Agile Process and Modular PLM Architectures

The development of products and production systems that are linked via the Internet places new demands on how PLM processes are organized and what PLM system landscapes look like. The integration of not just the different engineering disciplines but also the development and manufacturing planning departments or the development and service departments is becoming increasingly important. PLM is becoming multidisciplinary. This is something that companies must take into consideration when formulating their PLM strategies.

What does a PLM Strategy that enables an interdisciplinary and efficient development process for smart products and smart services look like?

A modern PLM strategy must anticipate future changes, i.e. it must be proactive, innovative and flexible. Providing support for new, service-oriented business models requires, for example, the tighter integration of digital data from development and production with information relating to product utilization in order to support predictive maintenance and smart services. In this digital information loop, PLM is not always the owner of the information but it is the broker.

The key objective of a PLM strategy, namely making uniform, binding and up-to-date product information readily available, must therefore be rigorously expanded. But not in the sense of a giant data storage, where all the information is managed according to the same guidelines. Monolithic system architectures are not flexible enough to keep pace with dynamically changing requirements. The increasing complexity of interdisciplinary product development can only be handled by a modular overall architecture, comprising federated subsystems with intelligently linked information. A modular architecture creates scope for adapting and redesigning process and reduces the effort involved in doing this.

Key requirements for the adaptability of this modular PLM architecture are openness and support for standards, as it is these standards that make it easier to exchange individual subsystems. When planning the new IT architecture, it is therefore important to always make sure that system suppliers and integrators observe the Code of PLM Openness (CPO). An open PLM architecture supports agile and flexible processes.

The transformation of existing system landscapes is a major challenge. Companies not only need to find the IT architecture best suited to meet their needs but also define a strategy for its gradual implementation. To achieve this goal, companies need a good overview of the solutions available on the market, on the one hand, and the integration know-how needed to incorporate them in their existing landscapes and migrate existing information, on the other.

Modular PLM architectures comprising federated subsystems with intelligently linked information offer the best support for Smart Engineering
Peter Wittkop, Lead Expert PLM , PROSTEP AG