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The Benefits of a PDM System

Key Takeaways

  • PDM systems assist in data management and storage.

  • Comparing and contrasting PDM & PLM systems.

  • The features PLM software offers to accentuate an underlying PDM system.

Branching images representing data management

PDM systems will impact all of the data and structures related to design

With the ever-burgeoning amount of data available, it is easy for the average person to become overwhelmed, not to mention the exponentially larger data sets found in business settings. Design data has become far more intricate, and the ability to quickly reference schematics, models, boards, and other files assist any operation in its efforts to reduce turn time during development. While this may seem trivial for smaller firms and shops, product data management, or PDM systems, form an essential component of any business with a sufficiently large design catalog. More than that, PDM forms a basis for further implementations that can form a more comprehensive design environment over the life of the product.

A PDM System Protects and Enhances Data Storage

Across different workplaces, product data management can take completely different structures. Of course, internally, this is likely to pose little detriment–designers simply adjust to the current model and ensure their designs are following protocol. However, nearly every designer has had a run-in with a file scare, whether that is a loss of progress, accidental overwrite, or missing files. Unfortunately, data management can be a very fickle process, susceptible to both the fragility inherent in digital storage as well as the fallibility of users. 

PDM systems attempt to tackle this issue by providing a more thorough framework for file storage and lookup. To be certain, automated backups have become much more robust in recent decades as file size concerns have more or less fallen by the wayside, but on-site storage can still be fraught with some difficulties. Storage systems lacking the proper backup may be liable to loss of data in the event of damage to the hardware or theft. Product data management serves a need by providing a remote site for data storage that is easily accessible via an internet connection. 

Some workplaces have transferred to remote operations, which begs the question: what does a PDM system offer over an existing model? In a word, security. System administrators for smaller companies are unlikely to possess access to sophisticated tools and assets from market leaders in the space. Beyond security concerns, there are more direct benefits to the designer–PDM systems leverage computational resources to allow for greater power during intensive design processes, such as autorouting or machine learning solutions. 

What Is the Relationship Between PDM and PLM?

If the PDM reflects the nascency of decentralized design spaces, product lifecycle management, or PLM, is its growth and development. PDM and PLM are subsets of the same design space with some overlap, but the major difference is the scale of implementation. Generally, PLM finds use at the level of global companies with multiple branches and locations. The timelines for business integration also vary rapidly: PDM systems act as a data structure set and can be brought to speed in a manner of days, while PLM is far more entrenched in the overall design process and may take months until its finalized. For all these reasons, PLM is far more exclusive in its deployment than PDM. 

However, PDM and PLM should not necessarily be seen as antagonistic. Rather, installed PDM systems can serve as a stepping stone to PLM systems by greatly reducing much of the time and energy that would be dedicated to setting up the data infrastructure. This is doubly true for the cost–such a robust, spanning system can be somewhat prohibitive for adoption. But, by using a PDM system, companies can see early returns on a data management program and gain personalized, data-driven insight as to the value of adopting a longtail management system. 

How PLM Builds From PDM

What specifically delineates a PLM system from a PDM system? While the latter concerns itself with the organization of data and files into an easily searchable format, PLM serves the design and development process by leveraging information from board revisions to improve overall lifecycle performance. Effectively, PLM increases final efficiency and yield by analyzing multiple design stages–an enterprise focus. PDM’s focus remains narrow (which is not a fault, but a goal of the system), acting only upon the design data itself and none of the overarching, connected processes that ultimately drive manufacturing. PLM itself will consist of multiple elements of analysis:

  • Supply chain - While it has always been a crucial element of large-scale production, recent global disturbances and crunch have neatly outlined just how crucial the process is to any manufacturer. With semiconductor shortages expected to continue in the near future, having a powerful system in place to assist with sourcing is a boon to any major developer.
  • Enterprise solutions - Whether the need is internal or external, businesses require a nontrivial amount of organization and resources to solve basic problems such as accounting, parts and material procurement, distribution, sales, and more.
  • Customer relations - Customers must be at the forefront of business decisions. Companies with physical products, subscription services, or a hybrid model will require a way to track product performance and satisfaction as well as gather insight on current and upcoming demands that are not being met in their service space.
  • Application lifecycle - From initial idea to decommissioning, products will encounter multiple challenges during their development and usage. For items in wide adoption or high-end devices with reliability demands, constant refinement to the product will maximize its usefulness and service life.

Whatever level of implementation, PDM systems offer a method for enhanced data storage and search functionality far beyond basic data structures. If you are looking for a scalable solution, consider Allegro Pulse. Pulse features include a workflow engine, data management, security protocols, and search capabilities. And, Pulse integrates seamlessly into many design tools, allowing it to manage the design data behind the scenes, freeing up engineers to focus on their work instead of juggling design files. 

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