The PLM journey: Connecting PLM with real-world maintenance operations
The purpose of this blog post is to take you on a journey in the public transportation sector and show how you can unleash the true power of your maintenance process within a PLM system. I will elaborate on the challenges and how you can resolve them by combining PLM with a digital twin approach to bridge the gap between the real and the virtual world. Technically speaking, our journey will include preferred PLM platforms, such as Siemens Teamcenter, Active Workspace (AW), IBM Maximo Database and ArcGIS – a provider of geographical information systems (GIS). But let’s start at the beginning.
At the station: Our challenge
Consider a public transportation association in a big city. Not only is it vital to scale the infrastructure to prevent traffic chaos as the city grows but also to eliminate heterogeneous silos which make it increasingly difficult to find the right information.
One key challenge is the sophisticated information management required to facilitate a smooth flow of operations. This involves not just infrastructure planning and expansion but also its maintenance. Due to numerous bus stations, train stations and tracks, it’s easy to lose sight of where your assets and the associated documentation (e.g., repair manuals) are located.
Stop 1: Asset management
By using the Siemens Teamcenter PLM system for asset management, we can keep track of all our “things,” such as the detailed structure of train stations, including escalators, stairwells, air conditioners and tracks. Additionally, an IBM Maximo database stores work and repair instructions. All this information can be integrated into our Teamcenter environment and can accessed directly from within Active Workspace.
This solution enables us to create a single source of truth in our AW and helps reduce the overall complexity of daily operations. It also helps document all asset management activities, making it accessible anywhere, anytime for all relevant stakeholders like service personnel, dispatchers, and others. With one login, critical staff have all the information they need to do their job, all in one place.
Stop 2: Geographical information
Another powerful feature is the ability to integrate third-party systems into the Siemens Teamcenter Active Workspace, such as a geographical information system (GIS). Since all the information is in one place, it is convenient to visualize it. By integrating an ArcGIS map, we can now view not only the structure of a station and its assets, but also quickly grasp its geographical location. This allows us to gather and process information faster, which accelerates the decision-making process.
Final Station: Our goal
After creating this single source of truth, we can go one step further and start incorporating real-world data from smart sensors into our solution. As a result, we will be able to create our own digital twin, which will help predict and prevent system failures or outages. With the help of our GIS map implementation, we can quickly find nearby technicians and send them to the site.
By integrating the IBM Maximo database, the necessary repair instructions can be provided directly to the technicians. Furthermore, the technicians can easily document the repair process. This means that all relevant people have access to the information they need at any time through a single application – and that information is always up-to-date. Another potential use case is integrating real-time train locations so technicians can be sent into the field when trains are not operating.
Preparing for future journeys
As you can see, by effectively linking PLM, asset management and GIS, we have successfully laid the foundation for a digital twin by adapting our PLM strategy.
This use case is primarily focused on maintenance, but other PLM areas such as production planning can be easily implemented as well. It is just as applicable in manufacturing or aerospace as it is in transportation, retail, utilities or the public sector.
This example shows that with deep experience in PLM system integration, extraordinary process implementations are feasible which can pave the way towards digital twins, without the huge investments required to build them from the ground up.
Deep experience in PLM system integration enables extraordinary process implementations that pave the way for Digital Twins, without the huge investments required to build them from the ground up.
While digital adopters may lack the first-mover advantage, they can still get up-to-speed by adopting a digital modernization strategy. Here’s how:
Get started on your digital modernization journey
Digital modernization is a three-phase journey. These phases are quite well known, but differences in terminology can be confusing. Before we dig deeper into digital modernization, let’s define these terms.
1 - Digitization
Simply put, digitization is converting physical data into an electronic format. Digitization can save organizations millions of dollars on physical document creation, storage, transmission and updating. It also includes related requirements for infrastructure set-up, cybersecurity, and loss of information or accessibility in case of a site failure.
2 - Digitalization
Digitalization is the part of the journey when an organization begins using digital technologies to create new business models and processes. It enables banks to provide digital payments, helps start-ups like Uber enable resource sharing, and leads organizations towards improved operations and processes, such as using smart glasses to maintain equipment in a manufacturing plant.
3 - Digital transformation
This is the pinnacle that every digital adopter strives to reach as fast as possible. However, business and technology leaders must understand that it will be more of an evolutionary journey than a revolutionary one. To ensure all gaps are bridged, efforts must be coordinated and synchronized across the entire organization and across the previous phases of digitization and digitalization.
Once an organization understands the different phases of the digital modernization journey, its leaders should assess where they stand before embarking on their journey. A deep dive into their own processes, business goals and vision will help them set the pace of their journey with a clear roadmap.