Product Data Management
PDM software solutions were initially developed within the engineering sector to manage all product related data and associated workflow processes . This typically covered CAD drawings, assembly diagrams, project plans and correspondence. PDM is a design focussed technology that increases the efficiencies within existing product development processes by improving the management of all product design data.
Traditionally, PDM software tended to be the preserve of the designers and engineers. Over the last few years, the benefits have been extended to the wider organisation such as manufacturing, project managers and even sales and marketing, further increasing the return on investment. Many organisations have integrated their customers too, utilising web-interfaces to deliver product information in a controlled and auditable manner.
Typically, a PDM solution will have the following components:
- Data vaults and document management for storage and retrieval of product information
- Work-flow and process management control procedures for handling product data
- Product structure management which handles bills of material, product configurations, and associated versions and design variations.
- Parts management provides information on standard components and facilitates reuse of designs
- Program management provides work break-down structures and allows coordination between product related processes, resource scheduling, and project tracking
PDM software and its close cousin, Product Lifecycle Management software (PLM), have broadened their appeal across many sectors including architecture and construction, facilities management, food technology and even consumer packaged goods. The underlying mantra that is commonly quoted ‘ensuring that the right information is available to the right person at the right time and in the right form'. In this time conscious world, the earlier you can take a product to market the greater your return on investment.
Typical efficiencies are gained in:
- Defined Workflows that streamline and automate current manual processes such as document review and approval
- The correct document version is always worked on with no duplicate effort on the same document
- A complete revision history is created so that any changes in design can be isolated should an impact assessment be needed
- Full audit functionality with track and traceability of all design changes
- The correct parts are always manufactured
- Automated transmittals to key stakeholders with a full audit history
- No corrupt data, preserving references, associations and interrelationships
- Reuse drawings and data saving time and effort
- Powerful search engines, minimising time wasted searching for documents or losing them altogether
- Reduction in unit costs by reusing standard parts and products
- Easier regulatory compliance through explicitly defined processes and procedures