Collaborative PLM Processes

Technological innovation in the context of Industry 4.0 increases collaboration across companies and domains. It is not only new partners, for instance in the service domain, but also completely new players that have to be incorporated in collaboration processes. Today‘s PLM systems are not designed for this, which is why a great amount of information is still being sent in unencrypted form, i.e. without any protection for intellectual property, via email.

The ability of utilizing PLM in collaborative processes will become increasingly important in the context of Industry 4.0. This should be taken into account as early as possible when defining the PLM strategy.

How can PLM systems better support the growing need for collaboration in the development of smart connected products?

Many industries will see the rise of innovative new companies that develop, manufacture and market products together. These companies will compete with established manufacturers. The partners to these companies assume responsibility for sub-processes in the product development process in a flexible manner and in changing constellations. This places increasing demands on the flexibility of the processes to be designed and creates a growing need for collaborative technologies and methods that can be utilized instantaneously.

Incorporating external partners and suppliers, that offer their services in a global network, requires collaboration solutions, that can be easily integrated in existing PLM systems. The PLM systems must provide support for very different scenarios, from occasional collaboration with sporadic data exchange to regular provision within the framework of a long-term partner relationship or joint venture. Not only reliability but also data security and the protection of intellectual property (IP) play a key role in collaboration scenarios.

Collaborative PLM processes are not, however, only a question of the technologies used, they also call for a holistic approach to organizational structures, technology and employees. The aim must be to design collaboration processes in such a way that the overall efficiency and effectiveness of people and systems is optimized. This is why current collaboration processes and future requirements must be analyzed closely before the relevant solutions are implemented.