Configuration Management & PLM

Configuration Management is a Major Component of PLM

Early on, PLM [product lifecycle management] software companies learned from their customers that they needed to be able to manage configurations – like a bill of materials.

Years ago, we had a marketing guy that thought we ought to configure our software so that it was ready to go. We had many conversations with our customer base and determined that even though a company was similar to another, the way they worked was different.

One such way was how they handled their bills of materials.

Today, the CAD systems will automatically generate a bill of materials [BoM] but that wasn’t true 20 or so years ago. The CAD drawings were separate from the BoM. Most often, someone would type the BoM into a spreadsheet.

Some of the problems this could cause include:

  • There was no link between the BoM and the drawings leaving room for errors.
  • A BoM had to be manually extracted from the drawings.
  • Some companies change the BoM before changing any drawings and some change the drawings first – They must be linked either way.
  • Keeping the drawings and the BoM synchronized was troublesome.
  • Collaboration was difficult. Often, engineers were unaware that a change was already pending against a drawing they were to work on.
  • When viewing a BoM, engineers must be able to traverse the BoM in either direction [up to the parent or down to the children].
  • When viewing a BoM, finding the associated drawing was not a simple task.

As you might imagine, these issues show up in unplanned engineering expenses.

Configuration Management Provides

Control – The BoM and the associated drawings are linked. One can’t change without changing the other. The software can make sure that 2 people can’t work on the same file at the same time.

Visibility – Users can quickly see that a change is pending or that someone is already working on a drawing or a BoM. They can call that person and collaborate. They can quickly see what the latest version is.

Today’s PLM software can ensure that the right information gets to the right person at the right time. Contact me if you are interested in learning more…


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