You might think you know about PLM — product lifecycle management — but do you have the facts on which solution is right for your company? Like any software, PLM is only as effective as the environment built for it and the people using it. Without proper setup, maintenance, and training, even the best software solution will fail. Let’s do a quick review of some common questions about PLM and how to maximize its impact on your organization

PLM Drives Digital Transformation for Engineering

Who needs PLM?

PLM is often associated with engineering and IT, but as an enterprise system, it has the power to impact almost every business unit for a companies in a diverse set of industries. Ideally, PLM brings data, people, processes, and systems together. Most manufacturers begin their PLM journey through engineering, using PLM for CAD data and file management. From there, PLM can build a digital thread through your company by allowing other departments such as manufacturing, sales, or service to access those CAD files in a digestible format. Often, PLM plays a major role for companies looking to improve quality and regulatory compliance. PLM can also complement your ERP system, ITSM platform, and other enterprise systems to create an integrated environment that seamlessly houses and transports your organizational data to key stakeholders. This becomes most critical for bill of materials (BOM) management. Managing your BOM through PLM ensures that accurate and updated product information is always at your fingertips.

In short, PLM’s impact can transform almost all of your business units. This is why more manufacturing executives are placing an emphasis on embracing and optimizing PLM as the backbone of their modern enterprise manufacturing strategy.

Phases of Product Development

No two companies are the same, so it makes sense that every digital transformation journey will be slightly different. However, within these unique journeys, there are five main phases of a typical product development cycle:

  • Concept and design: Ideating and envisioning your product. PLM helps manage your product design process by managing files and data while also enabling non-expert users outside the engineering department to access and interpret data.
  • Develop: Detailed design of final concepts, including validation and prototyping. Similar to the first phase, this is a collaborative stage made much easier using PLM. As final refinements are made to a design prior to production, various stakeholders must be able to access critical data.
  • Production and launch: The product goes to market, meaning that manufacturing and potentially sales and marketing need access to data. PLM makes this possible like never before, democratizing an organization’s engineering data. Quality, regulatory, and audit compliance can all be managed by the PLM system.
  • Service and support: Once the product is launched, service teams may need access to files, historical data, or BOM.
  • Retirement: As products are sunset, the PLM system can serve as an archive for all historical data.

What are the benefits?

Embracing the digital thread produces immense results in terms of productivity, efficiency, and return on investment. Organizations with an optimized PLM environment can streamline their product development cycle, get products to market faster, improve quality results, avoid running afoul of regulators, and enhance service for internal and external customers. Common benefits include:

  • Improved product quality and reliability
  • Reduced prototyping costs
  • More accurate and timely requests for quote (RFQs)
  • Quick identification of sales opportunities and revenue contributions
  • Savings through the reuse of original data
  • A framework for product optimization
  • Reduced waste
  • Improved ability to manage seasonal fluctuation
  • Improved forecasting to reduce material costs
  • Maximized supply chain collaboration

My engineers love their CAD application — how does that affect a PLM strategy?

If your organization is well-established, your engineering department likely has a CAD solution that they are invested in keeping. Fortunately, in PTC Windchill, there is a PLM solution that is CAD-agnostic, works with multi-CAD environments, and includes the power to manage advanced efforts such as xBOM management, quality control, audit and compliance, change management, and more. This power is part of what makes Windchill a best-in-class solution.

This sounds complicated and expensive. Where do I start?

With an expert guide like 3 HTi, PLM implementation can be more effective than you may have imagined! In spite of its massive power, Windchill offers a strong out-of-box foundation for companies just beginning their digital transformation. Over time, the software can scale to meet your growing needs. Additionally, 3 HTi offers certified Windchill experts to assist you, whether you need help with an implementation or would like us to optimize an existing environment or manage all aspects of systems administration to ease the burden on your IT group. Our services team has decades of experience in managing custom Windchill environments and we can help design a solution that fits your needs and budget.

Speaking of budget, base licenses of Windchill are likely less expensive that you think. Check out our pricing calculator or contact our sales team for a custom quote that meets your needs. Digital transformation is not limited to Fortune 500 companies with eight-figure budgets. 3 HTi can help manufacturers of all sizes design and implement a PLM strategy that will create value for your business in a number of ways. Some examples of Windchill implementations saw customers reap the following benefits:

  • ROI of 122% and a payback period of 11 months
  • ROI of 105% and a payback period of 13 months
  • 25% reduction in product codes, engineering change cycle length cut from months to days, instant access to parts control, and a more collaborative and productive work environment that reduced employee attrition by 14%