June 11, 2007
PLM Insight Revealed At Summit
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Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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The recent Product Innovation Summit, presented by Aberdeen Group, a Harte-Hanks company, was a networking and educational event for product management, product development, and engineering executives seeking to accelerate strategies for increasing product profitability through improved product innovation, product development, and engineering processes and enabling PLM technology.
As part of Aberdeen's annual series of executive summits, the Product Innovation Summit is the only executive level event in which participants can collect actionable recommendations from Best-in-Class product innovation practitioners, for immediate implementation to improve their own

company's product development and engineering performance.

Participants heard from presenters from companies like Bombardier, Xerox, Honeywell Aerospace, General Motors, Hewlett-Packard, Motorola, Delphi, Unilever, Harris Corporation and many more including noted best-selling book authors, Michael Treacy, Tony Ulwick, Dr. Roger Nagel and others. The summit was founded on Aberdeen's fact-based research, and identified how companies are transforming their product innovation processes and product lifecycle management technology in the face of increasing complexity and corporate demands for profits.

"As a summit sponsor, we thought the quality and content of the speakers at the Product Innovation Summit was exceptional and I am looking forward to building on the relationships that we were able to secure at the event," said Terri Pruett, Senior Director, Corporate Marketing, Agile Software.

Summit presenter, Dr. Roger Nagel of Lehigh University and Previous CEO and Executive Director of the Iacocca Institute, had this to say about the event: "I found the conference to be challenging, informative and of significant value. I particularly liked the specific suggestions for understanding customer perceptions of value, and the suggestions regarding formal methodologies for the innovation process."

During the proceedings, Aberdeen recognized and presented five companies with the Aberdeen Achievement Award for Product Innovation. The award winners included:

  • Raytheon received the Process Excellence Award for demonstrating process ingenuity, agility, flexibility and scalability in addressing changing business requirements. Aberdeen research revealed Raytheon's best practice in the utilization of 3D modeling processes for product innovation.
  • BMW accepted the Business Evolution Award for managing information flow across internal functional practices to achieve measurable business growth. Aberdeen research revealed BMW's best practices in reusing product simulation and design collaboration.
  • Parker Hannifin received the Executive Stewardship Award for achieving performance heights due to direct involvement and leadership from executive management. Aberdeen research revealed Parker Hannifin's best practices in reusing product intellectual property and sharing design data across a complex, distributed organization, with exceptional leadership.
  • BAE Systems won the Innovation in Technology Award for maximizing technology solutions to solve pressing service chain issues to positively impact company performance. Aberdeen research revealed BAE's best practices in the use of simulation and 3D modeling technology for product development.
  • Trane secured the Performance Excellence Award for
    harnessing the performance impacts of value chain activities and mastering methodologies for financial, operational, and customer-centric performance excellence. Aberdeen research revealed Trane's best practices in developing profitable products and their success in leveraging 3D modeling.

Summit sponsors included Agile, Autodesk, IHS, Siemens UGS, Zuken, SmartOrg, IBM, Infotech, and Invention Machine.

For additional information on the summit, visit

Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor

Although it continues to evolve, PLM is still a relatively new term in the big scheme of things in the MCAD arena. The acronym, PLM, actually came about in the 1990s as an outgrowth of product data management (PDM). At the time of the inception of PLM, some of the “big name” CAD/CAM vendors combined their applications with PDM and called it PLM. This led to the initial confusion of exactly what PLM was, since each vendor defined it in a way that best described their respective product offerings. In other words, they defined PLM in ways that best suited their interests.

As it was in the beginning, the term PLM can still be quite misleading and tough to get a grasp on, again because the term is still seemingly defined slightly differently by different vendors that showcase what they do best. For example, if a particular vendor leans toward the business side of things (as opposed to CAD/CAM), then their PLM offering is very likely to manage things in a business-centric manner from more of a business context and perspective. These types of PLM products provide hooks into CAD databases and actually act as extensions of ERP, bringing into the technical environments of engineering and manufacturing.

In theory, PLM is supposed to encompass all aspects of a product, from concept through retirement, and its associated data. When it comes right down to it, PLM is not just about product (either the software product you’re buying or the product you’re designing), it’s more about process. Realizing that PLM is actually process driven, as opposed to product driven, is essential in successfully purchasing and implementing PLM. In essence, the tools are focused on process control – a big step above product design and engineering data management. These processes are also very wide ranging and well beyond straight design and engineering to also include processes such as approvals, sourcing, QA, and so on. However
obvious it might be, though, it is the lack of realization that PLM is process oriented that has held it back in many circles.

So, can PLM be justified for all companies? Contrary to what I’ve heard and been led to believe from virtually all vendors, I still have trouble thinking that it is necessary for all companies, especially when you consider implementation costs and return on investment. I will admit that I felt the same about 3D CAD a long time ago, but PLM is quite a bit different because it can involve many intangibles. So, with that said, I’ll also admit that to effectively compete, all companies will have to think beyond product to process in terms of efficiency, productivity, and innovation, therefore, PLM might present a stronger case for being regarded as more of an essential
component of an overall product lifecycle strategy.

Get togethers like Aberdeen Group’s Product Innovation Summit are interesting, not because they present technical material, but because they present experiences that companies have actually had in the real world. The best conferences of this type not only talk about the glowing successes, but also the inevitable problems and how they were solved. This summit was somewhat unique in its approach and discussions that included product development, product management, as well as engineering strategies – all from a business perspective. While these types of events are not perfect, and unlike many more technical events, they at least do generally give a more balanced view
of not only what’s out there, but what works and what doesn’t. Imagine that – an attempt to provide a more objective view of PLM – a term that continues to evolve and mystify as it nears the end of its first decade.

The Week’s Top 5

At MCADCafé we track many things, including the stories that have attracted the most interest from our subscribers. Below are the five news items that were the most viewed during last week.

Lattice Technology developers of the XVL ultra-compressed 3D data format, announced the release date of its newest software application, XVLstaff, aimed to prevent leaking of confidential 3D data. XVLstaff was developed jointly with Hitachi Software Engineering, and will be included with Lattice’s 3D data editing product, XVL Studio 7.0. XVL compression on CAD models, developed by Lattice Technologies, has ushered in the practical use of 3D data in a myriad of downstream uses such as design review, production management, and logistics. Given the new, broader use of design documentation through XVL, the secure management of intellectual property is becoming more of a
concern. For the high-security management of 3D data, XVLstaff grants access to files for external sharing and captures unwanted access to the data by tracing operation history. The product also enables forced expiration of previously distributed 3D data. One of the most important features of the new application is that it enables the change and ongoing management of an XVL file’s security setting after distributing it externally.

PTC announced that Dongfeng Chaoyang Diesel Engine Co., Ltd., one of the largest diesel engine manufacturers in China, is using PTC Windchill in its product development processes. The company says that deployment of Windchill has improved cross-functional and departmental collaboration involving engineers in design, engineering, manufacturing, assembly, as well as users in other corporate departments. By building a complete, consistent, and up-to-date repository for Product Development information based on Windchill, Chaoyang Diesel Engine has realized the comprehensive integration of enterprise information,
and become the first to realize integration between Windchill and SAP in the automobile industry in China. Chaoyang Diesel uses Windchill in conjunction with PTC Pro/ENGINEER.

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You can find the full MCADCafe event calendar here.

To read more news, click here.

-- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.


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