Integrate PDM and PLM: Wrong Question?

Integrate PDM and PLM: Wrong Question?

Two weeks ago, during SolidWorks World 2011, I had a chance to talk with Jonathan Scott of Razorleaf about different aspects of integration between SolidWorks Enterprise PDM and Enovia V6. Navigate to the following link to see Jonathan’s presentation online. These slides as well our conversation made me think about trajectories of different product data management systems and environments in the context of the overall software lifecycle in manufacturing organization.

PDM as a PLM Foundation

Few years ago, I had a chance to read SolidWorks White Paper about PLM. You can navigate to the following link to retrieve this document. The concept of “PLM: It starts from PDM” was crafted very well in this paper. Thinking more about this concept I can see a very interesting approach of PLM implementation- to start from existing PDM solution. The potential advantages of this approach can be to prevent unnecessarily migrations between systems and shorten implementation cycle. PLM system connected to PDM system can re-use data foundation to manage CAD files lifecycle, Bill of Materials, change management.

CAD Files and BOMs

These are two entities that always raises lots of discussion during PLM implementations. Multiple CAD systems create significant difficulties for PLM implementation and making ROI much longer than expected. Management of multiple Bill of Materials, tracking changes between different BOM views can be an additional complication in front of PLM. What if product data management system, which already in place (from CAD vendors, homegrown or any other) can provide this solution? The starting point of PLM implementation will not be anymore to start managing CAD files.

Collaboration and Process Foundation

A significant portion of a product lifecycle is to support people in their way to run product development, exchange information and making decision. Most of this work today relies on IT infrastructure available in the organization – mail, shared workspaces, instant messenger and more. Business process management software (if any in place) rarely covers product development processes. Companies thinking about product development process improvements have a very long way to go until PLM implementation actually coming to the stage of quality management, cost management, compliance, regulatory and more.  A new approach in PLM implementations can be to start from this stage and leveraging existing PDM infrastructure.

What is my conclusion? Software has a long lifecycle in manufacturing companies. I found the lifecycle of PDM/PLM software systems is very complicated. Actually, it is as complicated as the product lifecycle they are managing. To change existing systems in a company can be a very costly decision. To re-use existing systems can be a complicated from the technical standpoint, but can lead to a faster ROI. It makes sense to me. The cost of integration can be a key in this story. So, a potentially “wrong question” can lead to the right answer. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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  • Hi Oleg,

    I’m actually working on a PLM/PDM integration (Aras/Tc) and one of the first element that can make you confident about such integration is the difference of granularity that you can have in both systems. In my actual case, the good thing is that the PDM will manage all the cad files, part families, etc… whereas the PLM will mainly import Product structure but it’s not intendend to manage any cad file. The integration is almost a one way communication from PDM to PLM in the software and the other way is manage by R&D people who get information from PLM and apply these to their PDM management. We keep some key process in designer’s hand.

    I’ll give you updates about how it works.

    Best,

  • beyondplm

    Yoann, thanks! You are addressing the exact point I had in my mind about how to save time, resources and leverage PDM CAD integration in order to have faster ROI of PLM implementations. The complexity of integration can kill it, obviously. What will be more efficient- replacement of PDM and re-implementation of CAD integrations vs. PDM/PLM integration in your case? Best, Oleg

  • Jonathan_Scott

    @Oleg – Thank you for picking up on this topic and referencing my presentation. I think you are correct about how migrating from PDM to PDM is complex, and the value add can be hard to justify. Therefore, it is tricky when the first step in a PLM project is “get off of your old PDM and onto my integrated PDM.” Why not just integrate the legacy PDM to the new PLM?

