PLM (Vendors) and Lean Product Development -- Part 2: Dassault Systèmes

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Part 1 of this blog post series discussed in general the relationship between product lifecycle management (PLM) and lean product development (LPD), and pointed out that various PLM vendors may have different interpretations of PLM functionality, as well as different levels of support for users’ LPD initiatives. In this and a few future blog posts, I will choose some PLM vendors and talk about the relationship between each vendor’s offerings and LPD, based on my personal interpretation. I will pick one vendor at a time; today’s is Dassault Systèmes (DS).

As a pioneer and leader in the three-dimensional (3D) software market, DS has also built significant PLM capabilities through internal development and acquisitions. Being a prominent 3D computer-aided design (CAD) and digital manufacturing provider gives the company many benefits in helping customers have “leaner” product development. These benefits range from gaining a better understanding of product design processes to better CAD integration capabilities. As one of the first PLM vendors to start talking about LPD, DS has created some interesting content on this topic through its Web site. But I will leave the exploration of that to you and now discuss two of DS’s more recent involvements—which, at first glance, may not seem to some people to be directly relevant to LPD.

The Democratization of 3D Content

As one of the few vendors selling the most sophisticated and expensive CAD software, DS now is also showing a great passion for making 3D content more approachable by a much wider audience, mainly through the brand 3DVIA. With the help of 3DVIA, different product stakeholders (including customers) will be able to access and, to a certain degree, create 3D product definition information more easily, less expensively (or even for free), and more conveniently (through the Web and even handheld devices such as the iPhone). To me, the democratization of 3D content is like the introduction of personal computers (PCs). Both the big computing machines used in labs (equivalent to high-end, full-featured 3D CAD systems) and PCs (equivalent to low-price or free 3D visibility and creation software) have their own value when used for different purposes. In short, 3DVIA opens the door for “leaner” product development processes, since it allows more intuitive and instant communication around 3D CAD models.

The Evolution of the DS V6 Platform

According to DS’s product strategy (which I learned about at a DS analyst conference), 3DVIA provides a “lifelike experience” for all users and is the top layer of its V6 product framework. The other two lower layers are “collaborative innovation” and “intellectual property (IP) modeling and simulation.” From the company’s initial introduction of PLM 2.0 on V6 platform in January 2008 to the announcement of its V6R2010x in November 2009, a main thread within its V6 platform is “openness.” My personal interpretation of this openness includes enhancements in

  • the visibility and interoperability of product definition information across different product stakeholders;

  • integration capabilities (with IT infrastructure and other enterprise systems); and

  • support to the DS developer community.

The openness may provide significant benefits to some organizations’ LPD initiatives.

To help you start your own exploration of what DS has to offer in relation to LPD, I recommend the following two resources that I found on DS’s Web site:

  1. White Paper – Lean Product Development

  2. Lean Product Development Calculator

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