PLM products are fast becoming a staple of many engineering and manufacturing companies, as they strive to make their processes more efficient. A PLM approach encompasses all aspects of the process, from development and manufacturing to the use of the product. However, according to a recent study, numerous companies are not prepared for a comprehensive PLM approach.

The study was conducted by BearingPoint, the Technical University Karlsruhe and Germany’s Steinbeis Transfer Center Computer Applications in Engineering. Their findings showed that nine out of 10 companies allowed their customers to tweak the products they purchase.

However, the study also shows that 71% are not prepared for the complexity this entails, and 83% do not have a defined product configuration process. According to comments from various executives, their strategy for dealing with these issues was either using simple tools or managing product variations manually.

Steinbeis expert Joerg Fischer said, “The situation in companies is often in such a state that internal processes – and even more so the internal information architecture – doesn’t allow for change toward a digital company. In the short or long term, this will become an existential issue for companies that can be decisive for their future.”

One of the main roadblocks is the separation between individual aspects of the product development process. One of the key strengths of the PLM approach is the fact that all the different departments can access the project and share information about it much more efficiently.

There is an upside, however, as two-thirds of the companies surveyed said that the integration issue is being addressed. As the engineering and manufacturing industries become ever more digital, each department must work with each other to make the overall process more efficient for all.

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