Where did the idea of Product Lifecycle Management [PLM] come from?
Engineers/designers need to manage their drawings /documentation. Even before CAD, engineers needed to be able to store designs and retrieve them. They needed to know the latest released version of drawings/documentation. They needed to be able to track changes to their designs – to their bills of materials. They needed to make sure that the right information got to the right people at the right time.
If you worked for a small company, you might have been able to handle this manually. However, big companies like aerospace and defense companies had thousands of drawings [documents] that needed to be managed.
Some of the errors that they looked to prevent:
- Engineers needing to make a change to a design might not be able to find the design they needed and would start over.
- Engineers needing to make a change to a design might end up working on the wrong version of the design.
- Engineers wanting to improve a design would begin working on a design that had already been changed. Imagine the problems when the error was noticed.
- Upon release of a design, the engineering information needs to be passed to manufacturing. Occasionally, the wrong information would get passed causing a very expensive error.
Back then, I was selling engineering document management software. Today, you might be able to use PDM [product data management] software. If you choose to manage all product information easily, you should look into PLM [product lifecycle management] software.
These kinds software addressed the common errors that companies were attempting to avoid. They can do a good job of eliminating errors if the employees of a company are disciplined to use the software.
A plus for PLM software – it makes it easy to be ISO 9001 compliant.