One of the major emerging trends in the Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solution space is the expansion of the overall product and manufacturing lifecycle. Increasingly, this is referred to as the digital enterprise. In the digital enterprise, all aspects of product design, test, manufacturing, and supply chain are interconnected across a digital thread of virtual design, simulation, production processes, analytics, and systems engineering. The focus today is on the next generation of smart connected products that will support smart connected factories and Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystems. These so-called edge devices will function as the source of data and information that will also power the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
A significant component of the digital thread is the concept of the digital twin, where the physical product, equipment, or system is connected to the virtual design model allowing a constant stream of performance information on the product in the field. PLM suppliers provide the design technology that enable smart connected product design that will enable the implementation of the digital twin. PLM product design virtual models represent the virtual component of the digital twin, with product design criteria now focusing on designing smart, connected products.
Another continuing trend for PLM is an overall systems engineering or model-based design approach to product design. This involves considering product design within the context of multiple engineering disciplines (mechanical, electrical, software). Product development across all industry sectors is moving to meet the requirements for smart and connected products to support the IoT. This applies whether the product is a car, appliance, consumer product, or mobile device.