The managing of product data used to be a bit of a headache, considering information was retained by the design office, and other data and specification fell in the hands of the purchasing department, or even sales and marketing. If you wanted to get the whole picture on a product, you needed to tour the company to do it, and if you wanted relevant data such as production costs, you had to work it out the hard way.

Product Data Management Software Changed Operations

The arrival of Computer Aided Design (CAD) software in offices promised increased productivity and accuracy, but came with its own issues too, mainly in document control. While drafting and design was a wholly mechanical process, documents were fairly easy to control. If you went to fetch a file from the drawing repository and it wasn’t there, the chances were that it was being worked on by someone else. Because the drawing itself was a physical entity, spurious copies couldn’t be made of them. But the advent of CAD and electronic drawings opened up the possibility of multiple copies being in existence, and possibly being worked on by different people doing different updates.

Along with all its positive attributes, CAD had also brought along the possibility of confusion and delay. The major CAD programmers understood this problem and listened to their customers. Companies wanted efficient document control along with their modeling capabilities and Product Data Management (PDM) became a part of the whole program.

Solidworks – the CAD program designed by Dassault Systems, was one of the first PDM systems to come into existence. The Solidworks program is a Parasolid-based solid modeler and high-end CAD that utilizes a parametric feature-based approach to create models and assemblies. It had a fast 3D modelling package and was quickly adopted by many companies that were keen to use its simple but effective interface. It also featured a file handling and control add-on called ENOVIA, and it was this that required a document to be checked out of a central vault before it could be altered, and checked back in before anyone else could access it. Document control was absolute and the system was hailed as the complete solution to design and drafting control. PDM systems are now the obvious choice when considering Engineering Change control, as they handle the metadata associated with this type of change – such as file owner, and current status – with ease.

PDM is often characterized as the use of specific software to track and control data related to a product. The data being recorded usually relates to technical specifications, manufacturing processes, specific materials, and development records. PDM data allows a company to track many different aspects of the design — including the costs associated with its manufacture. This is invaluable information to have in real time, and can help a company retain a cost edge over competitors. PDM has a number of positive aspects that make it a system that benefits knowledge management and regular product reporting.

Benefits of PDM Systems

PDM systems allow engineers, buyers, QA, and marketing people to:

  • Find and correlate data quickly
  • Reduce cycle time and improve productivity
  • Comply with regulatory requirements
  • Globally collaborate on projects

PDM is fast becoming a business must-have. With its mix of document control and product planning capabilities, PDM is a system that simplifies data handling. Many systems come as standard with a CAD package and is easy to integrate into a company’s production system and procedures. It also works well regardless of company size so there is little reason not to embrace it. The drawing boards of yesteryear have all but gone and the outdated control systems that accompanied them are following suit.

Pivot International is a product design, development, and manufacturing firm with extensive experience in the medtech industry. If you are interested in engineering a new product or updating an existing product, contact us at 1-877-206-5001 or request your free consultation today.