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Managing the Five Dimensions of Product Complexity with PLM

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A quick peek into some research on … managing complexity across the product lifecycle from the Tech-Clarity research report The Five Dimensions of Product Complexity. The report highlights the trend toward increased product complexity over the past ten years, and how it has made developing profitable products more difficult. The report details the five dimensions, and then discusses how Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software helps manage the complexity on an enterprise scale, helping manufacturers achieve greater efficiency and better products.

The Research Findings

The report points out three main aspects of the complexity problem. The first is obvious from the title, products have become more complex. Smarter product, miniaturization, and other advancements in engineering and product design have allowed companies to make more complex – and more capable – products. The second is the greater complexity of the supply and design chains that has resulted from globalization. The last part of the problem isn’t about complexity, it is the fact that as complexity has made engineers’ and product developers’ jobs more difficult – expectations for rapid development of high-quality, innovative products has increased. It is a perfect storm for engineers. The job is hard, but they must deliver better results.

The report discusses five different types of complexity, highlighting interviews with Honeywell and Mercury Marine:

  • Mechanical Complexity
  • Mechatronics
  • Global Markets
  • Global Design and Manufacturing
  • Lifecycle Profitability

Implications for Manufacturers

Increased product complexity probably comes as no surprise to product developers and engineers that are dealing with the complexity every day. The report goes beyond identifying the problem, and provides insight into how PLM software can help manufacturers deal with the perfect storm of increased complexity and higher expectations. As Rick Kennedy, Senior Technical Manager of Electrical Systems Engineering for Honeywell explains, “PLM offers really big gains in managing design complexity from systems design all the way through the product lifecycle.” Please see the report for more discussion from Rick as well as great insight from Fred Bellio of Mercury Marine.

So that was a quick peek into some recent research on the use of PLM to manage product complexity, I hope you found it interesting. Does the research reflect your experiences? Do you see it differently? Let us know what it looks like from your perspective. Please feel free to review more free research and white papers about PLM and other enterprise software for manufacturers from Tech-Clarity.

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