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How PLM and ERP Synergy Drives Manufacturing Innovation

Female engineer using PLM, ERP, and CAD

A new generation of connected solutions is gaining traction. Manufacturers and product development companies are discovering the competitive advantage of integrating product lifecycle management (PLM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP).

This nascent integration has manufacturing organizations worldwide pacing the floor whether to implement either an ERP or PLM system—or—integrate the two solutions and maximize their respective benefits. To make the decision even tougher—PLM’s capabilities have become so comprehensive, many manufacturers are puzzled which of these two enterprise solutions is best designed to solve their specific manufacturing challenges.

The true value of PLM and ERP integration is the linkage between critical upstream and downstream processes. To achieve this goal, an application programming interface (API) provides an ideal integration framework for bidirectional data sharing between the two enterprise solutions. This allows innovative product companies to streamline efficiencies across their entire design and manufacturing processes for developing superior products.

What is the difference between PLM and ERP?

The key difference between ERP and PLM is that ERP executes and optimizes manufacturing and distribution processes involving physical assets and covers a wide range of corporate operations including sales, services, procurement, inventory, facilities, and human resources.

PLM, however, is an organization’s product development and innovation backbone. PLM manages all the information and processes associated with product design and development including bills of materials (BOMs), engineering changes, and associated documentation, and enables cross-functional collaboration across product teams.

Another difference between PLM and ERP is that the PLM solution’s features and functionality are leveraged throughout the product lifecycle, from the design stages into the manufacturing process. In a model integration of ERP and PLM solutions, the PLM system’s ability to manage and update all engineering content, processes, and the entire bill of materials (BOM) of a product is combined with the ERP system’s ability to manage the physical product.

Benefits of PLM and ERP integration

The benefits of integrating ERP and PLM are growing, especially with the impact and success manufacturers are having with bi-directional data and information sharing. An ERP solution that interfaces with the existing PLM solution is useful once the product design has progressed to the stage when resources must be controlled to produce the design.

By connecting ERP and PLM, engineering teams can make better design decisions by gaining visibility into information like component costs and lead times while manufacturing can access the most current product data anytime and share it with the necessary departments to ensure precise financial planning.

Proper coordination, synchronization, and integration of ERP and PLM solutions can bring value by boosting efficiency, collaboration, and data integrity across design and manufacturing. Integration ensures that everyone in the organization is working with the most current product information at all phases of the product lifecycle. You can optimize essential upstream and downstream processes and ensure continual cost, quality, and product improvements by sharing information between your PLM and ERP systems.

The ERP and PLM Processes Integrated and Interacting


Nextracker, a rapidly expanding clean tech company in the solar tracking sector, has adopted Arena’s cloud-native PLM solution. This move aims to improve Nextracker’s product information management, streamline operations across distributed teams, enable automated approval processes, and offer superior tracking and accountability.

In addition, the company integrated its ERP and PLM for better collaboration between their CAD and ERP to eliminate data entry errors. Nextracker’s Ratana Lee, Senior Manager, NPI Master Archivist said, “Our CMs can go into Arena PLM and securely access the exact information they need. Arena enables us to synchronize product information in ERP, so our teams in India can service customers in their region and the U.S. location can service customers in their region.”

PLM – ERP transforms manufacturing

With the escalation of digital transformation, traditional product development from concept to commercialization is accelerating faster than ever. Modern PLM and ERP systems can integrate seamlessly and empower your teams with better visibility, real-time updates, and ubiquitous collaboration to work efficiently.

Product development teams and manufacturers now have more control when it comes to lowering costs and delivering smarter products. Factories are operating at higher levels of efficiency and performance by reducing scrap and waste and finding new ways to implement sustainable processes.

Arena’s cloud-native PLM solution can integrate with ERP to streamline product development and manufacturing processes while providing new and enhanced support for the product lifecycle.

Leading product companies like Nutanix, Haltian, and AMP have already reaped the benefits of integrating Arena PLM with their respective ERP systems to accelerate product development and manufacturing processes.

Isn’t it time your organization starts harnessing a new generation of synergy to unlock potential efficiencies within your processes? Learn more about Arena’s integration ecosystem.