The Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) system is the digital central nervous system that enables the industry to take advantage of digitalization. Through an optimized PLM solution, companies can now collect data from product development, production and the end user as a result of streamlining all elements of the process. The result is a virtual factory with real benefits.
Already in the early stages of development, you can collect and structure customer requirements and then steer product development towards producing products that are actually in demand on the market. We also work a lot on the IoT side, with expanded aftermarket offerings. For example, we only perform maintenance when it is needed based on the state of the machine. This is the result of the machine being able to communicate with the maintenance system.
This type of system has almost unlimited potential. Creating a virtual factory that can understand and connect data from the entire flow and that can also perform completely virtual testing leads to gigantic efficiency gains. PLM systems also set the stage for creating new and better business models. You don’t earn money by selling the machine. You earn money by helping the customer produce with the machine. This is an important concept. You are paid based on how much value you create for the customer and how much you produce. Then, you are not as easily replaceable since you are a more integral part of the customer’s production process.
Many of our customers are currently found in the manufacturing industry. For example, we work with both Porsche and Tesla to streamline their product development and manufacturing. I consider the automotive industry a clear example of the strengths of the complete digital solution that a PLM system represents. They must be able to service a number of generations back in time. They need to produce what they’re making now very efficiently and continually implement small improvements. They must also be able to work with what they will deliver in two or three years’ time. This is something these systems do really well.
The benefits offered by a modern PLM system are not limited to industry. More and more sectors will use this type of solution as demands for fast innovation and customized product development increase. As an example, one of our customers – the travel company TUI Nordic. In their case, TECHNIA’s (formally TechniaTranscat) solution helped redesign the concept from the manufacturing industry into something tailored to the travel industry. For TUI, the challenge was that we had two ways to go. They had to choose between becoming a ‘low-cost’ player and creating greater differentiation by making more unique products. They chose differentiation.
It previously took them one or two months to create a new product, but now they can do it in a day by switching from manual to digital. You build the products from modules, which can then be configured per customer, much like configuring a car where you can choose from a bunch of options and customize. By collecting all of their data in a PLM system, TUI Nordic could handle the complexity involved in customizing trips. The system also facilitated the work involved in checking for gaps in the market and planning marketing accordingly.
More and more different types of companies are realizing the potential of this type of system. The challenge that we therefore face is how to make the system as user-friendly and applicable as possible. We are resellers of a platform, but our business is more about helping companies to embrace this and quickly make an impact on their business. Then, it’s largely about simplification so it doesn’t just become a tool for five people in R&D. You get the biggest benefit when you apply it to the whole process.
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This article was originally posted in Swedish at http://nyindustrialisering.se/2016/02/23/de-realiserar-den-virtuella-fabriken/