Collaboration frameworks are offered by several PLM vendors and some have experience with SharePoint in a PLM context. A collaboration framework offers companies and employees the ability to share and manage ‘project’ data and through these functions collaborate more effective. Successful collaboration occurs when each participant [or stakeholder] is able to make a unique contribution toward achieving a common goal. In this post I’ll be talking about the technology in support of collaboration.

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‘Instant’ Messaging (IM or IMing) is an application to shoot an instant text message for ‘Quick questions and clarifications’ and enable rapid information dissemination and decision-making between one or more persons ‘collaborating’. The text is conveyed via devices (also phone) connected over a network such as the Intra/Internet. It is an informal form of knowledge exchange although the actual conversation can be saved for different purposes. IM is also less intrusive, as ‘discussions’ between co-workers are briefer compared with for example phone. Still certain IM clients today also support traditional phone capabilities (VOIP) as well as support of file sharing and webcam. There is a large variety of IM clients and Wikipedia publishes a list of these. One of the key impediments to a large usage today is the compatibility of protocols. The escape is to use a developer with a strong market presence and rich functions. Skype for example started as an internet phone capability and includes now IM as well (see also Application Sharing).
So IM is an ideal tool to quickly consult an ‘online’ coworker regarding a technical challenge. Working with companies we see this technology used as the need for effective knowledge sharing, team working and collaborative environments amongst employees has become vital, especially those teams working in geographically dispersed. Statistics further learns that Tens of millions of the consumer IM accounts in use are being used for business purposes by employees of companies and other organizations. IM adoption usually is a bottom-up evolution as employees adopt these capabilities, sometime against company (compliance) rules.

Working with a company in the past we discussed how PLM could support the capture of knowledge. We did a brief analysis and realized that in the specific company situation it basically was to do with the with the lack of complete product definition. Although operating a ‘PDM’ system for some years it still lacked a holistic approach i.e. explicit knowledge stored at an all accessible place. The core of our recommendation was to address the issue of completeness and to also apply CMII principles about baselining.

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To develop a product and ultimately maintain an asset you need to manage a number of product definitions going through the lifecycle from inception to disposal. Some product definitions are critical as part of EAM/MRO.
In this post I’ll talk about product definitions in general an then specifically those that are input to EAM/MRO. Literature may refer to these product definitions as BOM’s. I oppose this generalization as there is more ‘bom to a bom’. A ‘decomposition’ would be more appropriate and this decomposition consists of Assemblies. I once referred to these as bom-lets, in fact that is exactly what it is, small structures of sub-assemblies with components.

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