Controlling your CAD designs - PDM vs. PLM
Jim Brown posted on July 04, 2014 |

Figure 1: Four Dimensions of PLM Expansion

The following post is an excerpt from the white paper “Tech-Clarity Insight The Basics of Managing CAD – When Brute Force Fails and PDM is too Much by Jim Brown. It discusses the pros and cons of using PLM or PDM to manage your CAD. To read the report in its entirety and find out what are these minimum requirements read the whole white paper here.

Some may look to formal systems like Product Data Management (PDM) or Product Lifecycle Management (PLM). PDM offers formal capabilities to control, access, and share designs, which according to Tech-Clarity’s The Business Value of Product Data Management “… helps drive efficiency, reduce cost, and improve time to market.”

PDM offers the basics of CAD file management and more.

PDM offers the basics of CAD file management and more. PDM goes beyond vaulting CAD files, providing advanced features such as configuration management, BOM management, and more. PLM goes further to manage processes and extend to the enterprise and external enterprise and has evolved into an enterprise platform to manage processes such as environmental compliance, costing, quality, and more. These solutions can manage complex rules and business processes and are typically used by larger organizations that require a higher level of coordination and control. In recent years, PLM has expanded significantly (Figure [1]). This is positive for some, but has increased scope and complexity for others.

Adding PLM adds overhead and doesn’t have value on small to medium projects. Jake Myre, Owner, Hippo Engineering

PDM and PLM have been extended for external collaboration, but are often viewed as cumbersome to share on an ad-hoc basis because of the level of control they provide. Because of this, many traditional systems are worked around due to the time and effort required to set up external partners (Figure [2]). These systems provide more control, but also require more from their users and might be considered overkill for smaller engineering teams. “Adding PLM adds overhead and doesn’t have value on small to medium projects,” states Hippo Engineering’s Jake Myre.

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Figure 2: File-sharing Bypass

PDM and PLM are enterprise systems and require a time and resource investment to implement. For some, these traditional solutions are either out of reach or viewed as not worth the time and money required to implement them due to high cost, complexity, and demand for IT resources. For many, the biggest barrier is the time and skill required to set up and manage the environments. The systems take time to manage and administer. Engineers could manage servers and systems, but many feel their time is better spent elsewhere. “I looked at hosting a vault myself, but I didn’t want to get into hosting servers, etc.,” comments Jake Myre of Hippo Engineering. “My time is better spent doing other things.”

For some, these traditional solutions are either out of reach or viewed as not worth the time and money required to implement them due to high cost, complexity, and demand for IT resources.

PDM and PLM vendors have invested in reducing implementation and adoption barriers by introducing simplified solutions that come pre-configured and bundled with required infrastructure. Others are offering hosted environments to remove the need to administer servers. While hosting reduces IT demand, hosting traditional applications is not the same as cloud because it may solve the server issue but still requires administration and often has performance implications.

For more information on controlling CAD files using management software download the rest of Jim Brown’s white paper.


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