PLM encompasses a complete journey of the product from managing requirements to supporting product services.
Electric Vehicles (EVs) are not new to the industry but their rapid growth in the recent past is redefining the transportation industry of the future. EV focuses on delivering user experience and not just addressing the core needs of transportation.
EV carries software binaries that run into Giga Bytes, which typically is the brain behind the vehicle. These software packages need to be managed in the context of the EV as a product hence there is a strong link that needs to be built between PLM, which manages the Mechanical, Electrical and Electronic data, to Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) which manages the software development. The digital maturity of software development and release processes is much higher than product development, so EV organizations do not focus on bringing them into one system but develop an integration between PLM and ALM so that software is managed as an object in PLM and the requirements are tagged to the software binaries to establish traceability. It is important to manage this traceability as the industry today is facing a challenge in managing the hardware-to-software interoperability matrix. The integration we are referring to is not just tool integration, but process integration like Change Management, Release Management, etc. The complexity of Hardware-to-Software continues to increase and to mitigate this, EV organizations focus on building the required processes and toolchain that adheres to an industry framework, namely, Automotive Software Process Improvement Capability determination (ASPICE).
From the concept car shown to customers in auto shows to building pre-production of the vehicle, EV organizations are always running behind time, to bring the product faster to market, thus requiring multiple departments to work together on the product. Be it Engineering teams creating the Engineering Bill of Materials (EBOM), Procurement teams working with suppliers for long lead items, Vehicle integration teams performing Digital Mockups (DMUs), Engineering teams working with global design centers to co-design, Manufacturing Engineering teams to perform manufacturing simulations and create Manufacturing Bill of Materials (MBOM) and Bill of Process (BOP). The challenge is that underlying data is changing continuously based on the feedback received, and to address this challenge PLM implements various processes that are tightly integrated and EV industries implement the following modules, namely, Requirements Management, CAD Data Management, BOM Management, Change Management, Variants, and Configuration Management, Issue Management, Document Management, Visualization Management, Compliance Management, Supplier Management.
To have the entire organization consume the data it is essential that PLM provide the required integrations to downstream applications. EV focuses on three major enterprise systems which are their lifeline for them. The industry calls them ‘The Holy Trinity’ and they comprise of PLM, ERP, and MES which need to be communicated efficiently for the enterprise to bring the product dream to reality. A fourth element is being included these days, which is ALM, and, given the value, the software brings to an EV, organizations focus not just on integrating these IT systems, but more on the process integrations so that value of data is realized. It also helps in close-loop communication for efficient impact analysis leading to effective change management at the enterprise level. The establishment of Digital Thread is essential for an organization to leverage the data and drive a continuous feedback cycle. This also enables upstream applications to create and validate data that will be consumed by downstream applications in a useful manner.
EV organizations also enable a data analytics layer to pull data from the ‘Holy Trinity’ and beyond, so that meaningful information can be derived which also provides the organization an opportunity to analyze data on a real-time basis. Business Information (BI) dashboards are created for a quick overview of status through slices of data and quick decisions can be made to make any course corrections to the program.
EV organization typically has a DNA that is fast-paced, new age EV OEMs carry very few legacy applications and hence can carve out new ways of working, to manage enterprise applications like PLM. IT infrastructure is a critical element but is considered overhead, and to overcome this, EV organizations are adopting a cloud strategy. Thanks to the new technology evolution in security, data protection, and connectivity, PLM and ERP cloud adoption is picking up pace and more organizations are embracing cloud strategy. These organizations have also changed their way of working to follow a more agile way of development and DevOps practices to launch new functionality to end users periodically.
In summary, EVs today are fully leveraging digital tools and technologies like PLM so that vehicle design, vehicle engineering, vehicle manufacturing, and testing are completely validated in the digital world before bringing it to the physical world. This helps them in transforming their vision into reality in a time-bound manner. EVs continue to raise the bar in the adoption of PLM and leverage the implementation partners to bring in the best in class to implement and manage their PLM systems. In the coming years, as the adoption of EVs as a transportation solution to a greener world is increasing, we are going to see the scope of PLM increase and play a larger part in reducing the design and manufacturing complexity by integrating people, processes, and data in an efficient way.
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Originally published at https://www.tatatechnologies.com on January 4, 2023.