PLM is gaining traction in the AEC (Architecture, Engineering, & Construction) market as companies in this space look to digitize their design and development processes for improved collaboration across a complex value chain (a little like manufacturing).
Over the past 5-10 years, PLM vendors have slowly found growth in "emerging industries" (that is, industries new to PLM) such as apparel, CPG, medical device, and life sciences, to complement their "traditional" industries of automotive, A&D, and machinery. These companies, like those in AEC, see that a PLM system's ability to collate multiple points of disparate data, manage workflow, unify and present information, and enable global collaboration, can improve the efficiency and speed of design, development, and manufacturing – or construction of a building or plant.
The largest CAD and PLM vendors recognize the AEC opportunity and have been developing their offering and positioning in this market – examples include:
- Autodesk CEO Carl Bass proclaimed at Autodesk University December 2015 that the worlds of PLM (product lifecycle management) and BIM (Building information Modeling), are converging. The company also recently launched cloud-based BIM 360 Docs, which lets a team publish, manage, review, mark up, and approve all project docs, plans and models in the cloud to ensure all stakeholders are working from the latest documents.
- Dassault Systemes CEO Bernard Charles, recently at its SOLIDWORKS World Conference, announced the company's intention to expand their presence in the AEC market. The company's recent financial results also show strong growth in this market - one of their fastest growing industries as noted at a recent analyst event, actually.
- Siemens' partnership with Bentley Systems continues to grow, now including integration between Bentley's point cloud BIM capabilities, and Siemens Tecnomatix manufacturing planning capability. Siemens also offers their COMOS product line, which enables modeling of manufacturing plant process flow and asset management. The opportunity is to converge the simultaneous modeling of products, manufacturing processes, and manufacturing plants – before physical design and production.
Manufacturers' experience with new product development (NPD) can be helpful to AEC professionals that focus on new building development, if you will. I heard from multiple Autodesk BIM customers at Autodesk University that they are looking to manufacturing for best practices in digital design, collaboration, and organization across a diverse value chain.
This AEC discussion, however, is not only about AEC companies using PLM to streamline their data and processes; this also relates to product manufacturers considering the design of efficient and sustainable facilities. IDC Manufacturing Insights research from our 2015 Product and Service Innovation survey shows that when it comes to sustainability, manufacturers are concerned about product compliance and environmental impact, and also building compliance and environmental impact. Many large manufacturers already virtually model manufacturing processes simultaneously with products; the next step beyond this is to leverage a point cloud scan of the manufacturing plant floor layout to optimize the usage and placement of machines and lines. Furthermore, condition monitoring systems and analytics available from vendors with manufacturing operations management software like Siemens or GE could be tied to the building model and predict manufacturing line, machine, robot, or building infrastructure quality or performance issues that could affect the production or quality of a product.
In this age of mass customization and dynamic customer demand, the performance and reliability of assets including manufacturing plants have become critically important. Of course product quality is paramount, however you need to have the ability to quickly and sustainably make those products on time that your customer wants. It's a competitive world out there, and how quickly you can get quality products into the customer's hands, and the efficiency and sustainability of your manufacturing operations are equally important differentiators.
Are PLM and BIM systems converging? Not technically. However, manufacturers want to optimize how their products are made, and so it's a natural progression to analyze the manufacturing plant model, simultaneously with the product model.
The "digital thread" on a product innovation platform that exists for many manufacturers to share and improve designs and processes over time, is not as commonplace with AEC organizations. But, as with other emerging PLM industries, AEC companies are realizing that having a digital innovation platform can empower the AEC value chain, just as it does for the manufacturing value chain.
As always I look forward to your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.