Product Data Management (PDM) vs. Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)

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A quick web search will yield dozens of articles, options, and data sheets on the topics of PDM and PLM. So much information is available in fact, that it’s easy to get crossed up. When faced with this mountain of data, it’s essential to remember one important truth, if you produce a product, any product, you’re already utilizing PDM and PLM. From Fortune 500 companies to tiny one or two product shops, if you make and sell something, you have some kind of product data and lifecycle management system in place. Once you understand that basic fact, it becomes easier to determine what tools and techniques best fit your development and manufacturing process. Let’s start with some basic definitions.

Product Data Management (PDM)

PDM is straight forward, managing the data that flows through your value stream which allows you to develop and deliver your products. Anything from a physical filing cabinet to an automated digital system like SOLIDWORKS PDM would qualify as a PDM system. How you build yours will depend on your specific manufacturing set up and goals.

Goals for a PDM system range from simple document storage and revision control through paperless data systems and automated workflows, but they typically center on two areas, data security and process automation.

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)

PLM generally refers to any of a set of tools that manages your products as they proceed from concept, through production, to the end of the product’s life. For smaller organizations, PLM systems focus on the up-front tasks related to product development, primarily project management. For larger manufacturers, PLM can also mean serialized, configuration-specific and maintenance/assembly BOMs, pre and post-development change management, and replacement part disposition.

Where Do We Go From Here?

You’ve probably noticed a bit of overlap between PDM and PLM in theory and in practice. That overlap is intentional and beneficial. Any data management solution needs to be flexible enough to meet your needs as they stand today and expand to meet your needs as they change. Many factors play into an effective management system. From the type of product you manufacture and how it’s manufactured to the way the data flows through your organization. The needs you have now, and the potential for growth over time. This is where your partnerships become extremely valuable. MLC CAD Systems has the expertise to help you map out your data flows and needs, eliminate waisted motion, and understand the cost/benefit of an investment in data management tools. If your team spends more time dealing with your data vs. designing and producing the best product possible, reach out to your local MLC CAD Systems representative today to start the discussion.

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