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PLM

Every company vies for the top slot, to be the best at what it does. The ambition to be top-of-the-line in your field is what drives companies to innovate, to be better than their competitors. But you can’t be the best if you don’t have the right combination of a valuable product (impossible without agile PLM solutions), and an overall sound business strategy.   

Ours is the era of technology, where using new and innovative tools often leads to great success for companies. Artificial intelligence and other such technologies are disrupting industries worldwide, propelling some to greater heights while relegating others to the annals of history.  

Your company would fail miserably in this tech-driven world if you fail to acknowledge and harness technology’s power. We have many examples of companies that went out of business because they could not see beyond their rigid conception of a good product.   

Remember Nokia? It went from being the best in the mobile phone industry to being a complete failure in a few years. All because it did not embrace change and innovation. Therefore, the rise of technology partnerships should not come as a surprise to anybody. They are vital for achieving a competitive edge.  

The same is the case with manufacturing companies using Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software services. It aids them in developing cutting-edge products more efficiently than traditional methods. Once you integrate product lifecycle management into your overall business strategy, you can expect to reap many benefits.  

This article sheds light on all the various aspects of PLM software solutions that you will find helpful. Let’s start with what PLM is and why it matters so much!   

The Significance of Product Lifecycle Management  

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is the lynchpin of modern-day manufacturing enterprises. It is the process of managing all the stages of a product’s lifecycle, from its conception and design to its production, launch, service delivery, and lastly, to its retirement.   

It also includes quality workflows, data related to product items and parts, documents, and engineering change orders. Manufacturing concerns use PLM software – a platform that provides a unified view of all things related to a product – because it enables them to add value to their supply chains.  

Lifecycle

But that’s not it. Agile PLM software drives innovation, helps reduce time to market, enables collaboration, and delivers high-performing products. Moreover, it allows your company to adhere to product compliance regulations and offer safer products.  

The significance of PLM for manufacturing enterprises cannot be overemphasized. It is a product management strategy that is crucial to a product’s success and is also ultimately responsible for the company’s success or the lack thereof.   

Improving Organizational Performance with PLM  

In this era of rapid change, where new products enter the market nearly every day, there is immense pressure on product designers and engineers. They must design and produce innovative products that can weather the competitors’ onslaughts. Even more importantly, new product development must be geared toward satisfying the consumers’ needs and wants.  

But none of this is possible if we burden ourselves with bureaucratic regulations, information silos, and errors. What we do need, instead, is the power to streamline our workflows and optimize our data structures. Fortunately, PLM software emerges as the savior.  

Performance  

PLM enables you to rapidly improve organizational performance by removing silos and enabling team collaboration. It also provides a unified data repository and lets you make improvements to the product as it moves along the various stages of its lifecycle.  

Agile PLM is also very popular in the life sciences community. Many healthcare companies use Oracle’s Agile PLM to deliver high-quality products to their clients while adhering to regulatory compliance. Since PLM drives innovation and continuous improvement, it is nothing short of essential for healthcare manufacturers.   

There are numerous other features and benefits of PLM, too. For instance, PLM empowers your workforce to operate more efficiently, thus boosting their productivity. Cost and quality management are also made easy, allowing you to offer better products while incurring a relatively lower cost. And the best advantage of PLM is that it leads to a significant increase in your revenue levels, thus making your company more profitable!  

Benefits

Ensuring High-Level Agile PLM Performance  

As explained earlier, a PLM solution is crucial to a company’s manufacturing process. It helps you streamline your production processes, optimize costs, and deliver your projects on time. But there’s a catch to it; it can only perform its mandated role if it is performing well.   

Although equipped with immense capabilities and features, PLM software often runs into problems. These can range from bugs to automation problems to complete software crashes. Imagine what would happen to your production if your PLM solution stopped working for a week. We wouldn’t even want to imagine it, but we must! So that we can avoid stalling our entire production line due to faults in our PLM solution.  

Health Check 

Hence, it is vital to maintain a first-rate PLM performance for you to gain the most out of it. This includes conducting regular PLM health checks for your PLM software. Most importantly, it would be best if you looked to create a resilient Agile PLM infrastructure that can adequately meet your product innovation needs.  

Upgrades and Add-ons – Extending the Useful Life of your Agile PLM  

As with any other software, regular Agile PLM updates are essential for its good performance. These upgrades are driven by changing consumer needs and demands. The change in technology and production methods also impacts PLM upgrades.  

But there’s a problem with upgrading your Agile PLM software. How do you avoid the downtime associated with the software update? Or worse, how do you keep your sensitive product data secure while upgrading your PLM solution?   

There are three possible ways for you to deal with it. One way is to migrate your PLM data to the cloud. The other option is to install PLM upgrades and add extensions/add-ons. And lastly, you can use PLM integrations with other valuable tools to extend your Agile PLM’s useful life. Most companies avoid the migration process because it’s risky and time-consuming, even though it has many benefits. 

