Black holes, Potholes, and Material Management Software

By Kerri Doyle

Read more to learn about black holes, potholes, and material management software.

With the recent news of astronomers capturing the first image of a black hole, it’s hard not to think about the power of science and innovation. But innovation alone is not how the black hole image came to light. Teamwork was a major component of this effort. Scientists from around the globe, working together to combine data from radio telescopes, pieced together one pretty big telescope to capture the black hole image — “as big as the Earth itself” as reported by the New York Times.  

Black holes are fascinating to me, potholes are not. Potholes, however, like black holes, do have the ability to destroy things. And that’s where materials come in to play. Innovative materials are not only good for business but can improve our livelihood, possibly by not having our cars destroyed. Take this example, where pothole problems (#wishful thinking) could become a thing of the past. The Scotland-based company, MacRebur is using pelletized plastic waste material in their asphalt mixture used to fill roadway potholes. MacRuber claims that the use of this mixture will make roadways less likely to crack and more flexible due to the plastic material properties in them. Another huge benefit for all of us —  MacRuber estimates that 1 kilometer of road composed of their asphalt could be the equivalent of 1.8 million plastic bags or 684,000 plastic bottles, diverted from the ocean or landfills. 

As I’ve stated in previous articles, material innovations can be key to company and product success. Management of materials data in a PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) environment helps companies to realize product success faster. How? PLM promotes teamwork and helps people get to the data they need to do their job, quickly. Materials data managed in a PLM environment can be accessed by all areas of the product lifecycle. e.g. Designers create material assignments using approved materials, simulation specialists access the right material models in testing, etc. Ensuring the right materials can be accessed and used when needed throughout all functions in the product lifecycle reduces errors and rework, and saves a lot of time during product development. But many companies are still managing their material data outside of PLM. The material data is in multiple silos, and the integration of these silos is usually accomplished through laborious manual reconciliation processes executed with many checks and balances. These material data silos quickly become hurdles to realizing the benefits of PLM.

Industry leaders know that moving towards a holistic, PLM-based approach to materials data management will make innovation and quality objectives achievable. Here are some of the key industry business drivers of materials data managed in PLM: 

  • Growth through innovation: management of material data and its integration with product design is critical to design validation and optimization during the iterative design of complex products for global markets; development of new materials and newer application of existing materials to product design is central for speed of innovation
  • Time to market: design, analysis and manufacturing engineers spend significant amounts of time in finding and applying material data to complete their tasks; earn trust and confidence of downstream stakeholders through improved material data integrity and streamline communication to reduce errors and rework
  • Cost control: visibility to the material used in products is key to planning and managing both direct material costs and more importantly indirect material costs
  • Risk management: reduce regulatory surprises through regulatory risk analysis; reduce audit risk through material data integrity and pedigree tracking; improve environmental sustainability

When material management software is integrated with PLM, key functional stakeholders across the enterprise have access to the right materials data. This results in optimized material use, helping you to deliver quality, innovative products to the market.

Find out more about managing material data in PLM with Teamcenter.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at