This debate of ERP and PLM is still existing and is annoying. I have just read the following article : “PLM should take over ownership of the manufacturing BOM too”, says Siemens PLM’s CEO, Chuck Grindstaff from Engineering.com. And the message was tweeted on the fact that PLM should own the MBOM.
First advice, when you read “Industry 4.0” in the first few lines of an article you should have an alarm ringing to tell you “be careful, this must be some hazardous marketing material”.
When they talk in these articles about ERP and PLM, they mainly talk about software solutions. But these solutions, they contain databases, interfaces with specific components and a lot of licenced elements in order to answer the best the customer’s need. But what is the real added value of a PLM solution or an ERP? is it the color of an “open document” icon? is it the SQL database? no they both potentially use these elements. An ERP and a PLM are what they are because software developments companies have included specific business rules to manage specific data. Today, we believe that ERP can manage the MBOM and PLM should also do it. Then why do we fight about it? Mainly because we are not capable of having both working on it without complicated data synchronization. Each software vendor wants to own the data when sometimes part of the data you want to own, belongs to some other processes.
This reminds me of an old article I wrote about the fact that PLM and ERP are sharing the same objects, but they are working potentially on different attributes. So once again I’m providing my view of a real IT environnement where PLM is a discipline which describes how the information should be distributed and updated to manage the product lifecycle information in a knowledge management perspective. This schema, is then, not reserved for PLM. It is a general IT infrastructure containing:
- A master Data Management layer, to handle every data and managing their storage in one or multiple databases to benefit from the pros of each database technology.
- an Enterprise Service Bus in order to distribute webservices for other applications in order to impact the data.
- the business layers where each block is a discipline : PLM, CRM, ERP,…
- and finally interfaces which could rely on multiple business layers. When a sales person is interacting with its software, any action can be checked by PLM & CRM business rules for example.