The aerospace and defense industry is driven by innovation, taking advantage of new technologies to develop products that are increasingly complex and interdependent. To maintain efficiency in the face of constant innovation, aerospace and defense companies are improving their product development processes with the help of digitally-driven product lifecycle management (PLM), which offers significant benefits at every stage of the lifecycle of a product, from its inception to disposal.
What Is a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)?
Product lifecycle management (PLM) is the process of managing information about a product throughout its entire lifecycle, whose stages include designing, prototyping, manufacturing, maintaining, and troubleshooting.
By integrating people, data, processes, and business systems, PLM provides a product information backbone for companies and their extended enterprise and offers multiple important benefits, including:
- Improved productivity and performance.
- Better collaboration among team members and global teams.
- Enhanced requirements traceability.
- More accurate forecasting of seasonal fluctuations in market demand.
- Reduced waste and prototyping costs.
- Quicker time to market and more accurate quote generation.
- Superior product quality and reliability.
Simply put, the benefits of PLM stress across the entire lifecycle of a product. Designers appreciate the ability to conduct digital simulations, manufacturers benefit from being able to quickly share data with suppliers, and maintenance crews enjoy simplified troubleshooting with centralized data management.
PLM in Aerospace & Defense
Professionals in aerospace and defense can no longer rely on traditional systems if they want to innovate, develop, and commercialize increasingly complex products. They need to streamline the flow of information about the product and related processes throughout the product’s lifecycle with PLM to make it available in the right context, to the right people, and at the right time.
With PLM, aerospace and defense companies can better engage with the extended supply chain and practice concurrent development among multi-disciplinary teams. PLM encourages more innovative use of available information, leading to improved quality and performance in aircraft production and reduced costs and environmental impact.
NPO Saturnis a great example of the transformative power of PLM. The company achieved record-breaking development time for the SaM146 engine using Siemens PLM Software technologies, eliminating prototype testing stages, significantly trimming program costs, and cutting down engine development time by 50 percent.
“The company’s management realized that the development and engineering data management system had to be drastically changed,” said Yuri Zelenkov, IT director at the Russian aerospace engine producer. “We have established business processes that match modern international best practices. As a result, the company is an equal partner to large international projects.”
Main Features of PLM Tools
The main objective of PLM tools is to help companies manage information about a product throughout its entire lifecycle to enjoy greater visibility and more control. While there are many different PLM tools available on the market, they all tend to share several key features, which include:
- BOM (bill of material) development
- CAD management
- Portfolio management
- Product compliance
- Project and component management
- Risk management
- Change management
Each PLM vendor offers a slightly different take on these core features, so companies should evaluate multiple PLM tools and choose the one that best fits their requirements.
How to Select a PLM Tool?
Selecting the right PLM tool is no easy task because there are many variables companies should consider since PLM provides key functionality to streamline each phase of a product’s lifecycle, from inception to disposal.
PLM tools developed for larger enterprises typically encompass supply chain management and many other useful features that PLM tools for SMBs tend to lack. However, enterprise-grade PLM tools require a substantial financial investment, even though their total cost of ownership (TCO) is usually low.
When selecting a PLM tool, it’s best to get employee buy-in because they might otherwise resist using the tool to improve the product development process. The easier the select PLM tool is, the less resistance there tends to be from employees.
Top 20 PLM Tools for Aerospace & Defense
Aerospace and defense companies can choose from many different PLM tools, each offering a unique approach to product lifecycle management. Listed below are top 20 PLM tools for aerospace and defense.
1. SAP PLM
From the first product idea, through manufacturing, to product service, the SAP Product Lifecycle Management tool can support all product-related processes and give companies the ability to address specific business challenges on their own timelines with modular software that is designed to work with other SAP and non-SAP software. Integrated product development, innovation management, and product compliance, are just a few of the core components of SAP PLM that make it one of the most powerful PLM tools in the world.
This modern PLM system connects people and processes, across functional silos, with a digital thread for innovation. Designed to be intuitive, accessible, and user-centric, Siemens Teamcenter streamlines product development and helps businesses overcome all challenges they may face along the way. Accessible straight from a web browser and on any device, Siemens Teamcenter allows teams across disciplines to collaborate and communicate key information the way that works best for them.
Oracle’s Agile Product Lifecycle Management is a comprehensive enterprise PLM solution for managing the product value chain, centralizing product data, and launching quality products faster. Oracle has multiple PLM development sites around the world, and its customers include some of the largest names in the aerospace & defense industry.
Dassault ENOVIA is a PLM tool with a broad portfolio of technical and business applications. By enabling all key stakeholders to take part in sustaining product innovations and maintaining a complete and updated product information record, it opens a new range of opportunities and enables companies to plan their definition of success.
5. PTC PLM
This product lifecycle management tool is offered by PTC, a software and services company with over 6,000 employees in 30 countries, and used by 1.1 million users worldwide. PTC PLM breaks down silos and increases efficiency by making crucial data available to those who need it, providing a single digital product definition for product and process data across the enterprise.
Designed to meet the needs of discrete manufacturers, PLM Discrete from Infor seamlessly integrates with ERP and CAD systems in a comprehensive product lifecycle management solution built for the high tech and electronics, automotive component, industrial manufacturing, and aerospace and defense industries.
SolidWorks 3D EXPERIENCE connects product development from design through manufacturing and delivery in a cloud-based environment that automatically optimizes activities and resources to meet key milestones and delivery dates.
8. Arena PLM
Arena PLM blends product lifecycle management with quality management systems to help companies design, produce, and deliver complex products to market by connecting their product record, quality processes, and supply chain partners. It’s used by over 1,300 companies in more than 80 countries, helping them create innovative products to change the world.
This next-generation cloud-based alternative to traditional PLM solutions ensures that everyone has access to the data they need anytime, anywhere. Its capabilities include new product introduction, bill of materials, change management, quality management, supplier collaboration, product data management, and much more.
10. Aras PLM
Aras is an American developer and publisher of product development software to customers across all industries, including aerospace and defense. The company is committed to creating solutions that enable their customers to bring innovative products to market quickly and support them through the lifecycle.
12. CENIT PLM
14. Empower PLM
19. Yunique PLM
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