PLM Conference, PLM: The "Nearly Man", Value of PLM/ERP Integration and Collaboration (8)


2PLM Newsletter

John Stark Associates                                                                                                                                               February 28, 2011 - Vol13 #24

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PLM Conference, Geneva, September 2011
by John Stark
This is the first announcement of a PLM Conference and Exhibition to be held in Geneva, Switzerland on 6-7 September, 2011. More details in the next issue of 2PLM.

PLM: The 'Nearly Man' of Business Improvement
by Roger Tempest
The phrase doesn't translate well into other languages, ("Der nahezu Mann" - "L'homme de presque"); but the 'Nearly Man' has become the English expression for someone who tries hard, but never quite makes it.

In the world of business improvement, PLM may be the Nearly Man - plugging away year after year without ever quite getting to where it wants to be. Two years ago I was having lunch with a PLM manager in the aerospace industry when he suddenly confessed: "We have spent around £50 million on PLM over the past few years, and I can't say for sure that it has been worth it." The PLM marketplace worldwide is over $20 billion, so how much uncertainty about value does that represent?

Since then several large companies have quietly given up on PLM, usually by rotating the PLM Team into other roles that the board decides are more valuable. The IT systems are still there, but all the joined-up thinking has gone.

Even in mature implementations that have been running for years, there is a risk that the board grows tired of waiting. "How can we convince the CEO of the value of PLM" is not only one of the most common questions asked by PLM managers: left unresolved, it is the reason for PLM to gradually wither on the vine.

The PLM industry does little to help itself, and change is long overdue. We need to collaborate for the general good of PLM, as well as for the instant commercial drivers. There is ample knowledge and experience worldwide about how to implement PLM well, and what has been gained by doing so. This needs to be formalised and brought into the public domain.

The planned Nordic and German workshops will launch this process, foregoing the usual "watch the presentations" format in favour of 2 days of group working with other PLM professionals. The series will run towards the USA, where European input may challenge some of the regular views on PLM. In turn, American ideas may rebound and add value to the rest of the world.

PLM has been plagued by vagueness and a general impression that it is somehow insoluble. It is time for PLM players to step up to the plate and slog a few home runs.


Roger Tempest is co-founder of the PLMIG. Membership of the PLMIG is available via

Maximizing the Value of PLM/ERP Integration and Collaboration (8)
by Dick Bourke
Part 8: MPM Explored
The previous column introduced manufacturing process management (MPM) as a significant step to make product lifecycle management (PLM) the System of Record (SoR) - and also its potential to help boost the efficiency of a company's collaborative product development (CPD) effort.

The definition is straightforward - "a collection of technologies and processes to define how products are to be manufactured." But, the scope of applications involved can vary because companies will interpret the scope - narrow or broad - to match their unique requirements.

In some large, complex companies, such as automotive, taking a broad scope of MPM applications is valid and justified. It could include plant design layout, simulations, ergonomics, computer-aided-manufacturing (CAM) and more. Software providers such as Dassault with its DELMIA suite and Siemens with Technomatix present this broader scope as "digital manufacturing."

Regardless of a company's MPM application scope, a core software-supported process is required.

The Core of MPM
The core of MPM is the process to unify the creation and management of the engineering bill-of-material (eBOM) and manufacturing bill-of-material (mBOM). This process is essential to realize PLM as the "single source of the truth" and to maintain product configuration integrity over the entire product lifecycle.

A key point: The capabilities of MPM functionality in PLM allow PLM software to assume the mBOM functions now in ERP. It recognizes that the mBOM must be synchronized with the eBOM for traceability of changes in order to maintain configuration integrity. Furthermore, in some multi-plant environments, multiple versions of the mBOM may be necessary to accommodate differences for individual plant methods in each plant's version of the mBOM.

The "desired" MPM technology is to link eBOM/mBOM data in a bi-directional manner. Tight linking of this data provides detailed information to personnel who interact with the PLM/ERP systems. When an update is in process, the MPM system immediately alerts responsible personnel for possible action in the event the pending update affects any other linked data.

As Gartner has recognized, however, this "desirable" technology is sophisticated and powerful; yet, it is not widely used in all software packages. As a result, when evaluating MPM software be alert to the differences in terminology and capabilities. Gartner calls linking "BOM synchronization." In PTC's MPMLink, the technology is "associative." SAP calls it "Guided Structure Synchronization."


New MPM processes and software must meet the exacting needs of both engineering and manufacturing to promote acceptance of MPM. Numerous PLM software alternatives exist to accomplish this. For example, Microsoft has strategic partnerships with PTC and Siemens to support its Dynamic AX (ERP) customers with PLM and MPM capabilities.

The reality is that not all companies can justify the "desired" PLM and MPM technology, referenced above. For those companies, some alternatives are available.

In addition to the vendors mentioned above, other vendor offerings may be feasible to consider. Aras and Omnify, both PLM-only vendors, offer mBOM functionality without all of the "desired" technology. Other vendors offer some mBOM functionality in their PLM modules provided with their ERP system: IFS and Infor are two of them. The approach to help users keep the eBOM and mBOM in synchronization would rely on alerts, flags and change processes.

Value of MPM
MPM has been recognized by many as a key module in PLM systems that facilitates CPD. It should help to negate the "over the wall with the prints" mentality; no more serial processing, thus cutting non-value added time throughout the engineering to manufacturing continuum.

Ultimately, the true value of using MPM is if it contributes to reducing "Times-to-" Market, Volume and Profitability. Time-to-Market is in PLM's sphere of influence; Time-to-Volume and Profitability are the domain of ERP (in some companies, MES). These Time metrics are clearly at the strategic level; nevertheless, identifying day-to-day metrics should help to make a business case for moving forward with MPM, for instance, to reduce scrap/rework and increase quality. And, after all, true value has to be the prime criteria for deciding on MPM.


What's Next
The next column in this series will be published in the March 28th issue.

For more detail, see Additional Sources of Information

For back issues, see 2PLM Archive 2010 and 2011.

Contact Dick at


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 Product                         Lifecycle                         Management: Paradigm for 21st Century Product                         Realisation

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