The goal: Study and help implement best practices for sharing information among manufacturers, suppliers, and customers - from design to disposal. Normally this information isn't shared. But manufacturers say a broader, more-integrated knowledge-sharing approach would help them boost efficiency.

PLM DC members will include manufacturers and software system providers. The University has already partnered with Ford Motor Co., General Motors, Lear Corp., and Johnson Controls. Members can participate in roundtable discussions and an annual seminar series, as well as access case studies and other research information.