Five innovative uses for PLM

Jigsaw fanatic, Graham Andrew, along with a team of over 200 people, tried to complete a mammoth 33,600-piece jigsaw puzzle in 2016, only to realise there were four pieces missing. With so many people and parts involved, this was a tricky task to undertake and organise, as is often the case in manufacturing. Good product lifecycle management (PLM) can help manufactures get it right first time, and not lose any valuable pieces along the way. Here, Geoff Turner, PLM consultant at Design Rule, explains five innovative uses for PLM that companies can use to help keep projects on track.

Business to business fast tracking

PLM allows companies to build up a catalogue of products which can then be used as a virtual showroom. Using life-like 3D assets, future products can be shown to prospective buyers ahead of production, accelerating business-to-business interactions and retail feedback. Buyers can select their items, colours and sizes earlier than ever with this feature. Analytical information can also be retrieved showing which products are selling and where, allowing businesses to use this data to inform future development decisions.

Social collaboration

The engineering, manufacturing and construction industries can be highly fragmented, with different teams working in different locations. It is critical that project teams are able to collaborate effectively throughout the entire project, from design to manufacturing. Using the PLM platform, everyone involved in a project can share ideas, which can be discussed, honed and evolve into further products or enhancements. This is a high-tech alternative to a round table, increasing visibility of workers and helping everyone to stay on time. Stakeholders can also get in on the action, contributing their thoughts or concerns on this platform.

Globalisation – design anywhere

You can manage worldwide deliverables all in one management tool. Many different parts, made all over the world, need to be made to certain specifications in-line with the legislations in the country where it will be produced. Equally, as more companies are expanding their global footprint, selling internationally can get complicated without the right software. PLM can manage country specific variants and the documentation to go with it including the customer literature and inserts.

Simple document management

The document management aspect of PLM allows customer specific product information to be instantly accessible, which streamlines the sales and support processes. Companies have found they can save lots of money from making this customer data highly accessible, as they don't need to search for information and call customers repeatedly about small details.


To stay competitive in today's market, environmental compliance and product sustainability are key elements for success. PLM can help phase-out non-sustainable components and materials, and bring in 'green' materials that are more sustainable. PLM can also help to manage waste disposal processes throughout the entire manufacturing process so that companies can choose to recycle where possible.

PLM has many different features that you may not have considered, all integrated into one system. In the case of the 33,600-piece jigsaw puzzle, PLM could have tracked every single piece and managed the whole workforce to develop a flawless finished product. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but making sure you’re not caught short in the first place is even better.