In part 2 of this podcast, we welcome back Jim Roche from CIMData. In this podcast, we transition to a discussion about the Aerospace and Defense PLM Action Group that helped spearhead the movement to establish PLM standards to ensure an optimized product lifecycle management process. Haven’t listened to part 1? Access it here. Ready for part 2? Access the podcast below.

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The transcript is close to a literal transcript of the spoken word. Please excuse any grammatical errors, spelling errors or break in the flow. The podcast is a non-scripted conversation with natural flow aimed to deliver value. 

Patrick: Welcome, everyone, to the PLM Quick 30 from ArcherGrey where we talk about all things PLM. This is part 2 of a two-part series where we sat and had a discussion with Jim Roche from CIMData and if you haven’t listened to part 1, I encourage you to do that because it lays the foundation and gives some historical reference as to what we’re going to be talking about here in part 2 which will start to get into the Aerospace and Defense PLM Action Group and we will be discussing how major Fortune 500 companies from Aerospace and Defense are meeting and working to establish what standards will help benefit PLM, moving forward. So you really don’t want to miss it and I encourage you to listen to part 1 because it helps lay the foundation. So without further ado, part 2 of the PLM Quick 30 with Jim Roche.


Jim: PLM early investment, as well as early adoption, was really spearheaded by Aerospace and Defense and a lot of the PLM systems we know today actually were created and went through the early development within aerospace companies.

Patrick: We run into clients who will struggle with establishing a roadmap. I mean some clients are implementing for the first time, right? So they are looking for strategy and directions so that they can foster the growth and achieve their objectives in three to five-year vision.


Patrick: I have some exposure to CIMData and I primarily think of you guys as all things research firm related to PLM and a strategic organization that related to PLM where you can go in and consult with your clients and you have various folks on your team that have tremendous experience like you describe in your background and I know that you specialize in Aerospace and Defense and I believed that, well, if you could take a couple of minutes to just summarize what CIMData does but then also understanding these trends throughout the, you know, each 10-year increment. What are you seeing as a problem area and how are you overcoming those challenges? Because I believed you established a PLM Action Group and I’d like you to touch on that, if you would please but first, rewind, just give me a summary of what CIMData does and then if you could roll in the challenge that you’re seeing and what you guys are doing to help organizations out.

Jim: Okay. Well, I think you summarized what CIMData, who CIMData is? what we do pretty well. I’ll repeat it and I think you did as well, or maybe better than I could but CIMData was founded in 1983 as a research company. The original __ organization was IBM coming and asking a couple of people they knew who were relatively senior and available to help them understand the, at that, what was that? at that time, in the mid-80s, called CIM (Computer Integrated Manufacturing). They wanted to know the size and distribution within the market. So CIMData was formed as market research company and quickly expanded into education and started developing educational forms and classes and conferences and with that, develop relationships with the PLM suppliers and also started to establish relationships within industry. People who are struggling to understand what PLM is and how to exploit it? So the company naturally grew into beyond just market research and education and to providing consulting services both to the solution providers and industry consumers. The company is agnostic. We survey upwards of 300+ PLM-related companies. Each year, we record out on the marketing position of the companies and break down by industries, etc. So that’s one aspect to the business but we consult with the solution providers, help them understand where the needs are, where the consumers of their products are going in terms of their needs and interests and requirements and how to best plan and then represent their products into the market place and then on the industrial consumer side, we provide guidance in terms of strategy and technology selection and planning and executing successful programs. So that’s the business CIMData is in. I was attracted to it after retiring. Of course, I knew the people way back from decades before and had many interactions with them over the years. I would say that the people that work for CIMData are all different. It’s hard to say “here’s a typical profile” but I’ll say one thing that is typical of the people that work for CIMData is that they are deeply experienced and several cases it’s a second career, that’s the case for me, and I am responsible for that part of the CIMData business that provides consulting services and __ leadership to Aerospace and Defense as an industry but I do consulting broadly. Whether it’s Aerospace and Defense companies or automotive companies. Also, companies that produce butter, reading cards, tires and a lot of these different industries. Obviously the needs are different, the size of the companies are different but there’s more similarity and cross-pollination that can be achieved across the industries that’s very valuable. So even though we have our specialties, we like to keep our fingers in several pies so that we can share the benefits across the industry as well as deep expertise within industries.

Patrick: Well, thanks for that background. I mean, with that last comments, you know ArcherGrey has also started, we’ve coined a group called The Local PLM Group and we do it in strategic locations where there’s concentrations of folks all on the PTC platform however, one of our objectives is to identify, well one, have a diversity of clients participate…

Jim: Yup.

