In industry, product lifecycle management tools are the process of managing the entire lifecycle of a product from inception, through engineering design and manufacture, to service and disposal of manufactured products. PLM integrates people, data, processes and business systems and provides a product information backbone for companies and their extended enterprise.
The inspiration for the burgeoning business process now known as product lifecycle management tools came from American Motors Corporation. The automaker was looking for a way to speed up its product development process to compete better against its larger competitors in 1985, according to François Castaing, Vice President for Product Engineering and Development. After introducing its compact Jeep Cherokee, the vehicle that launched the modern sport utility vehicle market, AMC began development of a new model, that later came out as the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
The first part in its quest for faster product development was computer-aided design software system that make engineers more productive. The second part in this effort was the new communication system that allowed conflicts to be resolved faster, as well as reducing costly engineering changes because all drawings and documents were in a central database. The product data management was so effective that after AMC was purchased by Chrysler, the system was expanded throughout the enterprise connecting everyone involved in designing and building products. While an early adopter of product lifecycle management tools technology, Chrysler was able to become the auto industry’s lowest-cost producer, recording development costs that were half of the industry average by the mid 1990s.
PLM systems help organizations in coping with the increasing complexity and engineering challenges of developing new products for the global competitive markets.
Product lifecycle management should be distinguished from ‘product life cycle management. PLM describes the engineering aspect of a product, from managing descriptions and properties of a product through its development and useful life; whereas, PLCM refers to the commercial management of life of a product in the business market with respect to costs and sales measures.
Product lifecycle management can be considered one of the four cornerstones of a manufacturing corporation’s information technology structure.All companies need to manage communications and information with their customers, their suppliers and fulfillment, their resources within the enterprise and their product planning and development.
One form of PLM is called people centric PLM. While traditional PLM tools have been deployed only on release or during the release phase, people centric PLM targets the design phase.
As of 2009, ICT development has allowed PLM to extend beyond traditional PLM and integrate sensor data and real time lifecycle event data’ into PLM, as well as allowing this information to be made available to different players in the total lifecycle of an individual product. This has resulted in the extension of PLM into closed-loop lifecycle management. Read more articles like this: Plm consultants