Today, businesses that embark on a digital transformation journey will be able to connect more closely with customers and speed up the pace of innovation. Besides, Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), once solely an engineering product development tool, has quickly become central to any digital transformation initiatives. With this perspective, PTC and EM magazine recently organised a conference on “Driving Business Results & Continuous Innovation with Digital Transformation” in Pune, which focused on embracing a new era of digital transformation in PLM, which results in cost reduction, quality improvement, and accelerated time-to-market. The event took off with a warm welcome by Shekhar Jitkar, Publisher & Chief Editor, EM magazine. He asserted how digitalisation is the tool to have the required quality in the product, and in a world, where technology is moving fast, we need to catch up with digitalisation to keep up with global standards. The first speaker of the event, Neeraj Deshpande, Channel Sales Area – Senior Manager, PTC, spoke on ‘How industrial companies capitalise on digital transformation’, giving an insight into how digital transformation is integral to truly realise the potential of Industry 4.0. “Digital transformation is an often-used word,” Deshpande told the audience and went on, “when we talk about digital transformation, companies get the feeling that everything has to be computerised. This is not true. Digital transformation is a growth enabler and not your bread and butter; the goal is not to be an analytics company, but to use the tool to bring in innovation and productivity.”
Deshpande went on to explain that the critical aspects of digital transformation are now to convert physical data into digital data. “We, at PTC, have been into the digital content business since 1984, and later moved to the disruptive area, i.e. IoT. The physical to digital progression was a natural journey for us,” he expounded and continued, “The digital transformation has three traits – technology, people and process – and one needs to decide what to focus on. We can address all these three areas for our customers at PTC. We also uniquely provide industrial companies with deep industrial domain expertise that ensure alignment, unique portfolio of technology that incorporates people, and solution, and partner frameworks that accelerate time-to-value.”
It’s all about data
This was followed by a presentation by Dhirendra Kulkarni, Presales Senior Director, PTC, which highlighted how PLM enables the entire product development process and how the PLM journey is really an engineering transformation. He averred, “Information is available everywhere, however, it is all disconnected. Hence, the information continuously gets lost. Changes are made in silos, impacting quality, cost & delivery. There is a need for transition from standalone PLM, CAD, CAM and CAE tools to integrated innovation platforms that provide a holistic, integrated approach spanning from conceptual design through service and support. This isn’t a new thing, but it is turning into reality.” Kulkarni further went on to say that it all comes down to data. “Data is the new oil, which also calls for digital transformation,” he cited and went on, “we need to define our product digitally, where there needs to be a digital thread for the PLM transformational journey. It is important to bring all the data together, so that one can search and reuse it. After that, change management becomes very critical.”
Having a strong PLM
The focus then shifted to bill of materials, which is not in PLM but in Excel or PDF. “In PLM, we suggest starting the design with bill of material, which is a part-centric approach,” Kulkarni explained and went on, “Once that is in place, you can start creating a 3D model for those parts. For each of those parts, you create the documents. So, if one searches for a part with a part number in a PLM, he can find it.” Following this, MA Ravichandran, Business Head – Engineering Services, Softcell, took over, who shared what PLM is all about. “PLM supports complete lifecycle & all functions, where everyone, from marketing to engineering, can use it,” he explained and continued, “PLM is 90% of data, which is the standard data and which one should have one’s productivity on.”
This raised an immediate question from an audience member, where the dilemma was posed that “the customer wanted everything yesterday”. To this, Ravichandran responded that the product should be a standard product and should be on the shelf. He clarified, “So, that ‘yesterday’ should be able to come to tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. Your PLM should be so strong that it should ingrain robustness in your product’s reusability.”
PLM gives enablement
Ravichandran went on to enlighten that innovation needs to be embedded into our systems and one needs to know what one is doing the PLM for. Every person from every department can make a difference in their company if they understand even a small aspect of PLM. So, how do successful companies handle PLM? He explained, “PLM cannot be applied well without the top management’s support. So, it’s necessary to define a vision for PLM in the company, which could be that you want to transform your business on how PLM is used. After the vision, you need to have operational and business objectives and define those objectives.” Subsequently, the audience got their thinking caps on when the question was asked, ‘What does PLM give you in contrast of ERP?’ After a couple of relevant responses, Ravichandran revealed that it gives enablement. “SAP or ERP give you results,” he said and added, “However, we invest in results and not enablement. Therefore, we need to be enable oriented and not result-oriented.”
The value of Augmented Reality
The final presentation of the evening revolved around Augmented Reality (AR), with an interesting live demo for the audience. The presentation was given by Hardhyan Singh Sohal, Technical Sales Manager, PTC, who spoke about accelerating Augmented Reality in the industrial enterprise. He put across that AR unlocks the value created by the convergence of the physical and digital worlds. Moving on, Sohal threw some light on AR’s value curve and informed, “AR is able to provide value in many ways with different content and information. With Vuforia Studio and Chalk, companies can start their journey with AR, they can think of the different levels of AR sophistication. Besides, AR helps to instruct step by-step; it instructs the entire experience.” The presentation concluded with the live AR demo and by naming some of PTC’s customers in India using AR, such as, Polaris, Mercedes Benz and KTM.
A smoother journey through digitalisation & PLM
The event offered thought-provoking discussions, case study presentations, and interactive sessions on embracing digitalisation and the PLM journey, giving the audience a clearer picture on how to bring about improved work force training and productivity in manufacturing, service & after market segments and have a faster, more accurate response to internal/market pressures.