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From a set of software products to branch PLM-decisions
For the last years term PLM (Product Lifecycle Management – a data control about a product throughout its life cycle) has strongly taken the place in the field of an industrial production computerisation. Today PLM endures boom of popularity, as in due time ГПС and CALS.            

On the one hand, many experts would like to have accurate idea that stands up for concept PLM. On the other hand, the fashion on term PLM quite often leads to cases of its inadequate use. The purpose of given article – to clear up this point in question.

The first the concept and methods PLM were added to the arsenal by company IBM/Dassault Systemes – the today's leader in the field of working out of PLM-decisions. Definition of term PLM can be found in publications and advertising-information materials of this company. However, with a view of more objectivity, we will take advantage of definition of company CIMdata, the independent expert known in the world on problems CAD/CAM/CAE, PDM and PLM. This definition, in particular, can be read on a site in section “What is PLM?”.

So, definition CIMdata: “PLM is a strategic approach to business dealing which uses a set of compatible decisions for support of the general (Collaborative) representations of the information on a product in the course of its creation, realisation and operation, in the environment of expanded (Extended) the enterprises – beginning from the concept of creation of a product and finishing its recycling – at integration of manpower resources, processes and the information”. Behind the resulted formulation there are two more offers containing a number of additions and specifications concerning what should be carried to decisions of class PLM.

Hence PLM is not system and not a class of systems, as, for example, CAD/CAM, CAE or PDM, and strategy of manufacture of industrial products with application of a complex computerisation which is based on uniform representation of the information on a product (product) at all stages of its life cycle. This information can (and is not simple can, but should) to be used in common by all participants of the expanded enterprise whom concern the basic manufacturer of a product, suppliers, subcontractors, customers and consumers.

It is impossible to understand PLM in a separation from the basic tendencies of development of modern manufacture. In publications it is often told about growth of a competition among manufacturers, about varying preferences of customers, about struggle for reduction of terms, about reduction of price and improvement of quality of production as about the reasons demanding use of PLM-decisions. Deeper analysis of tendencies contains in materials of company IBM which have been kindly given us by the Moscow representation of this company (taking an opportunity, we express gratitude). In the specified materials it is noticed that a new information technology, on the one hand, follows development of process of globalisation of economy, and with another – acts as sources of new ideas. Among tendencies of development of manufacture the following is named:
- The shape of a product in the lesser degree is defined by its developer as the author's initiative, and in the increasing degree depends on requirements of its future consumer. It concerns not only complete sets, but also qualitative characteristics of a product;
- Headquarters plants – initiators of industrial business – concentrate on definitive assemblage of a product more and more, and the increasing share of manufacture is necessary on a share of the companies-suppliers;
- Specialisation of suppliers from traditional principles – industrial-technological, constructive, raw or territorial – varies towards specialisation of system type. Thus the supplier aspires to sell certain system entirely irrespective of the fact how it is distributed on a final product (for example, a central air of passenger salon, hydraulic system or a flight and navigation complex). Services of experts which establish are offered also, regulate and check system on headquarters plant;
- The companies prefer to employ experts for the term of realisation of a current industrial theme and to release them after end of a cycle of working out. The share of constant staff of the company-manufacturer of a product gradually decreases, and the share of the contract employees employed particularly under the given project, – increases;
- At performance of works suppliers have an opportunity to use computing capacities (server) of the owner of the project, working in a mode of remote terminals. It reduces expenses and risk of investments into programs and the hardware for small firms;
- The enterprise – production consumer even more often becomes the direct investor in its working out. Instead of at first saving money, and then at once to buy that is offered in the market, the customer himself advances the future acquisition. Thus the customer takes away a part of technical and financial risk from manufacturer of a product. Such expenditure of capitals stretched in time and more uniform distribution it is brave favorably affects the general financial indicators as manufacturer, and the consumer;
- Development of industrial cooperation has led to occurrence of the virtual enterprises. Such enterprise is time and is created for the period of manufacture of a concrete product. Thus all companies which are participants of the virtual enterprise, work actually as departments of one firm, with one infrastructure and by uniform corporate rules. Borders, languages, local specificity and distances become imperceptible for activity of each of them. The enterprises-suppliers, as a rule, stand in a queue to the owner of the industrial initiative on a competitive basis;
- For owners of the business initiative, that is owners of intellectual property on manufacture with application of the given trade mark, the sold goods became not only production, but also the right to its manufacture (as a rule, limited terms or in release volume). This right means possibility of transfer of licence manufacture on remote territories where there are for this purpose favorable economic conditions.
The resulted tendencies cause such requirements to a used information technology, as maintenance of integrated approach and high level of automation, support of all stages of life cycle of a product, the organisation joint uses of the information on a product a great number of participants of business process geographically removed from each other.

