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Managing products through their entire lifecycle – from inception to design and development until production and end of life – although challenging, it’s thrilling. With a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solution, you can manage this lifecycle with ease.

According to Statista, the PLM and engineering software market is predicted to be worth $18.2 billion by 2020. Using a PLM solution is now an integral part of modern supply chains. This allows you to enjoy the benefit of better product quality, reduced production costs, and faster time to market.

As we have written previously, every business needs a robust PLM solution. There are a variety of solutions available in the market. The problem is, choosing a solution that provides exactly the capabilities you need, to meet your distinct business requirements. Since not all PLM solutions are made the same, here are the top capabilities you should look for:

  1. End-to-end portfolio management:
    • One of the biggest benefits PLM technology offers is the ability to streamline the entire process of designing, developing, and manufacturing your product – within a single interface. Since PLM requirements are often broad and span multiple departments, each with varying degree of sophistication, one of the first things you should look for is end-to-end portfolio management.
    • Your PLM solution should be such that you get to run the entire operation from one place, without having to switch between programs or providers. From basic PLM capabilities such as CAD design, production planning, and fine-tuning future iterations of your product all the way to IoT, Augmented Reality, systems integration and more. Such capabilities give you a realistic picture of how your product will come to life. Although you might not be ready for advanced PLM yet, the solution you choose should allow you to scale to those capabilities when the need arises.
  1. Compliance management:
    • A common challenge manufacturers face is compliance with regulations and industry standards. Irrespective of whether the requirements are set by the government or by industry bodies, the PLM solution you choose should offer tools such as templates, and tracking to help with compliance and regulatory management.
    • Regulations will apply to almost every element of your product. They will change depending on where your product is going to be used, and how it’s going to be used. Your PLM software should consider compliance as a high priority and help keep it on the top of mind for your staff – throughout the development process. Managing the manufacturing process through a modern PLM solution should help ensure that all necessary standards are being met and help avoid issues in production down the line.
  1. Reporting and analytics:
    • There’s a lot of data that needs to be constantly captured and analyzed to improve manufacturing process efficiency. Any PLM solution should be capable of collecting data, analyzing it, and creating reports. The solution should offer insight into how processes can be improved and on which processes are working and which aren’t.
    • While on the lookout, make sure the PLM solution leverages data across your business, so you know you are making the best decisions about product development, management, design, and production. Reporting and analytics is a must-have feature. The insights your PLM solution can offer will help to improve your products and the development process.
  1. Enterprise collaboration:
    • As the demand for highly complex products increases, manufacturers need to find ways to facilitate effective collaboration with partners across locations. Setting up and maintaining a network for supplier collaboration is never easy. Many organizations are unwilling or unable to manage the challenges that come with it.
    • While choosing a PLM solution for apparel manufacturing, make sure it has deep collaboration capabilities built into it. You will need capabilities such as ease of use, intuitive interface, role-based tailoring, and availability on mobile or tablet devices. This will become critical to enhancing communication and collaboration between suppliers and vendors. Such timely communication across highly distributed teams can not only help resolve issues quickly but also help you complete critical tasks, meet important deadlines, and speed up time to market. It is through real-time collaboration that you can reduce organizational complexity, increase product innovation, and drive greater customer and partner intimacy.
  1. Integration:
    • Another key consideration for your PLM solution is systems integration. The ability of the PLM solution to integrate seamlessly with other enterprise systems such as ERP, warehouse, and inventory management is what can lay the foundation for unified data across your organization.
    • The risk, time, and investment that otherwise would have gone into several basic integrations and maintenance can instead be diverted into enabling new capabilities. To get real value from your manufacturing efforts, your PLM solution should be a part of a wider, well-integrated suite of products that supports your business goals. And integration just with existing systems is not enough to boost manufacturing efficiency. Your PLM software should also offer the scalability for every future integration. This will ease future configurability headaches and also reduce your total cost of ownership in the long run.

Meet diverse customer needs

The future of manufacturing is laden with challenges and opportunities. To keep pace with today’s complex market, manufacturers need to embrace technological advances to boost plant productivity, compete against rivals, and strike a chord with customers. With quicker time-to-market becoming a top priority for businesses across industries, manufacturers crave better process management.

PLM solutions can help you to make complex decisions. With capabilities like portfolio management, compliance management, reporting, collaboration, and integration, manufacturers can improve operational efficiency, reduce lifecycle cost, and meet diverse customer demands. A solution that grows as your business grows will allow you to reap the rewards of being a highly differentiated, world-class manufacturer.

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