The defense industry’s legacy approach to product data management is broken. To fix it, the sector must prioritize transparency, flexibility, and adaptability. This is more important than ever since the recent DOD 5000.97 has put the industry on notice to improve digital engineering processes and traceability and increase our armed forces’ operational readiness. Are you ready to share your product data securely?

When a defense company launches a major new product development effort, it must make many important strategic decisions outside the core engineering challenges. How will work be divided between project partners, suppliers, and subcontractors? How will the activities of multiple stakeholders be coordinated? What design tools and data management systems will be used? Who is responsible for centralizing the information and providing secure access?

With ten years or more between product generations, the answers to these questions differ for every project. The systems under development today use new materials, technologies, and architectures and involve many stakeholders. Projects involve different partners with varied responsibilities and expertise. In addition, design tools, simulation packages, and collaboration systems continue to evolve rapidly.

The industry’s usual approach is to use each significant new product introduction as an opportunity to upgrade its supply chain, engineering processes, and collaboration approach. Companies pick the best combination of solutions available today, expecting that projects will benefit from the cost, quality, and productivity improvements that a decade’s growth in technology can deliver. But now, the Department of Defense wants the entire ecosystem to work in concert, seamlessly sharing information with the right stakeholders for many use cases across the product lifecycle.

A legacy of complexity

Today, the strain is beginning to show. Keeping tens or even hundreds of different systems up and running is a drain on time, money, and talent. And that’s before things go wrong. Not all suppliers and technology vendors stick around for the full lifecycle of a product. If they abandon a market or disappear altogether, companies can find themselves struggling with obsolete, unsupported technology.

Products change, too. Military equipment may undergo multiple upgraded cycles in its lifetime as customer needs change and new technologies become available. Such upgrades are made harder and more costly if, as is becoming increasingly likely, the product’s original data platform wasn’t designed with them in mind.

The age of the adaptable product data platform

How can the defense sector break out of this cycle of rising costs, complexity, and obsolescence? The answer is a shift in the way it addresses product and process-related data. Companies should move beyond today’s project-by-project perspective, and demand systems are designed with flexibility and agility in mind. At Aras, we call this approach the open and adaptable PLM and digital thread data platform.

An open and adaptable platform supports an organization’s unique needs and evolves over time, changing to fit business requirements while never locking users into a specific technology. It is Digital Engineering ready, made to be upgraded while maintaining all previous customizations, and in which the data is fully transparent and traceable.

Any truly open and adaptable data platform should be able to pass three key tests:

1. Eliminating data dependency on the application

In many PLM systems, it is virtually impossible to understand the data layer of the application due to the complexity of the model or proprietary encryption. Working with complex data structures in the application may be fine in today’s application, but if this data is needed years from now, without the application, it may no longer be accessible. An open and adaptable platform allows the owner to control their data— it’s not held hostage by a software vendor or an aging technology.

2. Evolving to meet new business requirements

Change is certain. Business processes change often, quickly, and without concern for their supporting systems’ ability to change with them. An adaptable PLM platform is never locked into a single technology. If a platform is built with hard dependencies on its technology, everything built on top of it also becomes dependent. The ability to adopt new technology in a strategic manner will set the stage, allowing for growth and change regardless of how customized and complex the eventual technical landscape becomes.

3. Modeling process, rules, and data in a low-code environment

Most applications today are built on platforms requiring significant coding and testing to make everyday business model changes, severely limiting the ability to stay current. Even worse, upgrade projects to implement strategic changes through new software versions are expensive and create so much disruption that many companies simply avoid them. Building model-based business processes, rules, and data in a low-code environment will not only support change but encourage it. This solution allows critical information to be easily portable and ready to move forward with any technology anytime.

Meet today’s challenges while preparing for tomorrow’s

A resilient solution openly accommodates whatever is needed to meet today’s and tomorrow’s business and technology requirements without disruption. The Aras platform has been architected from the ground up with that kind of resiliency in mind.

Aras’ unique model-based approach ensures that users have the performance required now and in the future, regardless of what challenges may lie ahead.

Check out the CIMdata eBook, Adapting the Digital Thread, to learn more.