In the field of an industrial production computerisation the great number of systems of various classes is used. PDM-systems provide creation and support of a uniform information field at all stages of life cycle of a product. CAD/CAM/CAE-системы automate processes of designing and manufacture preparation. MRP-systems solve problems of planning of resources and production management, and ERP-system – problems of management of enterprise activity. CRM-systems operate mutual relations with customers. SCM – and CPC-systems provide management of chains of deliveries and conducting joint business by all participants of the expanded enterprise. Also it is not all list of elements in classification used today.

Not all from the listed kinds of systems concern means of support of PLM-decisions. So, it agree CIMdata, support of PLM-decisions is carried out by systems of automation of processes of designing (CAD/CAM/CAE, etc.) and PDM-systems (is more exact, collaborative PDM, designated as cPDm – collaborative Product Definition Management). IBM/Dassault Systemes also notices that systems of classes ERP, SCM and CRM do not concern means of support of PLM-decisions, and provide, together with PLM, effective functioning of the expanded enterprise (drawing 1).

Communication of PLM-decisions with other problems As to systems of class MRP, that, despite their absence in classification CIMdata, is represented that they should be carried to means of support of PLM-decisions. It does not contradict definition PLM as manufacture process is one of stages of life cycle of a product. As acknowledgement inclusion by company IBM/Dassault Systemes in structure of offered PLM-decisions of system DELMIA which functions concern the decision of problems of planning, workings out, the control and management of manufacture processes can serve also.

PLM-decisions provide high level of automation of processes of designing not only at the expense of a great number of engineering appendices. Modern level assumes presence of possibility of parallel designing, accumulation and use of corporate knowledge, automation of carrying out of changes on all stages of process of designing, various modes of visualisation of the project, etc. Such level of designing has received the name of methodology RGD (Relational Generative Design). As an example of realisation of methodology RGD system CATIA V5 can serve.

Besides the decision typical for CAD/CAM/САЕ-систем problems, CATIA V5 possesses an exclusive set of engineering appendices the part from which (for example, designing of a body of the car) is attached to typical problems, and other part forms two special classes: “system synthesis of industrial products” and “designing of engineering systems and communications” (fig. 2). The first class allows to solve such problems, as storage and use of corporate knowledge, optimisation of alternative variants of the project, carrying out of the general examination of model of a product, the interaction analysis “the person – a product”. Appendices of the second class solve problems of circuit and spatial designing of engineering systems (pipelines, ventilation, air-conditioning), functional designing of electric systems, designing and placing in a product of systems of electroplaits, creations of projects of placing of the industrial equipment c the account of virtual model of shop or the enterprise.

Classes of the problems solved CATIA V5

Still more recently 3D-visualisation of a product was a prerogative only participants of processes of designing. Today PLM-decisions give the chance viewing and a 3D-model estimation (term DMU (Digital Mock-Up) – a digital breadboard model of a product is used also) and at other stages of life cycle of a product. For practice important that such viewing and an estimation do not demand from the user of ability to work in CAD-system. By results of an estimation the decision which is considered at designing can be accepted. As an example of such PLM-decisions it is possible to result system ENOVIA which creates 3D-space of cooperation for all participants of the expanded enterprise. ENOVIA provides construction of uniform model which configures and integrates a product with processes and the resources necessary for its creation and service throughout all life cycle.

Creation of a uniform information field for information support at all stages of life cycle of a product is the difficult process having iterative character. It does preferable use of the object-oriented approach at construction uniform information field and makes corresponding demands to used PDM-system. Example PDM, the object-oriented approach, system SmarTeam which supposes smooth, iterative development of structure of uniform information field and escalating of functionality of system at the expense of created appendices is realising.

Each workplace SmarTeam is based on the concrete configuration answering to role loading of the given user. Thus, along with the client components, each configuration contains all set of server components for the organisation of the uniform multiuser information environment.

Base configuration SmarTeam contains a set of means for teamwork at creation, editing, search and storage of any types of the data and documents, providing management of projects, conducting versions, export and information import, includes means for editing of structures of databases and system adjustment. Other configurations SmarTeam provide integration with CAD, work of remote users (with access to the general database through the Internet), support uniform information field on all chain of deliveries, routeing of documents and tasks (Workflow), integration with MRP/ERP, etc.