Performance  

Therefore, many settle with the second two options, i.e., upgrades, add-ons, and integrations. It is also pertinent to mention that even if you migrate to the cloud, you will not have continued Oracle support unless you upgrade your Agile PLM software.   

As a result, Agile PLM upgrades are one of the most crucial elements of using the software. The goal should always be to enable upgrades without causing serious performance problems. To be sure, there will be challenges in your PLM upgradation and add-on addition. However, with the right tech partner, it should be a hassle-free endeavor for you.   

Upgrading your PLM to the latest version is essential to leveraging it correctly. Oracle Agile PLM’s latest version is 9.3.6. It includes new features which enable customization that aid you in besting your competitors. Moreover, the new version also provides a better user experience.  

PLM Documents Portal  

PLM serves as a single repository of product-related data in an organization. Yet this data is not required by only the engineering team; other organizational units also need access to PLM data for effective decision-making.  

But not all employees who need access are Agile PLM users. This presents a dilemma: documents your team creates cannot be used by other teams/departments unless they are PLM users as well. A more time-consuming and arduous solution is to give other employees printouts of product data.   

But that is not at all an efficient way to go about it. Imagine your marketing employees running to and fro from their department to the production department only to get printouts!  

Another way to go about it is to buy additional user licenses for other employees, which is expensive. Why would you want to pay a significant amount to get just the “view only” access for your non-Agile users? You have already paid a hefty sum for the entire PLM solution. Naturally, you would want more functionality from it.  

This dilemma, however, is resolved effectively through a PLM documents portal. Such a portal enables your PLM admin to give controlled PLM documents access to anybody via a web-view portal. Interestingly, you may give this access to even people outside your organization, for example, customers under contract.   

PLM Documentation

In other words, adding a PLM documents portal empowers you with enhanced administrative control, improved data access, secure document-sharing, and above all, efficient collaboration. You will never be able to get the most out of your Agile PLM software if you cannot optimize it for collaboration.  

Agile PLM Integrations  

PLM-ERP Integration  

Businesses do not operate in isolated environments in this day and age. In fact, supply chains have become increasingly complicated due to their globalized nature. Companies founded in the U.S., such as Apple, have production facilities spread across the length and breadth of the world.   

Therefore, modern-day companies undertake detailed and extensive supply chain management. There are multiple enterprise-grade applications that facilitate this process. Two of these are PLM solutions and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software. While the former has already been explained, the latter refers to a platform that enables firms to manage critical business operations for optimal performance.   

Whereas PLM is used at the beginning for product designing and planning, ERP aids in marketing the product and ensuring that customers are happy with it. Both are crucial to business success. And Supply chain optimization is a necessary result of a PLM-ERP integration. Once the two platforms are integrated, you can access a 360-degree view of your entire supply chain. Therefore, you can quickly analyze the loopholes in your supply chain and rectify them.   

Besides, supply chains often become vulnerable when information gaps are present in them. Integrating your PLM software with an ERP platform enables you to overcome this gap and synchronize your two systems for mitigating risks and minimizing errors.

A PLM-ERP integration is also vital to ensuring effective team collaboration. It consolidates essential business processes to create synergy between departments. The reason for this integration is that PLM and ERP users usually belong to different teams and departments.  

Therefore, the best course of action is to put in place both systems in one go instead of implementing them separately. You can expect many benefits from your PLM-ERP integration, including improved efficiency, accuracy, and high organizational synergies.  

PLM-CAD Integration  

Blueprints and product diagrams form an integral part of the manufacturing process. Your PLM software needs to have these blueprints since they impact your entire supply chain. However, Agile PLM does not offer in-built support for importing these diagrams. This presents a serious problem for PLM users. How do they get these blueprints and diagrams for use in their day-to-day operations?  

It is true that you can import certain kinds of data to your PLM, like bills of materials (BOM) data. But then again, this data cannot be edited, and its format might not be suitable for use in your PLM.   

CAD

Besides, you would have to import CAD tools data manually, turning it into a very cumbersome process. Moreover, the entire process is susceptible to security breaches since there is no import support infrastructure present in PLM. The security risk and the manual nature of importing data make it a very unviable approach.  

The solution to this problem lies in implementing a PLM-CAD integration. For this purpose, companies use various specifically designed adapters that allow easy integration between CAD tools and PLM software. Moreover, with a PLM-CAD integration firmly in place, you can easily scale your product designs, rectify design issues, and deliver high-quality products.  

But CAD integration with PLM is just one of the many integrations needed for extracting the total value of PLM software. Other adapter frameworks, too, enable integrations and empower you with easy deployment, scalability, visibility, and interoperability. Most importantly, they help you create innovative products that can stand the test of regulatory scrutiny and customer expectation.  

