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

Product Data Management Solutions Only Solve Part of the Problem

The Gap Between Engineering and Manufacturing

There is a gap between engineering design tools with PDM vaults and the complete product record for all aspects of the design with associated documents, specifications, and drawings. Design systems are not created to enable non-engineering teams and supply chain partners to access information in a way that can be controlled and reviewed easily. When left unaddressed, this gap impedes the process of turning innovative designs into marketable products due to the following issues:

Wasted time

Mechanical engineers have to spend more time looking for and compiling the right design data and product information for the downstream supply chain activities including sourcing, planning, manufacturing, and ensuring environmental and regulatory compliance. This reduces their ability to focus on pure innovative designs. Without a single, shared source of truth (PLM system) to collaborate, engineers have to address many questions.

Inability to share with external partners

Much of the product information resides, and is only accessible, inside the firewall. Suppliers are not able to directly access the latest product and assembly information, making it difficult for them to stay aligned with evolving designs.

Lack of visibility early in the design process

Similarly, without direct access to product information, contract manufacturers lack the necessary visibility required to provide valuable feedback on the manufacturability of a design early in the process. As a result, more costly design changes are made further into the development phase.

Building to the wrong revision

Without a single system for the entire product record and associated ECOs, CMs are not able to source and build the latest revision of the product. This drives up the cost of goods and results in more scrap and rework or field service issues when the wrong revision of products ship to customers.

Compliance problems

Meeting ever-evolving regulatory compliance standards and laws increases the need for greater collaboration between engineering, purchasing, and manufacturing teams. Without the ability to track and ensure compliance, companies take more risks that can result in penalties, fines, lawsuits, and even harm to customers

Bridging the Gap

Bridging The Gap

Having a single system for the entire product record bridges the engineering design and manufacturing world. For maximum efficiency, systems should be easy to deploy, configure, and access by any member of the supply chain.

Engineering teams, especially those responsible for mechanical design, have relied on many different and sophisticated CAD systems. They have been able to solve problems for shared designs with workgroups through PDM. However, those same teams now understand that with more connected technologies, it’s critical to collaborate early and often with electrical and software engineering. Furthermore, they must be able to bring a complete design to manufacturing quickly.

“We get terrific feedback from the give and take of the review process. Indeed, partners have provided feedback that helped us avoid making unnecessary, confusing, or costly changes.”

– David Sangster, COO, Nutanix

PLM was designed to bridge the gap and provide a clean hand-off from engineering to manufacturing.

Bridging the Gap

PLM helps all key stakeholders in the product development and launch process to better control the design, share ideas, and eliminate delays getting products to market.

Here are the keys to speeding product launch time:

Access to latest design

Everyone has the appropriate level of access to the latest design files.

Faster reviews and approvals

Automated change control processes ensure that teams get proactive notice to review and approve changes to the product design. These electronic change processes provide better traceability (or an audit trail) between all revisions of the product, quality issues, and all internal and external teams.

Reduced cost and overhead

With earlier access to the entire product design, CMs can provide feedback on manufacturability issues and/or suggest potential ways to cut costs (e.g., changing suppliers or component sources).

Improved compliance

PLM offers connected information from the company-specific part number to the source AML number, through the AVL (purchased) number. Cloudbased PLM solutions have business-ready integrations to component databases like SiliconExpert and Octopart to make it easy to find, source, and use parts that meet environmental compliance standards like RoHS and REACH.