Product Data Management Software
A Single Source of Truth from Product Conceptualization to Manufacturing
In software development since 1989, ScienceSoft provides product data management software consultancy and full-cycle implementation services.
Product Data Management Software in Brief
Product data management (PDM) software offers capturing, centralized storing, sharing, reusing, and updating of product data during product design and development. This data includes product models, specifications, drawings, engineering change orders, bills of materials (BOM), and more. Product data kept in PDM can be further used for product distribution and marketing purposes.
- Benefits: Visibility into product design and development, facilitated collaboration on product design, reduced errors in product documentation, faster search of product data, enhanced product data security.
- Users: Product designers and engineers, operations managers, external stakeholders (manufacturers, suppliers, etc.).
- Go-to integrations: ERP, CAD/CAM solutions, inventory management and accounting software.
- Average implementation costs: $75,000.
Key PDM Software Features
Below is the list of typical features of PDM tools composed based on ScienceSoft’s experience in product data management solutions.
Creation and management of product data
- Reusable templates for fast and easy creation of typical product documentation (e.g., drawings, models, BOM, product change orders).
- Auto-naming of documents and folders based on file naming convention.
- Product data indexing and metadata creation (e.g., data ownership, release status of product components).
- Tracking product design revisions (recent iterations and the latest one).
- Automated workflows for product documentation approval.
- Alerts and notifications about any product documentation changes (e.g., document creation, document update, workflow status changes).
Product data storage and retrieval
- Importing and storing of product data in multiple formats (CSV, XLSX, DWG, STL, OBJ, FBX, etc.).
- Automated classification of product documentation based on preset categories.
- Automated updates of references between various data (e.g., product parts, assemblies, drawings) when a document is moved or renamed.
- Product data search by attributes (a name, a status, etc.).
- Keeping the entire history and associated relationships of each piece of product data.
- Storing the history of product design revisions during the product design lifecycle.
Product data collaboration management
- Sharing product documentation with external stakeholders (e.g., manufacturers, suppliers) and between distributed teams (product designers, engineers, etc.) that use multiple product development tools.
- Real-time collaboration on product design documentation (sharing of 2D or 3D views).
- Product reviewing and feedback accumulation.
- Notifications of check-ins/outs of product-related files during co-editing.
Product change management (engineering change control)
- Creating engineering change requests for minor changes (e.g., using an alternate material, changing color of the part) and major changes (e.g., product design updates that require retooling).
- Setting up automated product change workflows (e.g., documenting changes, approving changes, collecting signatures).
- Automated notifications when changes progress through various workflows stages and are finalized.
Security and compliance management
- Access control.
- Granular permissions based on user roles.
- Audit trail of product design, engineering, and development activities to maintain quality standards throughout the development process.
- Two-factor authentication.
- Product data encryption.
- Compliance with industry standards and government regulations (e.g., GLBA, FDA, RoHS, ISO 9001 and 14000, ANSI).
ScienceSoft recommends integrating PDM software with:
- ERP – to streamline planning of raw materials and spare parts required for product manufacturing, determine component requirements for planned production orders based on engineering bills of materials.
- CAD/CAM systems – to facilitate search of correct revisions of CAD designs and accelerate product change and approval processes, which reduces product time-to-market; reduce error and rework in product design and manufacturing due to automated product documentation workflows.
- Inventory management software – to provide basic information about products or their components (e.g., number, description, unit of measure, material, cost, location) for centralized and secure storage in the PDM system.
- Accounting software – to calculate total costs of material required to manufacture products.
Success Factors of PDM Software
Granular access control
PDM software should ensure that different user groups (product designers, engineers, suppliers, etc.) have access only to relevant product data. It helps avoid product data disclosure, accidental changes and deletion.
PDM software users should have training on product documentation and change management, real-time collaboration on product design, and other important aspects of working with PDM.
PDM reliability and safety
PDM software should offer strong security features (e.g., two-factor authentication), regular backups for the PDM database, and a reliable architecture to avoid system crashes and errors as it stores and manages crucial product design and production process data.
PDM software implementation costs vary greatly depending on the number of future users (product designers, engineers, etc.), the number of active design projects, the amount and types of stored data, required integrations, and other factors. The implementation costs start from $50,000 and the median PDM cost is $75,000.
Key financial outcomes
Due to providing an easily searchable single source of product data information and enabling product data reuse, PDM software helps achieve the following benefits:
rework production costs
time for product-related document search
productivity of product designers and engineers
product design cycle time
PDM Software ScienceSoft Recommends
There is an abundance of PDM tools on the market, including decent open source variants. Based on our experience with PDM solutions, we recommend the following tools for you to consider:
SolidWorks PDM is a cloud-based solution for secure storing, indexing, and fast retrieval of product design data, streamlined collaboration on designs from multiple locations, and project progress monitoring. Its key features include design file management, BOM management, revision management and control, audit trail, change management, dashboards and reports. SolidWorks PDM integrates with various authoring tools, including third-party CAD software.
Remote collaboration on product designs
Upchain is cloud product data management and product lifecycle management software. It provides structured and secure storing and automated tracking of product data changes and streamlines a product lifecycle from conceptualization to launch. It offers such features as revision control, project and product management, BOM management, and more. Upchain smoothly integrates with CAD tools and enables accessing CAD data without a CAD license.
CAD files management
GrabCAD Workbench is a simple cloud-based tool to manage and share CAD files. The tool facilitates the reuse of existing design components due to a common parts library and search filters. GrabCAD Workbench allows for sharing specific file versions and revisions with external stakeholders in one click and storing conversations together with relevant files, which helps all the stakeholders be on the same page.
Product design components reuse, external collaboration with manufacturers and suppliers
Windchill PDMLink is an all-in-one PDM and advanced PLM suite that helps create and manage product structure views such as “As-Designed” and “As-Planned”, which contributes to the optimization of product configuration management. Also, the tool offers design and project management as well as product analytics capabilities to improve product quality and reliability due to thorough control and automation of product development processes.
Product configuration management
Plan and Implement PDM Software with ScienceSoft
In IT since 1989, ScienceSoft offers consulting and implementation services for PDM software.
PDM software consulting
- Assessing types and volumes of a company’s product data.
- Defining future users of PDM software (e.g., engineers, product designers, manufacturers, suppliers) and outlining user roles and permissions.
- Defining an optimal feature set and technical requirements for PDM software.
- Analyzing the PDM market and suggesting a fitting PDM product.
- Consulting on key PDM integrations (e.g., ERP, CAD/CAM systems, inventory management and accounting software).
- Estimating time, cost and ROI of a PDM implementation project.
PDM software implementation
- Analyzing product management needs.
- Choosing a suitable PDM tool based on the business needs.
- Configuring the chosen PDM tool, including modules, workflows, notifications, permissions, etc.
- Integrating the PDM solution with ERP, CAD/CAM systems, inventory management and accounting software, etc.
- Migrating product data from the legacy system to the PDM solution.
- Conducting user training, after-launch support and evolution.
ScienceSoft is a global IT consulting and software development company headquartered in McKinney, Texas. We offer advisory, design, implementation, support and evolution services for product data management software to help mid-sized and large businesses control product data for streamlined design and development of new products. Being ISO 9001, ISO 27001 and ISO 13485 certified, we guarantee high-quality IT services and the security of our customers’ data. If you opt for PDM software consulting or implementation, reach out to ScienceSoft’s team.