Globalisation, combined with increasingly mature and sophisticated product lifecycle management (PLM) technologies and knowledge of best practices, offers manufacturers unprecedented opportunities to profit from products.
The downside of the more complex landscape, however, is a greater risk of unrealised PLM value. Research from CIMdata suggests that as little as 10 per cent of PLM initiatives fully achieve their objectives, while a staggering 75 per cent fail to realise their full potential.
What’s more, over 80 per cent of responses attributed this shortfall in return on investment to inadequacies in three key areas: collaboration outside the engineering function; planning and competing priorities; and executive sponsorship. Only 10 per cent of responses suggested that the choice of PLM system was the problem. In other words, effective business integration is the key issue and PLM software alone will not improve business outcomes.
Characteristics of PLM market leaders
We can gain insight into best practice by understanding what the minority of companies that do make the most of what PLM can offer have in common. These market leaders share five key characteristics:
1. Standardisation of PLM and product data management (PDM) solutions across functions and geographies, down to version level;
2. Rigorous processes to evaluate and capture benefits of continuous improvement and exploitation of version upgrades;
3. Robust integration with the enterprise systems and processes (enterprise resource planning, supply chain management and customer relationship management), and with suppliers;
4. Sufficiently competent IT infrastructure and management processes to enable successful implementation of sophisticated PLM software; and
5. Agile systems to diagnose and enhance PLM compatibility following mergers and acquisitions.
An integrated approach to PLM
Tata Technologies helps companies to realise maximum value from their PLM investment by offering an integrated enterprise-wide approach to PLM. This combines a unique blend of engineering, design and IT implementation expertise, with their PLM Scan methodology, and partnerships with leading PLM software providers, including Dassault Systèmes, Siemens and PTC. A commitment to being a first adopter of the latest IT advances is one reason why Tata Technologies has been recognised as one of “Asia’s IP Elite” by Intellectual Asset Management magazine, alongside companies like Toyota, Honda, LG, Samsung and Sony.
Tata Technologies’ PLM Scan methodology draws upon more than 18 million man-hours of experience
Tata Technologies’ PLM Scan methodology draws upon more than 18 million man-hours of PLM experience, and over 250 unique cases to provide a top-to-bottom assessment of processes and IT usage patterns. It involves understanding business drivers and objectives, assessing PLM maturity, analysing impacts and helping to prioritise investment, as well as delivery of a comprehensive blueprint and roadmap to successful implementation, starting from the solution benchmark, through to end-user support and deep implementation.
Combined with Tata Technologies’ capabilities in engineering and design, project management, knowledge-based engineering, knowledge management, and training and competency enhancement, PLM Scan has helped to deliver significant improvements in R&D productivity, time to market, development costs and engineering processes.
Meanwhile, with competing pressures and priorities being a factor in PLM failure, and skills shortages increasing, the effective use of in-house resources may also be critical to success. Tata Technologies’ offshore capability means that through “intelligent outsourcing” or iSOURCING, companies can free up capability and focus on value-maximising activity, while minimising cost. Rather than simply augmenting headcount and creating management overheads, iSOURCING considers a number of influencing criteria, such as geographical dependency, process-to-process dependency, business criticality and the level of required experience before outsourcing models are suggested.
With the rate of technological progress and the global economy continuing to grow, the imperative for manufacturing companies is clear: act now to integrate PLM and business processes – and gain competitive advantage.
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