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Thursday, October 06, 2016

New Value Potential of Product Lifecycle Management in Advanced Manufacturing

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SmartRecently P&G’s Chief Financial Officer, Jon Moeller, was in the news indicating that P&G is again slashing billions of dollars in expenditures. The use of collaborative robots in manufacturing was mentioned as one example of how advanced technology is helping P&G reduce costs. P&G is not alone. Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum in a recent report stated that “…there is clear evidence that the technologies that underpin the Fourth Industrial Revolution are having a major impact on businesses.” Technologies such as 3Dprinting (aka additive manufacturing), Internet of Things, Augmented Reality, artificial intelligence, and data analytics are redefining what is possible. Products and production systems are becoming smarter and more connected. At the same time, implementing these new technologies is pushing enterprises to think about implications such as:

  • How does “new” technology fit with our existing skills and culture?
  • How should our management practices and incentive models evolve to maximize the benefits of new technology?
  • How will “new” technology integrate into our existing technology backbone and architecture?

A report released by the Manufacturing Institute in June 2016 entitled, “Upskilling manufacturing: How technology is disrupting America’s industrial labor force,” discussed the impact of technology on the type of skills needed by manufacturing. While many enterprises are retraining their workforce for alignment with new technologies, they are also adjusting their skill targets for new employees. According to this report, three quarters of the non-factory floor jobs in manufacturing are now held by people with four-year or advanced degrees. Likewise, the nature of management is also changing. Recently, the MIT Sloan Management Review asked 15 academic and industry thought leaders to respond to the following question with a short essay: “Within the next five years, how will technology change the practice of management in a way we have not yet witnessed?” The resulting report is quite insightful. While the fundamental people skills such as building trust, inspiring, and coaching will continue to be very important, managers will need to enhance their skills and practices with technology. For example, they need to get better in using social collaboration technologies, managing virtual teams, and using data analytics more consistently in decision making. As the percentage of millennials continue to increase in the workplace, they will seek collaboration technologies similar to what they are using in their personal lives at the workplace. Peer-to-peer collaboration, coaching, learning, and problem solving will become dominant (and will feel more natural) than hierarchical management practices.

These trends open up more value creation pathways for Product Lifecycle Management (PLM).

Can PLM enable a networking environment for rapid transfer of knowledge, learning, and problem solving?

Can data created and/or captured in PLM be analyzed to identify improvement opportunities in product development management processes?

Can data quality in PLM be improved with community input?

These questions are simple, but have significant cultural implications for each enterprise. They demand a degree of openness and trust that some enterprises, by their current norms and practices, are not able to support. However, as business investment in new technologies increases, competitive edge may shift to those enterprises who are willing to challenge their current paradigms.

Let me know what you think!


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