Patrick: and the second thing is to identify those common areas where we can help them standardize in areas, to help them be more efficient and ultimately align with the software providers and help the software providers gain access into some of those common area so we can influence the direction of the software and hopefully minimize the cause of what some of the clients in particular industries are investing in customization work…

Jim: Right. Right.

Patrick: and establishing standards. So could you tell me a little bit, so I believe you started the Aerospace and Defense PLM Action Group.

Jim: That’s correct.

Patrick: So can you tell me a little bit more about that group? What the pain point was as to why you even started it in the first place?

Jim: Okay. Going back to some of my earlier comments, I made a note that PLM early investment, as well as early adoption, was really spearheaded by Aerospace and Defense and a lot of the PLM systems that we know today actually were created and went through the early development within aerospace companies. So if you go back to the early 90s, you say, well, where was aerospace relative to the capability of beyond PLM technologies. They were __ because the PLM technologies were merging out of the aerospace companies. So you say __the aerospace companies. What are they doing as far as capitalizing or exploiting the capability to the technology? There’s a match there because they were the creators of it but as technology merged from the, out of the aerospace, companies became independent and they were being adopted by automotive in particular by other industries like heavy machinery, hi-tech electronics, etc. These other industries were starting to capitalize on exploited technology in their own ways and in their own, within their own set of constraints and opportunities in terms of how they could use it and what happens over time is because of the way the aerospace industry invests in solutions, they invest on the basis of the program and each program they’ll decide, okay, what technology are we going to use? And they say “okay, let’s implement this new solution which is the next generation beyond what we had in the last program. They never go back and upgrade the previous programs. So what happens is after several programs over, maybe, a period of 15-20 years, aerospace found themselves in a situation where they were supporting multiple environments, multiple generations with various different technologies. Automotive was in that situation in the 80s but through the 90s and up until the 2000s, that decade, they made a fundamental decision. We are not going to go by car division, we are not going to go by car platform. Everybody’s going to use the same technology and was tremendously disrupted within automotive but they did it and the result is that they have standardized platforms within automotive. You take General Motors as an example. They want to go from one release of their corporate PLM system to the next release of their corporate PLM system. They can do that over three weekends and a __ release and they can convert over 20,000-30,000 engineers from one environment to the next. Within the aerospace, that’s absolutely possible.

Patrick: Wow.

Jim: So aerospace has found themselves over the last five to 10 years with the realization they are not the world leaders in the exploitation of the potential of PLM. They have some very fundamental issues that they are trying to address and that was the motivation for companies like Airbus and Boeing, Dassault Aviation, Gulfstream, Bombardier, and then the aircraft engine companies, Rolls-Royce engine, __, and GE Aviation, other companies that are made in the Safran as an engine provider and our latest member to join the Aerospace and Defense action group is Mitsubishi Regional Jet. So we have 11 members. We’ve come together and they’re working to solve common problems, what they called common pain points and the motivation for the group is that they are investing. Everytime they need to implement the next generation of PLM solution within their corporation, they’re finding that the cause to essentially reimplement to achieve parody, nevermind advanced, is a factor of somewhere between four and six times the original cause and that’s just an unsustainable model and so they are, the premise behind this group is that they can collaborate in a non-competitive way strictly out of basis of technology and how do I improve the processes and the technology to provide PLM capability and recognize that that is not the basis of the competition, it’s just a basis of redundant in extremely high, repetitive cause of that. They can make a real progress. So their mission statement is that they want to act as an advocate in PLM-related topics that are of greatest importance to the members within the Aerospace and Defense industry and the way they operated, say identify the pain points, they prioritize, and then they invest in a series of projects over a period of two to three years where they identify the problem, they then do a root cause analysis and define objectives for desired future state. They define the future state and then they define requirements which the future state can be realized and at every step through this progression, they engage with the solution providers to gain their insights and response and suggestions as to how they can work collaboratively to, in the end, define desired future state in a set of requirements that then can be communicated and agreed to as a common position by all of these members in communication to the solution providers and the intent is then, what we hear from the solution providers, what they have done in the past in the past is, well, we go and we ask you what are your pain points? What do you need from us? We don’t get consistent answers and if we get a good answer then it’s not supported by in-depth study to determine that those are well-stated, well-founded requirements. So this is the intent of the members to basically identify the problem. Do the research to be able to identify the root cause, the remedial action in terms of requirements and then communicate that with the unified voice to the solution providers. So now for this is going into their fifth year and the topics that they’ve taken on include: number 1, PLM Technology Obsolescence. So they created a model and define requirements to address that issue. Another one is: Multiple View Bill of Material and this has to do with the desire to be able to have an engineering bill of material, manufacturing bill of material, service bill of material that are managed by the community that is responsible for that operational domain but where there’s the traceability and the consistency and the relationship between those __ of the product structure and they’ve been investing heavily on that now for the last three years. They do major workshops between the members over twice a year and over the last year and a half, they’ve invited tier one suppliers to join them in participating in the project and the tier one suppliers are at tremendous richness because it is not only the ability within the OEM to manage and have consistency between an E bomb and an M bomb but also to be able to communicate in a consistent fashion with a tier one supplier that still with multiple OEMs. So it’s been a very rich dialogue and very productive dialogue.

