Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)

Tackling Change Phobia

13 Mar, 2006 By: Kenneth Wong

Process, technology and people: COE speaker David Prawel to address challenges of 3D PLM

David Prawel
One of David Prawel's friends, a director of engineering at Delphi, refers to the typical change-resistant employee as "Bob." Prawel, who is founder of the digital manufacturing consulting firm Longview Advisors, explains: "Bob is someone who's been using a particular program a certain way, and he doesn't want to change." At the upcoming COE 2006 Annual PLM Conference & Technifair, March 19-22 in Atlanta, Georgia, Prawel will talk about reforming Bob, along with all his counterparts who are similarly suffering from change phobia, and much more.

Prawel's presentation, "3D & PLM: A Foundation for World-Class Innovation," will address the three major headaches in this arena: process, technology and people. The process problem, Prawel explains, is determining whether a company has in place a process that can take advantage of 3D. The technology problem fundamentally involves the challenge of migrating legacy data -- which is what people think about most often these days, Prawel believes. But it's the third problem -- the people problem -- that is perhaps the hardest to overcome.

"There are many places where 3D could be used, but isn't -- for instance, in downstream, aftermarket operations and in service chains," Prawel observes. "3D spare part catalogs and 3D maintenance manuals with animations that show how to repair something can give you a lot of bang for the buck, but the technology's just not applied extensively."

"I'm often asked why 3D is not on the shop floor yet. Why don't people walk up to a 3D touchscreen on a workstation instead of looking at paper drawings?" Prawel ponders. "It's a cultural issue; you cannot address it with technology." And, Prawel adds, "a lot of things that'll help will come from places you've never imagined, like a new version of Windows with 3D folders. This will help many more people become more accustomed to using 3D on their computers."

At least for the foreseeable future, Office documents, 2D drawings, 3D models and unclassifiable data in extinct formats will all swish around in the product lifecycle in a disorderly fashion, causing indigestion among project managers. In some cases, how you manage the information in PLM may be better served by 2D, sometimes in 3D, sometimes in unstructured textual information. Prawel isn't promising any quick cure in his talk at COE, but he'll discuss how you can better manage the realities. And he'll take a very different approach. "I'm going to talk about perception as a valuable aspect of human function," he says.

You can catch Prawel's presentation on March 21 at 8:50 a.m. at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta Hotel, Regency 5.