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Introduction to PLM

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is the process of managing the entire lifecycle of a product from inception, through engineering design and manufacture, to service and disposal of manufactured products. PLM integrates people, data, processes and business systems and provides a product information backbone for companies and their extended enterprise. A PLM system acts as a central information hub for everyone associated with a given product. So a well-managed PLM system can streamline product development and facilitate easier communication among those working on/with a product.

The core of PLM is in the creations and central management of all product data and the technology used to access this information and knowledge. PLM as a discipline emerged from tools such as CAD, CAM, CAE, and PDM, but can be viewed as the integration of these tools with methods, people and the processes through all stages of a product's life.

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) thus includes the whole life cycle of a product starting from generating an idea, concept description, and business analyses, product design and solution architecture and technical implementation, to the successful entrance to the market, service, maintenance and product improvement.


Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) can also be defined as a strategic business approach for the effective management and use of corporate intellectual capital. Today, challenges faced by product development teams include globalisation, outsourcing, mass customisation, fast innovation and product traceability. These challenges enhance the need for collaborating environments and knowledge management along the product lifecycle stages. PLM systems are gaining acceptance for managing all information about the corporation's products throughout their full lifecycle, from conceptualisation to operations and disposal.

Use of the term PLM implies that the activity of managing products across the lifecycle is clearly defined, well-documented, proactive, and carried out according to a particular design. It is carried out to meet specific objectives of increasing product revenues, reducing product-related costs, maximizing the value of the product portfolio, and maximizing the value of current and future products for both customers and shareholders. The product is at the heart of the PLM environment and therefore PLM focuses on “the product”.

PLM improves the activity of product development, without which a company won't survive. The source of future revenues for a company is the creation of new products and services. PLM is the activity that enables a company to grow revenues by improving innovation, reducing time-to-market for new products, and providing superb support and new services for existing products. PLM helps bring new products to market faster.

PLM enables a company to reduce product-related costs. It is important to reduce the cost of products. Otherwise the customer will choose a competitive product that costs less. Product-related material and energy costs are fixed early in the product development process. PLM provides the tools and knowledge to minimize them. And PLM helps cut recall, warranty and recycling costs that come later in the product's life.

It offers managers visibility about what is really happening with products and with product development, modification and retirement projects. Without PLM, they are often faced by a huge mass of conflicting information about a product. PLM gives them the opportunity to manage better. With access to the right information, better decisions can be made.

PLM enables better support to customers and also the value of a product to be maximised over its lifecycle. With accurate, consolidated information about mature products available, low-cost ways can be found to extend their revenue-generating lifetimes.

Within PLM, there are five primary areas:

  1. Systems engineering (SE)
  2. Product and project portfolio management (PPM)
  3. Product design (CAD) CAD/CAM/CAE
  4. Manufacturing process management (MPM)
  5. Product data management (PDM)

Industries Where PLM is Applicable

  • Automotive and Transportation
  • Aerospace and Defence
  • Industrial Machinery and Heavy Equipment
  • Electronics and Semiconductor
  • Energy and Utilities
  • Consumer Products and Retail
  • Medical Devices and Pharmaceutical
  • IT and Telecom
  • Others

Top PLM Solution Providers

  • Autodesk
  • Dassault Systemes
  • PTC Windchill
  • Siemens PLM
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