Product lifecycle management (PLM) integrates information, people and processes, inviting opportunity for greater internal communication and collaboration.
In order to exchange product data efficiently, you must implement strategies to help engineers, salespeople, shop floor professionals and anyone else involved in the PLM process to collaborate.
Below we’ve compiled a few helpful strategies and software features to streamline PLM processes and drive productive communication and collaboration.
Early in the product development stage, team members involved in PLM processes will need access to 2D and 3D CAD drawings in order to make well-informed decisions. Salespeople may need access to prototypes or engineers might want to tweak a design. Whatever the step in PLM, technology that enables product teams to visualize and collaborate on new product ideas, test and evaluate virtual prototypes helps to streamline the process.
Also, consider the current processes or steps that rely on paper (e.g. drawing evaluation, sales catalog of products, brochures). Collaboration technology built into your PLM software system can eliminate manual, paper-based steps associated with 2D drawings. In lieu of physical drawings, digital mock-ups (DMU) of products help eliminate the need for physical prototypes and ultimately reduces the risk of cost and schedule overruns.
Enterprise social networks (ESN) like Yammer and Jive are much more commonplace in businesses now than they were five years ago. ESNs help companies streamline communications between employees and drive a digital community that connects different departments. Through these social networks, users create, share and exchange information and ideas.
Some PLM systems offer a social component that embeds social capabilities such as discussions, comments, feeds, tagging and more, into its enterprise software platform. Collaborative technology makes it easy for team members across various departments to interact on PLM items such as Parts, BOMs, CAD files, ECOs, projects and other product data. If admins and managers want to limit access to certain information within the system, they can create secure, need-to-know permissions as well.
According to Pew Internet Project research, 90% of American adults have a cell phone and 58% have a smartphone. The same research found that 29% of cell owners describe their cell phone as “something they cannot live without.”
We live in a mobile world, and the manufacturing industry is no exception. Mobile collaboration is essential to any PLM strategy striving for ultimate efficiency. By implementing a mobile strategy and investing in mobile devices, all team members involved in essential PLM processes should be able to check product status updates, view outstanding work, manage approvals and quickly respond to change requests from any device. Engineers can even shoot photos on site and attach them to a working project.
Note: Your ability to “go mobile” will depend on the technology stack you currently have. Contact your vendor representation and inquire about mobile options.
Technology and mobile dependency are accelerating at a rapid rate. Software systems, features and the apps mentioned above just a few of many technologies that foster internal communication and collaboration and help make your PLM processes more efficient.
Above all things, optimal product lifecycle management cannot be accomplished by a single silver-bullet solution, but rather through the strategic integration of technology, data, people and especially processes.
To learn more about popular apps and cloud solutions that help mechanical engineers become more efficient, read Top Apps and Software for Manufacturing Engineers.
Image Credit: Siemens PLM Software