    I actually see another perspective on this. For the companies without PDM or PLM today, I’ll pose this challenge, “do you think you’ll be on the same CAD for the life of your company?” Faced with this questions, most companies would concede that they need a multi-CAD strategy. I would also contend that the strongest CAD integrations are provided by the owners of the CAD platforms (CATIA is a perfect example of this). CAD file management is important in most PLM systems, so if CAD data can’t be ignored, the CAD vendor does it best, and multi-CAD environments are the norm, one logical conclusion is multi-PDM with integration to PLM. That’s not to say that a single PLM environment can’t work for some people (the SolidWorks and CATIA customer with legacy AutoCAD can be well-served by ENOVIA SmarTeam, for instance). However, for those starting with PDM only today (SolidWorks Enterprise PDM, Autodesk Vault, PTC Intralink, Siemens Insight, etc.), the strategy of growing into PLM by layering it on top of PDM seems like a reasonable way to scale. This strategy looks even better in the light of CAD system changes, mergers & acquisitions, etc.

    There is another logical extension of this (but I think there is a “gotcha” here, too). If you can connect PDM to PLM, why not just connect PDM to ERP (and skip the PLM middle-man)? Although this might work in special cases, I think this is generally a non-starter. ERP data models (and their transactional nature) make them poorly suited for managing what PLM manages, even if PDM can be integrated. I guess I am just saying not to take the PDM-PLM integration analogy too far because I think there is something magical in that sauce.

    Still thinking on this one… Thanks again for prompting the discussion.

  • Hello Yoann,
    Your comment exactly describes Aras’s “view” of PLM. “…PLM will mainly import product structure but it’s not intended to manage any cad file…”. In my opinion, Aras’s PLM has not gone to that level, it is still a PDM system, at least until it is able to manage CAD files and its data. Only then can it be considered to be a full PLM player with all my respect to its product!
    However, DS, PTC and others are implementing a full PLM system (with different specializations each) which properly manage CAD files. In my case (DS’s V6 PLM), we even interfere within the 3D design and link everything as to eliminate human errors. May it be Requirements, Logical integration, Functionality and Physical properties of what is being created.
    PLM is the evolution of PDM into a deeper level. Efficient collaborative PLM is what we call PLM 2.0 which in my opinion is greatly impacted by this generation’s social media influence.
    Would be great to know TC’s strategy for this!
    Please do not hesitate to reply or comment.
    Yaser

  • MarcL

    Oleg – great post, impossible for me not to ‘chime in’.

    Seems to me like you & Jonathan are outlining a pretty practical option. If you already have PDM / CAD file mgt system (or systems) working well at your company, why rip them all out and start from scratch to automate enterprise-wide PLM processes. It’d be like saying that adding a room to your home requires tearing down the house, foundation & all.

    My sense is that the future will be about leveraging existing systems / data, like legacy PDMs, with more modern technologies to enable global processes, cross-functional collaboration and new ways of doing business. Our “view” at Aras is: Use the latest PLM technology to automate what makes economic sense, gets results quickly and gives you control over your own destiny.

    Just my 2 cents.

    MarcL
    http://www.aras.com

    P.S. BTW, just to set the record straight, Aras manages MCAD & EDA files, data, deep structure, complex configs (inc Logical, Functional, Physical properties)… and is well suited for global multi-site mechatronics environments

  • MarcL

    Yoann – Sounds like a really pragmatic way to get value for the customer. Will be interested to hear how it goes. Best wishes, MarcL

  • Hi Yaser,
    I disagree on the fact that Aras would be just a PDM. I understand that by not handling CAD file management feature in this project we are not managing all the possible PLM process, but we’re more covering enterprise wide process like project management, document management and validation, skill management, change management, Quality, ISO 9001 management. In this exact case Tc will act as a PDM mainly because they were already evaluating it but were limited in the customization. The speed of the first two pilots we made definitely get them interested in going forward with this solution.

    Yoann

  • At first we started to discuss direct integration with Nx but they were already evaluating a Tc instance and were happy with the different feature they had and the complete integration with Nx so we went back to AESSIS another Aras partner to use their PLMXML import tool to Aras. The customer is part of a bigger group with many CAD systems and the idea would be to let companies use their CAD, let each one get a PDM system but use Aras as a common PLM basis.
    Aras partners provide CAD integrations, but today, with too few CAD integration experiences I’m honestly more confortable to let the PDM processes managed by the proprietary CAD system.
    Best,
    Yoann

  • Yes we’ll definitely provide videos and explanation of what we’ve done. Best surprise so far was the project leader (mechanical engineer), without much training on Aras made a presentation in front of the whole group management and called me then saying that it surprisingly went without any bug! (and he was using an instance hosted on the Amazon EC2)
    Project today is mainly project management, with lots of google chart reporting !

