I was driving to have a meeting from Newton, MA to Waltham, MA one day afternoon. The traffic isn’t pretty at that time of the day, so I rely on my Waze navigator to give me an advise about route and time. Waze was pretty sure it will take me 22 minutes. To surprise all people involved in this story, we’ve got to Waltham exactly how Waze predicted.
You can tell me – what is a big deal? That’s why we are using navigation system! But here is the thing. Navigation systems made a big shift in the paradigm of data management and information consolidation. It all started from updated map. Remember that? How many of your updated maps in your navigation devices. I did it each 1-2 years. It was nice, but not really helpful.
Then it was a time of traffic information announcing about traffic jams and conjunctions. It was interesting, but useless. There is very little I can do when I hear that a specific road is jammed with traffic. How often did you come to the road and it was not jammed with the traffic.
Then real-time information started to came from other devices making prediction really precise. Overall, navigation system turned from a device to show your location on the map into the device actually giving you advises how to drive based on a large collection of real time information.
What is my point? The paradigm shift in data management made modern navigation system what is it now – giant intelligent actionable information system collecting data everywhere about roads, social events, accidents, tools, police cars and everything else you can think about to get you safely and quickly from point A to point B.
Let me get back to engineering, manufacturing and PLM systems. For long time, PLM was about to facilitate engineering collaboration and performing basic data control and organization. Revisions, changes, lifecycle, bill of materials, ECO/ECNs… It is more or less a scope of engineering PLM projects for the last 10-15 years. PLM played the role of data management control functions.
The complexity of product development makes decision process very hard. IoT, sensors and global manufacturing can turn a very well organized for years process into a new phase – manufacturing is getting hard to predict and even harder to manage. Like traffic jams on the road, engineering and manufacturing processes are bumping into many unknowns about design, selection of parts, contractors, suppliers, deliveries, mass customization, etc. Who and how can guide manufacturing companies and engineers?
To provide such guidance, modern product development systems such as PLM and ERP will need to change and turn into one huge data collection mechanism. PLM systems should figure out how to consolidate information, bring it from known places such as corporate systems and many other unknown systems such as contractor databases, service and maintenance information, production processes and supply chain, availability of engineers and components. All together, this information must be consolidated, processed, analyzed and loaded into future PLM system. And PLM system should perform huge data work to produce what we actually need – decision support and actions.
Machine learning, big data and many other data management and information technologies will provide a foundation for such work. It is not one time action. Information must be consolidated and assessed all the time. The process of data consolidation doesn’t stop. It works all the time to produce results to feed engineers in all departments.
What is my conclusion? The next paradigm shift will change PLM systems completely. The data from manufacturing shopfloor, contractors, suppliers, support and services will be mixed with design and engineering data traditionally resided in CAD and PLM systems. Information consolidation will become a real thing. And it will open new opportunity for PLM vendors to grow, transform their business models and bring a completely new user experience. Just my thoughts…
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Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing cloud based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.
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