December 6, 2006 in Paris, Franc, Boeing marked the pinnacle of aerospace industry with Boeing’s virtual rollout of the 787 Dreamliner. “This first-ever virtual rollout, and the PLM technology underlying it, is not simply an animation of the completed airplane, but a virtual simulation and validation of the entire manufacturing process.” 
Product lifecycle management (PLM) is an information management system that manages the whole lifecycle of a product, starting from ideation phase and ending when the product is deposed. By connecting complex processes, human resources, and data across the entire product lifecycle, PLM enables everyone from designers to suppliers to marketing officers to collaborate virtually and in real time.
Boeing is a leading aerospace company that has long been taking pride in its innovation. As the company pointed out: “just as important to Boeing’s success is innovation in how those products are developed, designed, produced and upgraded, and maintained through a lifetime of service”.  With PLM, Boeing digitally revolutionized its operation model and the way it developed new products. PLM systems helped Boeing organization in coping with the increasing complexity and engineering challenges of developing new planes for the global competitive markets. We have to bear in mind that Boeing was before this digital revolution a very “traditional” company which has been developing its airplanes on drawing board & blueprint for 80 years!
When working on their 787 Dreamliner model, Boeing board of directors decided to deploy Dassault’s PLM platform due to the all-time success of the all-digital design of the 777. The PLM system included three core softwares: Catia V5 for design work; Delmia for manufacturing partners to simulate production process based on the results of Catia V5; and Enovia, where electronic designs, component and quality specifications was stored in a central tool box and all engineers could access and pull out the information they need whenever they wanted. While this is not the first time PLM has been fully utilized in product development and manufacturing, given the high complexity of Boeing’s products, this is definitely a bold move.
Instead of designing the whole aircraft in-house as tradition, then passing on blueprints of individual parts to suppliers, this time around, Boeing, with PLM systems, had more than 6000 engineers from all over the world working hand in hand throughout the whole process. The collaboration circle was expanded to external forces including sub-suppliers or even customers. This allowed the company to make right decisions from the beginning by taking into consideration production constraints or component update early on and in real time. An example could be that a component supplier could suggest the design team to consider using latest model of fastener which would save 30% of component cost and improve speed up to 5%. 
Digital communication platform played an important role in facilitating efficient team work across the globe, enabling decisions to be made at a speed never seen before.
Boeing 787 was also the first plane to be developed fully with 3D printing technology. All the samples and models throughout the development process were 3D printed which helped saving time and rework radically. This technology also made it possible for the company to quickly test different proposals, finding out potential bottle necks or errors in a cost efficient ways. Cost saving and shorter lead time were substantial benefits. PLM was estimated to cut go-to market time for Dreamliner from five years down to four years, enabling Boeing to win more orders with a great amount of revenue. 
However, implementing a system like PLM is no simple task. It requires a multi-faceted and continuous streamline of operations from top down and bottom up. PLM at Boeing was a success for multiple reasons: extreme executive support from the top, consistent follow up by project sponsor to team leader, daily monitoring team meetings, high upfront investment cost for training and hardware installation. Airbus, nevertheless, was a struggling example. In fact, PLM was seen as a factor to Airbus’ launch delay. With the same international human resource widespread, with teams in France, Germany and elsewhere working together, unlike its American rival, Airbus failed to set a uniform language for the development work. And the disaster came when two parts of the aircraft ended up being drawn on two different software versions, causing a miss match, which then led to a serious delay.
Going forward, Boeing should invest even more in its workforce to keep them updated with all the digital development. Software fast pace changes together with sophisticated product nature will continue to be a challenge to its engineers. 3D CAD and PLM skill needs to be at the core of the education plan for Boeing staffs.
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 Dassault Systemes, “Future of Manufacturing on Display at Virtual Rollout Milestone”, http://www.3ds.com/press-releases/single/boeing-simulates-and-manufactures-787-dreamliner-at-industry-first-event-with-3d-plm-from-dass/, 2006
 Siemens, “What is PLM software”, https://www.plm.automation.siemens.com/en_us/plm/, retrieved 2016
 Diane Stratman and Vicki Hogue, “Product Lifecycle Management changing how Boeing designs, produces, maintains offerings”, Boeing Frontiers online, http://www.boeing.com/news/frontiers/archive/2006/february/i_ids6.html, 2006
 Doug Bartholomew, “Different flight path”, Baselinemag, http://www.baselinemag.com/c/a/Projects-Processes/PLM-Boeings-Dream-Airbus-Nightmare/4, 2007
 Geoff Nairn, “Benefit of being streamlined”, Financial Times, http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/316da4be-d1d1-11db-b921-000b5df10621.html?ft_site=falcon&desktop=true#axzz4QOd3lV6r, 2007
 Press Release, “Boeing Signs 10-Year Agreement Extending Deployment of Siemens PLM Software Technology”, https://www.plm.automation.siemens.com/es_es/about_us/newsroom/press/press_release.cfm?Component=177507&ComponentTemplate=82, 2012