Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) systems, like Aligni PLM are designed to not only house product data but to also make sure that data is distributed to the right groups within the organization. Doing both well means the organization is working off the correct information. This reduces errors and speeds up the processes each group has to perform to get a product to market. The key is to make sure the right data is made available to the right people.
The best way to store product specifications in a PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) system is to start with a plan. Determine what information needs to be available and follow a structured process in managing the information. At Aligni, we have been continually refining and expanding our PLM offering to make sure it performs its tasks efficiently, but knowing the best process to use the software also helps guarantee that performance.
Laying out the process
Since product engineers typically manage the product lifecycle management system, here’s an overview of how those engineers should approach storing product specifications in a PLM system:
1. Identify the Product Specifications Needed: Product engineers should work closely with stakeholders to determine their information needs for the product. This may include dimensions, materials, performance criteria, regulatory requirements, and any other relevant details.
2. Create Specification Templates: In the PLM system, product engineers can create standardized specification templates that make sure the required information for different types of product specifications are captured. These templates provide a consistent structure for storing specifications and ensure that all necessary details are captured.
3. Enter Specification Data: During the development process, product engineers input the initial product specifications into the PLM system using the created templates. They fill in the relevant fields and provide detailed information for each specification requirement. This may include text descriptions, numerical values, units of measurement, tolerances, and reference documents.
4. Categorize and Classify Specifications: To improve organization and searchability, product engineers categorize and classify the product specifications within the PLM system. They assign relevant tags, labels, or attributes to group specifications based on their type, function, component, or any other relevant classification criteria. This makes the data searchable outside of simple product names or numbers.
5. Attach Supporting Documentation: Product engineers may attach supporting documents or reference materials to the specifications stored in the PLM system. These could include design drawings, test reports, material certifications, industry standards, or other relevant documentation that provide additional context or evidence for the specified requirements.
6. Establish Data Relationships: In the PLM system, product engineers establish relationships between specifications and other related entities. For example, they may link specifications to specific product components, manufacturing processes, test plans, vendors, or regulatory compliance requirements. This ensures traceability and enables the system to present a holistic view of how specifications are interconnected.
7. Manage Version Control and Revisions: As product specifications evolve throughout the product development lifecycle, product engineers and other groups within the organization may update and revise them in the PLM system. The PLM system typically provides version control capabilities, allowing engineers to maintain a history of revisions, track changes, and access previous versions of the specifications when needed.
8. Practice Access Control and Security: The PLM managers set access control and security measures in the PLM system to ensure only authorized individuals can view, edit, or modify the product specifications. This may be broken down to certain aspects of the data contained in the item master database or entire product categories. This flexibility helps protect sensitive or proprietary information and ensures that data integrity is maintained while granting access to individuals to increase workplace efficiency.
9. Plan for Search and Retrieval: Once stored in the PLM system’s database, product engineers and other stakeholders can easily search and retrieve the product specifications as needed. The PLM system typically provides search functionalities based on various criteria such as keywords, tags, classifications, vendors, or associated entities, enabling efficient retrieval of the desired specifications.
Bringing it all together
The effective use of product lifecycle management systems stems from performing the necessary planning at the onset of PLM adoption and maintaining those processes over time. Following the steps above helps a firm extract the advantages a PLM system can provide. These benefits include centralized product information, enabling easy access, collaboration, and traceability throughout the product lifecycle. An overall improvement in data integrity and accuracy, reducing errors and redundancies in the process. Finally, a well thought out and executed PLM system enhances productivity and efficiency by streamlining processes, facilitating version control, and supporting effective decision-making based on up-to-date and comprehensive product data.
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