2021: Why We Love Product Lifecycle Management 4.0

We make it no secret that we want to see Manufacturing return to its much-needed domestic shores and more so after the exposed deficiencies in domestic manufacturing over the last 15 months.

Anything of reasonable quality is wanted quicker and more personalized.

Batches of One?

Maybe, we are unsure of that for a good few year, but at least, we need for now some customization to fit the consumer needs or wants.

And then quicker?

Think about that online purchase; you’ve done your search, found what you want, and it says it’ll take 72hrs to be delivered – let’s be honest, we now change our mind and go elsewhere don’t we?

At least that is what the statistics are showing. 24hrs is good, 48 is OK, 72 is forgotten it!

There is no sense in stockpiling when people are customizing and so our manufacturing processes need to change along with our supply chains. We say, bring back manufacturing to the domestic chores, as many are doing already.

The 4th Industrial Revolution demands an expanded and upgraded version of the Product & Service Lifecycle. Industry4.0 Technology rests on the advancement of PLM

Let us look at how that might happen…

Macro Advancement

Meeting local demands means enhancing the operational and information technology in your manufacturing operations:

  • Merging the physical and digital worlds, through real-time simulation tools (The Digital Twin)
  • Software solution support and products for the IoT and M2M communications
  • Interaction from the edge to cloud and big data analytics
  • Additive Manufacturing


What is PLM?

Product lifecycle management is the handling of your product as it moves through the typical stages of envisioning, design, development/simulation, manufacture, maintenance, and decline/disposal/recycle.

We always enjoy a good conversation around those PLM headaches: New Product Introduction, Engineering Change, Variant Management, and the various BOMs, but let us not lose sight of why we do what we should do in PLM.

Effective product life cycle management brings together the many companies, departments, and employees involved with the product’s production to streamline their activities, with the goal of producing a product that delivers the original vision.

Good PLM should deliver:

  • The product to market faster,
  • A higher quality product into the market,
  • Improved product safety and
  • Reduced errors and waste.

Specialized computer software is available to assist with PLM through functions such as document management, design integration, and process management.

Industry4.0 In The 4IR

It is just a matter of when, not if – everyone who survives the 4th Industrial Revolution will change their culture first, adopt the technologies second, and move to offense: product innovation third.

We have been through many keynote speeches during which the speaker likes to say it’s an “evolution”, not Revolution to not scare conservative businesspeople from taking a step forward. However, the fact is changing how we think of our businesses, how we care for our customers and manufacturer their products is a very big and hard to make step.

Industry4 is the combining of new/disruptive technologies that are transforming the manufacturing and utility sectors.

These technologies include:

  • Shop Floor advanced Robotics / Cobots together with Artificial Intelligence, Machine enablement, and maintenance assistance care of Augmented Reality and 3d Additive Manufacturing.
  • BigData is extracted care of the Internet of Things into the Cloud for intense Analytics and enterprise-wide intelligence that is then ultimately looped back to.
  • The Digital Twin; a replica of the physical product world.

Under the Industry 4.0 model, product design and development take place in simulated laboratories and utilize digital fabrication models.

The products themselves take tangible form only after most of the design and engineering problems have been worked out. The networks of machinery that have engendered industrial society become hyper-aware systems of highly flexible technology, responding rapidly not just to human commands but to their perceptions and self-direction.

PLM 4.0

The Digital Twin

Digital models across the product, its supply chain, and service processes are to be provided by PLM. Digital models have been around for some time and are now evolving across numerous products to simulate (The Digital Twin) various product types, manufacturing lines, and external influences.

PLM provides various authoring systems for a variety of component modes from geometry, electronics, mechanics, build, stress, software, and all interdependencies.

The I 4.0 technologies provide a closed-loop lifecycle including logistics and sterilization. This enables entire simulations of new innovative business models. The challenge remains of course across the world for the adoption of common standards.

“Intelligent” Products

Not wishing to open a debate over the term “intelligence”, what we are talking about are products embedded with IoT, Software, and networked for additional services. This together with Cloud services allows for completely new business models sold, maintained, and rented.

The PLM must include all these components.

Intelligent Products can be personalized and remote-controlled, along with enabling new services.

PLM manages the product data and control processes, including requirements management, change, and approvals. Furthermore, the integration care of Applications and UI needs developing to deliver services, big data solutions, and analytics.


Integrated Factories / Plants

PLM provides methods and tools for digitalized (cyber-physical and communicative systems) manufacturing for the basis of factory and process planning.

To create Intelligent Factories, PLM needs to be enhanced to include the development of robots/cobots and 3d manufacturing along with quality management and logistics covering Applications, Services, and Communications.

Smart Service

Smart Service

As manufacturers move to new business models including intelligence after-sales services, so PLM must adapt and include integrated services and embeds product data for technical documentation, replacement part management, or maintenance planning.

The cost of the potential service more than pays for itself care of preventative maintenance, optimized replacement part logistics, warranty processing, upgrades, and error fixing.

Loving PLM 

Loving PLM

Bringing together customer and product intelligence within your PLM systems and strategy has led to several cores focuses to retain and win new customers:

  • Ultimately customer and Artificial Intelligence lead to configuration intelligence that drives product planning. Customers trust organizations that understand them better.
  • Collaboration via platformization 4.0 provides ongoing real-time feedback during design and development. Stronger products come from customer and ecosystem focus, less wasted development cycles, and greater customer empowerment and satisfaction.
  • Customer Experience (CX): Your company is working on an innovation that you know will attract more customers—but have you asked yourself, how will customers experience the new product? The experience we are talking about here is the whole experience the customer will have when using your product, from the 1st touch, to purchase through the ownership lifecycle. Before you assign company resources to test and production, consider how well your company understands the entire customer experience surrounding that innovation.
  • Improve product modeling & manufacturing execution across all your plants through visualization and simulation, care of ultimately the Digital Twin enabled via IoT across the value chain, including inbound supply chain planning.

PLM is the enabler and optimizer for Industry4.0 and it’s fascinating to see how it can drag enterprise and culture into the 4IR.


It is hard to locate anything more exciting and all-encompassing than that of Product Lifecycle Management in the 4IR. Product Innovation is the critical success factor.