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The evolution of PLM: Part 2

Dr. Martin Eigner continues his outline on the history and evolution of PLM, this time with a focus on the concepts of Engineering Digitalization and the role of System Lifecycle Management or #SysLM.

In this episode of Minerva PLM TV, Dr. Eigner talks about what a Digital Agenda is, and he addresses some of the most common obstacles an organization goes through when achieving a Digital Agenda.

The conversation continues with a discussion about how Digitalization corresponds with IOT/IOS and industry 4.0. He gives a great explanation of what IOT/IOS projects and IOT solutions are.

Further, Dr. Eigner outlines the difference between Digital Twin and Digital Model and shares his thoughts about having a new Design Methodology.

In the last part of this episode, Dr. Eigner discusses the current vs. future V-Model; the integrated IT-Tool concept, and the validation and verification of this concept.

In this blog, I’ve captured a few pointers from our conversation.

You can also watch the complete episode on YouTube: The evolution of PLM: Part 2


The rise of the digital agenda

Typical examples of digitalization usually were bringing paper into a computer or working with a 3D CAD model. Now, interconnectivity is on everybody’s lips. The digital agenda in an enterprise is working on 5 levels, according to Dr. Martin Eigner.

  • 1. Smart product:

To illustrate this, let us have a look at a smart product, like a mechatronic or cybertronic assistance tool for autonomous driving.  This product has two levels. A lot of assistance is done by this mechatronic assistant system, which is a smart product in itself. Then, the product has to be connected to a sensor, they have to be intelligent and connected to the internet in order to support everything.

  • 2. Smarter production:

To support these kinds of products, we need smarter production and engineering tools. Industry 4.0 is a typical strategy used to improve production, but the problem is, it’s too focused on the production and less focused on supporting smart products. Smart products and smart production are the kernel of engineering digitalization.

  • 3. Smarter processes:

All processes in engineering should be digitalized to support data exchange between customer and supplier and should not be limited to configuration management, release management and change management.

  • 4. Smarter analytics

Everybody knows about big data and artificial intelligence. But as data is becoming the new oil, engineering companies should consider how their product is collecting data in the field and how they are delivering data to third party companies. A windshield wiper system might be able to communicate and sell their data to a national weather agency?

  • 5. Smarter humans

Lastly, smarter thinking and a change of mindset is needed. Dr. Eigner mentions that in general, engineers are resistant to change which often results in hierarchical structures and inefficient decision structures. Organizations must consider flattening out these structures, collaborate more across the enterprise and across divisions. A mechanic must talk to the electrician, which in turn must talk to the software developer and so on.

The culture must be changed, and divisions must be more open to each other, breaking down the silos. By working together across disciplines, it becomes easier to build up a common digital interdisciplinary product architecture.


The 3 most important obstacles towards the digital agenda

The real obstacles to achieving the five goals in the digital agenda are all related to the last point: the need for smarter humans. When change is coming, the typical obstacles fall into three categories:

  • 1. Convincing your employees

Employees has to be convinced of the fact that digitalization is good and not a bad thing for the organization nor the workforce. Digitalization will impact people’s jobs in one way or another and might require shifting employment from one area to another. Managing these interruptions in the employment process must be open and honest.

Historically, technological landslides, like the industrial revolution, has automated manual labor and meant fewer working hours. With digitalization, we also need to think about employment in the future and how it will impact the future workforce. Mechanical products are becoming increasingly digitalized and interconnected, cars are increasingly dependent on software as well as the mechanical parts that makes it drive. That will increase the need for interdisciplinary thinking and cross-departmental collaboration.

People are at the centre of it and helping them to reposition themselves and learn new skills to become increasingly relevant well into the future with these new digital norms is important to reducing that resistance towards change.

  • 2. Organizational change management

What you find as you go from engineering to manufacturing, for example, are opportunities to optimize processes where work could be done by either group. Communication, retraining, and ownership must be defined. Sorting through responsibility, efficiency, and dissolving silos now may create friction for a time but is an important step along the path. 

*Checkout Organizational Change Management part 1 and part 2 for additional tips on how to manage this factor.

  • 3. Cultural change management

Culture must be changed. From the educational level at universities to internally in companies, you have to change the organizational hierarchy. A flatter structure is needed to ensure better collaboration and communication across departments but also levels between managers, employees and C-level.


Additional Points of Consideration

Remember, change is not happening overnight. Take the Internet of Things (IoT) as an example. This technology is actually very old, created in 1999. It is more than 20 years old and it is only within the last 10 years we have explored the possibilities of connected products, being able to control the temperature, open the windows and turn off the light in our homes from our smartphones.


Keep the Conversation Going

What are your takeaways? What questions do you have? Share them with the community and keep the conversation going.

Want to share your story? Drop me a line or send me an email at I’d love to hear from you.

About the author

Jennifer Moore

Jennifer Moore has more than 15 years of experience in Business Transformation across different industries. Her extensive experience includes helping companies navigate complex regulatory requirements through software solutions. She has been developing and deploying large, multi-faceted enterprise software project, driving revenues as well as market adoption.

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