One of the major emerging trends in the Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solution space is the expansion of the overall product and manufacturing lifecycle. Increasingly, this is referred to as the digital enterprise. In the digital enterprise, all aspects of product design, test, manufacturing, and supply chain are interconnected across a digital thread of virtual design, simulation, production processes, analytics, and systems engineering. The focus today is on the next generation of smart connected products that will support smart connected factories and Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystems. These so-called edge devices will function as the source of data and information that will also power the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
A significant component of the digital thread is the concept of the digital twin, where the physical product, equipment, or system is connected to the virtual design model allowing a constant stream of performance information on the product in the field. PLM suppliers provide the design technology that enable smart connected product design that will enable the implementation of the digital twin. PLM product design virtual models represent the virtual component of the digital twin, with product design criteria now focusing on designing smart, connected products.
Another continuing trend for PLM is an overall systems engineering or model-based design approach to product design. This involves considering product design within the context of multiple engineering disciplines (mechanical, electrical, software). Product development across all industry sectors is moving to meet the requirements for smart and connected products to support the IoT. This applies whether the product is a car, appliance, consumer product, or mobile device.
Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) in the Cloud
PLM business and deployment models are undergoing changes due to the cloud-based PLM solutions offered by most leading suppliers. “PLM in the cloud” offers small-to-medium-sized PLM users more options to tailor solutions to their specific business and engineering requirements. The rapidly growing need for product development based on systems engineering, emergence of mechatronics and product complexity, continued growth of manufacturing in emerging economies, and expanding adoption of a more holistic end-to-end PLM solution set will all contribute to the growth in the worldwide PLM market.
Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) Connected Products
One trend that will impact multiple industries involves developing and manufacturing the next generation of smart, IoT-connected products. While manufacturers across all industrial sectors are ramping up to meet demand for this growing smart product market, they face major challenges in developing and manufacturing new and significantly more complex products.
Significant opportunity exists in both design and manufacturing to expand the digitally connected world (and our online lives) to the physical products we use every day. The time-tested approach to good design has been based on meeting the requirements for fit, form, and function. To meet the requirements for IoT, designers now must consider an expansion of function to include connectivity and intelligence.
PLM providers are addressing and developing IoT strategies and solutions, including industry-specific solutions. PLM suppliers regard IoT as an architecture of layers. The lowest layer, design, involves smart, connected objects, devices, and products. At the factory/plant layer, PLM suppliers are enabling customers to make the transition to the next generation of smart connected factories where it will be necessary to design and architect production systems, automated work stations, and assembly lines into a factory system of systems. This is the essence of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and smart manufacturing in which there is communication between intelligent products, machines, and systems.