Smaller Businesses Are Eager For PLM, Too

Companies such as IBM are responding to the demand with lower-cost versions of PLM offerings.

Tony Kontzer, Contributor

July 11, 2003

2 Min Read

There's a growing demand from smaller companies to be able to reap advantages from using PLM software, too. To meet that emerging demand, IBM soon will begin conforming its PLM package to its recently unveiled IBM Express strategy, in which it's begun offering pared-down versions of its products designed to meet the budgets and less-complex needs of companies with fewer than 1,000 employees.

Vertical-focused versions of that small-business PLM offering, expected by the end of the third quarter and starting as low as a couple of thousand dollars, will be aimed at makers of industrial machinery, plastics, tooling and mobile equipment, says Geoffrey Rogers, IBM's PLM business development and marketing executive for the Americas.

Farnham & Pfile Construction Inc., which designs and builds coal-preparation plants, is one small business that's benefiting from the use of PLM software. The company, with less than 50 employees, has invested nearly $1 million in a PLM system that enables the company's engineers and clients to access a portal view of real-time data on equipment and project details. The system links to Dassault Systemes' Catia CAD app, as well as the client's ERP system, enabling Farnham to link plant documentation, equipment data, and customer requests to ensure accurate designs of its products.

For instance, coal-preparation plants are dependent on piping to move coal deposits through the various processes within the plant. One recently designed plant required 19,000 feet of piping, at a cost of $500 a foot. At that cost, replacing defective sections can be a bear, especially since the sections aren't standard, so ordering an identical replacement required pinpoint measurements and, where possible, a catalog drawing of the section needed. But now, Farnham and its clients can log into the PLM system, identify the original specs of the defective piece of piping, and ensure that the replacement is a perfect fit, says Joe Bellasperanza, an engineering consultant with Farnham.

Farnham's system, which is built on an IBM package that combines the vendor's middleware, hardware, and services with Dassault's CAD and product data management software, went live 18 months ago and has become a competitive differentiator for the firm, says Bellasperanza. In fact, he can barely imagine Farnham thriving today without it. "Without a PLM system," he says, "you end up doing a lot of things in longhand, and you can never build your business."

Return to main story:Product Process

About the Author(s)

Never Miss a Beat: Get a snapshot of the issues affecting the IT industry straight to your inbox.

You May Also Like

More Insights