THE NEED FOR COLLABORATION ACROSS ENGINEERING DISCIPLINES
Many organizations are looking to improve product development through digital transformation (DX) initiatives, including 3D computer-aided design (CAD), hybrid simulation/testing, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), and smart manufacturing. Yet, companies need the right foundation to reap the benefits of DX. This is particularly true for small and medium businesses (SMBs), which face many of the same challenges as larger companies, but with more limited resources. One such foundational initiative is cross-domain engineering data management.
Product development is a collaborative process involving internal and external stakeholders. Every party, from engineering to suppliers, needs access to the latest and greatest design data. But when design data changes by the minute, how can organizations ensure everyone has the most up-to-date information? Furthermore, how can they control access so everyone can view and get what they need, even if they are working outside the company’s four walls?
EMPLOYING A COMPREHENSIVE DIGITAL TWIN
A digital twin is a digital representation of a product. In the past, these models mainly served design and manufacturing domains, but now they are incredibly comprehensive (for example, extending to maintenance and servicing). Today, the digital twin can act as a common thread between all stakeholders in product development. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of the comprehensive digital twin. Work-from-home orders and social distancing mandates forced manufacturers of all sizes to find ways to collaborate virtually. This made staying abreast of the latest developments in the process a big challenge.
Having a comprehensive digital twin, however, allows different stakeholders, both internal and external, to stay on the same page. Implementing a comprehensive digital twin is not easy, but companies who saw the value were able to pull one together in a relatively short amount of time. Of course, most of those organizations already had many DX initiatives in place to support a digital twin. Today, as more organizations understand the benefits of a digital twin, they are no longer asking, “Should we do this?” but rather, “How quickly can we get this in place?”
THE ADVANTAGE OF SAAS SOLUTIONS
Cloud-based SaaS PLM solutions come with built-in best practices, curated by the solution provider, to support easy collaboration during product design and development processes. Companies can use these solutions to quickly implement engineering data management.
The benefits include:
With built-in prescriptive best practices, organizations can easily tailor these solutions to meet their specific needs.
Artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) algorithms give the solution an in-depth understanding of a company’s workflows and processes to correct problems.
Users can immediately gain access through a browser without heavy IT support. This especially benefits SMBs, which may not have a large IT footprint.
Distributed total ownership:
SaaS PLM subscriptions don’t require a large, up-front technology investment. Instead, they distribute the total costs over time.
These solutions allow input from both internal and external stakeholders. Cloud-based SaaS solutions permit easy viewing of engineering data without the need to install software.
Intellectual property remains secure, as collaborators only get access to the data intended for their use.
As today’s smart, connected products grow more complex, product development has become a collaborative process involving both internal and external engineers and other stakeholders. Engineering organizations must have a single source of truth to keep up with the latest and greatest design data. This ensures all aspects of the product, whether mechanical, electrical, electronics, or software, meet the necessary—and competing—requirements. The use of cloud-based SaaS PLM solutions can help organizations better keep up with evolving product designs, making sure everyone is working from the most up-to-date data.
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