PLM Supports Product Development – How About Services?
In this era of new levels of globalization, product companies are faced with market pressures from global competition and price deflation. Today they seek alternate sources of profitable revenue growth enabled by value-add service products. Developing a service-based revenue stream and then delivering product service that is both effective and profitable has its own challenges, however. Even mature service organizations are seeking new approaches to reach a significantly higher quality of service delivery.
Today in a typical product company, there is no single application to manage the the data and the decision points required to deliver effective service. Multiple enterprise applications including PLM, ERP, and often a combination of local databases, spreadsheets and stand alone IT systems are involved in service management. This results in fragmented information and knowledge processes around service delivery.
A new approach centered on incorporating service lifecycle management (SLM) as an integral part of product lifecycle management (PLM) is required in order to to achieve significant improvement in service readiness and delivery. First, this approach focuses on making complex products easier and less costly to maintain, and allowing for more effective allocation of service resources. The second key component is managing the complexity of service information that will reduce the cost and time to create and deliver critical service documentation and service records, at the same time improving the quality and efficacy of this information.
With SLM approached as an extended PLM process, design information can be used to bootstrap and enhance service planning, and product changes and updates are directed to modify service work instructions, and field experience provides up-to-date insight into product quality. The bulk of the information required for services such as illustrations, schematics, and work instructions already exists within the engineering organization and can be repurposed with a relatively little effort. 3D CAD models and Bills of Materials can be used to create everything from exploded wireframe views to photorealistic rendering, and to remove and replace animations that help in service execution. Manufacturability and ergonomic simulations can be used to improve the safety and efficiency of repair procedures.
The expanded PLM system needs to act as a centralized repository of the service bill-of-materials (sBoM) along with Engineering & Manufacturing BoM so that service items, which are mostly design and manufacturing items repurposed for service, can be synchronized to reflect the most up-to-date state of information. This synchronization is possible when SLM is part of PLM and shares the same configuration and change management processes
This way, enterprise PLM systems become the digital backbone of the entire product life cycle – including SLM – and SLM becomes a dynamic process connected with PLM that continues throughout the useful life of the product or asset. This reduces process fragmentation and provides rich end-to end context for better and more profitable service.
The combined PLM and SLM approach, along with new service models based on the latest technologies (such as the Internet of Things), enables brand owners to deliver higher quality service at lower cost, resulting in higher profit margins, enhanced brand image, and greater customer loyalty. Product or asset owners who are the end customers also benefit from increased utilization and productivity due to faster and more reliable service.
What do you think? Is your organization connected?