Product data management

Product data management

Product data management (PDM) is the business function within product lifecycle management that is responsible for the creation, management and publication of product data.


Product data management (PDM) is focused on information relative to core operations of a product-based company. PDM is one element of a larger evolving field of enterprise master data - customer master, supplier master, employee master, etc.

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.

"Associated documents" is a collector term for: requirements, specifications, manufacturing plans, assembly plans, test plans and test procedures. The package may also include product visualization data.

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
*Part number
*Part description
*Vendor part number and description
*Unit of measure
*Schematic or CAD drawing
*Material data sheets

PDM Advantages:

* Track and manage all changes to product related data
* Accelerate return on investment with easy setup;
* Spend less time organizing and tracking design data;
* Improve productivity through reuse of product design data;
* Enhance collaboration.

Fields of Use

PDM is mainly used by engineers to manage their work and to access data of others in the design team. It is used in most industries [cite web
last = Arbe
first = Katrina
title = PDM: Not Just for the Big Boys Anymore
publisher = ThomasNet
date = 2001-05-07
url =
accessdate = 2008-01-23
] but is used to an advanced level in the design of automotive, aerospace, and medical device systems.

History of PDM

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) .

Software Providers today

A variety of software providers support and enable PDM activities. The major ERP providers, SAP and Oracle provide tools specifically designed for PDM. The major PLM providers supply deep integration with CAD tools that provide PDM capability; in this segment the main providers are, ENOVIA MatrixOne, ENOVIA SmarTeam, PTC Windchill, SolidWorks Enterprise PDM, Product Dossier Software [ TouchBase-PLM] and UGS Teamcenter.

Beyond the large players there are providers of hosted software such as Arena Solutions.


* Storage and retrieval of product information
* Handling of business process flows
** Change management
** Revision control
* Product structure modeling and management
** Bills of material
** Product configurations
** Product variations
** Product versions
* Project tracking
* Resource planning


External links

* cite web
last = Miller
first = Ed
title = What is PDM
work = Mechanical Engineering Magazine
publisher = The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
date = October 1998
url =
accessdate = 2008-01-23

* cite web
last = Wilson
first = David J.
title = How to Integrate Paper with CAD
work = Open Archive white paper
publisher = Open Archive white paper
url =
accessdate = 2008-03-03

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