Progress and Development

“In reality, however, PLM has many fathers: Ever since companies started using computer programs in their design work, they needed a way to more easily retrieve and reuse their technical product data. In Germany too, this inspired many software makers to develop electronic management systems. Despite that fact that PDM always claimed to not only support the management of data, but also the processes that drive the creation and distribution of data, the term soon was regarded as too narrow. Following a period of terminological contention, software makers and consulting companies found a common denominator in the term PLM.” (translated from Wikipedia).

1.1 The Evolution of PLM in the EnterpriseFrom drawing management to digital engineering

The metamorphosis of drawing management in design and production ecosystems, since the early days of simple CAD data management, has been nothing short of astounding. While it used to be only about storing and finding CAD data, it soon evolved into the ability to connect drawings, documents, and bills of materials and to put them into context with information from ERP systems – marking the step from drawing management to CAD data management to Product Data Management (PDM system).

As this was happening, sometime in the 1990s electronic archiving and document management systems (DMS) started to gain momentum in commercial departments and product-centric companies required the ability to store and manage product related data and documents and match it to their product structure, hence a new form of DMS evolved, DMStec . Companies looking to work seamlessly with product relevant data and documents across department lines will also have to bridge the gap to Product Data Management (PDM) systems. This will give them a unified Product Data Backbone that covers both business related and technical documents. The next step on the evolutionary path is process control of product data and information flows. These types of systems are known as product lifecycle management (PLM) systems.

The objective of any PLM solution is to create a seamless experience, giving everyone along the process chain – from request to design and production to sales – controlled access to a consistent and common data foundation, the Product Data Backbone. Collaborative PLM takes these processes across company lines, marking the last stage in this evolution: digital engineering and with it the digitalization of the entire process chain. With collaborative PLM, processes can be coordinated in real time and across the entire product lifecycle in a way that is connected both internally and externally. Partners, customers, and suppliers are tightly integrated into a company’s workflows with full control over the process. The organic development of these different evolutionary stages, from drawing management to the end-to-end digital transformation of product engineering and product management, is exactly what this knowledge portal will explore in detail.