    Yoann

  • MarcL

    Sounds like a real world example of the points made that Oleg made in the blog – very nice

  • Hello Yoann,
    Thank you for elaborating on your implementation, definitely sounds promising. I believe I did not make justice to the boundaries of PDM “within” PLM, this wiki definition http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Product_data_management describes exactly what you wrote above (in exception that it also encompasses CAD metadata) which perfectly describes a PDM system.
    One thing for sure, keeping the doors open for multiple platform collaboration is an excellent strategy!
    Yaser

  • Yaser,
    Another aspect of differenciation between PDM and PLM is the scope of deployment in term of user, and that’s why I’m saying that Aras is definitely not a PDM. Based on my experience, you can talk about PDM but can’t talk about PLM as long as the solution is focused on R&D. I’ve been a Process Engineer and stuck between the production using the ERP and the R&D using PDM systems I really felt the need of a much wider solution which I analysed to be a PLM. Including Process dept, quality,sales,…
    So i’m not saying that you can’t reduce Aras to an smaller scope of PLM but in my view it’s really not PDM.

    Best,
    Yoann

  • Orleth

    Hallo Oleg
    I think the people of solid works make a good job. They are comimng from a midrange system archithektur and they have to show a way to the system past 2012. So they need to surwive as long as they don’t have the perfekt enovia integration. Lets think about changing the kernel from Parasolid to DS. Could it make sence to keep the Solidworksdata from today in PDM-Work Enterprise before they could be taken over in a perfekt way?

  • Hello Yoann,
    Ok I see your point. You convinced me that Aras is not a PDM-only system. The debate has changed now to a much granular spectrum of what PLM is, and how implemented.
    Good day,
    Yaser

  • Jonathan_Scott

    I’ll chime in here and agree with Yoann on this point. It can be argued that the scope of PLM covered by Aras is different than other PLM players, but I don’t think it is fair to call Aras a PDM system. From my perspective, PDM is about CAD file management with other features (like workflow and BOM management), but it fails to address cross-departmental business processes (notably those outside of engineering). By this measure, I think Aras is more of a PLM system than a PDM system.

  • beyondplm

    Jonathan, I think you raised a valid point. The decision of combination between all systems CAD, PDM, PLM, ERP and others is not a simple one. As you mentioned, new versions, new platforms, M&A etc. made it very complicated. I think the trend of adding data management capabilities to CAD can be even stronger. I can see it as an outcome of ‘best CAD/PDM integration’ strategy of CAD companies. I’m looking forward to continue this discussion in the future. Best, Oleg

  • beyondplm

    Yaser, thanks for your observations. PLM vendors, in my view, are trying to establish vertical integration and include more systems into the scope. In general, I see it as somethig positive. I can see customers are demanding a better vertical system integration. However, the danger is to see more systems with less openness. integration of such a type of ‘vertical system’ with existing customer systems landscape can be a bit problematic and costly. Just my thoughts… Best, Oleg

  • beyondplm

    Marc, Thanks for sharing Aras’ perspective and your insight! I think the ability to deploy more systems in a granular way becomes more important in the near future. Not to ‘re-develop’ things help to decrease cost of change in organizations. However, complexity of integration is a danger. Best, Oleg

  • Siva

    Dear All,

    First of all thanks so much for sharing your views and knowledge on this subject. It is very helpful.

    Dear Oleg,

    I am almost a newbie supporting a PDM application in my organization for 3 years and always confused with the difference between PDM and PLM. I understood the fact that PDM is subset of PLM and PLM is a solution which facilitates multiple departments work together.

