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Resiliency and PLM — An Important Relationship

By Dave Seybold,IBM Consulting

Manufacturers large and small, in every industry, compete intensely to develop
innovative products that both increase revenue and lead their markets. These same
manufacturers face a host of daunting challenges: outdated product development
processes, demand for increasingly complex products, high development costs, roadblocks
to collaboration, and integration and compatibility issues, to name a few. To overcome these challenges, leading manufacturers implementing PLM (product lifecycle management) programs can transform processes for improved product design, faster time-to-market, reduced supply chain and service costs, and more efficient management of the entire product lifecycle from concept to disposal. These improvements rest on a supporting information technology (IT) infrastructure that needs to react dynamically to respond quickly to customer demands, market opportunities, and external threats. It should enable a company to be responsive, variable, focused, and resilient—all while making sure engineering remains collaborative and accurate data is instantly accessible to everyone who needs it.

While it is clear to many that PLM can help meet the challenges mentioned above, to be truly successful in cutting design and manufacturing costs and speeding time-to-market, companies must integrate their PLM solutions with other enterprise processes and applications through resilient, open infrastructures.

A resilient infrastructure is designed so enterprises can effectively mitigate and manage key business risks. To develop resiliency, you should plan for and proactively detect disruptions, design responses that target critical needs, deploy responses quickly and effectively, and refresh critical processes and strategies based on past experience. All this requires a multilevel approach:

  • Strategy—business-to-IT linkages
  • Organization—strong policies and leadership
  • Business/IT processes—use of standard models
  • Apps/Data—robust integration architectures
  • Technology—fixed management disciplines
  • Facilities/security—risk mitigation/continuity.

    A supple PLM environment requires a security-rich infrastructure that can manage large data sets across a variety of geographically dispersed systems with limited downtime, and a network that supports collaboration across the global value chain. It also requires an ecosystem that can be turned on or off, based on demand.

    In the case of Lam Research, a semiconductor manufacturer, IBM provides on-demand application hosting and services to support collaborative supplier design, global knowledge management, and data vaulting. Because the semiconductor industry typically rides a roller coaster throughout the year, this service is priced like a utility with monthly invoices based upon named users for that month.

    Building resiliency into PLM solutions means manufacturers can realize a number of technical benefits including the ability to integrate business applications and facilitate design and engineering collaboration throughout the enterprise and its extended value chain. It also means easy access to data, improving its management, and gaining a competitive edge by moving a step closer to becoming an on-demand business.

    Becoming the type of company that inspires customers requires flexibility. It is responsive to unpredictable market changes and stakeholder needs, adapts cost structures and processes to cut risk and boost productivity, and seeks assistance when it needs it. Successful manufacturers of the future will base their operations on four key characteristics:  responsiveness, variability, focus, and resiliency; the right PLM environment supports them all.

    Dave Seybold leads the IBM Global Services PLM practice. He has 15 years of management, supply chain, and IT consulting experience. You can contact him via e-mail care of Desktop Engineering Feedback .

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