PLM Best Practices All Operations Managers Should Consider
Roost is a new type of Internet of Things (IoT) company. Instead of purchasing costly new devices and paying even more to have them installed, Roost empowers easy and inexpensive do-it-yourself upgrades to existing smoke alarms. There are no new smoke/CO alarms to purchase. No unnecessary control panels. No bulky hubs to hide. From ‘dumb’ to ‘smart’. Voila. We recently talked to their operations manager to learn about life as an operations manager.
Arena: Tell us about Arena PLM best practices you’ve found.
Van Patten: Revision control is a best practice and the primary reason we use Arena PLM. Arena PLM is absolutely our single source of truth and that’s the best practice that everyone should follow.
Using Arena PLM as a communication device. You want your suppliers and your engineers to use Arena PLM. It’s a way of communicating your single source of product truth.
Another best practice I recommend to those considering PLM is to think about what makes sense from your product line and put a naming convention in place that helps you differentiate and communicate what your product line is. Arena PLM can handle it.
Arena: Talk to me about quality control and compliance.
Van Patten: I’m in the process of putting them in the top level of Arena PLM so that we also have our certifications like RoHS docs and FCC so everything is in our single source of truth about the product. So, that’s my short-term plan. Also revising costs. We haven’t done a great job of keeping the part costs updated, so that’s something that I’m doing now.
Arena: What advice do you have for operations managers on how they should manage their product life cycle?
Van Patten: My advice is to get out in front of everything. It’s a little bit like flying a jet plane. You don’t fly from where you are. You fly the jet plane a quarter mile out in front of you because you have to be in front of where you are today.
Arena: Can you say the same thing differently?
Van Patten: You can’t make decisions that are going to prohibit what you probably would need to do six months from now, so it’s a continual what if, what if, what if. You know, what if we have these products? What if we start selling here? What happens if this? What happens if that? That’s my day, trying to figure out all the different variables, which ones are more likely to be true, and what do my systems have to look like in order to make that happen? So, like I said do more with less, whatever it is.
Arena: What’s the most important thing most manufacturers must do?
Van Patten: Well, revision control is critical in a manufacturing business especially when it’s moving fast. As we change a part from one supplier to another then we have to change the bill of materials. We have to either obsolete the other part or make it an alternate. You can’t be sloppy about it. If you’re sloppy about your bill of materials (BOM) management you’re going to get a product that has the wrong parts in it. It’s guaranteed. Make sure that the parts and your bill of materials are always up to date. I can’t say it enough.
The single source of truth about your product has to be in your PLM system. If you have too many people mucking about in the bill of materials and adding parts and not obsoleting others or not being business-minded about keeping the bills up to date, you’re going to start making parts that are wrong. Guaranteed.
Arena: It sounds like you also use Arena as a supply chain communication tool?
Van Patten: Now,that your BOM is accurate, using your PLM system as your primary communication method with other people that need product data is important. Specifically, your suppliers. I have a supplier in China and they have two other suppliers in China who all have access to our Arena PLM system. When I place an order for 10,000 parts, let’s say, I don’t give them a BOM in drawings of what the ‘latest’ looks like. They know they have to go look it up and pull it out of our Arena PLM system.