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Shyla Kumar Thadikamala Shyla Kumar Thadikamala Written by Shyla Kumar Thadikamala, Sr. Director – Data Engineering and Artificial Intelligence
on 25 Oct 2023

In the dynamic landscape of modern industry, how products are conceived, developed, and managed has undergone a profound transformation, largely owing to the relentless advancement of technology. At the forefront of this revolution is Generative artificial intelligence (AI), a cutting-edge paradigm that holds the potential to reshape Product Life Cycle Management (PLM) completely. While opinion is divided about how GenAI is perceived among human workforce, a Salesforce research recently revealed:

  • Three out of five workers (61%) currently use or plan to use Generative AI.
  • More than two out of three (68%) say Generative AI will help them better serve their customers.
  • Two out of three (67%) say Generative AI will help them get more out of other technology investments, such as other AI and machine-learning models.

As businesses strive for greater efficiency, innovation, and agility, Generative AI could play a pivotal in PLM, ushering in an era where design constraints are breached, creativity is amplified, and decision-making is augmented by machine intelligence.

This blog delves into the paradigm shift brought about by Generative AI in product life cycle management. By analyzing its applications, advantages, and real-world success stories, we explore how Generative AI revolutionizes traditional PLM practices, unlocking unprecedented levels of innovation and efficiency. 

Current challenges in PLC management:

Current product life cycle management systems have helped streamline several aspects of product development. However, they still face challenges, particularly in areas where large language models (LLMs) such as GPT-3.5 could offer solutions. Some of the key challenges with current PLM systems are:

Limited decision support: Traditional PLM systems may lack advanced decision support capabilities. They often rely on pre-defined rules and data, making it difficult to analyze unstructured or complex information and provide comprehensive decision-making support.
Data fragmentation: PLM systems often handle data from various sources and departments, leading to data fragmentation. This can hinder effective collaboration and communication among teams, causing inefficiencies in the product development process.
Time-consuming workflows: Some PLM workflows can be time-consuming and require manual intervention at multiple stages. These inefficiencies can slow down the product development cycle and delay time-to-market.
Difficulty in predictive insights: Current PLM systems may struggle to provide predictive insights based on historical data or external factors. Identifying potential risks or opportunities becomes challenging without the capability to analyze large datasets and complex patterns.
Lack of natural language interaction: Traditional PLM systems may not support natural language interaction, making it harder for users to interact with the system in a more intuitive and user-friendly manner.
Limited support for creativity and innovation: Conventional PLM systems might not be equipped to assist with creative tasks such as design exploration and optimization, potentially restricting innovation in product development.
Difficulty in complex problem-solving: Certain product development challenges require reasoning and understanding of context, which current PLM systems may find challenging due to their limited data processing and analysis capabilities.
Integration: Integrating PLM with other business systems, such as ERP and CRM, can be complex and may result in data synchronization issues.

LLMs such as GPT-3.5 can tackle challenges in PLM through natural language processing, predictive insights, and intuitive user interactions. They offer advanced decision support, address data fragmentation, and promote creativity and innovation. Ethical and privacy considerations are crucial, but integrating LLMs with PLM can drive efficient and innovative product development.

KPIs of product life cycle management activities:

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for Product Life Cycle Management (PLM) activities can vary depending on the specific goals and objectives of an organization. However, here are some common KPIs that are often used to measure the effectiveness of PLM activities:

  • Time-to-market (TTM): This measures the time it takes to develop and launch a new product from concept to market. A shorter TTM is often a key goal of PLM.
  • Product quality improvement: Measure product quality through defect rates, warranty claims, and customer complaints. A lower defect rate and fewer warranty claims often indicate better PLM practices.
  • Optimization: Percentage reduction in material usage and associated costs in product design.
  • Customer satisfaction and personalization: Customer feedback and ratings on customized products to assess satisfaction levels.
  • Supply chain efficiency: Decrease in excess inventory and stock-outs in the supply chain.
  • Predictive maintenance impact: Percentage reduction in unplanned downtime and maintenance costs.
  • Design iteration speed: Number of design iterations completed within a specific time frame.
  • Creativity and innovation index: Number of innovative design concepts and successful implementations.
  • Data accessibility and collaboration: Percentage increase in data sharing and collaboration between departments.
  • Regulatory compliance efficiency: Time taken for regulatory document preparation and submission.

Use cases 

  • Generative design optimization: Employing AI algorithms to optimize product designs based on specified constraints and objectives. For instance, in automotive engineering, Generative AI can generate lightweight yet robust structural components that meet safety standards and improve fuel efficiency.
  • Predictive maintenance and health monitoring: Utilizing Generative AI for predictive maintenance and health monitoring of complex machinery. By analyzing sensor data, it can forecast potential faults and suggest proactive maintenance actions. In aerospace, Generative AI can predict engine failures and recommend maintenance schedules, minimizing downtime and maintenance costs.
  • Supply chain and inventory optimization: Implementing Generative AI to optimize supply chain management and inventory levels. For instance, Generative AI can forecast demand patterns in retail, helping businesses optimize stock levels and minimize excess inventory costs.
  • Simulation and prototyping acceleration: Integrating Generative AI to speed up simulation and prototyping processes. In architecture, Generative AI can generate design alternatives and optimize building structures, reducing the time and resources required for physical prototyping.
  • Automated documentation and compliance: Leveraging Generative AI to automate documentation and compliance management. For pharmaceutical companies, Generative AI can assist in generating regulatory documents and ensuring compliance with industry standards.
  • Personalization and customer experience: Utilizing Generative AI to create personalized product variants based on customer preferences and feedback. In fashion, Generative AI can design customized clothing items tailored to individual tastes and measurements.
    By harnessing the power of Generative AI, businesses can revolutionize their PLM strategies, accelerating innovation, reducing costs, and delivering enhanced products and services to their customers.

About the Author

Shyla Kumar Thadikamala (Shyla) has over 20+ years of experience in Information Technology in various domains such as Manufacturing, Banking, Insurance, and Smart Cities. He is currently holding BE, MBA, CBA, and FRM credentials and is pursuing a PhD in Artificial Intelligence. His areas of interest are building end-to-end Data & AI-based platforms, which are based on Data, Statistics, Natural Language processing, Video/Image Analytics, Operational Research, and Reinforcement Learning across multiple industries.

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