Data and Processes Key to Manufacturing Product Lifecycle Management

By Scott Frappier | May 18, 2020

Manufacturing Product Lifecycle Management

Product lifecycle management (PLM) is at the core of manufacturing success. Understanding each phase in your product's journey helps you understand item popularity, lifecycle, and projected phase-out dates so you can strategize effectively. From product design and configuration to production and distribution, having the right tools and systems in place can help keep your entire team informed.

While most manufacturers have a PLM solution in place, many are not yet taking advantage of new technology solutions which helps you understand your data and take actions to streamline production and focus your efforts to become more successful. There are two core components in an effective PLM system:

  1. Data and information centralization
  2. Process flows to streamline communication and access to data

By centralizing your data and enabling process flows, you’re ensuring each department has access to the same up to date information. Let’s dive into the information lifecycle that flows through the Manufacturing Product Lifecycle Management system.

Product Development

In the product development phase, your team can analyze data from existing products to help produce higher-quality pieces. Through historical data on rework, revisions, and warranty claims, your product development team can generate new product designs that are higher quality and less likely to require ongoing product support. Within the system, all details on design and collaboration, intake and requests, focus groups, and testing is stored.

Product Cataloging

Tracking each product, bundles, families, and expiration dates is all core data in the product catalog. Additional information and fields can be added based on the required business needs. Centralizing product information in a single database allows the sales team visibility into products that should be sold together, popular items, and inventory levels. Additionally, this information can be routed outside of the PLM system into a portal where customers can access the information and place orders independently.

A portal also gives your customers the ability to view previous orders, pay invoices, read knowledge-base articles, reach your customer service department, and much more. Empowering your customers with access to this information will lead to stronger sales, on-time payments, and a more loyal customer.

Order Processing and Production

As orders are placed either through a portal or by a member of the sales team, that order is automatically routed via a business process flow to hand off information to the production department who can then begin the work if items are not already in inventory. BOMs, assembly instructions, and other pertinent information to the production process are automatically generated from the system and routed to the appropriate team members for execution.

Quality Control

Automated control measures are put into place to maintain the highest level of quality possible for each item being produced. Using IoT, you’re able to track equipment efficiency, any production issues, employee performance, manufacturing speed, and much more. Smart manufacturing devices can help not only improve the speed of the production facility, but also the quality of items being produced.

Ongoing Support

With access to all historical data – from product development to sales and production, your warranty and product support teams have the information they need to resolve any customer questions or needs. With data and process flows at the center of your PLM system, your manufacturing company will have the information and insights you need to:

  • Improve processes and production
  • Increase quality
  • Collaborate across departments with real-time information
  • Reduce costs and increase efficiency
  • Have a clear understanding of your product's lifecycle from beginning to end

While this just scratches the surface of product lifecycle management, hopefully, it brings into focus the important role that data and a connected system plays in a successful manufacturing operation. To learn more about how your business can use Dynamics 365 to streamline production and gain control of PLM, reach out to Stoneridge Software.

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