CAD Services Matter – The Role of PLM, PDM, and 3D Design

When you’re pushing a design deadline, you know that the tools, processes, and services you use matter.

Many product-driven businesses rely heavily on PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) and PDM (Product Data Management), but they also rely heavily on CAD services partners to help them meet their deadlines.  The question, then, is how to ensure that your CAD services partner adheres to your PLM and PDM goals.

Defining and Defending PLM and PDM

PLM is a set of business processes that bring together people, systems, and information to improve efficiency. This company-wide, cradle-to-grave product strategy is driven by PDM, usually in the form of software and Cloud-based tools that reduce the “information silo” organizational hierarchies and improve collaboration.

Since PLM and PDM can be game-changing technologies that enable growth and cut costs, it is critical that CAD professionals and the service providers they work with me “on the same page” when it comes to design.  Effective use of CAD services and PLM/PDM technologies can cut production costs by as much as 80-90%, according to some sources.

PLM and the CAD Service Provider

Gartner defined PLM as “a philosophy, process, and discipline supported by software for managing products through the stages of their lifecycles.”

This means that PLM is a combination of tools and strategies used during every stage of a product’s life to streamline design, manufacturing, as well as sales and product retirement cycles. PLM incorporates a company’s tools, processes, materials, and people to foster innovation, collaboration, and productivity.

There are as many PLM strategies as there are firms using them.  The important thing to remember when using a CAD service provider is to ensure that they are aware of your company’s PLM strategy so that they can ensure that the designs and 3D models they provide for you are in keeping with your strategy.

Here are some of the PLM strategies that our customers use:

  • Lean manufacturing. Popularized by car maker Toyota, this PLM strategy emphasizes efficiency and waste reduction during every step of the product cycle to produce big returns and value for consumers.
  • Concurrent engineering. A work system that emphasizes integration, concurrent engineering seeks to reduce product-to-market time by performing design, engineering, and manufacturing functions simultaneously.

Whatever strategy you use, make sure that you convey it to your CAD service provider.

PDM and the Software your CAD Provider Employs

Since PLM strategy is supported by software that manages the information generated during the product’s lifecycle, it’s important to ensure that the CAD service provider you use employs a 3D design software that is compatible with PDM.

One such software is SolidWorks (which we use, so we know it works!).

SolidWorks Product Data Management (PDM) solutions help us get our customers’ design data under control and substantially improve the way our teams manage and collaborate on product development with our customers.  We use SolidWorks PDM to:

  • Securely store and index design data for fast retrieval.
  • Eliminate concerns about version control and data loss.
  • Share and collaborate on designs with people inside and outside the organization in multiple locations.
  • Create an electronic workflow to formalize, manage, and optimize development, document approval and engineering change processes.

How CAD Service Organizations and their Customers Benefit from PLM and PDM 

Manufacturing and engineering companies compete globally, so they have to push designs out faster and at a lower cost.  PLM/PDM tools and practices, along with reliable CAD services partners are more valuable than ever.


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