Nowadays, manufacturing industry uses highly complex IT systems to develop equally highly complex products that include an increasing number of electronic and software components. However, the attempt to cast out the devil of complexity with complex PLM solutions is increasingly being stretched to the limit. If users are to get to grips with this complexity, they need applications that are as innovative as they are easy to use.
The key to mastering complexity is end-to-end digitalization from development to manufacturing through to operation and back again. This means that the operational data that is normally collected and evaluated on IoT platforms needs to be linked to the development objects and manufacturing information. Only then can the interrelationships and dependencies be made transparent for all the domains involved at all times.
The ability to weave this digital thread without allowing it to break during the product lifecycle is an essential prerequisite for the traceability of deliverables and development processes. Without this traceability, companies are unable to respond agilely to new market and customer requirements. This means that the digital thread is becoming key driver of competition in times of global unpredictability, which is characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.
Manufacturing companies must position themselves strategically if they are to master the digital thread. To succeed, they need a strategic overall concept for ensuring end-to-end digitalization, which is or should be an integral part of any sustainable PLM strategy.
And they need open, modular and integrable IT architectures that are able to keep pace with dynamically changing processes and IT landscapes while at the same time making the increasing levels of complexity easier for users to manage.
As I said at the beginning: making complexity manageable using an even greater level of complexity is not a solution. Lightweight web applications are needed to build and maintain the digital thread across heterogeneous system environments without the need to change existing system landscapes or implement yet another powerful enterprise application. It is for precisely this reason that we developed OpenCLM – software that sits atop the existing IT systems as a thin layer, links associated information and makes the interrelationships transparent across all the phases of the product lifecycle.
OpenCLM makes it possible for companies to grasp complex situations as a whole, to efficiently manage and monitor interdisciplinary development projects and, if required, to generate documentation in line with the relevant standards and regulations at the touch of a button. The software manages the complex web of relations between information independently of the IT systems used, thus making it possible for companies to respond agilely to new process and system requirements when designing their IT system landscapes.
By Karsten Theis