Industrial equipment is complex machinery made up of thousands of moving parts and components. During the design stage, even the slightest error or miscalculation can mean that the equipment doesn’t work correctly or is less efficient. Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software is essential for ensuring this doesn’t happen.

In this article, we’re going to explore the benefits of PLM for industrial equipment manufacturing, as well as the challenges and how PLM can improve sustainability.

What does PLM software do?

PLM software is used to manage every step of the product or service lifecycle, including information and processes, across globalized supply chains.

PLM solutions also provide a platform for organizations to:

  • Optimize processes throughout every step of the product lifecycle, and across the organization
  • Create a ‘single source of truth’ to support data requirements, making sure the right people have access to the right information, at the right time and in the right context
  • Maximize the lifetime portfolio of their product portfolio
  • Drive top-line revenue through repeatable processes
  • Create a digital twin of their products, opening up entirely new, more sustainable methods of design development, analysis, and servicing

What is PLM Software, and Why is it Important to Designers?

The design and development of a new product can take a long time, particularly when there’s no system in place to manage the different aspects of the creation process. A lot of time is spent ensuring the changes which take place during design and development activities can be easily traced, ensuring that the whole business can access up-to-date data and information with minimal administration. This means it’s quite possible for product development to run over time and over budget.

PLM offers a holistic approach to product development, encompassing not just initial ideation but every aspect of the product’s lifecycle — right through to servicing and disposal. But why is PLM so important to industrial equipment designers?

Improving Design Insight

Data and insight are key to designers of industrial equipment, and PLM software provides a much deeper level of understanding into product requirements. Because PLM brings together information from multiple internal and external sources. If an organization’s PLM system is integrated with machine learning technology, it can even convert performance data and customer feedback into new feature suggestions.

In-depth Modeling

Another key feature of PLM, from a design perspective, is the ability to create detailed virtual prototypes that can be tested in a variety of ways.

Modeling and Simulation, or MODSIM, facilitates a collaborative approach to product design and development, bringing teams closer together with concurrent modelling and simulation processes. This means teams are able to verify and validate designs earlier in the design process than was previously possible.

Quicker Feedback Cycles

Thanks to integrated Modeling and Simulation, suppliers can feed back on engineering samples without needing to wait for prototypes to be shipped. You can also collate input from both sales and marketing to be used directly by design teams.

PLM Breaks Up Silos

Organizations operating within all industries have to guard against teams becoming siloed, but this is a major barrier to efficient product design and development.

PLM software breaks down these walls and provides a single source of truth for all departments. The improved communication results in far superior product quality, more regulatory compliance and faster time-to-market.

The Challenges of PLM

Here at TECHNIA we believe that PLM is one of the most significant developments in the history of manufacturing. PLM has the power to optimize the entire product lifecycle, touching every element of your supply chain — but that isn’t always possible without some complex technical integrations for additional business systems.

These integrations are often the primary challenge of adopting a PLM system.

Your PLM solution needs to be integrated with all key systems to avoid issues around information siloing. And this process takes time, investment, and planning to get right.

Integrating business systems such as ERP or CRM into your PLM implementation can reduce manual administration and drive efficiency. These types of integrations also provide the ability to maintain a single source of truth across different business systems to maintain quality.

Benefits of Using PLM for Designing Industrial Equipment

In addition to those mentioned above, there are several other benefits to using PLM:

Reduce Compliance Risks

Managing product development regarding compliance to standards, requirements, and regulations can be difficult, particularly for international organizations dealing with different rules for different countries.

PLM makes controlling this process much easier because all of the documentation and processes are in one place. Auditing what’s been achieved and what still needs to be completed is also simple.

Reduce Costs

More efficiency means reduced costs, and PLM software will provide optimization opportunities at every stage of the product development lifecycle.

Drive Innovation

Clearer insights of data enable every member of an organization that’s working on the PLM platform to drive innovation. Feedback from different departments is easy to acquire, and the engineering and design teams are able to use this feedback to enhance the product further.

Not only does PLM make innovating through design easier, but it also leads to shorter product development cycles and time to market, while you can also make better determinations of the status of new product development undertakings.

Retain Product Design Talent

Everyone wants to work in an environment that enables them to thrive, and product designers are no different. A PLM system supports innovation and allows your employees to work more productively and enjoy the job more.

Improved communication makes the design and development process easier, while designers will see their work lead to an overall better quality product.

How PLM Can Improve Sustainability

Sustainability is an increasingly important issue. Not just for organizations looking to reduce their carbon footprint, but also the end customer. Consumers are starting to choose where they spend money based on the environmental credentials of a company, which means you have to be forward-thinking when it comes to this subject. Optimally, Lifecycle Analysis solutions should be embedded within your digital transformation strategy. This approach enables several key organizational benefits:

Closed-loop Development

PLM helps you to meet your sustainability goals by enabling closed-loop development of products. This process ensures that you recover the maximum energy, resources, and materials at the traditional end of a product’s lifecycle. They can then be reinvested into your business.

Optimized for longevity

Products that are built to last are more sustainable than those that have to be replaced frequently.

Simulation and Analysis tools help to ensure product designs are optimized for longevity, while they can also be used to reduce waste and identify how excess can be reused during manufacturing and service.

Enforce Compliance Standards

If your organization adheres to compliance standards around material sourcing, either legally or by choice, a PLM platform will make it easier to keep control of this throughout the supply chain.

How Can TECHNIA Help You?

A comprehensive PLM solution improves and optimizes industrial equipment design, while delivering a whole range of other benefits to your product lifecycle and supply chain. Ready to find out more about how we can help your organization? Our experts are ready to help you realize the real-world benefits of PLM.

Learn more about PLM

Discover how the Vanderlande team achieved a 360-degree view of their business through PLM, and a strategic partnership with TECHNIA.

Click here
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We’re forward-thinking problem-solvers, and we love working with ambitious clients. For us, it’s about making sure companies overcome barriers on their way to breakthroughs.

It’s about bringing smarter products to market faster.

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