What does Product Data Management aim for?
The general goal of PDM is to always get the correct product information to the right person or department. This concerns technical product data for article design, production, and assembly. More specifically, in a PDM system, you will find design specifications, materials, test results, etc. Producers of composite articles make extensive use of Product Data Management. For example, the department that provides cars with seats and inner lining needs a lot of technical specifications from the department that produces the bodywork. Even when parts of the production are outsourced, PDM is often used. In this case, the information is provided or obtained from an external company.
Product Data Management is strongly linked to Product Information Management (PIM). However, PDM differs from PIM because it focuses more on internal business processes. The main goal is to optimize product data’s (internal) production. PIM then looks beyond the company walls and focuses on the customer experience. Business processes are also optimized with a PIM to improve the final customer experience.
Product Data Management is offered in various ways. There are both separate packages and modules within an ERP system. The advantage of an ERP module is the far-reaching integration with the rest of the business processes. The disadvantage may be that these modules are slightly less specialized or that integration with software outside the ERP is more complicated. In that case, a separate package with an ERP link is often worth considering.
From PDM to Product Lifecycle Management
PDM software is often combined with CAD programs for technical drawing. In this case, the necessary data is stored in the PDM, and from there, the CAD system is opened when drawings have to be made or modified. The advantage of this is that the CAD does not have to be linked separately to the ERP system again. If the PDM is linked, so is the CAD indirectly.
The combination of PDM and CAD is often called Product Lifecycle Management (PLM). A CAD program takes care of the first step in the life cycle of a product, namely the design. However, a complete PLM system goes even further. It manages the entire lifecycle of a product: from idea to design, production, arrival, and possibly even use and maintenance at the customer.
Purpose of PMD Software
The amount of article data has increased explosively compared to approximately twenty years ago. There are several reasons for this:
- Product assortments are getting bigger. A supermarket quickly has thousands of products, and a webshop soon has an assortment of some hundred thousand products.
- The life cycle of products is much shorter than before. Most manufacturers do not supply the same product for more than a year (for example, bicycles) or even a few months (computer hardware). Then there will be a new, upgraded product available.
- The amount of data registered per article is increasing. One hundred fields per product (or more) is quite normal. Also, the type of fields and data stored is increasing in complexity, differing per product type.
- The standardization requirements are increasing because products must also be compared on the specifications in product comparisons (websites) per product category.
- As margins are under severe pressure in many indirect sales channels, the need for cost efficiency and standardization of catalog exchange formats is also increasing.
PDM software is indispensable for managing the above developments properly.
PDM & Supply Chain Management
Supply Chain Management (SCM) is a principle where better functionality of the participating company in the chain is created by improving processes and cooperation with suppliers and customers. In the catering industry and the supplying companies, for example, this can ensure that less waste is created through more accurate purchasing.
Supply Chain Management is supported by software. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems like SAP facilitate communication and order processing. They help prevent or minimize the pendulum effect in the supply chain. This effect occurs when suppliers demand excessive quantities from their suppliers, resulting in overproduction. In the catering industry, this can lead to increased costs, which suppliers pass on in subsequent deliveries, causing prices to rise. In the food trade, cash register transactions are translated to suppliers promptly. This allows suppliers to replenish stock based on real-time store consumption data quickly.