IBM on Tuesday launched an on demand-flavored PLM (product life cycle management) service designed to help standardize the design practices and improve collaboration across the breadth of a manufacturer's supply chain.
In concert with the launch, IBM announced that Lam Research, a supplier of semiconductor fabrication equipment, is the first client to sign up for the new Web-based PLM service. Under the terms of the deal, IBM will provide Lam with a network-based system for managing and archiving product design documents and processes, including ones with knowledge management and collaboration features, spokesmen from each company said.
"This sort of on demand service will help us streamline processes and better enable collaboration with both users and suppliers. It will allow for faster realization of business value and ROI," said Steve Newberry, Lam's president and COO.
Lam officials said they also believe the service will eliminate many of the existing upfront capital expenditures as well as reduce the amount of time it takes to deploy such a system, compared to a more traditional implementation where in the past Lam has had to install the infrastructure and manage the application in-house.
Like most on demand services, Lam can tap into the service as changing business needs spike and decline but will only pay for the resources it uses.
"Lam Research and other in the electronics industry can buy PLM functionality, including some of the data repository and storage capacity involved with the product development process as well as knowledge management and collaboration tools. These are things that help expedite the product development process internally and across the supply chain," said Maia Sisk Lorence director of industry solutions for IBM's e-Business Hosting business.
Lorence said IBM plans to also offer this service to other companies part of the CapOneSource Alliance, of which Lam is a founding member. Member companies that contract with IBM for the service can benefit financially by sharing the utility among other companies in the Alliance.
The CapOneSource Alliance is a non-profit alliance in the semiconductor industry made up of providers and consumers of common corporate services. Alliance members and providers work jointly to reduce costs and increase productivity by aggregating demand for services through a single supplier, according to a spokesman.
With the launch of the new service, IBM is combining its e-business Hosting Services with its Business Consulting Services group that will work to supply the PLM strategy and business process transformation and implementation services. The IBM PLM service in this case is being built on PTC Windchill's application software suite, which includes PDMLink and Project Link Version 7.