Upchain has posted its fourth and final installment of our four-part series: Simplify, Collaborate, Integrate, and Innovate. Click the link to check out how Upchain is driving Innovation. 

     Everyone strives for innovation. All product developers are innovative yet they often struggle to convert their ideas into actual product features. Innovation is also aspirational, and who doesn’t aspire to design and build better products? The alternative, mundane, isn’t appealing at all. Innovation starts with an idea, and ideas come from people. Yet it is hard to transfer innovative ideas into new products? Leading companies have formal processes to capture, assess, rank, choose, and adopt new ideas into products. They use solutions such as to manage this process so anyone anywhere any time can submit an idea for consideration. Deciding which ideas to build into products isn’t so straightforward, however. Here are typical considerations, beyond the merit of the innovation itself, for adopting innovations into products:

  • Product family. Innovations should be adopted throughout a whole product family
  • Maintainability across multiple states, countries, continents, languages, and industries
  • Quality test processes; time, cost, tooling, ability to automate and minimize the human touch
  • Adoption. Co-exist with, or obsolete existing technology?
  • Existing supplier contracts of to-be redundant technology might prevent adoption
  • Overconstrained design/release/manufacturing processes are inflexible
  • Capital equipment using dedicated tooling makes change-over time-consuming.
  • Organizational boundaries, governance, and time, all impede the adoption of new technology

Traditional PLM systems claim to be platforms that manage the seamless Digital Thread. Yet, much product information is still recorded on desktop tools like Microsoft Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and shared via email. Why? Traditional PLM systems evolved over decades to mimic the traditional organizational structures from the 80’s and 90’s. In 2020, Design/Manufacturing processes have shifted dramatically from the past model of vertical integration to today’s supply-chain centric model. PLM systems architected two to four decades ago have rigid data models and layers upon layers of incremental capability, making the user experience confusing. Innovation suffers.

Enter Upchain. A new approach to PLM brings hope for Innovation. Upchain is a new generation Saas, Multi-Tenant PLM solution which puts people and ideas central to the PLM process.

Ideas are central to innovation (see image). Upchain assists collaborative ideation and decision making throughout the product life cycle.

Upchain’s Out-of-the-Box (OotB) software has:

  • Oversight Dashboards for complete genealogy and where-used across product families
  • Dynamic 3D Viewing and Markup to share ideas in 3D or 2D without a CAD license
  • Activity Stream. See status e.g. Draft, In-Progress, Overdue, and Complete
  • Task Assignments: to whom, their progress so ideas can be shared and evaluated
  • Tracks Emails to/from with attachments. Helps share ideas, information, and decisions
  • Investigation Reports (IR) workflow helps investigate potential ideas, and innovations
  • Engineering Change Requests/Orders (ECR/ECO) helps execute IR decisions by teams
  • Documents, forms, templates, and notes associated with Ideas may be routed to stakeholders to help understand the impact of the innovation

     Ideas radiate out and back in throughout all stages of product development, thus creating a closed-loop process. It’s not linear like in the 80’s PLM paradigm, but rather a circular process where the end feeds back into the ideation phase; fundamental to improving product evolution. Upchain is architected for today’s supply-chain centric model which contemplates product ideas coming from anywhere, anyone, anytime. Upchain’s thesis is that PLM should support, not dictate, how people work. Free-flowing collaborative ideation and decision making is critical to achieving Innovation in new products. In 2020, Product Lifecycle Management is a circular process. Upchain is the only company to place people, and their ideas, at the center of the PLM loop.