Dan Blair, director of worldwide technical standards and systems for the Procter & Gamble Co., on how PLM saves money.
What's a specification, and how does the standards system fit into the PLM process at P&G?
A specification is basically everything it takes to make a product, things like formula cards and process standards, even how the product needs to be stored or shipped. So someone in R&D will create a specification, and then it will be circulated between several disciplines within research and development, people who will, say, check for regulatory and safety compliance. Think of it as a distribution system that allows you to get all the right people involved in creating a product.
Give us an example of how this system has created savings.
Through this process, we realized we were using more than 1,000 dyes for our bottled products. So we rationalized to the minimal number needed, and went to about a tenth of the number of dyes we had, to about 100. We got about 20 percent savings from that because of both direct material savings and partially because of the supply chain, because we could now take it down to one supplier who handles all of our colored dyes and another who does all of our whites. And now we have a pre-approved palette of colors we can select for our bottles, which is a huge help to our R&D group in doing new products. Instead of having to go back and repeat a study to prove that there is no issue with using that dye in the product, they already have that data.
What advice can you give to CIOs who are looking to implement PLM?
If they are working across regions and have relatively disparate business types within their company, there's an excellent case to be made for some kind of specification management system that's going to make things more transparent. I think CIOs will come to see pretty quickly that integrating all of your product data is really huge.