When it comes to PLM vs. PDM, many people are confused. Some assume the acronyms are simply different names for the same thing—but they serve very different functions. Here’s how to understand the differences and decide which one to choose when it comes to PLM vs. PDM.

Understanding Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)

What is PLM?

PLM stands for product lifecycle management. It is an enterprise-level solution, like ERP or CRM, but unlike other enterprise solutions, it doesn’t focus on business processes. Instead, it focuses on a company’s products and manages the information about each product from the initial idea, through design, production, and service, and even to replacement or sunsetting of the product or version.

PLM—product lifecycle management—is an enterprise-wide solution.

Since it covers such a broad swath of the company’s operations, PLM has an extensive data model, which encompasses all or most of the product-related information included in ERP, CRM, SCM, EQM, field service, MES, OM, and other enterprise applications. The breadth of data PLM manages makes it ideal as the backbone of a company’s digital thread because it minimizes the number of applications that must be accessed to provide the complete thread.

PLM is the repository for all the required data in the digital thread.

How is PLM used?

PLM is most often used in manufacturing or other product-centric industries, and nearly every department in these organizations can benefit from using a PLM solution.

  • QA processes CAPA, complaints, and change management
  • Procurement manages supplier and cost information
  • Manufacturing uses it for BOMs, routings, serialization, and change orders
  • Field service can access as-built/as-maintained info by serial number
  • Engineering uses it to manage BOMs, product development processes, time to market and cost objectives, as well as new product introductions and product retirements and replacements

Accounting, order management, customer service, and industrial engineering will also find PLM to be an ideal repository for the information they need for efficient performance. Since every department uses PLM, it becomes the ideal foundation for the company’s digital transformation and the most complete repository of product information and history.

PLM becomes the backbone of a company’s digital transformation.

Understanding Product Data Management (PDM)

What is PDM?

PDM stands for product data management, and its primary function is to manage product data by ensuring consistency across various enterprise applications, which often have different requirements (such as field size or field type) for the same data item. A PDM solution acts as a translation tool, ensuring that systems remain consistent with each other despite their varying data requirements.

PDM—product data management—is an engineering tool.

How is PDM used?

PDM is most often used as an engineering tool because engineering is usually responsible for ensuring product data integrity across the various systems in use at the company. As such, engineers, and sometimes the IT team, are the most frequent users of PDM solutions.

The Differences: PLM vs. PDM

While there are several very good standalone PDM solutions, most PLM solutions include PDM as part of the system’s functionality, so you probably don’t need to buy both systems.

If you already have a PDM solution in house, it will probably work with leading PLM solutions, such as PTC Windchill, although using Windchill’s integrated PDM capabilities will be simpler and probably more cost effective.

Industry-leading PLM solutions such as PTC Windchill include integrated PDM capabilities.

PLM is the more robust of the two solutions, and it can improve operations across multiple departments. For example:

  • Reduces time to market by streamlining design and development processes
  • Improves the reusability of designs and components by increasing visibility across the organization
  • Reduces scrap and rework by ensuring that manufacturing documentation such as BOMs, routings, and operational instructions are always up to date
  • Reduces inventory by eliminating the need to invest in and store multiple products and components that could easily be substitutes for each other

PLM vs. PDM: Which should you choose?

If you don’t have either solution in place, you should consider a PLM solution such as PTC Windchill because it gives you the advantages of both PLM and PDM. If you know you will need a PLM solution at some point in the future, you should forgo investigating standalone PDM solutions and go right to PLM to avoid the hassles of multiple implementations, multiple maintenance bills, and continual integration projects. Just be certain that the PLM solutions you investigate also include PDM capabilities.

To find out more about PLM vs. PDM, or Windchill in particular, contact us today. We’ll be happy to set up a demo of Windchill’s capabilities or provide additional insight on the advantages of PLM with integrated PDM over a standalone PDM system.