Product Life Cycle Management (PLM) is a system that integrates computerized tools and methodologies for managing the engineering knowledge and information that defines products. The PLM approach covers all the stages of the product lifecycle, beginning with the initial concept definition and including requirement characterization, detailed design, analyses and simulations, transition from development to production, production planning, production, maintenance and end of life. PLM tools support design processes distributed among decentralized development groups, as well as knowledge and information management within and outside the organization, including suppliers, clients and business partners. As in ERP, which supports the supply chain and management of the organization’s operations, assets and resources, PLM supports the product definition information chain and management of the organization’s intellectual property (IP). PLM systems comprise the following main and tightly integrated components: • Systems engineering and requirement management tools; • CAD tools for defining the digital product; • Product data and engineering processes management – PDM; • Digital manufacturing system, including design and simulation of production lines. Integrating PLM into the management system can shorten time-to-market, reduce expenses, improve quality and encourage innovation and creativity in developing products and planning production and service processes. The paper describes the principles and components of the PLM approach and presents a case study involving a PLM implementation at Boeing and Airbus. The case study describes the design and digital manufacturing of the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 787 aircraft. Both companies used similar tools in the PLM environment. At the time of the study (2006), Airbus used Dassault Catia V4 and Catia V5 with the Enovia PLM system, while Boeing used Dassault Catia V5 with Enovia. Major differences were found in system implementation, engineering process definitions and management methods, leading to entirely different results. The main differences in the implementations at Boeing and at Airbus were as follows: • In both cases, the engineering project and the business environment were extremely complex. At Airbus, design and production took place in four different countries at 16 different sites, with 41,000 employees. At Boeing, 6,000 engineers at 135 sites designed the plane, with 300 major suppliers; • In the case of Airbus, because of CAD system incompatibility changes in the design of the electrical wiring harnesses caused the harnesses not to fit the airplane body. The digital prototype was not updated with all the changes, and the lack of fit was only discovered at the stage of the actual physical assembly; • Boeing laid down strict rules during the design process to ensure that the information was complete and up to date. At Boeing, all those involved in development and production were obligated to work with one central data base, which was updated at least twice a week by all participants; • Airbus reported major losses and delays in supplying the planes, while Boeing reported high profits and shorter time-to-market. Airbus reported a loss of 6 billion dollars and a two-year delay in supplying the A380. Boeing, in contrast, reported a savings of 2 billion dollars and a reduction of 12 months in the timetable for supplying the 787. The use of PLM in the above examples leads to the following conclusions: • The design of major engineering processes (i.e. change process) is a critical success factor to PLM implementation; • Digital information must be compatible among the various CAD systems in the entire design chain; • All participants in the design and supply chain must impose and enforce engineering procedures and processes; • The information must be integrated among all the components in the PLM system; • A single data base must be created to reflect the product definition during the entire lifecycle of the product.

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