PLM Trends - an interview with Rolf Wiedmann

November 08, 2016

Anyone hoping to benefit from increasing digitalisation and networking, has to actively take part in shaping this transformation. PLM systems play a decisive role in this digital value creation chain. They are the central unit for self-learning systems, which capture and evaluate data in order to use this as a basis for finding the best way to combine the digital and real world with one another. Rolf Wiedmann, Sales Director at TechniaTranscat GmbH in Germany, talks about the trends and drivers of this change and the opportunities for businesses.

What do companies today think of PLM?

"A stronger focus is being placed on products and innovations, whilst at the same time, globalisation is intensifying competition," says Rolf Wiedmann. "Today, shorter innovation cycles and growing numbers of variations necessitate efficient and flexible processes. Companies have recognised that a PLM solution can help their employees manage rising demands and increasing complexity," he continues. 

How is the market for PLM software going to develop?

"Up to now, the market for PLM solutions was of most interest for automotive, aerospace and industrial equipment. This will soon extend to other sectors, where it is likewise important to efficiently manage products throughout their entire life cycle. In the future, PLM will increasingly find its way into fields such as life-sciences, retail and the fashion industry. Of course, the number of users will also grow due to the ever more extensive use of product data, this includes external users and departments which are not directly involved in the product development process, but which can still benefit from using the data. The younger generation in particular expects to see systems that – just like the apps they use everyday – are very easy to use and simultaneously have a high value of benefit."

What will be expected of a PLM solution in the future?

"A PLM solution can be used to maximum effect when the user is supported in their work in an intuitive and user-friendly manner. It is also clear that PLM needs to be integrated within a company’s IT development plan and should be optimally integrated into existing core systems such as the ERP system. In addition to this level of integration, a PLM solution also needs to be quick to implement. Modern agile methods thus offer the opportunity to configure a system specifically to suit a client’s needs so that no complex programming is required. Another important feature of a PLM solution is the option to have upgrades. Modern, configurable solutions make it possible to profit from technical progress and to update the systems in logical cycles to the latest respective manufacturer’s release."

What do company’s need to do today in order to be well-prepared for the challenges to come?

"In the future, it’s won’t be enough to just keep step with the others, you have to be one step ahead. To do this, a clear plan is needed and a development plan for the IT landscape, whereby the IT solutions are seen as a platform for effective business processes. Companies should therefore focus on their processes and ensure that these can be successfully applied with the use of PLM technology. In return, enough capacity must be supplied, taking the available resources into account. In terms of organisation, this means that PLM operates across departments and should therefore be the overall responsibility of relevant management expertise. In summary, there are three main points: effective processes, optimum support from IT and finally, the ability to implement projects in this environment, both on the part of the management team and by means of providing the necessary internal capacities."

What role will cloud technology play for CAD and PLM in the future?

"If you look at how many applications we use in both professional and private settings every day and which are already available in the cloud, it is safe to say that CAD and PLM will also have a future in the cloud. Mobility, usage of systems across various platforms as well as quick implementation and scalability all clearly speak in favour of the cloud. Of course, the manner of provision may vary, from the public cloud or hybrid cloud to the private cloud."

Huge volumes of data are continually being created in the internet of things – how can companies process these intelligently and for what purposes can they be used meaningfully?

"Thanks to integration and the increasing intelligence of objects, extensive information about operating conditions can be gained, i.e. from machines and facilities. Processing these large amounts of data is done with modern analysis tools. This then depends upon the volume, speed and structure with which the data is gathered; OptimData, for example, a company within the Addnode group deal with this type of activity. In general, this solution allows facility and machinery manufacturers to provide their end clients with extra services, thereby boosting their sales and increasing client retention."

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