PLM-Cloud Integration  

Cloud-based services are all the rage these days. Traditional PLM software often falls short of meeting modern-day expectations. These days, industry requirements and customer needs evolve at a lightning pace. Therefore, integrating your PLM software with the cloud has become vital for success. It transforms your PLM software into an adaptive and responsive tool.   

PLM Cloud Technology  

One of the key advantages of a PLM-Cloud integration is that you can cut down on your costs. Having on-premises PLM software requires you to manage many servers which store PLM data. These servers also need to be updated from time to time. However, once you migrate to the cloud, you don’t have to manage any computing infrastructure for your PLM software.   

Moreover, a situation may arise where you might need extra servers or licenses for your PLM. If your PLM is not cloud-based, you will have to pay for these extra servers and licenses even after your need for them has expired. But with a cloud-based PLM, you can simply cancel your subscription once your needs have been met.   

Besides cost optimization, migrating your PLM to the cloud has other advantages as well. For instance, when you set up PLM software on-site, it requires meticulous planning and strategizing. In fact, it may end up taking months to implement your PLM solution. But cloud implementation is super quick, requiring two to three days at best. It is also a low-maintenance option.  

PLM Data Migration  

PLM data migration refers to transferring data to either an existing PLM system or a new PLM system. It follows the concept of ETL, which stands for Extract-Transform-Load.   

There are multiple reasons for migrating PLM data. These include the end of your PLM system’s life, PLM upgradation, business splits, and data consolidation. Moreover, data migration involves the transfer of CAD documents, bills of materials, configurations, etc.   

Companies use various data migration strategies for migrating their PLM data. These include the big bang approach, where you seek to migrate all your data in one go. Another approach is to migrate data in phases; it is called the incremental approach. There is also the coexistence approach, which entails keeping both systems (source and target) working side by side until the migration is complete.  

PLM as Migration 

It would be best to keep certain factors in mind to ensure a successful migration. This includes defining the source and destination models clearly, taking subject matter experts on board, and hiring a system integrator. You can also do the migration in-house if you have a capable IT team.   

Choosing the right migration strategy is crucial. After all, you will be moving vast volumes of product-related data from one system to another. This data is the backbone of your company, and you cannot afford to lose it or mess it up in any way. Therefore, take your time to decide the best way to migrate your data. Don’t be hasty about it.  

Common Agile PLM Issues  

Using Agile PLM is not all roses. As with any other tool or platform, you may experience certain issues with your PLM solution. For one, Agile PLM does not have the best interfaces; it is slow to navigate and is not interactive. Even integrations, mentioned earlier in the article, are a cumbersome process. You need to have experts who can integrate your enterprise systems.  

Cons of PLM  

Besides, many users complain about the length of time it takes to upgrade a PLM solution. Of course, it would take time to upgrade the software. However, you must have a clear timeline in mind in order to keep the business processes flowing smoothly. You can ensure this by establishing robust communication between your company and the service provider upgrading your PLM.  

You need to avoid disruptions to your core business processes. Any significant disruption would mean your company is going to lose money.   

Troubleshooting is also a tedious process in Agile PLM. Moreover, many users complain about bugs in the software. But there’s not much to worry about; all these PLM issues can be resolved.   

PLM Security  

PLM security is surely the topmost priority of all users. If you have a stellar product, there would definitely be parties interested in knowing how you manufacture it, what processes you use, what your costs are, etc.  

Thus, it is evident that you need to conduct regular security checks of your software. Failing to do so entails a great deal of risk that is best to avoid. You can take simple yet practical steps to ensure the security of your PLM software.   

Security Features of PLM  

This includes keeping your Agile PLM up-to-date and upgraded to its latest version. Moreover, you must institute safe development practices that do not jeopardize your data and PLM security. It is also crucial to keep an eye out for server weaknesses and loopholes in your PLM’s internal security model.  

PLM and Digital Transformation  

Digitalization is becoming ubiquitous. Technology is now deeply embedded in our society. It impacts and permeates all aspects of our lives. And in all this, PLM plays a critical role. In fact, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that without a tool like PLM, companies simply cannot create innovative technologies.  

How can you create high-quality products if you do not possess a tool that integrates all the data related to your product? PLM, therefore, serves as the nucleus of digital transformation. It lies at the heart of digital transformation for all companies, particularly manufacturing businesses.    

Conclusion  

This blog post has touched upon all the various aspects of product lifecycle management software. Agile PLM software has become a mainstay of all manufacturing concerns, from its role in accelerating business performance to enabling digital transformation and delivering innovative products.   

We hope this article proves to be a source of gainful learning for you. If you need any assistance with Oracle’s Agile PLM, do not hesitate to contact us at info@xavor.com 

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Muhammad Abbas

Muhammad Abbas is an anthropologist at heart and a Marketing Specialist by profession. He has worked with leading marketing agencies over the years. While he considers himself a history buff, his interests also extend to topics like politics, economics, social justice, climate change, and tech.