Created uniform information field is model of the subject domain connected with release of a certain class of products. Therefore the enterprise, set to itself a problem of introduction of PLM-decisions, should be methodologically and is organizational prepared for works on creation of model of the subject domain or, in other words, model of business processes proceeding at the enterprise.

It is necessary to distinguish model of the business processes existing at the enterprise at present, and model of new business processes which will proceed after introduction of PLM-decisions. It is clear that within the limits of uniform information field the second model, however formalisation of existing business processes also should be realised is necessary, as allows to understand their lacks and to develop criteria of new business processes. For the description of existing and new business processes it is recommended to use the uniform methodology realising the object-oriented approach. Most known of such methodologies is methodology UML (Unified Modeling Language), allowing to build model of a subject domain by means of a set of special diagrammes. As tool means of working out of diagrammes UML system Rational Rose serves. The constructed diagrammes will allow to pass organically to construction of object-oriented model of uniform information field in the environment of PDM-system.

Thus, introduction of PLM-decisions consists not only in acquisition and development by experts of some set of systems of high level of automation, – it is necessary to spend the detailed analysis of activity of the enterprise and on the basis of this analysis to construct model of functioning of the enterprise in new conditions. Only in this case it will be possible to avoid unnecessary financial and time expenses, as much as possible to lower quantity of tests and errors, to provide optimum advancement of the enterprise to an object in view.

Let's consider a PLM-decision example – LOTSMAN:PLM.

LOTSMAN:PLM – A control system of the engineering data and product life cycle, “the central nervous system” complex decision ASCON. LOTSMAN:PLM contains all information necessary for designing, manufacturing and operation of production of the machine-building enterprise. The system solves problems:
- storages and managements of engineering specifications on a product;
- managements of the information on structure, variants of a configuration of products and inclusion of components in various products;
- managements of process of working out of a product.

At a stage of preparation of manufacture the system provides accumulation of the data about results of design-technological designing and information interchange between engineering services.

While in service PLM-decisions the customer often faces a problem not enough effective utilisation the got software product. We will consider one of the reasons of its occurrence and possible ways of overcoming.

Experience of application of systems CAD has in the nineties shown that with introduction of a new information technology at the enterprises there were problems. Software product acquisition was not a 100 percent guarantee of success, at least in long-term prospect. Attempts of direct transposition of traditional (paper) techniques of designing and manufacture on new toolkit transformed powerful packages of 3D-modelling and manufacture into analogues spatial kuhlmann. At the best the prize turned out only at the expense of more exact geometrical binding and product configuration, and also at the expense of reduction of a paper used in designing in exchange for uncontrollably a considerable quantity of files. Alas, anybody especially did not care of preservation of knowledge, experience of the enterprise and its reuse, nobody invested the time in working out of templates of processes of designing and manufacture. Work went by such principle: Quickly and precisely to reproduce object, then once again to reproduce, then once again and still: Typically “paper” the approach.

However the fault for occurrence of such problems lies not only on the customer, but also on the supplier of the software. Declaring the universal tool, the software developer goes on an intended universalisation of base functions, not only doing a product applicable in all industries, but also transforming it into a set “make itself” to be exact – “adjust specificity itself” including as regards techniques of preservation of templates of processes of designing and manufacture.

Some software developers offer special service on adjustment and adaptation of software under specificity of processes of this or that segment of the industry. Alas, this point was persistently ignored until recently by the Russian customers believing that universal decisions will be it enough. Or customers hoped for own forces and invested in the groups of introduction and working out that is quite realizable in case of creation of effective group of support.

Let's consider arising contradictions.

Anybody, except the customer, certainly, if at it long enough operational experience with a product, does not know, how it is better to project and make a product, but with use of old methodology and toolkit! The considerable part of knowledge of a product is a precious experience of the enterprise and employees. As the product should look, work, be made – this knowledge is universal, they do not depend on the tool which describes them.

However other part of knowledge depends on applied toolkit: as it is better to construct, display, put possibility of fast updating and editing. One of the pivotal contradictions, systems PLM braking successful introduction also consists in this point at the enterprises. The situation looks so. The customer declares: “I know how to make a product”. On the one hand, it is right, if speaks about experience, with another – is not present, if speaks about the tool. Usually the customer formulates the requirements so: “Give me software product as the tool, and how to project with its help, I will understand”. This one of standard errors as base courses give knowledge of work with universal functions. However it is not enough for effective work of it. Experts in the field of CAD know that the same 3D-model can be constructed approximately n! (N-factorial) in the ways, where n – number of geometrical operations. In this connection for one enterprise one scenario, and for another – absolutely another can be the optimum. That is why so work on software product adaptation is important. Who should execute it? The customer? But it does not possess all knowledge of software products, techniques of work with them, features of application of this or that function. The software producer? However he, as a rule, knows about specificity of a product, about methods of its designing and manufacture insufficiently.

