PDM vs. PLM – Is this about Process?

I was reading interesting article during the weekend- PLM & The Importance Of Process by Gary S. Vasilash. Gary is the founding editor of Automotive Design & Production (AD&P) Magazine.plm-vs-pdmThere are few very interesting points were made by Gary and I liked it very much. Gary is discussing PLM topic with Twila Osborn, Lean Manufacturing and PLM, Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC; csc.com). Started with a solid statement came out of CIMData about strategic importance of the process for PLM, later Mr. Vasilash made some very important notes about handling of design data and BOM. “Who owns BOM?” Excellent questions.”The BOM is a corporate asset, not an engineering asset.” Sounds like PLM is the best candidate to own Bill of Material. However, a conclusion made immediately after mentioned that PLM companies (like DS and Siemens) invested a lot in Design Process, and it really works today. What sounds to me, BOM story is not as completed as a design story for PLM systems. You can hear a lot of “buts” when you start to discuss BOM story of PLM. “The mindset needs to change; it is not just CAD data.” About most of PLM implementations in organizations “It might be very old, out of date. It might not have an integrated BOM. Some have BOMs based on proprietary technology, built from scratch. They might have a PLM system, but they’re using it as a PDM system.” A lot of “buts.”. What is very remarkable is a short review of top three PLM vendors (DS, PTC and Siemens). Unfortunately, this summary is corp-
What will be very interesting is to find analyzes related to who owns Bill of Material and how to manage a BOM and related process beyond engineering on the corporate level using standard PLM systems.

But, I’d like to get back to the original topic PDM vs. PLM. I asked many times about what is the difference between these two from customers, on conferences and during professional meetings. I think, professional community made a tremendous job in trying to explain it, but these two domains are continuing to confuse users.

I thought about few definitions to make before:

Product Data product design, bill of materials
Product Data Changes ECO-related information including design and Bill of Materials.
Product Lifecycle information and process-definitions related to global product development stages.

I think PDM is definitely about first two. However, getting back to Mr. Vasilash’s “The mindset needs to change; it is not just CAD data”. As soon as we can come to matured Bill of Material implementations (not home grown as it today), PDM will become mature to manage a complete scope of Product Data Changes and not only Design portion.

PLM definition is very fuzzy, in my view. However, this is definitely about how to move from Product Data Changes to Product lifecycle and corresponded to organizational processes. There are many business process management software suites (BPMS). However, all of them won’t be able to provide a relevant answers on product lifecycle. Because “product data” is a key asset that needs to be taken into consideration to manage organizational processes around product.

This is not the first time I’m touching this topic. I’d be interested to hear your voices and comments.



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