Product data management software includes important features for organizing and tracking data.
More advanced product data management software features enable sharing and project history tracking features.
Through integration with other enterprise systems in a PLM platform, the best product data management software can play an important role in a PLM strategy.
Engineers that have led development on multiple projects are familiar with the amount of design data that can be generated. When building a new product, design data is generated in multiple formats, and often in multiple software applications. All this data needs to be tracked and organized. As a designer’s portfolio of projects and data grows, so does the need for a solution like a product data management platform, or a full-fledged PLM system.
When looking for a data management solution, what types of features are needed and what benefits do they bring? Something simple like Google Drive or Dropbox can give you some of the features you might need to keep your project data organized and shareable. However, the best product data management software can do much more than just store files and allow sharing. To help you get started, we’ve outlined some of the features you’ll find in the best product data management software for engineered products.
Features in the Best Product Data Management Software
Engineers have several tasks they need to complete in any design. The role of product data management software is to ensure electronics engineers can organize and track all their project data as they work to complete a design. Each set of files created for a project might come from different software applications, each of which produces different file formats. Product data management software must overcome the challenges surrounding different file types, file access and release, revisioning, and even collaboration.
Some of the main features product data management users need are listed below.
Any product data management software platform should act as a basic file storage system that allows users to organize files by type, project, date, user, or any other type of categorization. The same type of file system features you would find on a desktop computer should also be present in your product data management software platform:
- Built-in folder system for organization
- File add/remove/modify history
- File format-agnostic storage
- Redundancy through backups, undo delete, etc.
Once data is entered into the product data management system and is organized, more advanced features within the system and design software are used within the design process.
Data Sharing With Permissions
Data storage and organization are the bare minimum features needed in a product data management platform. The best of these software platforms enable the secure sharing of project data with internal collaborators and external stakeholders. Other engineering teams, customers, external manufacturers, test engineers, and other vendors are some of the parties that might need access to product data. The best product data management systems will also provide various access control levels with permissions for different groups, allowing control over viewing, downloading, and editing product data.
Version Control and Revision History
Once data is modified or new versions of files are uploaded into the system, these files should be entered into version control, such as a Git-based environment. Version control systems allow quick comparisons between different versions of files as well as the ability to roll back to earlier versions or fork these into new file chains. The best product data management software with version control allows revision histories to be generated at the file level or project level.
Integration With Design Software
Modern engineering design software provides multiple levels of integration with external applications, including data management systems. Some ECAD applications include a local data management server for user projects, or they can interface with a dedicated cloud platform to host project data. In either case, this allows ECAD users to instantly pull data from the data management software into the ECAD program and start working with projects instantly. Other applications could also pull project data from a data management platform via an API.
Most engineering teams are multi-functional, and multiple designers may need to collaborate on a design while still keeping the core files inside of a data management system. Collaboration features in product data management software can involve simply reviewing and commenting on designs as well as committing them to version control, or collaboration can occur live inside design software. In the ECAD and MCAD domains, collaboration on designs involves an import/export process between users, or it can be facilitated by the cloud inside your design software.
Product Data Management in a PLM Process
Companies that design a broad range of products and take these to market will have a much greater challenge in trying to manage product data. These enterprises will need to implement a PLM strategy to help ensure their products stay competitive over the long term and can be periodically updated to extend their lifetime. PLM systems will use features in the best product data management software in unique ways, as outlined below.
If you are looking for the best product data management software that complements enterprise PLM strategies, 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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