Variants an exit three:
- Creation of group of the competence at the enterprise;
- Attraction of the foreign companies-advisers (as a matter of fact – the external center of the competence);
- A direction in which for a long time already and fruitfully company Dassault Systemes works.

In the latter case it is a question of the centers of branch decisions (notice – not products, and decisions) in company Dassault Systemes. Creation of such centers has long enough history. The matter is that initially company Dassault Systemes worked with very big companies-customers. Direct participation in process of introduction and adaptation of software products under requirements of the customer, and also working out special methodologies on use software for the decision of specific targets of the companies was one of requirements of corporate customers. The corporate customer directly made demands on adaptation to the software producer, inquiries went at once to divisions R&D (working out division of software) where there passed their processing. From its part Dassault Systemes got direct access to corporate business processes, methodologies and to rules, plunging into specificity of this or that branch and feature of creation of a concrete product more and more.

As a result in a prize there were all parties. The customer formulated technical requirements to products directly and for their realisation worked with R&D. In turn, experts Dassault Systemes were typed invaluable experience directly at the enterprise-customer in this or that industry and is better understood, as well as for what purposes these products are used. So, many products Dassault Systemes were born under the influence of direct inquiry of corporate customers as, for example, it has occurred to product Aerospace Sheetmetal Design (ASD) for designing of stamped details from sheet for the aviation and space industry. Value of such products consists that in them certain techniques of designing and manufacture of the products typical for various industries are already put.

Certainly, there are also complexities. Before giving out the task for working out of a new product, adaptation existing or even on working out of a technique of work with that or other standard product, Dassault Systemes and the customer spend a series of the standard and well debugged procedures on development of technical requirements to working out. Business processes are in detail considered. The question on copying of existing business process and its reproduction with application of the new tool or about creation of absolutely new business processes using new features, given is dealt with software. Only after that decision study begins.

It is necessary to understand a product consisting of set of standard program modules, additional program modules (a code of programs) as the decision, developed specially for the given customer, special options of the system, the preestablished processes, templates of details and assemblages and methodology of work or in the form of templates of processes, or in the form of the document in detail describing sequence of operations.

Enlarged on support of decisions for customers it is possible to present the scheme of work Dassault Systemes in the form of the diagramme (drawing 3).

The scheme of the organisation of support of branch decisions

Centre problem is working out of decisions for optimisation of work with products Dassault Systemes in separate industries. Working out methodologies is conducted by joint working groups of the experts involved both from outside of the customer, and from outside Dassault Systemes. Leading experts of the company-customer, including developers take part In group work corporate methodologies. From Dassault Systemes experts enter into it software, architects of PLM-decisions and programmers R&D.

Three sectors and the diagramme center display four basic divisions, involved in process of working out of decisions for customers.

PLM Program Center – the Center of programs. A problem of this group is planning and the organisation of works on working out of decisions for this or that industry.

Solved problems:
- the general management of the project;
- management of PLM-programs of working out of decisions;
- carrying out of audit of processes of the customer;
- formation of strategy of working out of PLM-decisions of branch.

Industry Solution Center – the Center of decisions. Them now exists a little – for each large segment of the industry: aircraft and space, motor industry, shipbuilding, oil and gas and a petroleum-refining industry, the electrician and electronics, the general mechanical engineering (Fabrication&Assembly), the consumer goods and packing.

Solved problems:
- Management of process of formation of requirements to the decision and mutual relations with the customer;
- Adaptation of the existing generalised working methods and products under specificity of the customer and working out of special methodology of work with complex PLM-decisions.

Deployment Center – the Center of detailed study of the decision and industrialisation.

Solved problems:
- Working out of specialised decisions depending on groups of used products (CATIA, DELMIA, ENOVIA, SIMULIA, 3D VIA);
- Maintenance of quality of the developed product;
- Maintenance of all necessary integrations, working off of processes of migrations of versions, code industrialisation.

Knowledge Center – the Center of working out (competence).

Solved problems:
- Decision introduction on a platform of the customer;
- Training of the personnel of the customer;
- Technical support;
- Rendering of the service services connected with the decision.

The simplified scheme of working out of the decision is shown in drawing 4.

