Why I love PLM 4.0

I make it no secret that I want to see Manufacturing return to its much-needed domestic shores.

Anything of reasonable quality is wanted quicker and more personalized.

Batches of One?

Maybe, I’m unsure of that for a good few years, but at least, for now, some customization to fit the consumer needs or wants.

And then timely?

Think about that online purchase; you’ve done your search, found what you want, and it says it’ll take 72hrs to be delivered – let’s be honest, we now change our mind and go elsewhere, don’t we?

At least that’s what the statistics are showing. 24hrs is good, 48 is OK, 72 is forgotten it.

There’s no sense in stockpiling when people are customizing, and so our manufacturing processes need to change along with our supply chains, both for B2C & B2B.

Bring back manufacturing to the domestic chores, as many are doing already.

The 4th Industrial Revolution demands an expanded and upgraded version of the Product & Service Lifecycle. Industry4.0 rests on the advancement of PLM.

Let’s look at how in 2022 that’s happening


Macro Advancement

Meeting local demands means enhancing the operational and information technology in your manufacturing operations:

  • Merging the physical and digital worlds through real-time simulation tools (The Digital Twin)
  • Software Solution support and products for the IoT and M2M communications
  • Interaction from the edge to cloud and big data analytics
  • Additive Manufacturing

So how will PLM support these exciting new technologies?



What is PLM?

Product lifecycle management is handling your product as it moves through the typical stages of envisioning, design, development/simulation, manufacture, maintenance, and decline/dispose of/recycling.

Effective product life cycle management brings together the many companies, departments, and employees involved with the product’s production to streamline their activities, with the ultimate goal of producing a product that delivers the original vision.

Good PLM has many benefits, such as:

  • getting the product to market faster,
  • putting a higher quality product into the market,
  • improving product safety and
  • reducing errors and waste.

Specialized computer software assists with PLM through document management, design integration, and process management.


Industry4.0 In The 4IR

It’s just a matter of when, not if – everyone who survives will change their culture first, adopt the technologies second, and move to offense: product innovation third.

Occasionally, we like to say it’s an “evolution,” not Revolution, to not scare conservative business people from taking a step forward. Still, changing how we think of our businesses, care for our customers, and manufacture their products is a vast and hard-to-make step.

Industry4 combines new/disruptive technologies that transform the Manufacturing and Utility sectors.

These technologies include:

  • Shop Floor advanced Robotics / Cobots together with Artificial Intelligence, Machine enablement and maintenance assistance care of Augmented Reality and 3d Additive Manufacturing.
  • BigData is extracted care of the Internet of Things into the Cloud for intense Analytics and enterprise-wide intelligence that’s then ultimately looped back to
  • The Digital Twin; a replica of the physical product world

Under the Industry 4.0 model, product design and development occur in simulated laboratories and utilize digital fabrication models.

The products take tangible form only after most of the design and engineering problems have been worked out. The networks of machinery that have engendered industrial society become hyper-aware systems of highly flexible technology, responding rapidly not just to human commands but to their perceptions and self-direction.


PLM 4.0

The Digital Thread

Before we discuss the digital twin, we need to understand the Industry 4.0 concept that supports it: the digital thread. The digital cable comes from a set of connected records capturing the data and activities that define your product or process. The first of these; data—refers to the requirements, models, drawings, specifications, BOMs, analyses, and product manufacturing information used to produce a manufactured good.

The digital thread connects:

  • tasks that were performed as part of the project plan
  • what suppliers or subcontractors were used during the manufacturing process
  • the engineering release
  • change processes
  • the design review meetings conducted during product development
  • organization of product-related content
  • BOM and 3D model definition
  • configuration management
  • manufacturing processes

The digital thread begins by defining what the product or service needs to do and why it’s necessary. Then take these requirements and imagine how you might address them, breaking each into the functions or features, or logical components that the product must offer.

The Digital Twin

According to Gartner, two-thirds of companies plan to use the technology to support their Internet of Things (IoT) initiatives. And market intelligence firm IDC recently predicted that 70% of manufacturers would soon be using Digital twins to conduct simulations and scenario evaluations, reducing equipment failures by 30%.

Today, while no customer we speak with fails to mention it, it’s not yet 70% prepared to invest in the Unified BOM and Digital Thread to make it happen.

Digital models across the product, its supply chain, and service processes are to be provided by PLM. Digital models have been around for some time and are now evolving across numerous products to simulate (The Digital Twin) various product types, manufacturing lines, and external influences.

PLM provides various authoring systems for different component modes from geometry, electronics, mechanics, build, stress, software, and interdependencies.

The i4.0 technologies provide a closed-loop lifecycle, including logistics and servitization. This enables entire simulations of new innovative business models. The challenge remains, of course, across the world to adopt common standards.


“Intelligent” Products

Not wishing to open up a debate over the term “intelligence,” we’re talking about products embedded with IoT, Software, and networked for additional services. This, together with Cloud services, allows for entirely new business models sold, maintained, and rented.

The PLM must include all of these components.

Intelligent Products can be personalized and remote-controlled, along with enabling new services.

PLM manages the product data and control processes, including requirements management, change, and approvals. Furthermore, the integration care of Applications and UI needs developing to deliver services, big data solutions, and analytics.


Integrated Factories / Plants

PLM provides methods and tools for digitalized (cyber-physical and communicative systems) manufacturing for the basis of factory and process planning.

To create Intelligent Factories, PLM needs to be enhanced to include the development of robots/cobots and 3d manufacturing along with quality management and logistics covering Applications, Services, and Communications.


Smart Service

As manufacturers move to new business models, including intelligence after-sales services, PLM must adapt and include integrated services and embeds product data for technical documentation, replacement part management, or maintenance planning.

The cost of the potential service more than pays for itself care of preventative maintenance, optimized replacement part logistics, warranty processing, upgrades, and error fixing.

Loving PLM

Bringing together customer and product intelligence within your PLM systems and strategy has led to several cores focuses on retaining and winning new customers:

  1. Ultimately customer and Artificial Intelligence lead to configuration intelligence that drives product planning. Customers trust organizations that understand them better.
  2. Collaboration via Platformization 4.0 provides ongoing real-time feedback during design and development. More robust products come from customer and ecosystem focus, less wasted development cycles, and more significant customer empowerment and satisfaction.
  3. Customer Experience (CX): Your company is working on an innovation that you know will attract more customers—but have you asked yourself, how will customers experience the new product? The experience we are talking about here is the whole experience the customer will have when using your product, from the 1st touch to purchase through the ownership lifecycle. Before assigning company resources to test and production, consider how well your company understands the entire customer experience surrounding that innovation.
  4. Improve product modeling & manufacturing execution across all your plants through visualization and simulation, care of ultimately the Digital Twin enabled via IoT across the value chain, including inbound supply chain planning.

PLM is the enabler and optimizer for Industry4.0, and it’s fascinating to see how it can drag enterprise and culture into the 4IR.


It’s hard to locate anything more exciting and all-encompassing than Product Lifecycle Management in the 4IR. Product Innovation is the critical success factor.

I always love to hear from you, always love to help

Best wishes, Andrew

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.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *