Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) defined

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software is a system that helps manage all the data and activities related to the lifecycle of a product, from concept to disposal. PLM software provides a centralized platform to manage product-related data. The software can manage areas such as product design, engineering data, bills of materials, and supplier information. It can also serve as the bridge between Product Data Management (PDM) processes in product engineering to MRP operations as the product enters into production. The goal of PLM software is to streamline product development processes, reduce errors, and improve collaboration across different departments and stakeholders.

PLM systems tend to be adopted as an extension to PDM systems found in large CAD suites. This may happen when there’s greater need for bringing other personnel and departments beyond product engineering into the product development process. The expansion may include working with purchasing, production and quality departments. 

Other companies adopt PLM systems when the quantity or complexity of products exceeds easy management by current PDM systems or spreadsheet-based management processes. The benefits of moving towards a purpose designed system for product lifecycle management quickly outweigh the costs of the system. This is especially true when higher collaboration or greater amounts of data need to be managed.

What PLM Does

While there are numerous flavors of PLM software, these systems typically include a range of features and functionalities, including:

1. Product data management

PLM software makes it easier for organizations to manage and control product-related data. This typically includes product designs, engineering data, bills of materials, and supplier information. The data stored in the PLM’s item master database is designed to be accessed and shared across different departments and stakeholders.

2. Product lifecycle management

PLM software helps manage the stages a product goes through, from concept to disposal, including planning, design, development, manufacturing, distribution, and service. By keeping track of its makeup, changes, production and quality aspects, the software acts as an information resource for the company to help support the product at every stage. 

3. Collaboration

PLM software facilitates collaboration across different departments and stakeholders. The software is built with interfaces designed specifically for certain functions within a manufacturing firm. The software contains interfaces for engineers, production personnel, buyers, and quality managers. This helps improve company-wide communication, reduce errors, and accelerate product development and manufacturing processes.

4. Workflow management

PLM software helps manage the processes related to product development. This includes change management, quality control, bill of materials (BOM) management, and regulatory compliance. Many product lifecycle management systems have these processes integrated into their offerings. These workflows, combined with storing data within a single database, provide companies with a single source of truth about the products being developed and produced.

5. Analytics and reporting

PLM software provides functionalities to help organizations analyze product data and identify areas for improvement. This includes features such as dashboards, reports, and key performance indicators (KPIs). By combining data from multiple functions and departments, managers can get an up-to-date and integrated view of the company’s performance.

Bringing it all together

With the above mentioned functionalities, product lifecycle management software like Aligni PLM provides a comprehensive platform for managing product-related data and activities throughout the entire product lifecycle. These benefits provide organizations the ability to improve collaboration. They also reduce errors and bring better products to market faster and more efficiently.

If you’re looking to extend and expand the capabilities of your PDM system, sign up for Aligni PLM today!

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