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HomeBusiness TechDigital TransformationRevolutionizing Product Lifecycle Management With New Technologies 

Revolutionizing Product Lifecycle Management With New Technologies 

New technologies 
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The business world is experiencing a transformational shift in how products are conceptualized, designed, developed, and brought to market. As industries across the globe become increasingly competitive, organizations are constantly seeking innovative approaches to streamline their operations, enhance efficiency, and deliver superior products to meet the ever-changing demands of consumers.

One area that has garnered significant attention in recent years is Product Lifecycle Management (PLM). In fact, the global product lifecycle management (PLM) market size reached US $24.9 billion in 2022, and it is projected to reach US $38.2 billion by 2028.

This only goes to show the increasing popularity and necessity of PLM solutions and accompanying tools in connecting the end-to-end digital thread, integrating supply chain & logistics and improving manufacturing processes. All of which has a significant impact further downstream and across the entire enterprise. 

Traditionally, PLM involved managing a product’s journey from its inception to its eventual disposal, encompassing aspects such as design, engineering, manufacturing, marketing, and after-sales support. 

However, with the increase in adoption of groundbreaking technologies like Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and machine learning, the landscape of PLM is undergoing a profound transformation.

In this article, we invite you to explore the revolutionary impact of integrating new technologies into Product Lifecycle Management and investigate how these innovations are reshaping every stage of the product development process. From ideation and prototyping to production and maintenance, these emerging technologies hold the potential to drive unparalleled efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and customer satisfaction.

Understanding PLM and its technological foundations

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is a comprehensive software-enabled strategy employed by organizations to oversee the entire lifecycle of a product, from conception to retirement. 

It involves efficiently managing diverse processes, including development, engineering, manufacturing, marketing, sales, and service operations, with the ultimate goal of boosting product profitability, stimulating innovation, and optimizing engineering performance.

In the digital age, PLM’s success is heavily reliant on cutting-edge technologies like Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and machine learning. By integrating these intelligent tools, companies can gain a competitive edge, enhance their agility, and deliver superior products that meet the rapidly evolving market demands.

The role of product data management (PDM)

A key foundation of PLM is Product Data Management (PDM), which acts as the backbone for most PLM solutions. 

PDM facilitates control and management of product data, ensuring seamless collaboration, version control, and data accessibility throughout the product’s lifecycle. It allows companies to effectively organize and share crucial information related to items, parts, documents, engineering change orders, and quality workflows.

In PDM, new technologies like VR and AR can be used in different ways, such as product visualization, design validation and simulation, assembly and manufacturing guidance, service support, and much more. 

AR, VR, and AI

The integration of AR and VR technologies has revolutionized product conceptualization and visualization. Designers and engineers can now create virtual prototypes and simulations, enabling real-time visualization and validation of design concepts.

For instance, Mercedes-Benz uses VR and AR technology to share product insights and create a new customer experience. Additionally, the company uses these innovative solutions in the engineering stage.

AI and machine learning are instrumental in advancing data analytics, predicting product performance, identifying potential issues, and optimizing production processes. These technologies empower companies to make data-driven decisions, leading to faster and more informed product development cycles.

Furthermore, PLM’s scope has expanded beyond traditional product design and development to support manufacturing and service operations. This evolution positions PLM as a vital component of broader industrial digital transformation strategies, enabling companies to become more agile, efficient, and operationally resilient.

With the constant advancement of technology, PLM continues to play a pivotal role in revolutionizing product development, ultimately enabling organizations to thrive in a rapidly changing business landscape.

Emerging technologies in PLM: A glimpse into the future

Let’s explore some of the latest trends in PLM and how these new technologies can work together, as well as their impact on revolutionizing the product development process.

Cloud-based PLM solutions

One significant trend in PLM is the rise of cloud-based solutions. Cloud-based PLM offers various benefits, such as improved collaboration, scalability, and flexibility. Teams can access and collaborate on product data from anywhere, at any time, using any device. 

