Product data management: while the term itself is pretty simple, the meaning can be a little hard to wrap one’s head around. There’s a product, sure, and it has data that is somehow managed—but why? And how?

Product data management (PDM) is actually an important part of product lifecycle management, the system that tracks a product’s entire development from concept to manufacture. With a PDM system, design teams and product developers can track all information related to a product’s development: drawings, models, revisions, and any other documents or files.

The goal, as with project development systems like Basecamp or Google Drive, is to have a product’s data accessible to all members of a development team. And there are plenty of other reasons that PDM is a vital part of product development—here are just a few.

  1. PDM decreases the chance of confusion among teams. A PDM software system (Pivot uses Oracle’s Agile Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) system for product data management) allows team members to work together on the product with minimal confusion, as all documents and data can be available at all times (or to those with permissions). If someone makes a change to a design, the new drawing can be uploaded and shared; if someone accidentally overwrites a file, those actions are trackable. Everything from Engineering Change Orders to Manufacturing Change Orders and Temporary Deviations can be tracked, ensuring that all team members are, and remain, on the same page.
  2. PDM allows for detailed cost analysis. A PDM system can allow users to pull automatic product cost reports, allowing for reviews to be made throughout the process. This can be extremely helpful for product teams working on tight budgets, as it lets developers see where the best opportunities to decrease costs lie. In addition, with reports available throughout the product’s lifecycle, developers can tell early on whether they need to find more cost-effective materials or methods of production.

  3. PDM increases productivity. With the increase in 3D modeling and computer aided design (CAD), it’s important to have a system capable of accessing, revising, and sharing the files and data associated with these formats. And since there’s an increasing variety of types of 3D design data, it’s important to have a system capable of handling all of them.
  4. Plus, revising a 3D design is not nearly as simple as working with a 2D version. When you make changes to a file, it affects the rest of the data associated with that project, creating a kind of ripple effect. A PDM system can help make sure that those changes are beneficial and necessary, rather than something that will end up costing you more money or messing up the design.

    Just like CAD can speed up the process of getting a product to market, PDM can speed up the product’s development by decreasing the chance that changes, revisions, or other important notes will be left undocumented.

  5. PDM encourages collaboration. Traditional methods of data management—paper drawings, schematics, and reports—make it difficult for product developers to work together efficiently, especially if a team is scattered in different locations. That’s why CAD has become enormously popular, in use in industries from auto manufacture to architecture to film. CAD can let you see how your product’s moving parts will function, how shading and color will look, and even illustrate a touchscreen or computer screen, if your product has one.

CAD also allows team members from all over the world to collaborate on a single design through file-sharing, and PDM makes that process not only easy, but transparent, too.

Pivot International helps inventors, product designers, and product developers with all facets of product design and development, including product data management. Whether you need it as a stand-alone service or as part of a larger suite of services, Pivot is ready to help. Contact us today!