February 2006 
Volume 04, Issue 9 
Integrated Defense Systems

Innovation's inside face

Product Lifecycle Management changing how Boeing designs, produces, maintains offerings


For many people outside Boeing, the face of the company's innovation is its products: the Space Shuttle, commercial airplanes, GPS satellites and more. But just as important to Boeing's success is innovation in how those products are developed, designed, produced and upgraded, and maintained through a lifetime of service.

Innovation's inside faceOne initiative, Product Lifecycle Management, is taking a new perspective on product development to ensure the input of significant stakeholders at every stage of a product's lifecycle, including retirement.

The challenge in PLM is ensuring the processes and systems designated as company standards are integrated and interoperable, and that employees are using them correctly. The Integration and Test Center laboratories in Huntington Beach, Calif., provide a state-of-the-art facility for testing and validating innovative concepts and capabilities. John Caddick, senior manager of PLM Process Development and Validation and Phantom Works Lean and Efficient Southwest regional focal, said the ITC provides the advanced Information Technology infrastructure and collaboration capabilities "to allow us to bring the best expertise from across the enterprise to bear."

In a recent effort between Integrated Defense Systems, Phantom Works Advanced Lean and Efficient, and Commercial Airplanes, more than 100 Boeing personnel, consultants and partners from 12 sites used the ITC to develop a "virtual" satellite. This Integrated Product Team worked with a 3-D digital version of the satellite and evaluated the design on the computer in real time. They could rotate, drill down into the inner workings and even perform relational design on this virtual product. Dassault Systemes provided the team's core PLM software.

Virtual products can also be used to model, evaluate and simulate the manufacturing process to see, for example, how a certain component will be installed, including accounting for human factors.

Even though this "virtual" satellite wasn't intended to enter production, it's proving the technology, processes and people are ready to operate in this new PLM environment. In fact, PLM capabilities have already been employed to provide Virtual Manufacturing support to the C-17 program.

What is PLM?

Product Lifecycle Management fundamentally changes the way people, data and processes operate in the product development process.

PLM enables every employee, across every function, to collaborate virtually and in real time. They're able to see and interact with relevant information earlier in the product's lifecycle, where most of a program's costs are determined.

PLM isn't simply internal; it extends to the enterprise as well. Change often is driven by tight integration with suppliers and customers, all working together.

By adopting a PLM approach and using network-centric technologies, Boeing and its business partners are able to collaborate globally and in real time to define the products of the future.

The PLM effort is a testament to how the Phantom Works Lean and Efficient organization drives commonality through the enterprise. "It's going to help us realize huge improvements in both our commercial and defense businesses, and provide us with a big competitive advantage in productivity," said Mark Burgess, director of Phantom Works' Lean and Efficient organization and chief information officer for Phantom Works.

"PLM provides us with the infrastructure we need to take us fully into the digital world," said Jay Yoshinaga, director of Huntington Beach PLM. "Digital technologies will allow us to model and simulate how our products will interact with the world around them, and provide us with a competitive advantage to be able to show our customers our products before they're built."

For more about PLM and the ITC, contact Dan Strosnider at daniel.p.strosnider@boeing.com, or visit http://hb.web.boeing.com/eppds (internal link only).



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