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PLM in the cloud: Where today meets tomorrow

How many virtual meetings have you held via cloud applications lately? How many times have you uploaded a document or exchanged information in a shared drive that others could edit?

While some express concerns about using the cloud due to performance capabilities or IP protection, those same people are already using cloud applications for everyday business purposes and may not even realize it, thus de facto endorsing cloud security and performance capabilities.

PLM and cloud technology as a competitive advantage

The digital transformation of enterprises is more prevalent now than ever. Everything from the digital twin and simulation to cloud-based applications is helping to simplify an increasingly complex product lifecycle. The competition will likely leave behind companies shying away from this digital evolution.

For companies with design teams and manufacturing facilities spread across the globe, digitalization has been a proven, reliable way of working. Many successfully embrace a PLM in the cloud strategy where all the benefits of cloud and product lifecycle management (PLM) come together:

  • PLM software allows stakeholders to quickly get to the information needed to do their job, without the worry of working with the wrong data, losing track of data, or spending too much time looking for what they need in various data silos.
  • Collaboration is another benefit of PLM, where 2D and 3D data is easily viewed, analyzed, and shared throughout the enterprise.
  • Cloud technology eliminates technical barriers and, when matched with PLM, can help companies innovate faster. Users can securely access product lifecycle information from anywhere, on any device, and at any time, whether they’re working from their home, the office, in New York, or New Delhi.

According to Jim Brown of Tech-Clarity, “The cloud is a means to an end. The real value is helping manufacturers improve the pace and level of innovation.”

Building the architecture

Perhaps the most critical benefit of adopting PLM in the cloud is how architecture allows for growth and innovation. With PLM and cloud, companies realize faster deployments and can easily scale PLM based on business requirements. With a modern cloud architecture that is easily integrated with other systems, companies can leverage the latest technology* and allow for new apps that address new use cases to be quickly created, when needed, using low-code methods.

Check out our blog post AI Classification to work smarter for more information on this topic.

Modern, cloud-based PLM systems help organizations work more efficiently and streamline their product development data and processes. For example, PLM in the cloud addresses basic PLM requirements like design and document management, visualization, and change management. It moves beyond basic needs to address other business requirements like supplier integration, product sustainability, materials management, and more. Companies that need their global users to get up and running quickly can benefit from a PLM cloud deployment where users can access product and process data securely – anywhere and on any device.

Small-to-medium sized businesses across industries

Most industries can benefit from PLM in the cloud. For example, companies in the medical device industry require global collaborative functionality that is swift and secure. PLM cloud deployments enable users to access product and process data safely. Aerospace and high-tech companies can streamline change orders and expedite global supplier collaboration processes more efficiently with PLM in the cloud.

Imagine a small clothing designer of premium shirts made with unique, organic materials. As a startup business, they have two employees – the owners who work out of a small design studio in the Midwest. Suddenly, the organic shirt trend catches on and attracts venture capital. Now, they must expand their business, increase operations from two employees to thirty, forty, or hundreds, and streamline material and design management. Besides, rapid expansion requires accommodation of multiple patterns, styles, fabrics, colours, and sizes, all while successfully managing fulfilment to numerous major retailers around the world. They must grow fast, and using spreadsheets for workflow won’t cut it anymore.

How do they control production? How do they control their internal document management? How do they manage external organizations that deal with terms of vendors, clients, and customers as well as fulfilment and finance? Moving from a startup to a complex, global business means managing exponential growth in information, tracking physical assets and inventory throughout product development, and handling the entire product lifecycle that potentially includes thousands of different iterations on a single type of shirt.

NP Innovation, a Swedish-based company that develops water treatment solutions for aquaculture, industrial and municipal applications, is a real-world example of using PLM in the cloud. The company started as a small startup business with a team of four designers and didn’t have the IT staff or budget to support a great software deployment effort. The nimble team determined that using cloud deployment as a monthly operational expense eliminated the need for upfront purchase of servers. Therefore the need to invest significant capital in boosting technological capabilities was not required.

NP Innovation installed and deployed the PLM solution in just ten days, including user training. The design team was able to collaborate 50 per cent more efficiently and witnessed increased design re-use by 50 per cent as well, saving both time and money in the process.

“Changes are now managed using Teamcenter and all the history is there, so it gives us the knowledge needed to understand when to make a change and when to act as a consequence of a change. This gives us full control over our product development and facilitates innovation”

-Gustav Kågesson, Design Manager at NP Innovation

PLM in the cloud: Where today meets tomorrow

As you can see, massive Fortune 500 companies aren’t the only ones benefitting from PLM in the cloud.

When PLM and cloud are brought together, it can result in business advantages for small and large companies:

  • Scale and expansion. Cloud can expand based on business needs such as geography, distribution, solutions, and processes.
  • Latest technology adoption. Cloud allows for the adoption of cutting-edge innovations throughout each phase of the product lifecycle in security, analytics, machine learning, IoT and more.
  • Affordability. PLM in the cloud is cost-effective; it can reduce IT resource needs, speed up deployments, and rapidly connect users across the entire enterprise, supply chain, and value chain.

Companies must think beyond today, and toward tomorrow, because as a company grows and expands, it must have the requisite infrastructure to grow with it.

The cloud is here. We all utilize cloud applications to chat with relatives on the other side of the country, and children use it daily for e-learning. Businesses that are not keeping up with cloud technology will likely fall behind competitively. And, more likely than not, the competition has already embraced the cloud and reaping the benefits of the technology.

Disclaimer: I am the author at PLM ECOSYSTEM, focusing on developing digital-thread platforms with capabilities across CAD, CAM, CAE, PLM, ERP, and IT systems to manage the product data lifecycle and connect various industry networks. My opinions may be biased. Articles and thoughts on PLMES represent solely the author's views and not necessarily those of the company. Reviews and mentions do not imply endorsement or recommendations for purchase.

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