A Beginner’s Guide: What is Product Data Management?

Each individual product created by a manufacturing company can connect to a very wide range of data. From computer-aided design (CAD) drawings and models to technical specifications and bills of materials, there’s plenty of documentation involved.

Manually keeping track of all that data, and ensuring it’s accurate and up-to-date, can quickly become a burden. Reconciling drawings and documents or trying to find the correct version of a file is a time-consuming process. 

A manual approach also lends itself to the potential for errors. Referring to an outdated or otherwise incorrect specification could lead to delays, costly mistakes, or upset customers. That’s the last thing any manufacturer wants to deal with.

Ensuring the correct data is used in design, production, sales, and other areas is absolutely critical. However, the volume of documentation associated with just a single product can be substantial. That volume can grow to an incredibly complex size across all of the products a manufacturer makes.

The good news is that a solution for managing product data efficiently and effectively is available. Product data management systems accomplish a few key objectives for manufacturers:

  • Linking all key documentation and data related to a product together into a complete database
  • Integrating that information into an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, workflow, or document management system

You can think of product data management software as a complete repository of all product data and details. It links together information from CAD systems, ERP, and product lifecycle management (PLM) tools.

Product data management systems record, manage, and update information from product engineering and product management. That means a single source of truth is available for each individual product throughout its lifecycle.

Let’s take a closer look at product data management systems. We’ll review how they work in more depth, and then review the advantages of product data management.

Understanding Product Data Management as a Key Business Asset

Products and their designs can change frequently from their initial concept to their finalized design and subsequent production.

Two staff members review a file in a product data management system.

Ensuring the integrity and consistency of that product data is important to just about every manufacturer. From initial development to detailed design and production, business leaders want everyone to use the right information.

Depending on the specific products your company produces, even minor variations in size or exact specifications can cause a major problem. When production staff work off of an incorrect design or model, it can lead to significant wasted time and resources. If any employee uses the wrong data to inform a product-related process, it likely won’t provide a good outcome.

When data is held in silos, it increases the chances of such issues occurring. It’s only possible to ensure product data across several disconnected systems is accurate through labor-intensive manual review. Even then, human errors and confusion can creep into the process.

Product data management (PDM) can connect those systems, breaking down the data silos. That means everyone works from the same updated and accurate set of information. PDM is a proven way to successfully and efficiently put a product data feed management workflow into place.

TechTarget explains the value offered by product data management in more depth:

“PDM software provides version control and security to ensure that the information stored in the central repository is accurate and up to date, which in turn can reduce data processing and make operations, such as manufacturing, more efficient.”

Those benefits can reach across a manufacturer’s operations. Engineers gain clear benefits, of course. So does just about anyone who may need to access the Bill of Materials, product drawings, or other information.

Product data management means less time spent double-checking documents and details, among many other benefits. The result is more trustworthy and consistent design data. In turn, that data empowers your business to create and produce a product that’s exactly right. 

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most important advantages offered by product data management.

The Business Benefits of Product Data Management

The concept and intent of product data management systems are clear. So are the foundational advantages of using this tool. What are the practical business benefits of product data management in action?

  • Increased accuracy and version control. Everyone who interacts with Bills of Materials, product models, and similar data doesn’t have to worry about accuracy. They know the product data management software supplies them with the correct and up-to-date designs and documents.
  • Enhanced cooperation and collaboration. Taking data out of silos and connecting it across your organization makes it easier for staff to work together. Employees from different departments can reference documents confidently in discussions with each other, customers, and more.
  • Cutting down on errors, waste, and similar issues. The single source of truth provided by product data management makes it easier to see what work has already been done in the design phase. It supports similar efficiencies in production by providing the correct details and specifications. That leads to reduced potential for duplicate work as well as products that don’t meet customer’s needs.
  • Easier compliance management. Compliance is a major concern for many manufacturers, especially those in the A&D space. Product data management keeps information up-to-date and accurate, supporting more efficient compliance efforts.
  • Security and storage. Product data management puts an emphasis on permissions and limiting access to sensitive information. It also offers secure storage.

There’s a lot to like when it comes to product data management. Another key benefit is that mature, proven, and effective PDM solutions are available. They’re generally straightforward to integrate with your ERP, CAD, and other related software.

Your Product Data Management and ERP Partner

Cre8tive Technology and Design delivers a collaborative PDM integration process that prioritizes your company’s unique needs. Our team’s deep knowledge and experience put them in a position to deliver a solution that truly supports your business.

Ready to incorporate product data management into your company’s workflows? Learn more about the specifics of our approach to PDM and set up a free consultation today.

Posted in Blog ERP