    After reading the white paper by DS solidworks’s you have provided, I was confused by the statement which says

    “because PDM is a subset of PLM. Typically, a PLM solution includes PDM software or PDM functionality, as well as a range of other tools and processes, such as ErP (enterprise resource planning), sCM (supply chain management), CrM (customer relationship man- agement), and ALM (application lifecycle management) systems”.

    From the above it seems like to me that PLM is superset of PDM,ERP,SCM,CRM etc… which to me is like PLM is the term we can use to refer to “all major IT solutions” in a manufacturing industry together.

    In the organization I work, the ERP we use is Oracle 11i and that application and everyone refer this as ” supply chain application” rather than ERP. Even the PDM system is sometimes called PLM application. Is it the misunderstanding of the people to use the terms interchangeably depends on how they view it ?

    Appreciate your insight on this and I love your passion about PLM area.

    Best Regards,
    Siva

  • beyondplm

    Yoann, I’d love to know as much as you go in Aras/Tc integration. Best, Oleg

  • beyondplm

    Siva, Thanks for commenting! I have to say that PDM vs. PLM topic is not clear and normally drives lots of debates. SolidWorks document presents one of the possible opinions, of course. I had a chance to post few articles about differences between PLM and PDM. You are welcome to review them when you have time.
    http://beyondplm.com/2010/08/30/pdm-vs-plm-an-integration-perspective/
    http://beyondplm.com/2010/08/17/pdm-vs-plm-a-process-perspective/
    http://beyondplm.com/2010/07/23/pdm-vs-plm-a-data-perspective/
    Best, Oleg

  • beyondplm

    Yoann, Current way to integrate CAD and PDM impose lots of complexities. Due to that, a CAD vendor has significant advantages by accessing APIs and development resources of CAD/PDM in the same organization. Best, Oleg

  • beyondplm

    Jonathan, why do you see Aras’ functionality different from other PLM mindshare leaders? Best, Oleg

  • beyondplm

    Orleth, During the SWW 2011, SolidWorks folks did talk about the future of Enovia integrations. It seems to me few more years will pass until something that can replace PDMW-E can come. Otherwise, you jump over Enovia V6 today. Just my thoughts… Best, Oleg

  • beyondplm

    It is interesting how endless the story – PDM vs. PLM…

  • Hi Siva,

    I just want to write some small but clear elements as I disagree on “PLM is superset of PDM,ERP,SCM…”. It’s not 100% false for some elements but the way to see it seems wrong to me. And understanding PLM is not complicated, you just have to read it’s main definition. PLM is Product Lifecycle Management just as simple. So everything related to this management will be related to PLM (but not a subset). ERP will of course have information concerning PLM but not only. To me I think in a company you have a bunch of information which could be represented with an enormous 3D UML view. And the best way you could define PLM information would be to tag every property or attributes that has an information related to the product.
    You can’t see it as a tree with PLM at the top but more as a cloud of information with PLM tags on various element.

    here’s an image i already posted here about our vision at Prodeos: http://prodeos.com/images/stories/Articles/ERP_PLM.png

    My sunday vision !

    One more thing regarding a basic difference between ERP and PLM. ERP is transaction based whereas PLM is product definition based. It has a big impact on software development level.

    Best,

  • Jonathan_Scott

    @Oleg – I’m not sure that I do see Aras’ functionality as different from other PLM mindshare leaders. The point of my comment was to note that Aras Innovator is better categorized as PLM than as PDM, and I wanted to avoid the argument of how robust its PLM capabilities were. I expect fans of major PLM systems to argue who is “real” PLM and who is not, and I wanted to avoid that argument in making my point 😉

  • beyondplm

    Jonathan, “fans of major PLM”… it sounds funny. Let’s check on twitter how many real funs are there. I agree with you on Aras’ differentiation. Aras is less using CAD-related stuff in their value proposition. It is obvious, in my view. At the same time, the PDM-PLM interplay is not strong enough, for the moment, and can prevent from a full realization of Aras PLM strategies. Best, oleg

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