The scheme of working out of the decision in divisions of branch decisions

Process of working out and decision introduction is conducted by incorporated group of representatives of the customer and Dassault Systemes. Every week meetings where the status of the planned works is considered are held, conflicts are resolved and tactical plans that is supervised by administration and companies Dassault Systemes are developed.

Let's consider, that the parties as a result receive.

The customer – work methodology on the new tool, optimised, on the one hand, under business processes of the customer, and with another – under rational use of the tool. Sometimes updating of the current business processes, sometimes the new business processes focused on new tools about which the customer at all had no accurate representation. As a result of performance of special test scenarios (so-called use-case) on an example of own products and documents the customer receives documentary acknowledgement that this or that process we will execute. And the whole set of the metrics displaying completeness of realisation of those or other processes, and the plan of working out of functionality if it is at that point in time realised not up to the end is given to the customer. Moreover, it are given to the customer accurately and in detail described techniques of using by products at performance of those or other processes, and also the recommendation about adjustment and updating of typical processes if updating of the described scenario is required. These techniques are similar with documents (a management for the designer), but to accent on correct use software.

The company – the supplier of decisions receives an invaluable operational experience in a real environment, experience “fighting” operation of software, accurately painted methodology of the basic business processes for this or that industry, debugging of universal software following the results of operation, working out of the new software products focused on separate branches and modules.

However there is one more, perhaps, prominent aspect to which company Dassault Systemes gives particular attention in the course of working out of decisions for concrete customers. Throughout the policy directed on development features of software products on capitalisation of knowledge of the enterprise (templates of details, assemblages and processes), Dassault Systemes also capitalises the knowledge received at direct work with customers, transforming the experience in universal methodology. Certainly, working out universal methodologies is conducted with observance of rules of confidentiality and preservation of the rights to intellectual property of all interested parties. In techniques there is no information which could cause a damage to the enterprises, in cooperation with which Dassault Systemes develops the decisions. On the basis of the analysis of processes of the several enterprises base principles, characteristic for the given industry undertake only. Approaches to options of universal techniques under possible specificity of the customer are developed and documented. The new product which can be offered other customers from the given industry, requiring in similar methodologies as a result turns out.

Such approach is very effective. Company Dassault Systemes gives highly skilled consulting not only on the products, but also in methodology their uses in specific conditions. Offered methodology are reliable and tested at many enterprises (separate industries frequently being world leaders) that promotes unification of processes of designing, manufacture and operation of products. It is especially important in the conditions of globalisation of manufacture of difficult hi-tech products. Present that your company begins the new project in the conditions of cooperation with other partners. We will assume that until now you with the given partner never worked. What your surprise if suddenly it will appear will be that your colleagues work with use of processes and the techniques very similar to your own! What is the time your company can save on the decision of questions of integration and interfaces, checks of formats of details, coordination of models of the executors working for different partners!

If to speak about the aviation industry the spectrum of offered techniques is rather wide. For example, it is recommendations about formation of structure of a product in system PDM and structures of design divisions, on management of configurations and changes, on creation and management of master geometry, designing of details from composite materials and many other things.

The example of registration of a technique of designing

In drawing 5 the example of registration of such techniques accessible to customers is presented. Besides a special management, into a decision set can enter and codes of programs of additional modules, and special files of options of systems, both models, and templates of models and processes.

To estimate completeness of realisation of the basic business processes of certain branch, look at a set of decisions of company Dassault Systemes for the aviation industry, presented on fig. 6.

On a vertical the basic stages of life cycle of the plane – from conceptual design before operation on airlines are placed. Horizontal numbers – groups of business processes, beginning from processes in departments of sales and marketing and finishing plane manufacture. From the scheme it is visible that almost all processes of creation, manufacture and plane operation can be realised on the basis of company Dassault Systemes PLM-decisions.

Thus, now the companies-software developers have created excellent tools on preservation of experience of the enterprises at designing and manufacture of products that promotes capitalisation of knowledge of the enterprise. In this connection experts who could develop and support the enterprise knowledge base are necessary. And the basis of such base can be constructed in the different ways: with use of own workings out of the centers of the competence of the enterprise, by means of the company-partner or the adviser or by means of special branch decisions of the companies – of software developers about which it has been in detail told in this article on an example of the Center of branch decisions Dassault Systemes.

1. Koshelev V., Molochnik V. What is PLM?//CAD and a drawing, #10, 2003 []
2. Osnach D., Nirkov N. LOTSMAN:PLM – “the central nervous system” complex ASCON//CAD and a drawing, #6, 2003 []
3. Lyagushkin A. From software products – to branch decisions//CAD and a drawing, #4, 2008. – PP.54-58 []
Date: 07/22/2009

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