Product Lifecycle Management Best Practices Thesis

Excerpt from Thesis :

This practically also pays big dividends for manufacturers as they continue to strive to keep their Energy STAR Compliance ratings on products, leading to lower costs for power supply, electrical system integration and less product wear due to more efficient use of energy. Studies also indicate that Energy STAR compliance, when designed in as part of the DfE initiatives in a PLM system, can have an exceptionally high accumulative impact as well (Preston, 2001).

Integrating DfE into PLM frameworks then not only alleviates the unnecessary and often high costs of noncompliance to federal and global mandates, this integration has also been shown to reduce the net amount of new product components necessary, further creating higher levels of reliability in products over time (Mascle, Zhao, 2008).

There are many additional benefits to integrating DfE product development practices into the broader PLM frameworks manufacturers use for designing, launching, managing and discontinuing products. The first is that the accumulated knowledge of product-level and component-level compliance can be captured and included in enterprise-wide quality management programs as well. These Enterprise Compliance and Quality Management (ECQM) programs not only alleviate the unnecessary costs of compliance they also can monetize or cost out the costs of components that are not meeting quality standards. Instantly manufacturers can now know which suppliers are causing their products to not measure up to quality standards and also those that are. Of the many high tech manufacturers doing this including Cisco, the use of ECQM systems to determine which components are best for recycling due to their higher quality is saving the network products manufacturer (Mascle, Zhao, 2008). Cisco also uses the ECQM system as part of their PLM framework to complete failure analysis and lifetime costs of each component in their most popular product configurations. This has given Cisco the opportunity to recycle entire motherboards and main circuit boards which are very expensive to produce in manufacturing operations. The net effect has been an increase in corporate-wide profitability. Another benefit all manufacturers strive for by including DfE and reverse logistics into their PLM frameworks is reduction in packaging costs by designing in biodegradability and reverse logistics processes (Mascle, Zhao, 2008). This is now an integral part of the HP PLM framework, and has been responsible for saving approximately seven million print cartridges over programs put into place (Bulik, 2007). HP claims to have saved $500M by integrating DfE, reverse logistics and biodegradability into their PLM framework (Mascle, Zhao, 2008).

The Contributions of DfE and the new Product Development Phase of PLM

As the benefits shown in Table 1: DfE Benefits and Impact Analysis from PLM Integration have become the metrics of performance that matter most to electronics and electrical products manufacturers, the development of methodologies for the first phase of the product lifecycle are key to ensure their attainment. This is certainly the case at Cisco and HP who have created benchmarks to measure the contribution of PLM strategies to compliance initiatives (Mascle, Zhao, 2008). While manufacturers are finding that they can attain these benchmarks during any phase of the PLM process, it is far more effective and less costly to plan for them during the initial product development cycles of a product. These decisions on new product development and product introduction also are much more precisely synchronized to channel partners during the initial stages of new product development than any other phase of the PLM framework and cycle (Chaudhri, 2006).

Manufacturers who are attaining best practices in this area including Cisco and HP (Mascle, Zhao, 2008) are doing so through the use of DfE Benefits and Impact Analysis prior to any product actually being mass produced and sold. The focus of this strategy is evaluating each subsystem of the proposed products' design and extrapolates the potential impacts on compliance, minimizing the costs of non-compliance over the long-term and minimizes the costs of potential non-compliance. The implications for supply chain partners is better managed at the initial stages of the PLM cycle than in the middle, and suppliers can then also be given their own levels of metrics they must attain as part of the supply chain for DfE-compliant products.


The many benefits of integrating DfE-based product development methodologies and practices into a PLM framework and strategic plan are evident from the best practices analyzed throughout this paper. The fundamental strategic value of PLM is in its ability to serve as a learning ecosystem (Abramovici, 2007) for manufacturers who are interested in gaining greater customer alignment, cost, and time-to-market advantages in their internal development and production processes. The many compliance initiates of RoHs (Smock, 2004), WEEE (Kunert, 2005), and EPA-mandated programs (Telle, 2009) are having an immediate and significant effect on the structure and execution of PLM strategies. The need for compliance to these initiatives that ensure manufacturers produce products that are consistent and within the boundaries of safety and disposal for electrical and electronics products is key to minimizing penalties. Yet the companies getting to best practices in the integration of DfE and PLM frameworks are transforming the potential costs of compliance into a competitive advantage, as Cisco and HP have already attained (Mascle, Zhao, 2008). As shown in Table 1: DfE Benefits and Impact Analysis from PLM Integration, the impact of designing product development processes for compliance through DfE initially and then extended to entire PLM frameworks can deliver significant cost savings over time. DfE integrated into the new product development process delivers significant compliance levels and cost reductions over time, from highly differentiated electronics (Mascle, Zhao, 2008) to commoditized products including mobile phones (Frey, Harrison, Billett, 2006). The impact of DFE integration to PLM frameworks is also globally focused in terms of production as well (Deathe, MacDonald, Amos, 2008) and supply chain performance as can be seen from the reverse logistics (Kumar, Putnam, 2008) cost and performance gains achieved over time. Lastly the corporate commitment necessary for PLM frameworks to be more attuned to compliance through the integration of DfE practices requires senior management endorsement and strong support (Mascle, Zhao, 2008).


PLM frameworks are going through a transformation from being insular and focused only on internal measures of performance to being focused on how to be in compliance with global initiatives to alleviate the health risks of electrical and electronic products waste. The integration of DfE methodologies and best practices into PLM frameworks are delivering quantifiable gains over and above compliance however. The gains made in process efficiencies within manufacturers who have made the commitment to integrate DfE-based product development programs into their PLM strategies are finding a surprising benefit: they compete more effectively from a cost and execution standpoint as well. Compliance can be turned into a competitive advantage through the alignment of manufacturing, sourcing, supply chain, reverse logistics and services when product development cycles take into account their constraints first. This is the essence of the best practices of manufacturers successfully using PLM frameworks to transform the costs of compliance into a competitive advantage.


For manufacturers who are focused on how to attain compliance to the rapidly growing set of compliance requirements globally, the most critical areas to focus on are DfE and DfR initiatives as part of the new product development process. This is the most critical phase of the entire PLM framework in organizations as it is where suppliers are coordinated with, program goals set, and product designs finalized. The integration of DfE initiatives into the broader PLM frameworks or strategic programs that manufacturers use can also serve to drastically alleviate the unnecessary costs of noncompliance, transforming best practices in environmental design of products into a competitive advantage.


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