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Things have been rather quiet lately when it comes to product lifecycle management (PLM) as compared Industry 4.0. Which is really a pity since PLM plays a vital role in Industry 4.0. And the search for solutions for Industry 4.0 requires clarity regarding the benefits of PLM.

Industry 4.0 means developing and manufacturing not only consumer goods for the Internet of Things, but also machines, plants and power units. To achieve this it is necessary to digitally integrate the industrial value chain across the entire product lifecycle. The backbone of this digitalization is nothing less than PLM: a central source for all data regarding a product, from the initial idea and production to sales and marketing.

No matter where the first projects for Industry 4.0 take off, participants immediately stumble upon this connection. Predictive maintenance requires access to the data of all fields that have contributed to the development of the installation. The developer who receives a service order is given access to the most important data from the operation of the affected devices. When and why did did the breakdown occur? What were the reasons and under what conditions was it unable to fulfill the desired function? Here information from current operations can be coupled with the right engineering data.

First, information is recorded using integrated sensors, mini-cameras and microphones. In the second step the data generated is used constructively to add value which means that it first needs to be managed professionally. Only after the data is updated for the identified product can it be analyzed and evaluated according to the degree of importance and whether it is normal or abnormal. The data can only be put to meaningful use as big data if it is smart itself and can deliver its own import.

This is why the lack of news surrounding PLM does not accurately reflect what is actually occurring in the industry. PLM providers report double-digit growth. Even SMEs that recently thought PLM was only for large corporations, are looking for the right solutions for their businesses.

At Digital Factory PLM exhibitors this year frame everything "Integrated Processes and IT Solutions" have to offer. One one side of Hall 7 is SAP, where PLM has advanced to the most important part of the "Extended Supply Chain" area. On the other the focus on PLM extends into Hall 6 with Dassault Systèmes, Siemens PLM, Aucotec, Eplan and other CAx providers. The importance of PLM is on the rise with Industry 4.0. In addition, PLM can be found in more than a few of the over one hundred practical applications of Industry 4.0 that can be found at HANNOVER MESSE 2016.