How Configuration Lifecycle Management (CLM) Supports Asset-Intensive Manufacturing

For asset-intensive manufacturing companies, managing configurations can be a daunting task.

As the complexity of products increases and technology continues to advance, effective management of the product complexity across the configuration lifecycles is crucial for optimal business performance.

What is Asset-Intensive Manufacturing

Asset intensive manufacturing refers to industries where the products are large and complex, or the investments in factories and plants are high, and include aerospace and defense, industrial equipment, agricultural and mining equipment, refineries and chemical plants. In this type of manufacturing, the value of the physical assets used in production is often very high, and the cost of maintaining and replacing these assets can be significant.

Asset-intensive manufacturing companies face various challenges in their operations, including aging infrastructure, asset performance and reliability, complex supply chains, and regulatory compliance.

Gartner’s recent report, “Top Strategic Technology Trends in Asset-Intensive Manufacturing for 2023,” outlines top trends asset-intensive manufacturers should focus on, including hyper automation, product servitization, and configuration life cycle management, to improve productivity, innovation and overall business performance.

“By 2026, configuration lifecycle management will transform 40% of manufacturers, reducing the amount of customer-specific engineering required to deliver products.”

Gartner® Reports: Gartner, Top Strategic Technology Trends in Asset Intensive Manufacturing for 2023, by Analyst: Alexander Hoeppe, Jonathan Davenport, Sudip Pattanayak, Simon Jacobson, Marc Halpern, Arjun Boparai, Christian Hestermann, Published 31 March 2023. GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved.

How CLM Maximizes Efficiency, Collaboration and Innovation in Asset-Intensive Manufacturing

One of the most significant benefits of a Configuration Lifecycle Management approach is scaling the labor-intensive engineer-to-order process common among asset-intensive manufacturers. Mass-manufacturers face complexity challenges related to efficiency, collaboration and innovation, but asset-intensive companies often need to meet additional customer customization requirements, which add a further dimension of complexity. Engineering-to-order (ETO) has been the necessary approach, which is costly in both time and resources. Meeting customization requirements also results in a large number of specific solutions that have been delivered to customers and that now need to be managed over an often-lengthy lifecycle.

It is not difficult to see the challenges and costs of the engineer-to-order approach. This is why many asset-intensive manufacturers are adopting configure-to-order (CTO) approaches where pre-manufactured modules or components can be combined and configured to meet specific customer needs. This modularized approach reduces the dependency on engineering support, but still results in a large number of solutions, or “configurations,” that need to be managed.

This is where CLM provides a powerful solution.

CLM keeps track of all configurations across product versions and variants over the entire lifecycle. This allows manufacturers to manage configurations effectively, share configuration information with multiple departments and enable customer requests for new configurations to be validated quickly. The set of all valid configurations is referred to as “The Solution Space.” Using the Solution Space, manufacturers can quickly and easily identify commonly used product combinations or variants and can also analyze the performance and popularity of each variant. This can be used to optimize the product portfolio by focusing engineering effort on paving the way to transition from an engineer-to-order to a configure-to-order process.

How Does Solution Space Help Companies Optimize the Configuration Process?

The Business Benefits of Configuration Lifecycle Management (CLM)

By tracking the configuration of each asset, including its maintenance history, current configuration, and future requirements, Configuration Lifecycle Management (CLM) supports optimizing asset utilization through product servitization and maintenance, enabling manufacturing facilities to plan preventative maintenance, identify possible equipment failures, and reduce unplanned downtimes. CLM thus provides value across the entire lifecycle of the specific configuration.

Because product configuration information is centralized and can be shared with multiple departments, CLM provides a basis for better collaboration and innovation. With better collaboration and communication across different departments within a manufacturing organization, engineering, sales manufacturing and service personnel can access the same data and collaborate in real-time, reducing downtime, promoting teamwork, improving regulatory compliance, and supporting workforce training and development.

Secure Future Growth through Cross-Functional Innovation

Learn how manufacturers of complex products can rely on Configuration Lifecycle Management (CLM) as a platform for enhancing the customer experience and adapting to the increasing demands for customization and personalization.

About the Author

Henrik Hulgaard Configit

Henrik Reif Andersen is the Chief Strategy Officer and co-founder of Configit, the global leader in Configuration Lifecycle Management (CLM) solutions and a supplier of business-critical software for the configuration of complex products. He holds a doctorate in computer science from the University of Aarhus and has more than 25 years of experience in IT development and research.