Chapter 4. Product Life Cycle Management

Introduction

Product Life Cycle Management (PLM) is said to be an imperative for innovation, a new business strategy, a new gizmo for being competitive. It has been heralded as the single tool that will reduce time to market, improve both the top and the bottom lines, changing the silo culture of an organization to a unified life cycle data management system. Whatever the claims of the proponents—sellers or champions of this technology—the truth is, even I believe in these claims, as I demonstrate later. When I was involved in launching and supporting SAP's Supply Chain Management (SCM) technology in the Asia Pacific region, I often used to wonder about the impact of SCM on an organization. However, PLM would be the single tool that would transform and take off from where computer-integrated manufacturing (CIM) had left the industrial scene. To support this cryptic message, let us review the chain of progress: First, a long time ago, there was computer aided design (CAD), and then came computer aided manufacturing (CAM), followed by CIM, then concurrent engineering (CE), and, finally, PLM began to emerge. Functionality began to increase and so did the benefits. While vendors have been plentiful, market researchers believe that eventually, three top-tier vendors will be the only healthy survivors.

Theoretically speaking, even in the mid-1980s the need was felt to have a single database that would contain all the design, process, and quality ...

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