A decade ago, an aerospace CEO defended his product lifecycle management (PLM) investment by citing his anticipated field service/maintenance payoff. At that meeting, CIMdata's Ed Miller recalls the CEO's admission that "while his field service didn't understand PLM yet, it is important to prepare for future success."
Today the understanding is growing and industry leaders see PLM in a new light. Once driven by design and manufacturability issues, PLM is now gaining significant maintenance drivers, according to UGS PLM Software, a division of Siemens Automation and Drives.
Internally the maintenance driver is the historical compendium of product configuration data and the ability of that record to be leveraged in proactive maintenance management strategies. PLM data enable better management of MRO (maintenance, repair and operations) activities from inventory management to procurement of parts to maintenance planning to maintenance execution -- from one highly accurate definition of what the asset is.
The other maintenance driver, also PLM-supported, began when manufacturers realized that they could exercise their product knowledge in a service strategy. UGS calls it configuration-driven MRO. Selling access to the information is another approach. Profits possible during the service life of an asset can exceed the original sales profit by factors of two to five. Maintenance has progressed from cost reduction or efficiency enhancement to profit center. Management's risk is not incorporating maintenance in a PLM strategy, says CIMdata's Miller.