Across every industry, managing a product portfolio can be daunting and demanding. The numerous product lines, various departments, multi-discipline teams, fluid supply lines, and the production floor all have to work together to bring a product to market.
To make it easier to collaborate and track product progress from the first from concept to market, many companies use product lifecycle management (PLM) software. These programs collate data, processes, business systems, and employee tracking into a single platform. With a PLM system, you can view a product’s entire development history, including the conception, design, manufacturing, and, finally, discontinuation phases.
PLM software improves product development efficiency in the organization. It makes it easier for everyone involved in the product’s life cycle to work as one. As employees work on a product, they save all related data to the PLM files, ensuring that all employees assigned to a single project have the same data at every stage of development.
Data collection and analysis through PLM software also helps project managers identify any miscommunication, bottlenecks in production, or quality concerns. Furthermore, PLM software can help reduce costs and save time by encouraging automation, standardizing processes, and making it easier to comply with any pertinent regulations.
If used effectively, PLM software can revolutionize how an organization operates. Although the software has many benefits and uses, the following five tips will give you a glimpse of how using PLM software could improve your business practices.
1. Use PLM for internal communication
As mentioned above, using software for product lifecycle management facilitates collaboration between teams and individual employees who complete different phases of a single product’s development.
But what exactly does this look like? With PLM software, employees can share computer-aided design (CAD) files, product design data, all production documentation, and the bill of materials (BOM) for each project.
When employees across teams work with the same files, there are fewer opportunities for error. The ease of collaboration that PLM software allows makes product development a faster, smoother process. It also helps eliminate wasted time and materials.
2. Use PLM to cut costs and increase efficiency
Using PLM software helps reduce the cost of prototyping and development. For example, the software makes it possible to reuse data from earlier projects. Through automation and data analysis, PLM software helps project managers identify production aspects that waste time, materials, and labor resources.
In addition, using a single platform for engineering workflow makes documentation and compliance with regulations easier. By tracking this throughout the entire development process, PLM software prevents unexpected errors or compliance issues that could cost money or halt production.
PLM also brings automation to a lot of small tasks, making the work process smoother, smarter, and more efficient. Such tasks include:
- Organizing, updating files, and keeping track of changes
- Labeling and tracking parts
- Tracking team member workloads and progress
- Assigning timelines and sending deadline notifications to users
3. Use PLM to produce storyboards to help with decision making
Traditionally, paper-based storyboards are used for design, development, and planning. Digital storyboards transform this process into a visual environment in which users collaborate, brainstorm, and iterate over creative designs, product development, and planning activities. Many PLM software options have storyboard technology built directly into their platform.
Users can create an open, organic, and creative environment using storyboards to imagine and execute designs. Using a visual storyboard, team members can collaborate from multiple locations as if they were in the same room. Using a digital storyboard makes capturing and sharing inspiration, concepts, trends, and feedback easier.
4. Use a PLM mobile app to connect outside of the workplace
PLM mobile apps give users a full overview of product information at any time from any place.
Providing quick, easy access to PLM data and processes to a mobile workforce will enhance productivity and give employees more flexibility. As the world shifts towards remote work and social distancing within the workplace, PLM mobile apps will provide the access users need wherever they complete their work.
5. Use artificial intelligence to search your PLM database
Over time, your database will fill with terabytes of useful information. While it’s great to have so much data in one place, it can be difficult to sift through files if you’re looking for something specific.
Top-tier PLM software options have built-in AI image search solutions. All you have to do is take a picture of an item, such as a material used to make a product, and the AI system will search the database for any matches. This technology makes it easier to find previous frameworks for designs or previously vetted and approved suppliers for materials.
Harness the power of your PLM
Using PLM software will only improve communication, promote efficiency, and foster innovation if you know how to use it. If your company has never used PLM software or is on the market for an updated system, be sure to research all the capabilities of each PLM system that you consider. Think about the specific needs of your company, and find the software that provides the best solutions to your product development concerns.