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How PLM supports New Product Development & Introduction

You have probably heard this sentence many times over, PLM manages each individual product across its lifecycle – from cradle to the grave. So, from the very first idea for the product all the way through until it is retired and scrapped. Being able to manage a product all the way across its lifecycle allows a company to take total control of what happens to a product.

But PLM is not only capable of managing one piece of a company’s product portfolio, it is able to manage the entire portfolio of products. Even better, it enables the company’s complete portfolio of products to be managed in an integrated way.

In this article, we will look at how a PLM system can support product development and introduction. But it is important to remember, if you don’t have your product development processes documented, you won’t be able to implement them into a PLM system.

You can read more about this classic chicken-and-egg paradox right here.

PLM is not a new thing

PLM is not in any shape or form a new thing. At the start of this century, manufacturing companies started to manage their products in a continuously integrated way. Now, recent changes on the global scale are leading even more manufacturers to product lifecycle management, not only as a software solution but also as a concept to avoid the following scenarios:

  • Non-coordinated decisions
  • Insufficient risk analysis
  • Loss of information and data
  • Misinterpretation of customer requirements
  • Waste of time

 

PLM benefits NPD processes

To achieve the objectives of developing, producing, and supporting products, manufacturers need to know the exact definition of each product. This product definition data includes details of product performance, structure, cost, and components as well as details of related processes. For various reasons, the definitions may change during the lifecycle of a product, because a customer requests a change, maybe, or because the company wants to improve the product.

This situation puts a demand on manufacturing companies to sustainably be able to organize both their processes and their product data, allowing them to achieve their goals – which is ultimately to deliver world-class manufactured products and services to their customers.

If we break these goals down to a business-process level, we are able to identify at least three business processes where PLM has obvious benefits.

While ERP systems are the preferred system of choice for all financial aspects of manufacturing like procurement, PLM is focusing on the following processes:

 

PLM & New Product Development & Introduction

Product development is a complex process involving many variables, relationships, and abstractions, sometimes not as clearly understood. It addresses a wide range of issues and is carried out by a wide variety of people using a wide range of practices, methods, and systems, working in a wide variety of environments. This scenario requires a lot of effort, definition, analysis, investigation of physical processes, verification, trade-offs, and other decisions. Product development is an important activity.

80% of a product’s cost is defined during its development, even though more than 80% of its life is beyond the factory gate. It goes without saying that product development is expensive and should be managed tightly.

Companies without a well-organized approach to product development are likely to suffer from quality problems, and development projects finishing late and over budget. Further consequences are bureaucratic procedures, too many iterations of the design cycle, and too many engineering changes. Such companies will always be lacking behind market-leading companies with regards to quality, cost, and time-to-market of new and improved products.

The potential of PLM to greatly improve a manufacturing company’s ability to innovate, get products to market faster, and reduce errors makes it extremely interesting, not only for top management and the board but also for the people who work in the lifecycle. A PLM system with a structured approach to development processes is able to:

  • Get the extended enterprise under control.
  • Reduce the costs of new products
  • Reduce the time it takes to bring the new product to market

 

PLM & Configuration/Change Management

Likewise, with manual engineering change management systems, which tend to be quite cumbersome. Normally, it can be very hard to get the up-to-date status of changes. That may be numbered by several hundred for a single project. The lack of real-time updates makes associates unable to receive tracking and notifications of recent changes. With a PDM system, a simple query will not take several days but a few minutes, making associates able to make queries on the fly and take the corresponding action, saving time and costs.

Once the PDM system is up and running, it will do a lot of the overhead activities associated with change management automatically, so associates are able to reduce the number of people involved in the change management and control process.

 

To sum it up

This article has covered the reasons for adopting PLM to manage your New Product Development & Introduction processes to make sure the program runs smoothly.

As always, you can contact me at tsk@minerva-plm.com if you want to know more about the benefits of new technology, digital transformation, and industry-specific solutions that are flexible enough to support anything the future may throw at you.

About the author

Thomas Skogen

Thomas is an expert in Supply Chain and Manufacturing Optimization with more than 10 years of experience originating from Medical Device and High-Tech & Electronic Industries. He comes with a background as an Electronics engineer, complemented with a Master in Technology Management. Thomas has held positions in multinational corporations such as Nilfisk, heading the internal optimization program as well as the supply chain organization.

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