A great example is the growing market of cloud system infrastructure services (IaaS) companies. These organizations rely heavily on embedded software services that require a reliable PLM cloud solution.

Cloud-based PLM eliminates the need for expensive hardware and infrastructure, reducing costs and enhancing overall efficiency in product development.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning

AI and ML transform PLM by automating tasks, enhancing data analysis, and providing valuable insights. These technologies can help businesses analyze product data to identify patterns and make informed decisions. 

For instance, AI algorithms can predict the success or failure of designs based on historical data, allowing companies to focus on the most promising concepts. They can also identify areas for improvement in the product development process and suggest optimizations to enhance efficiency.

Blockchain

Blockchain technology is making its way into PLM and is expected to revolutionize how product data is managed, shared, and secured. 

By leveraging the decentralized nature of blockchain, PLM systems can improve traceability and authenticity in the product development lifecycle. Smart contracts on the blockchain can facilitate automated workflows and ensure compliance across the supply chain.

Digital twin and digital thread

Digital twin and digital thread technologies are becoming increasingly relevant in PLM. A digital twin is a virtual representation of a physical product or system, enabling real-time monitoring, analysis, and simulation. 

For example, the world’s largest aerospace company Boeing already benefits from using DTs for aircraft modelling, engineering, and design.

The digital thread, on the other hand, ensures the seamless flow of data throughout the product lifecycle, connecting all stages from design to maintenance. Together, digital twin and digital thread provide a comprehensive view of the product’s performance, enabling better decision-making and predictive maintenance.

Augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR)

AR and VR technologies are finding applications in PLM for visualization, prototyping, and collaboration purposes. Designers and engineers can use AR/VR to experience and interact with virtual prototypes, facilitating faster iterations and reducing time-to-market. Additionally, remote teams can collaborate effectively through immersive virtual meetings.

Internet of Things (IoT) and data sharing

Integrating IoT devices with PLM systems allows real-time data collection from products in the field. This data can be used for performance monitoring, predictive maintenance, and continuous product improvement. 

IoT and data sharing extend PLM concepts into the service phase, enabling manufacturers to offer new services and unlock economic value from their products.

Physics-based modelling

Physics-based modelling is another exciting trend in PLM, enabling simulations of product behaviour in real-world environments. By incorporating physical laws and properties into simulations, engineers can better understand how products will perform under different conditions, which optimizes designs and reduces the need for physical prototyping.

Integrating these emerging technologies with PLM has a transformative effect on various industries. Let’s explore two examples of how these technologies impact different sectors: the automotive industry and the fashion and consumer goods industry.

The automotive industry

In the automotive industry, cloud-based PLM allows global teams to collaborate efficiently on vehicle design and development, speeding up time-to-market. 

AI and ML algorithms analyze vehicle performance data from IoT sensors, leading to predictive maintenance and improved product reliability. Digital twins of vehicles enable real-time monitoring of fleet performance, optimizing maintenance schedules and reducing downtime.

The fashion and consumer goods industry

In the fashion and consumer goods sector, AR/VR technologies integrated with PLM enable virtual prototyping and 3D visualization of designs. This accelerates the design process, reduces the need for physical samples, and allows for quicker stakeholder feedback. Blockchain ensures supply chain transparency and authenticity of luxury products, reducing the risk of counterfeiting and enhancing brand trust.

Summary: Embracing the technological wave for enhanced product lifecycle management

The integration of new technologies like Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and machine learning into Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) has led to a fundamental shift in how products are conceptualized, designed, developed, and brought to market. 

These technologies have revolutionized every stage of the product development process, from ideation and prototyping to production and maintenance. This will result in unparalleled efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and customer satisfaction. 

As the global PLM market continues to grow, embracing these emerging technologies will be essential for companies to thrive in a rapidly evolving business landscape. Unlocking new possibilities for collaboration, data-driven decision-making, and ultimately, delivering superior products to the market.

Christoph Fischer, Leverx

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