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Product data management (PDM) is the business function often within product lifecycle management(PLM) that is responsible for the management and publication of product data. In software engineering, this is known as version control. The management of version control is the only way to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that there is no confusion during the execution of the processes and that the highest standards of quality controls are maintained.
Product data management is the use of software or other tools to track and control data related to a particular product. The data tracked usually involves the technical specifications of the product, specifications for manufacture and development, and the types of materials that will be required to produce goods. The use of product data management allows a company to track the various costs associated with the creation and launch of a product. Product data management is part of product lifecycle management and configuration management, and is primarily used by engineers.
Within PDM the focus is on managing and tracking the creation, change and archive of all information related to a product. The information being stored and managed (on one or more file servers) will include engineering data such as computer-aided design (CAD) models, drawings and their associated documents.
Product data management (PDM) serves as a central knowledge repository for process and product history, and promotes integration and data exchange among all business users who interact with products — including project managers, engineers, sales people, buyers, and quality assurance teams.
The central database will also manage metadata such as owner of a file and release status of the components. The package will: control check-in and check-out of the product data to multi-user; carry out engineering change management and release control on all versions/issues of components in a product; build and manipulate the product structure bill of materials (BOM) for assemblies; and assist in configurations management of product variants.
This enables automatic reports on product costs, etc. Furthermore, PDM enables companies producing complex products to spread product data into the entire PLM launch-process. This significantly enhances the effectiveness of the launch process.
Product data management is focused on capturing and maintaining information on products and/or services through its development and useful life. Typical information managed in the PDM module include
PDM stems from traditional engineering design activities that created product drawings and schematics on paper and using CAD tools to create parts lists (Bills of Material structures - BOM). The PDM and BOM data is used in enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to plan and coordinate all transactional operations of a company (sales order management, purchasing, cost accounting, logistics, etc.)
PDM is a subset of a larger concept of product lifecycle management (PLM). PLM encompasses the processes needed to launch new products (NPI), manage changes to existing products (ECN/ECO) and retire products at the end of their life (End of Life).