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About PLM

All About PLM


Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Definition
CIMdata defines PLM as:
  • A strategic business approach that applies a consistent set of business solutions that support the collaborative creation, management, dissemination, and use of product definition information
  • Supporting the extended enterprise (customers, design and supply partners, etc.)
  • Spanning from concept to end of life of a product or plant
  • Integrating people, processes, business systems, and information

It is important to note that PLM is not a definition of a piece, or pieces, of technology. It is a definition of a business approach to solving the problem of managing the complete set of product definition information—creating that information, managing it through its life, and disseminating and using it throughout the lifecycle of the product. PLM is not just a technology, but is an approach in which processes are as important, or more important than data. It is critical to note that PLM is as concerned with “how a business works” as with “what is being created.”

Three core or fundamental concepts of PLM are:

  1. Universal, secure, managed access and use of product definition information
  2. Maintaining the integrity of that product definition and related information throughout the life of the product or plant
  3. Managing and maintaining business processes used to create, manage, disseminate, share, and use the information

While information includes all media (electronic and hardcopy), PLM is primarily about managing the digital representation of that information.

Based on user experience over the years, PLM solutions can support a broad range of “products.” Examples of “products” include manufactured products, such as automobiles, computers, refrigerators, mobile phones, toys, and airplanes. Many products today also contain software, firmware, and electronic components whose data must be managed. Some organizations have long-lived assets that need to be managed such as utility distribution networks, e.g., power, telecommunications, water, gas, and cable TV, or facilities like plants, drilling rigs, buildings, airports, harbors, railway systems, and logistics warehouses. Other “products” include bridges, highways, and other civil engineering projects. Organizations across many industrial sectors have successfully used PLM solutions to manage product information across the lifecycle for all of these “products.”

In the 1990’s, this lifecycle view expanded from managing primarily the mechanical elements of a product’s definition to include the electronics and software elements that have become a greater portion of many products. That expansion continued to push the perception of what “design” encompassed. PLM includes management of all product-related information from requirements, through design, manufacturing, and deployment. This information ranges from marketing requirements, product specifications, and test instructions and data, to the as-maintained configuration data from the field. The PLM solution links information from many different authoring tools and other systems to the evolving product configuration. At the same time, the lifecycle began to include production-focused attributes and information.

Today, PLM encompasses significant areas of process. It’s not just program and project management processes. It is also the processes required to manufacture the product or plant, operate it in the field, and dispose or decommission it at the end of its useful life. PLM solutions help define, execute, measure, and manage key product-related business processes. Manufacturing and operational process plans are also now viewed as an inherent part of PLM. Processes, and the workflow engines that control them, ensure complete digital feedback to both users and other business systems throughout each lifecycle stage.

Also download our Product Lifecycle Mangement (PLM) Definition from our Complimentary Reports.

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