The goals and challenges of Product Lifecycle Management and Sustainability share much in common and should be considered synergistic. Where in theory, PLM is the strategy to manage a product along its whole lifecycle, Sustainability is concerned not only with the product’s lifecycle but should also address sustainability of the users, industries, economies, environment and entire planet in which the products operate.
The most significant difference between PLM and Sustainability is in the traditional lifecycle of products. Manufacturers often do not take their products’ full lifecycle footprint and costs into account. Reducing products and processes that create waste and are a negative impact on the planet’s lifecycle have only recently become more important and are still not a priority in many industries.
Like modern PLM practices, Sustainability also requires systems thinking. Solving one of the 17 Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) can positively or negatively influence the other Sustainability Development Goals. In the same manner, developing a product should also be performed through the lens of system thinking. The product lifecycle starts from choosing its solution concept (i.e., which materials and what environmental impact) through its manufacturing process, then usage and finally its recycling or repurposing. The goal is to avoid a landfill.
We passionately believe that implementing data-driven, end-to-end PLM practices can help organizations to understand, measure, and analyze the consequences of their product design, methods of production, and supply chain choices on the planet’s lifecycle. Investigating, documenting, and minimizing this impact with examples is a key objective of the PLM and Sustainability discussion group.
Specific topics we wish to discuss further in this forum include how PLM can be used to:
- Make products and processes more efficient and green
- Understand and measure the impact on the carbon footprint of design decisions and production processes, along with changes to them
- Develop, distribute, and use new sources of renewable green energy
- Design products and their lifecycles to be sustainable
- Recycle, reuse, or repurpose assets, materials, and natural resources
- Enhance the resiliency and Sustainability of infrastructures, communities and economies
We invite others to nominate additional topics important to their businesses and then help us to prioritize our efforts going forward.