September 10, 2015

Sustainable Product Life-cycle Management (PLM) for innovation

PLM term has two meanings:

  • as a class of ICT systems
  • as a managerial approach

This second meaning is the object of investigation of our research group, although many times the mean to support the approach is a PLM system. Consequently, some of our research projects analyze the application of those systems in this broader context of PLM approach.

PLM approach

One of the main streams of innovation deals with product innovation. Product can be understood as everything that delivers value for customers taken into account the needs and requirements of all stakeholders involved with it. Thus the term product (P of PLM) embraces both physical artefacts (usually called product), services and the combination of them in the product-service system (PSS).

Although products and services are close associated with life quality, their continuously growing production and consume are causing environment impacts that can completely deplete earth`s natural resources. Therefore, sustainability is an issue to be considered in any research, so that economic, social and environment aspects must be balanced to diminish the corresponding impacts in the context of circular economy. That is why the vision of life-cycle (L of PLM) is important in any research. There are two perspectives of life-cycle (represented in the figure below, proposed by a team of Brazilian specialists):

  • Bfigura 2 life cyclesusiness processes life-cycle associated to products and services, that reaches
    • begin of life (BOL): front-end of innovation; development (design) of technology, PSS and competences
    • middle of life (MOL): production; logistics; monitoring product, competence and services (using IoT for instance)
    • end of life (EOL): end of production; end of supporting assistance; taking back; reverse logistics; remanufacturing
  • Material life-cycle, from extraction of rough material, through production and usage phase until end-of life, when some EOL strategies can be implemented, such as reuse, remanufacture, recycling and disposal.


Finally is the M of PLM. There are three perspectives for management in the context of product life-cycle (PL), from micro to macro point of view:

  • Management of any activity carried out during the instantiation of the business processes
  • Project management, since any development is a project
  • Business process management (BPM) for constantly improve the PLM business processes

Hence, in our research group PLM is the umbrella that includes all other areas, as illustrated in the figure below.

visao dos temas de pesquisa grupo EI2 - roz v04_by jana

  • Front-end and PSS are considered vertical research areas, since we deal here with many characteristics of the processes of front-end of innovation and PSS development.
  • BPM, project management, ecodesign and user centered design (UCD) we consider horizontal because they cross the processes