Product lifecycle management software, or PLM software, helps your business develop new products faster, improve quality products, and collaborate with your colleagues. PLM software keeps your business organized so you can manage the entire lifecycle of a product from conception through design and manufacture and finally disposal.
Product lifecycle management software gives businesses a strategic approach to managing the lifecycle of a product through its full value chain. These systems help manufacturers engineer and build products according to design specifications.
For any type of industry, such as apparel or food manufacturing, you’ll need to manage multiple databases with your colleagues. You may have many requests from clients, or you may need to do new versions of your product for clients, which requires checking incoming requirements on a routine basis.
When a customer asks for a new product, PLM software lets you fill the data to capture the customer’s specifications and regulatory compliance. You can manage formulas, packaging, and labeling, and optimize your time spent at each stage of a product. This data can be freely exchanged with other systems such as MES, ERP software, and eCommerce.
PLM systems move a business through the ideas stage, into the initial requirements gathering (the plan), through the design process, to sourcing and product development, into the manufacturing process, and ends at the final finished product.
Many companies have product data scattered in multiple software tools, spreadsheets, emails, and more. This makes it painful to get all staff members on the same page so you can get back to customers on their requirements, product designs, and project status. What product lifecycle management software gives you is a representation of a product production cycle in a digital format.
Businesses are in tremendous pressure to get products to market. A cloud PLM software gets its lifecycle management in order as fast as possible. Customers can deploy quickly with a lower cost of ownership and scale as their business grows.
Product data management (PDM), which can also be referred to as product information management (PIM), is the use of software to manage data as it relates to a particular project. PDM is the process of publishing product data for all involved parties to comprehend and understand. PDM information comes in the form of materials/parts information, instructions for manufacturing, notes, documents, or computer-aided design (CAD).
In easy to understand terms, product data management acts as a centralized hub that stores the information on product history and encourages users to interact with the data and keep the information updated (by uploading data from the integrated products).
Key pieces of information found in the PDM functionality of a product lifecycle management software include:
Product lifecycle management software has a minimum average cost of $80/user/month, billed annually. This is for a cloud PLM license that is billed on a subscription-based pricing model. Some software vendors may offer a month-to-month payment structure (not paid annually) for a slight increase in the monthly amount.
PLM software can also be locally installed, meaning that your company would purchase the software outright and likely incur a large cost upfront for the licensing, implementation, and training. This cost will vary greatly depending on the number of users, the level of implementation, the amount of any included support, and more.
If a PLM software implementation is successful, it should save your company money in the long run via increased efficiency and improved time to market. However, a manufacturer looking to implement a PLM solution for 500 employees at $80/user/month minimum is already looking at costs of $40,000/month, or almost $500,000/year.
It’s important to not be drawn in by advertised low monthly prices, and instead, find the solution that will benefit your business the most in the long-run. Knowing exactly what the PLM software offers will give you the best insight into how many users truly need access, which can lead to savings over time.
Some of the top free product lifecycle management options out there include:
Aras provides an open download and open system architecture that gives a community collaboration and transparent approach to product lifecycle management.
The Aras platform works as hard as you want, meaning it can provide capabilities to you depending on your need. This includes:
Aras has been implemented in numerous industries, including aerospace and defense, automotive, food and beverage, pharmaceutical, transportation, and more.
While Aras is free to implement, support will come at a cost. Aras developers will hope you’ll become hooked on their solution enough that you won’t want to leave, and will eventually start to pay for the services they provide.
OpenPLM is an open source product lifecycle management software that helps unify all development activities of a company. The solution is used by engineers, technicians, and any involved in the development processes in manufacturing, such as constructing the bill of materials.
OpenPLM features a full web interface and includes features such as:
OpenPLM is easy-to-use and just requires you to install various plugins depending on the functionality desired. Integrations are constantly being created to give you more collaborative tools and grow the ability to have other business systems (such as an ERP software) link with it.
The apparel and fashion industry work in the manufacturing of soft goods: textiles and clothing. These companies have all the same concerns as other manufacturers, such as reducing time to market, staying profitable, and working with ever-tightening margins.
The apparel and fashion industry is no stranger to product design issues and will desire a product lifecycle management software that can cater specifically to their needs. Sourcing, demand management, supply chain planning, inventory, and distribution will need to be figured out.
Industry-specific capabilities of PLM software for the apparel industry include:
Some PLM software is built exclusively with the fashion and apparel industry in mind, such as the PLM software developed by New Generation Computing: Andromeda PLM.