Siemens defines PLM [product lifecycle management] as an information strategy. It lets global organizations work as a single team to design, produce, support and retire products while capturing lessons learn along the way.
How did we get here?
Before there was PLM, there was PDM [product data management]. Before there was PDM, there was EDM [engineering data management]. Before there was EDM, there was paper and lots of file cabinets.
If you wanted to see the latest release of an engineering drawing, you would look at all of the drawings to find the biggest number or the furthest letter in the alphabet. Today, it is obvious that managing these CAD files in a computer makes it easy to determine the latest released and quickly get a copy.
EDM included a ‘vault’ where engineers would check in and check out CAD files. The computer would keep track of the versions and provide access controls.
Building on EDM, most PDM software will automatically check in a solid model including all of its related files [like libraries]. That means the next person can confidently check out a solid model and all of its components will be there. This software can automatically generate a bill of materials.
The term PLM was created by some of the PDM vendors in order to move out of the engineering department and into other departments [think increased sales].
A good example of where PLM can add some significant value is in managing new product introductions [NPI]. NPI includes a lot of items: marketing requirements documents; market research; pricing strategies; support plans; data sheets; flyers; sales presentations; demonstrations; etc. All of these will go through some kind of approval process. Most companies are attempting to manage these processes on paper. Think how great it would be if you had some control and visibility [think PLM] in the creation of these items.
There much more information created within a company. Some examples include: Quality plans; Safety instructions; Work instruction packages; Support plans; Return material authorization strategies; etc.
Learn more about PLM to see how it can help your company.