PLM vs. PDM: Why Product Lifecycle Management Is Required Today

Product Data Management Solutions Only Solve Part of the Problem

Modern Product Development

Modern product development

In the past, mechanical engineers created designs and shared them with internal teams on the shop floor, often within the same building. Iterative changes to the designs were introduced during prototyping, as needed. Throughout the process, mechanical engineering, manufacturing engineering, component engineering, and procurement teams worked closely together to ensure that designs were manufacturable, cost effective, and compliant to regulations.

At Arena, we help you design, produce, and deliver complex products to market by connecting your product record, quality processes, and supply chain partners. This helps you create innovative, safe products to change the world. For more on Arena and to discover a wealth of resources and best practices,

“We had to be able to iterate quickly on designs, track changes, and link related product information to scale and speed marketability.”

– Ratana Lee, Senior Manager,NPI Master Archivist, NEXTracker

However, connected technologies have changed product development dramatically. Fewer products involve mechanical-only designs as companies try to leverage many new technologies aimed at connecting people, data, and products. In addition, design teams are more distributed and often involve external partners. As more products are built with sensors, software, and electronics, all designs—not just mechanical ones—must interact seamlessly. Global design and supply chain partners must collaborate in real time, around the latest design, to establish and maintain a competitive edge in the quest to deliver innovative products to market rapidly.

How We Got Here

Product complexity is greater than ever.

Incorporating electronic and software components into traditional mechanical designs has led to additional requirements, more complex integrations, and the need for interoperability. Mechanical engineering teams must stay aligned with electrical and software design teams to avoid costly design errors and new product development (NPD) delays.

Product Complexity

The pace of innovation is increasing.

The Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and other new technologies are pushing the limits to design and manufacturing. Highly dispersed teams must be able to move rapidly through the entire product lifecycle while avoiding product design, quality, and manufacturing issues.

Outsourcing is the norm.

Today, most companies heavily outsource with multiple contract manufacturing (CM) partners, suppliers, and design partners. While outsourcing allows for more specialization, it also introduces significant challenges. Without a way to securely manage, share, and collaborate around the entire product design, teams risk confusion that can lead to building or shipping the wrong revision of products.

Regulatory and environmental compliance requirements are demanding and evolving.

To ensure compliance with an increasing number of standards or regulations—including ISO, FDA, RoHS and REACH—today’s complex product companies need to track and manage compliance effectively.

In this demanding global economy, companies must find innovative ways to optimize the path from design to production to ensure success.

Arena invented software-as-a-service (SaaS) product lifecycle management (PLM). Today, Arena offers a wide-ranging set of solutions to speed product development and launches. We understand the daily challenges companies face in turning designs into real products, and we have sold to more than 1,400 companies in the high tech, consumer electronics, and medical device industries.