Product lifecycle management: The key to longevity and product transformation | HCLTech

Product lifecycle management: The key to longevity and product transformation

Product lifecycle management (PLM) is an essential element of driving an organization’s product transformation
7 minutes read
Nicholas Ismail
Nicholas Ismail
Global Head of Brand Journalism, HCLTech
7 minutes read
Product lifecycle management: The key to longevity and product transformation

Product lifecycle management (PLM) is ultimately about maximizing a company’s return on investment by monitoring, improving and transforming products across their entire end-to-end lifecycle. 

It’s defined as the handling of a product or service throughout the typical stages of a product’s life: from concept, development and growth to its eventual decline and removal from the market. 

“It’s all about getting the right products to the right market at the right time and for the right cost,” explains Peter Bilello, President & CEO, CIMdata. “By doing that, and having an end-to-end view, organizations are going to maximize their return on investment. Without an effective PLM strategy, companies will sub optimize and never get the most of out of their investment in terms of what they’re putting into products and what they’re bringing to market.” 

Every business in every industry produces some form of product and/or service. The key drivers behind the rapid transformation of product development are cost optimization and time-to-market to ensure competitive advantage. PLM is core to the successful development, delivery and transformation of these new, more adaptive products and services.  

“When thinking about PLM there are three aspects: configuration management capabilities for a clear, concise and valid view of data, end-to-end visibility for lifecycle management and a systems view to optimize the view of the entire lifecycle of a product across the business. Most major PLM solution providers are moving towards a better enablement of those three aspects,” adds Bilello. 

Taking PLM to the next level with next-gen tech  

Traditionally, when integrating PLM, the challenge for most organizations was that they were structured in a pyramid formation. This meant that only a few people had an entire view of the whole lifecycle. This made it problematic to optimize, improve and transform products and services.  

However, people’s understanding of the right market lifecycle management has evolved. There’s a better knowledge of what’s required to achieve an entire lifecycle view of a product or service. At the same time, the proliferation of collaborative or digital technologies is helping break down information siloes across organizations to create a single source of truth for product information and innovation. 

The availability of these technologies, such as generative design, advanced analytics and digital twins, can enable a true lifecycle support environment. These technologies can extend the capabilities of individuals looking to maximize the return on investment for products and services across their entire lifecycle. 

“The introduction of next-generation technologies, such as generative design and generative engineering, is supporting cross disciplinary and design optimization in the digital space and across different engineering disciplines faster than ever before,” says Bilello. 

He adds: “Much of this optimization comes from enhanced simulation capabilities, with IoT providing the necessary connectivity into the field, enabling product design teams to have a better understanding of how a current product in the field is being used.” 

Change management is key 

Organization-wide change management is also needed to integrate PLM and unlock transformative outcomes. 

Bilello explains: “Most organizations aren’t structured in a way that allows optimization across a product’s lifecycle. To change this requires a different method of management and a different set of roles and responsibilities to truly optimize the end-to-end approach that is required.” 

He points to the automobile industry as an example: “Automobiles used to have fairly limited warranties. But when they were trying to break into the US market, Hyundai began to offer significantly longer warranties on major components of vehicles. The company invested more in engineering vehicle parts that would last longer than standard warranties in the US market. It cost them more to build the car, but from a lifecycle perspective it was better. Not only did they gain lots of new customers, but they also didn’t have to spend as much on fixing or replacing their vehicle’s components, as their lifecycles were drastically improved. To do this, the organization’s structure and specific product and business strategies had to change. For example, business decisions were made from a lifecycle perspective, rather than a departmental or R&D perspective.” 

Engineering AI for a resilient, sustainable and innovative future

Read the magazine

The digital support system 

The digital twin and digital thread or ‘web’ are fundamental in supporting an effective PLM strategy. 

The digital twin is the digital replica of a product, enabling engineers to iteratively test, make changes, remediate and improve in a virtual environment.  

“Digital twins are a set of information that defines the product, at any given time across its lifecycle. As a product evolves, that information will evolve and provides a holistic view,” explains Bilello. 

He adds: “Some companies are using it in the design phase, for simulation-driven systems development, where they're testing a product or service with heavy degrees of simulation that represent the real world.” 

The digital thread is what connects all this information together. It’s a network of decisions and paths that show how an organization has reached any given point in the product’s lifecycle. 

“Without the digital thread the digital twin is an orphan, because without any connection across the lifecycle it’s difficult to know what changes to make. It removes the guesswork of the past,” says Bilello. 

Technologies like the digital twin and digital thread, under the umbrella of PLM, are becoming more important as organizations continue to realize that their products have a lifecycle that must be embedded and optimized in the market at the right time. 

Ultimately, PLM provides a holistic view of a product’s lifecycle, leading to continuous transformation. It enables the connectivity that supports end-to-end optimization and increased product complexity, allowing organizations to bring impactful products to market with a speed and agility like never before. 

Share On