The Digital Factory Future with Automation and PLM



A series of technology advancements are bringing the worlds of product lifecycle management (PLM) and automation closer together, with far-reaching implications not only in manufacturing but across all industries. The digital factory is no longer a hypothetical concept. But a slowly forming reality. 


This combination is showing itself in an increase in R&D activity, acquisitions, and partnering for PLM suppliers. The decision-making process for individuals in the industry considering future investment, both in terms of technology and company improvement, has just become more difficult. The driving force is a combination of hardware, “smart,” and cloud features.


Influences from other Industries

Because of the long-term nature of the assets, controlling the entire life cycle has been a way of life for several sectors for a long time. Nuclear power, maritime, and civil building were examples of highly capital-intensive and regulated industries.

The introduction of mobile technology is one result of these sectors’ ongoing drive for more intense asset utilization. Historically, this has centered on tasks like task management, operational data, and defect recording and reporting. The current tendency is to give live data in the form of 3-D models, animations, and service data. Production instructions, simulations, inspection information, and exception reporting are all transmitted and processed directly at the point of production using PLM in several industrial industries.


The importance of PLM may grow as the building and construction industry develops toward modular, manufactured, and even “printed” structures. The techniques used are more akin to typical production and assembly than construction. PLM becomes a major competence in this industry when combined with a proliferation of smart sensors for buildings—to optimize not only utility usage, but also the performance of equipment and finishes—and the ability to redesign spaces. Information about products, the processes and machinery that make them, the facilities involved, and the supply and delivery networks that support them are colliding like never before.


The Contribution of PLM in Making a Digital Factory

To put this in context, let’s take a look at some of PLM’s fundamental capabilities. Because the breadth of this subject might be quite broad, we’ll concentrate on two main areas: product definition management and configuration management.

Requirements, systems models, 3-D models, tests, instructions, process plans, tooling, quality measurements, service information, and packaging are all part of the PLM product definition. Traditionally, these areas would have been documented, but they are increasingly being captured as part of a complete virtual description. The definition of a product also comprises the definition of product structures (bills of materials). And most importantly, the process that led to the definition. When considering the possible rise in feedback from both production and in-service monitoring of smart devices, this latter feature is critical.


Evolving PLM and Automations

However, the definition of a product is evolving. PLM arose from the discrete manufacturing industry, which was centered on hardware and engineering, with traditional bills of materials. PLM is being used in industries such as telecommunications, finance, fashion, and pharmaceuticals. It is responsible for items that contain hard, soft, electrical, and electronic components. With the development of composites and other innovative materials, even the rigid components are changing. This affects product definition as well as manufacturing methods and equipment.


Software is becoming a more important value advantage for finished items, allowing for incremental changes to products in use. This, paired with in-service monitoring, is shifting the concept of products away from physical items and toward service supply. Manufacturers can learn from industries that have successfully used PLM to develop and support a portfolio of service offerings, such as the service industry.


Broader Vision

KloudPLM was built on the industry’s #1 Cloud Platform, Salesforce. This gives our customers great flexibility and scalability. Integrated Design, Quality management, and Integrations facilitating digital transformation and continuous product improvement. Streamlining your product development and increasing profits. Build your digital factory with KloudPLM. To know More, Schedule a demo today. 


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