Digital Themes

Product Lifecycle Management

What is Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)?

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is the business process of having a team manage products and information through every stage of their lifecycle, from design and manufacturing, to use, and ultimately to disposal. PDM integrates information and services across the business to analyze and provide information and background for the company to draw from. The PLM process enables organizations to better understand and analyze their data and apply that information to real world scenarios. An important aspect of successful product life cycle management is product data management (PDM).

PDM is concerned with product information management and publication. PDM relies on the use of tools, typically software, in order to track, analyze, and control the data associated with a product’s lifecycle. Information that is typically involved in product data management includes: brand name, part description, vendor, cost, and schematics. All of this information is collected and analyzed as part of a PLM system, and then communicated to relevant parties. To ensure the most accurate information processing, this type of data collection should occur in real time.

Product lifecycle management systems have four distinct phases of the production process: conceive, design, create, and service. While conceiving, PLM solutions must consider the product requirements, as well as the customer, company, and regulatory viewpoints. This ensures that the final concept meets every necessary specification. When designing, PLM processes consider the design, as well as the data around existing products and services that can be utilized to optimize the current design. This step also includes testing, analyzing, and storing data associated with the tests to improve future builds. When creating the final product, all the information from the previous two steps are utilized in order to build the best product possible.

Finally, servicing of the product occurs as products are updated, fixed, and ultimately disposed of. All information around updating, fixing, and disposing of the product is analyzed to identify not only how best to service current products, but also to see how that information can be helpful for future products and improve product quality. In a closed-loop PLM system, a final step will include recycling of disposed products so that they can be broken down into raw material to build new products.

Business systems can benefit from specialized PLM software. Specialized software can enhance the benefits of managing product lifecycles, including:

  • Accelerate time to market: Because PLM supervises every aspect of the lifecycle, it reduces the amount of time it takes to create new products. Rather than having to hand off one part to a new team, the entire process takes place within one team without the need to be relearned at every stage. A PLM environment makes it easier for teams to communicate, because everyone is involved in every step of the process.

  • Produce high quality products: A large aspect of PLM revolves around data collection and analysis. This means businesses and organizations can ensure that they have all necessary information to produce a high-quality product. Additionally, as more information is collected after a product is released, this information can be used to improve future product releases.

  • Increased productivity: Just like accelerating the time to market, businesses and organizations are also reducing the time spent waiting for information between teams, thereby increasing productivity. Additionally, the increased collaboration ensures that all workers can view every step of the process to ensure that the product is being serviced as appropriately and efficiently as possible.
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