What has the “Internet of Things” to do with PLM and PLM standards?

Some of you may already have read the article "Tech Standards Loom As Last Big Hurdle To Internet Of Things", mentioned in the March 30, 2009 issue of John Stark's newsletter by my colleague Lion Benjamins, as he argued not only that “the Internet of Things will affect your business” - meaning the PLM business - but also that it will affect PLM standards. But how can this be?
Certainly if PLM as a discipline were to remain focused on the beginning of life (BOL) of products and PLM standards were restricted only to those required to facilitate exchange of data between those application suites supporting that lifecycle phase, then the Internet of Things might have little effect. However, the future of PLM lies in the exploitation of information gathered not only at beginning of life, but also in the middle of life (MOL) and at the end of life (EOL) of a product, and the exchange and exploitation of that information across all three lifecycle phases.
The EU PROMISE Project investigated how technology and processes could be exploited to “close the information loops” and derive real value from information gathered in each of the three phases of  a product‘s  life. Thus data from any phase might be used to influence decision making in the other phases, for example factors prevailing at the time a product is made, or how it has been used can significantly affect its residual value at end of life; there are simply too many permutations to discuss here.
By the end of the PROMISE Project in May 2008, research into the data gathering and identification technologies required, such as barcode, all frequencies of RFID, several wireless sensor network standards, their practical application to 10 industrial-strength demonstrators, plus an understanding of the nature of the communications infrastructure necessary to “close the PLM information loops”, led to the clear realisation that this technical infrastructure was indeed analogous to the much vaunted but still rather vaguely defined “Internet of Things”.
Furthermore the partners of the PROMISE Project recognised that its resulting processes and technologies could be applied much more generically than simply to PLM, and could be extended to, among others, healthcare, supply chain management and traceability. “Closing the PLM information loops” had become “closing the information loops across all phases of all kinds of lifecycles”.
Therefore PROMISE also found it necessary to distinguish between traditional PLM, which is widely interpreted to apply only to parts of the beginning of life phase, and the applicability to different kinds of lifecycles. Thus the concept of “Closed Loop Lifecycle Management” (CL2M) was born.
Several partners of the former PROMISE Project have since been preparing with The Open Group to form a managed consortium, building on many of the results of PROMISE to strongly influence the development of the architecture and standards crucial for the successful realisation of the Internet of Things and Closed Loop Lifecycle Management. The first public step of that launch will be in a one-day parallel meeting on April 29th, 2009 at The Open Group London Conference,

The Open Group turns out to be an ideal partner for this initiative since the realisation of the Internet of Things has implications way beyond technology, impacting such areas as how it will fit into IT systems architecture in general and impact on business models and processes. All of these are highly developed and visible strengths of The Open Group, its architecture framework (TOGAF) and its worldwide network of accredited architects.

The main objective of this consortium will be to position and establish the architecture and interface results from PROMISE as the basis for further work leading to an open international standard enabling a global infrastructure that will support multi-directional information exchange between all kinds of information sources, including sensors, decision support systems and existing legacy systems – in essence the backbone for the Internet of Things.
In conclusion, let me make one thing very clear, we know that PLM standards in the traditional PLM space are mature and continue to be refined, we are not proposing to “replace” them nor interfere with  them. However we are appealing to those exponents of PLM, both companies and individuals, who can grasp the vision of CL2M, to join with us and collaborate in this initiative to close the information loops between lifecycle phases.

Together we can expedite the realisation of Closed Loop Lifecycle Management and the Internet of Things. You can register your interest in participating in the managed standards consortium using the following link: The Open Group: PROMISE Interest Group , or meet us at their London Conference on April 29th. 


David Potter is Chief Technical Officer, Promise Innovation International Oy., and former Chairman of the Project Steering Board of the EU PROMISE Project.