Siemens held its product lifecycle management (PLM) event in Boston yesterday and, as might be expected, it was replete with customer testimonials on the benefits of using PLM software.
For customer Lexmark, PLM is making it possible for the company to do things better, cheaper faster and greener. By moving from an existing PLM platform to Siemens, Lexmark is saving 1.5 million kWh. The savings are equivalent to the electricity used to power 160 homes or 220 passenger vehicles a year. Who knew PLM was so green?
But after walking around talking to customers, I learned that the benefits were much more about avoiding the cycle of mistakes that happen between product concept and design or engineering and manufacturing.
Companies want to close the communication gaps across the entire product lifecycle. The problem with that is, as one IDC analyst put it, no PLM software covers all the bases: concept, design, manufacturing, engineering, warranty, support and end of life. But vendors are getting closer.
And the benefits are being realized now. Gordon McKechnie, PLM lead for Rolls-Royce, told me that by being able to collaborate in real time with Siemens PLM software, they can use an iterative approach to product design. Instead of manufacturing getting a product that’s 90% finished and sending it back with a boatload of changes, they can now send a product to manufacturing that is 20% done and have that back and forth to avoid some major — and costly — changes in the final stages of product development.
And despite facing a perfect storm — namely, tighter deadlines, the cost crunch and a demand for product innovation for a competitive advantage — enterprises are expected to cut down on mistakes. PLM apparently can make that happen by keeping all the people, processes and technology in synch, literally, since live synchronization and 3-D drawings can be shared and changed in real time.