Simultaneously sharing real-time data and collaborating (vs. linear methods where departments work in isolation from each other and sequentially) is a major theme of my “Circular Company” vision.
At the PTC ThingWorx expo in June one of the themes was “concurrent engineering“), which could be a major tool in making the circular company a reality. The company’s Creo Advanced Assembly Extension lets the the lead designer plan the assembly’s “skeleton” to give all the subassembly teams a common work basis and to include critical design info in the subassemblies. This lets each team work in parallel. If the lead engineer modifies the primary design, all the subassemblies will modify automatically. The process transfers seamlessly to the assembly line.
According to Wikipedia, the concept also fits nicely with the “circular economy” concept that’s gaining strength, by considering factors such as end-of-life disposal and recycling, which is a great bonus of the “circular company”:
“.. part of the design process is to ensure that the entire product’s life cycle is taken into consideration. This includes establishing user requirements, propagating early conceptual designs, running computational models, creating physical prototypes and eventually manufacturing the product. Included in the process is taking into full account funding, work force capability and time. A study in 2006 claimed that a correct implementation of the concurrent design process can save a significant amount of money, and that organizations have been moving to concurrent design for this reason. It is also highly compatible with systems thinking [which, BTW, is what originally introduced me to this concept, many years ago, through the writings of Peter Senge and Jay Forrester, who, BTW, is still kickin’ at 97!] and green engineering.”
Come on, gang: hierarchy and linear processes are soooo 20th century. Get with the program.