September - 2014 - Special issue > Company of the Year - Product Lifecycle Management

Arena Solutions: Unlocking the True Potential of Product Lifecycle Management

Pankaj Kundwani
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Pankaj Kundwani
Rewinding back a decade, there were few solutions available to help businesses meet their goals around PLM (Product Lifecycle Management). Most were either paper based or so expensive that smaller companies could not afford them. Outsourcing back then also involved time consuming channels of data sharing and communication with the contract manufacturers. As time moved on, increased competition has taken the manufacturing industry to those echelons where organizations must learn to innovate quickly, fail quickly and learn from failure quickly. Businesses are forced to bring their products to market rapidly while controlling cost and driving profits all without compromising quality. Modern businesses increasingly needed to share product data with a large number of internal and external stakeholders which proved to be a daunting task with on-premise PLM solutions. Anticipating market need, Arena Solutions invented the world's first cloud-native PLM in 2000. The California based company redefined the PLM space with a suite of multi-tenant cloud applications that enabled engineering, manufacturing, and their extended supply chains to work in unison?from prototype to production.

Co-founded by Michael Topolovac and Eric Larkin in February 2000, Arena Solutions was originally named 'bom.com', a web-based application for managing items, bills of material (BOMs), and engineering changes. Today, Arena Solutions offers a rich suite of products targeted at manufacturers and their supply chains. These solutions facilitate manufacturers to manage bills of materials (BOMs), Engineering Change Orders (ECOs), product data exchange (PDX), and other key manufacturing files securely and efficiently all while being welded in tightly with the product record while easing collaboration with their extended supply chain. With products integrated with other manufacturing services such as MCAD, EDA, PDM and ERP, Arena is able to help organizations reach a point where they can speed prototyping, reduce scrap, streamline their supply chain, improve margins and collapse time to market.

Enabling Changes that are Quick and Inexpensive

For manufacturers, reaching a blend that melds three key purposes; low cost and high margins, faster time to market, and greater product quality, nearly seems impossible. If they focus solely on margins to the detriment of quality, it mars the brand long term. Alternatively, if there is an obsession over quality which exceeds business norms, it will extend time to market, lower barriers to entry and open up market windows of opportunity for competitors to gain 'first-mover' advantage.

However, when the organization focuses solely on reducing time to market, it oftentimes misses their margins because of cost overruns due to less cross-functional coordination and not allowing a few healthy iterations of 'freedom to fail', which could have resulted in improved innovation and reduced cost?well before product launch. Well aware of these harsh realities and the differing and competing plate spinning required, Arena provides PLM solutions at a cost seventy five percent lower than competitors as well as implementing and deploying five times faster. "We give organizations the ability to share relevant information early in the process. Changes are inexpensive and people who manufacture the product can offer feedback months in advance, resulting in quick changes which manifest themselves in an improved product long term. We enable everybody to see all the issues?all the time?and learn from them." says Craig Livingston, Chairman & CEO, Arena Solutions.

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