Patrick: I mean, thank you for that background. I mean, we run into clients who will struggle with establishing a roadmap. I mean some clients are implementing for the first time, right? So they are looking for strategy and directions so that they can foster the growth and achieve their corporate objectives in three to five-year vision. Others have implemented and are stuck. There’s this internal perception of, you know, it’s a data repository, PLMS…

Jim: Yup.

Patrick: and then they often look for solutions and hey what are we going to achieve next year? And they go through this budgeting cycle but PLM really becomes this, as you have mentioned earlier, a strategic enterprise platform. Every company who’s in business that creates a product. That product is their source of revenue and it’s hard to argue that PLM is not an enterprise strategic platform for which to achieve your corporate adjectives and one thing that they struggle with, aside from just building a road map, you’ve got to take a few steps back and deal with these things that you may feel are unique to your organization but their problems across, not only specific to an industry but across industry.

Jim: Right.

Patrick: So the ones that you brought up about global collaboration, model-based definition, multiple viewed bill of material, model-based systems engineering. Those are big, big, big topics and the complexity associated to it with aerospace and defense. I’m sure that’s a bit more complicated than some other industries but those are topics that I think standardized, especially in aerospace and defense, it’ll help set major direction or other companies in various industries.

Jim: Right, One of the things with the group is that they have matured over time. They started with a vision which was realizing the mission and the mission really hasn’t changed over the five years but their actual focus for execution has. In the first year, when they were founded, they had four members: Airbus, Boeing, Embraer, and Gulfstream. So there’s only a certain amount of resources and they picked the two projects out of 12 that they wanted to do and it was obsolescence management global collaboration but then as they added members, they started to take more projects and started to engage productively in conversation on an annual cycle with the PLM solution providers. What they focusing on now, over this last year is to extend out to the broader ecosystem. They’ve established their own website and all of their work products whether they’re direction statements, research reports, or position papers are available on that public website and the idea is to promote within aerospace and defense but also within other industries as you mentioned after common view and they solicit comments back to people that are involved in PLM from other industries relative to the work that they’re doing. What their focus on now is establishing formal collaboration with the automotive industry and some of these topics in particular right now albeit system engineering is a topic where there is a serious discussion of establishing joint projects between the PLM action group, these 11 members and their counterparts within the automotive industry. So we’re looking forward to exciting times ahead and continuing to have broader input, more resources applied to solving these problems and then broader exposure to the ideas of other people within the industry and across industries that could benefit.

Patrick: That’s really exciting Jim. So I know there’s going to be people that want to learn more about that and especially read some of those papers and positions. So what is the website for everybody who is listening that may want to do further investigation?

Jim: Okay, that would be

Patrick: Okay, perfect. So, as in dog dash p…

Jim: or defense

Patrick: Yup, or defense. Yeah, thank you. I’m trying to make it across industry.

Jim: Yeah. Well it’s aerospace and defense PLM action group. So it’s

Patrick: Yup, perfect. Great.

Jim: Yeah, it’s aerospace. I mean they’re doing, they’re trying to solve their problems but you mentioned, Patrick, a lot of these ideas and a lot of these concepts are relevant across many industries and the members will, if you go out and just read the paper and you’ve got some ideas that you want to share, there’s a place where you can post your comments and people will respond to your comments. So you can start a dialogue which is something they want and I think that could be beneficial.

Patrick: Excellent. Well Jim, listen. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me today. Love learning more about your extensive background and all the exciting things you’re doing at CIMData related to not only the work that you do everyday but also this Aerospace and Defense PLM Action Group. I really think it’s exciting and you know your years of experience and seeing how the industry has changed, the industry of PLM. I think it adds a lot of value and that’s evident by the growing members of this group and the names that are participating as you have mentioned: Bombardier, Airbus, Boeing, Embraer, and many others. So thanks so much for the time. I appreciate it and we’ll look forward to continuing to help others. Do you have any closing comments, Jim?

Jim: I wanna thank you Patrick for the invitation and the opportunity and I want to compliment you on doing this series. I think it provides a great opportunity to share thoughts and ideas with people who are fellow or __ professionals of the field and again, thank you very much.

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