about data networks and networked system models. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

pictures courtesy of gleonhard presentation

PLM: How to Cut Tree Hierarchies and Empower Data Networks

August 14, 2012

One of the most profound ideas in the history of PLM is the idea of PLM database that contains all information about product and its lifecycle. Major PLM vendors made a significant effort in establishment of centralized PLM repositories and product architecture backing up the idea and advantages of PLM database. In a nutshell, PLM DB represents the hierarchy of the data – requirements, product configuration, variety of Bill of Materials and not only.

Another idea that correlates to PLM database is the idea of the whole truth. I’ve been blogging about that in my post – PLM and the whole truth problem couple of weeks ago. Here is the conclusion I’ve made back in March.

PLM vendors need to learn more about last decade of web development and organization of large scalable web systems. In my view, an attempt to build a “singular” system won’t be successful and create a complex system that hard to maintain, change and scale. The future belongs to data networks and more flexible data organization.

The idea of PLM database is dominating now among PDM/PLM vendors. When it comes to discussion about how to put everything in a single data, you can hear voices explaining about integration and federation. However, in practice, it usually means an establishment of single mediated schema of data and centralized data repository. This repository is conceptually set of hierarchies. It comes to trees of product structures, variety of Bill of Materials, etc.

My hunch that one of the next PLM challenges will be movement from a single database power to the power of network. I conceptualized this idea during my AU 2011 talk last year – The new frontiers in PLM software. You can see slides here and video here.

Few days ago, my attention was caught by the following video: RSA Animate – The Power of Networks by Manuel Lima. Take your time and watch it. I found it quite interesting. Manuel Lima is a Senior UX Design Lead at Microsoft Bing and founder of More information about Manuel’s work related to the power of networks is here.

The video brings some very powerful examples related to the shift from hierarchical organization to network organization of information, data abstraction and data. I think PLM data architects need to think how such type of information organization can help to PLM implementations.

What is my conclusion? The complexity of data in product development and manufacturing is growing. In order to solve the problem of data complexity, PLM vendors need to find new models that can scale up and leapfrog the current limitations of databases. Network model is much more powerful and promising in this context. Important, in my view. Just my thoughts…




Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 284 other followers