Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software provides a central location to manage all of the information associated to a product, automates processes and provides tracking capabilities to capture and resolve issues. With the ability to share information across the enterprise, PLM technology touches many phases of the engineering design and manufacturing cycle. As PLM has evolved from managing core engineering data to encompass more information management downstream, the opportunity for plant managers to leverage this technology is obvious.
PLM supports the plant manager’s need to implement policies and procedures that maximize manufacturing and logistics efficiencies. The ability to aggregate data from various sources into a single database/reporting dashboard offers a way to easily identify process inefficiencies in a holistic manner.
There are five main reasons plant managers should consider PLM:
1. Manufacturing floor efficiencies: PLM contains the most current product information. Giving manufacturing personnel access to the data within PLM helps to ensure that plant floor employees are using correct revisions/documentation, which can help to reduce costly manufacturing errors.
2. Project and process management: Project management within PLM ensures a smooth transition from product release to production. Plant managers can gain visibility into progress on upcoming production runs and new introductions. This gives plant managers a more accurate prediction of product completion/delivery and helps to make better resource allocation decisions. In addition, manufacturing process management (MPM) capabilities in PLM provide personnel with direct access to all product and component records. This can help to eliminate inventory surplus and significantly reduce costs.
3. Closed-loop processes: With the ability to manage quality processes and tie this information directly to the product record, plant managers can leverage PLM to implement a closed-loop process for dealing with PLM. This can give plant managers visibility into issues such as nonconformance results from audits and customer feedback to more easily track and resolve problems.
4. Automated training processes: Plant managers must ensure that personnel are properly trained before performing a task. Implementing an automated system to facilitate training control helps plant managers keep their staff adequately trained and adhere to company and regulatory policies. Managing training within PLM can provide plant managers with a facility to track and document all training records, implement automated machine calibration processes, easily identify recurring training/test/calibration events, and most importantly, access automatic alerts on policy/SOP (standard operating procedure), product and document changes to ensure training requirements are always up to date.
5. Simplified compliance: Meeting various internal and external compliance requirements is also a key role of plant managers. The automated tracking, alerting, reporting and permission capabilities available in PLM simplify compliance processes for regulatory bodies as well as for customer, vendor and internal audits.
The more automated and streamlined an organization is, the more efficient it is. With the capabilities available in today’s PLM solutions and the depth and breadth of information that plant managers can access within a central location, it only makes sense to take a closer look.
Chuck Cimalore is CTO at Omnify Software.