'PLM-ERP Integration will serve Customers Better'

by CXOtoday Staff    Mar 30, 2009

How has the economic slowdown affected you?
These are challenging times for companies across various verticals, and some of that gloom is reflecting on us too. However, in the Indian context some sectors like automotive and capital goods are looking up and that is a positive sign for us as our core clientele are automotive and capital goods companies.

How is your PLM practice structured?

Our core focus in the PLM area is on manufacturing companies like Automotive, Industrial Equipments and Hi-Tech manufacturers, which contributes 85% of our overall revenue. Our customers are categorized into 3 areas; the CIO s office that sources ERP, PLM, supply chain solutions which contributes 60% of the total revenue, the CTO or the chief of engineering s office mainly concerned with product-related services which contributes 30% of the total revenue and BPO services that contribute 10% of the total revenues.

What is the significance of PLM in current times?

Today the challenge for companies is how to lower manufacturing costs while increasing service levels. Also most companies today either have a global footprint or are fast moving towards that. With customers spread across various geographies, businesses will need to cater to local needs of customers as per the geography. Besides, to cater to the globally distributed clientele, teams will need to be spread across the globe. Significant collaboration is required between distributed teams for them to function effectively. Finally, the products need to get to the market faster. These are the challenges that PLM addresses.

What are some of the current trends in the PLM area?

There are 2 broad trends in PLM; 1) the use of PLM authoring tools such as CAD-based solid modeling is widespread here
ii) The need now is more for collaborative product data management solutions.

In terms of some specific trends we have seen leading engineering companies such as ABB, Volvo, Chrysler, GM setting up engineering centers here in India. They are either setting up their own design office or partnering with companies like KPIT to expand their design capacity.

The other trend seen is that domestic manufacturers who were earlier totally India-focused are now going global. Take for instance Bharat Forge, which has emerged as the second largest forging company in the world. It has expanded aggressively overseas. So the kind of solutions these companies need to adopt have to be of global standards and are not only product-focused but also more and more process-focused. And that is another significant trend, the move towards process-focused PLM solutions.

Looking at the market of PLM design tools Vs process-oriented PLM, what trend do you see?

The market size for CAD-authoring tools is a bigger pie at $ 20 billion, while collaborative product data management or process-oriented tools have a market size of $ 8-10 billion. However, the demand for collaborative tools is growing much faster at 15-20 percent per annum, while the growth of CAD-authoring tools is slower at 7 percent. This is in keeping with the trend of increasing interest in process-oriented PLM as more companies go global.

Do you think there is an overlap between traditional ERP solutions and PLM, since they seem to have overlapping functionalities?

There is overlap in some areas, and no wonder ERP vendors like SAP and Oracle have come out with PLM modules in their product suite. However, the customer view is that PLM that has evolved from the ERP side is more process-centric, while that from the CAD-CAM side is more design-centric. There is a need to integrate both these approaches and that’s what our PLM practice focuses on and will increasingly focus on, in the future.

What are you doing to increase value to customers and serve them better?
 We are in the process of integrating ERP with PLM, which will provide a holistic view of operations right from design stage to the end of the product lifecycle. None of the PLM vendors currently provide such a holistic view so customers have to suffer. Take for instance, the automotive segment where warranty costs have increased primarily because of increase in embedded software in automobiles. Because auto manufacturers cannot bet on the reliability of these embedded systems, their warranty costs have increased too.

Our PLM practice will focus on cutting these warranty costs for manufacturers by providing a reliable mechanism for embedded systems. We have also tied-up with AUTOSAR (Automotive Open System Architecture), the consortium that defines standards for embedded software in automobiles. This partnership will also help us provide services of global standards to our customers.
Our product simulation expertise has also grown over the years, so we not only manage the lifecycle but are also able to simulate how the products will be in the actual market dynamic.

All these enable us to serve our clientele better.