PLM Conference, Prioritising PLM Issues, Of Configuration and Project Management


2PLM Newsletter

John Stark Associates                                                                                                                                               March 14, 2011 - Vol13 #25

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PLM Conference, Geneva, September 6-7, 2011
by John Stark
The Geneva International Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Conference and Exhibition will be held on September 6-7, 2011 at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland.

The subject of the Conference is the implementation of PLM in industry. It will enable participants to learn about PLM, exchange experience, and find out how to apply PLM best in their organisations. It will address PLM experience, best practice and evolution across a wide range of products and industries, and across the product lifecycle. The Exhibition will enable attendees to see existing PLM solutions in action, and find out about new PLM research and development activities.

Conference participants are expected to include PLM Managers and PLM Team Members, as well as Innovation Directors, CAD/CAM/CAE Managers, PDM Managers, Business Process Managers, Technical Publication Managers, Product Managers, and those responsible for Middle-of-Life and End-of-Life.

If you are interested in presenting at the Conference, please contact John Stark.

Prioritising PLM Issues
by Roger Tempest
The PLMIG is launching a series of events to enable companies to share PLM best practice, and help incorporate this into new effective standards. The aim is to generate worldwide PLM improvement via national collaboration.

The series begins with workshops in the Nordic region and Germany, and PLM practitioners in those countries have been sent a questionnaire so that they can prioritise the PLM issues that the workshops should cover. The starting point is a list that was generated by PLM users as their main barriers to progress, and therefore the main areas where standardisation will help:-

  • Clarity of vision at board room level
  • Enterprise collaboration through the customer and supply chains
  • Harmonisation across global sites (DASAMASA)
  • Strategies for integrating design, manufacturing and marketing capability
  • Management and culture change
  • Product classification and structure
  • Use of PLM to increase product quality
  • Benchmarking, metrics and KPIs
  • PLM vs ERP
  • Platform standardisation (IT / PDM / SOA)
  • Managing multi-vendor environments
  • Bridging legacy systems and next-generation solutions

There may be some other issues that are not on this list, and prioritising them all will give a clear insight into the way that PLM development should be heading. The workshop series will continue through several different countries (Switzerland, the UK and India are current possibilities) until it reaches the USA. This will generate an international body of new PLM knowledge that can be formalised into new standards, and will transfer best-practice ideas between North America and Europe.

You can help to shape this by filling in a questionnaire, whichever country you are in. PLMIG events are open to participants from all areas of the PLM industry, and from all parts of the world. To receive a copy of the questionnaire, or simply to find out more about the events, contact You may be a user, vendor, consultant, integrator, or academic - all views are valuable, and the response may also show that there ought to be an event planned for your country or region.


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

Of Configuration Management and Project Management
by Dave Lyon
What are we really trying to do in Configuration Management (CM)? Well, we want to capture and control our product designs, and provide visibility into what's going on throughout the design, development, transition to production, production, and support phases of our programs. We want to provide access to these product data to those who need to use or modify it under pre-determined controls, and we want to conduct audits to assure that our processes and procedures are being followed.

In the past, designs were captured on Mylar and paper drawings. In the general case, designs being generated now and in the future are and will be generated on Computer Aided Design (CAD) systems. The design disclosure master is no longer the paper drawing. Today's design master consists of the collection of digital design files and computer models, including part and symbol libraries, associations, linkages, etc., which define the product design. The need therefore arises to capture and control these digital design files in order to capture and control design baselines and to be in a position to incorporate approved design changes now and in the future. The answer to this challenge lies in the implementation and integration of a CM 'tool', the Product Data Management (PDM) system, in our business programs and processes.

The PDM system will capture and control product data in electronic format and make these data available to all who need to use or observe them. This includes capture and control of digital design data (native CAD and neutral files), quality assurance data, manufacturing data, and any other data that would be needed to design, test, build, modify, deliver, and maintain a product (either hardware or software). Imagine the following scenario.

The design engineer and/or design draftsperson will be able to initiate his or her design by simply signing on to the design network through the PDM and launching the desired design tool. The designer will then work on his or her design throughout the day. At the close of the business day, he or she will sign off the design tool, and the PDM will deposit the data created during the course of the day into the designer's personal work location within the design network.

This process will be repeated until the internal development design review is completed. Note that at each design review, a certain amount of 'goodness' in the design is expected and can be measured. Inputs to and outputs from these design reviews are identified, evaluated and documented.

After design review completion, the "workflow manager" application in the PDM system will move the design files to the appropriate logical and physical vaults. Future changes to the design will only be permitted after on-line approval from the designer's supervisor or the internal (or customer) Configuration Control Board (release states).

The point here is that baselines will be captured at design reviews by the PDM system. Baselines will not have to be manually captured by a CM person. These data will be entered once into the PDM system database and updated by engineering personnel under the control of the PDM workflow manager software module.

Orders will be placed with suppliers who will browse the database according to permissions provided by the PDM system. Customers will be able to check on design, test, material procurement, and product fabrication and delivery status by browsing the PDM system database and by viewing the design images, limited only by the security access permissions assigned to them.

In short, everyone who now uses paper to gain access to information required to do their job will, in the future, go to the PDM system database to retrieve the information or files they need.

Enter data once - use many times! When we have achieved this, we will truly have 'transparent' and 'automated' CM.

Our PDM system can readily be expanded to include the capture and control of other data, such as internal procedures, contract data, proposals, etc. It will then be referred to as a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) system.

So, if we back up a bit and look at our CM objectives, methodologies and processes and what it takes to achieve them, what do we see? We see that we are engaged in the process of 'Information Management'. Product design data and enterprise data are information - information to be captured and controlled, information to be made accessible to and/or communicated to those who need it in order to do their jobs.

Thus the CM discipline tracks very closely and is an important element of the Project Management (PM) process. Several of the same methodologies are utilized by and incumbent upon both disciplines. For example, the need for effective communication, the absolute necessity to achieve 'buy-in' on the part of key personnel, dependence upon schedules and the closeout of action items, process standardization, program planning, requirements tailoring and negotiation, the need for early identification of problems and the necessity to identify corrective action for those problems with proper follow-up to assure closure. These are just a few of the similarities between the CM discipline and the PM process.

I envision the application of future CM methodologies to be a world apart from the image too frequently brought to mind when the term 'CM' is used. That of a room full of crotchety old men wearing green eye shades, hunched over their desks like Bob Cratchet, filling up ledgers and notebooks with minutiae, moving design change request papers from their in-basket to their out-basket with their only other duty being to bother the 'important' personnel (engineers, draftspersons, manufacturing planners, quality assurance personnel, program managers) when they need technical descriptions, justifications and signatures and, in general, eating up funds from the program coffers that could better be applied elsewhere. I think that industry has labored under this false impression of CMers too long. This is not an accurate description of today's CM operations.

Today's CM practitioner and those of the future will be very much like a Project Engineer. He or she will perform program and project planning activities to identify program transition states and tasks, determine levels of control, support engineers and draftspersons in managing their digital design files, auditing the automated, 'transparent' CM process to assure that everything is in order, installing and administering PDM/PLM systems, and supporting the Program Manager in the effective and efficient process of information management.



Dave Lyon is the author of several CM texts:

He currently provides seminars and consulting services to clients throughout North America and Europe engaged in the transition from manual CM systems to automated CM systems.


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 Product                         Lifecycle                         Management: Paradigm for 21st Century Product                         Realisation

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