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Scope of PLM

Originally, engineering data was relatively simple: design files, parts lists and specifications. At the time, engineering data management software (EDMS) and later PDM allowed users to organize their product data, and apply rules for item identification and revision control. An associated electronic data library contained 2D CAD files and other design files.
However, with added complexity in product design, engineering data management has now evolved into two separate solutions: Product lifecycle management and Product data management.

Product lifecycle managementThe 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 data management,when combined with CAE/CAD software such as Dassault Systemes SolidWorks or Autodesk® Inventor®, is a specialized “design environment”. The basic design object is a CAD file. The PDM tool manages sets of linked files – CAD models – in hierarchical (real or virtual) folders.

The normal mechanical CAD/PDM/PLM interaction consists of creating part numbers within the PLM system; using those part numbers during your CAD/PDM model development; exporting the bill of materials from CAD for import into PLM; and attaching models (file sets) as approved, controlled snapshots of the 3D model. The file set (and related specifications and procedures) is approved within the PLM system and released to your production and supply chain.

PLM for Communication and Control

PLM coordinates design intent and provides an orderly flow of approved data. PLM ensures that only the correct parts are ordered, produced and assembled according to valid & approved documentation. PLM is the central repository of the product definition: requirements; drawings; supplier datasheets; test results; assembly, test and inspection procedures; user documentation; and technical field support materials.
PLM systems prevent costly errors related to unapproved part substitutions, out-of-date documentation, incorrect part numbers, and even many clerical errors in transferring final designs into production. They can also answer questions about what had previously been used, who made changes and why, and what alternatives were considered and rejected.

PLM software supports the complete product life cycle with:
  • Flexible document and part types that permit unique naming and identification outside the engineering department
  • Revision-controlled bill of materials and approved source management that can be easily exported to downstream production systems
  • Superior Google-like free-form text search that allows non-technical users easy access to their own documents and parts
  • Virtually unlimited change forms and change workflows that can be uniquely tailored to a specific department's needs, so that upstream (marketing) and downstream (customer support, field service) organizations can manage their part of the product life cycle using their own change processes
  • Materials identification and reporting for simple and cost-effective RoHS/WEEE/ELV regulatory compliance in product maintenance and repair, hazardous material handling and product disposal
  • Document and part dispositioning to clearly communicate how items throughout the supply and distribution chains will be affected by pending changes

PLM for Feed Procurement, Production, and Service

PLM software provides all disciplines (design, product management, quality, production, test engineering, marketing, etc.) with a complete, approved and locked-down product configuration.
Product information is divided between what's required specifically for engineering development, and what's needed to manage, purchase, manufacture and service the product.
The PLM system contains – and closely controls – the product data that users need from the development process. It ensures that previously-developed data is quickly found and may be easily evaluated for re-use; product data useful to the company is shared, rather than embedded in proprietary file formats for a specific design discipline; Pre- and post-production design data is clearly segregated from production data using lifecycle tags; rules for part and document numbering are followed, and workflow for changes is enforced; parts are categorized to ensure all required data is easily identified; procedures for assembly, test, inspection, sales, installation and use are coordinated between affected departments; approved vendor sources are documented and shared with procurement, and AVL changes are controlled; information approved for production is protected from uncontrolled changes; changes to any previously-approved data is reviewed by the affected groups, including those outside engineering; approved product configurations can be exported accurately and consistently to downstream computer systems and contract manufacturers; and historical information such as changes approved, items affected, why the change occurred, and who approved are always available.

PLM software manages an approved configuration of your complete product over the entire product life cycle.

A PLM solution is most useful for defining, controlling and sharing complex, multi-discipline, or fast-changing products.
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