Product Lifecycle Management – PLM Software

What is Lifecycle?

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines Lifecycle as the series of stages through which something (such as individual, culture, or product) passes through it’s lifetime.

 

The lifecycle of most products passes through certain recognizable stages:

 

  1. Introduction – This involves bringing the product to market through research and development. At this stage, the demand for the product has not been proven completely and sales are low.
  2. Growth – At this stage in the lifecycle, the product-market fit have been proven. Sales increase at their fastest pace and the total market grows significantly.
  3. Maturity – Sales are near their peak at this stage, however, the growth rate slows down due to various factors such as new entrants and market saturation.
  4. Decline – Final stage where sales begin to fall. Possible reasons involve loss of appeal for consumer, commoditization, falling prices and margins.

What is PLM (Product Lifecycle Management)?

Product LifeCycle Management is the strategy of managing the data, processes and people involved in taking the product from Introduction (cradle) to the Decline (grave) stage.

 

The goal of PLM is to increase efficiency, collaboration, quality, and eliminate wastage.

What is PLM Software?

PLM software is an information management application that integrates the process, data, and people involved throughout the lifecycle of a product.

 

It may appear like PLM software is the ONLY repository for all product data, in an organization. However, this is usually not true. Specialized business systems like ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), MES (Manufacturing Execution Processes) etc. are generally used to store, manage the raw materials, detailed pricing information, and manufacturing processes. A PLM system however, may be viewed as an aggregator of relevant data residing in these business systems.

 

PLM software acts as a glue between various stakeholders namely, engineering, manufacturing, procurement, sales and external partners. It provides a up-to-date view of:

  • Where the product is in its lifecycle
  • History of changes (who/what/when)

What is FusePLM?

FusePLM helps engineering companies release products to market faster, by streamlining their parts, Bill-of-Materials, documents and change management process. FusePLMs intuitive interface, easy-to-configure Kanban workflows and AI-enabled chatbot, PLMBot, are designed to reduce the learning curve and slash setup/training costs. We’re on a mission to make PLMs simple and affordable. Learn more about FusePLM’s features.

What is a part/product record?

The core entity managed by PLM software is the part (or product). A part record is a set of connected data for the part or product being built. This data could include:

  • All the technical attributes describing a part
  • A change history describing what changed, who changed it and when
  • Supply-chain information including manufacturers, suppliers, cost, availability and lead-times
  • Any inventory-related information
  • Any compliance-related information (eg: RoHS, lead-free status etc, in the case of electronic components)
  • Documents:
    • Specifications/requirements for this part
    • Datasheets
    • Instructions to assemble the part
    • Design files (CAD/PCB etc.)
  • Bill-of-Materials needed to build the part
  • Processes involved in taking the part through various stages of it’s lifecycle

Why PLM, when we have an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)?

To answer this question, we need to first define ERP system.

 

An ERP system is an information management application that manages various facets of a business such as accounting, finance, human resources, manufacturing execution, shipping and distribution.

 

At a high-level it is fairly accurate to say, that PLM software focuses on product innovation, while, ERP focuses on product execution.

In other words, PLM software manages the design process of the product to ensure a smooth and timely release to production. However, ERP is designed to ensure that the designed product is manufactured to the desired quality, within the time/cost constraints, and shipped to clients.

 

PLM and ERP are complimentary business systems. A good product delivery strategy, often requires exchange of information between both of these systems.

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