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Jeff Rowe
Jeff Rowe
Jeffrey Rowe has almost 40 years of experience in all aspects of industrial design, mechanical engineering, and manufacturing. On the publishing side, he has written well over 1,000 articles for CAD, CAM, CAE, and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the design … More »

Coming Soon — CAD/PDM Evaluation Series

February 26th, 2014 by Jeff Rowe

As most of us know who deal with the digital design world, for many years, all of the major CAD vendors have been stressing the vital importance of managing the design and manufacturing data created using their software. Surprisingly though, even after all of the talk of imminent disaster, still relatively few design and manufacturing companies, especially SMBs, have a formal PDM system of any type in place beyond Windows Explorer and Excel.

Some of the reasons we hear for PDM not being deployed include the perceptions (and experiences) that PDM is time consuming and expensive to implement. Also, some companies are perfectly happy with a sort of homegrown approach – Windows Explorer and Excel spreadsheets. In many cases these provide legitimate reasons for not implementing a formal PDM system, but times and circumstances are changing, and reasons for not implementing PDM are becoming weaker and weaker.

While most SMBs have made the transition from 2D to 3D, we have found that many of these same companies are finally exploring how to manage the mountains of CAD and associated product development and project data with a dedicated PDM system. These companies are seeking real solutions that are more capable and scalable than handling just files and folders with Excel spreadsheets and Windows Explorer. For example, PDM systems that connect the design department to the shop floor; will connect to other systems, such as MRP; and are scalable, so the system can grow as the company grows.

Because of the interest shown by our readers in PDM, we are in the process of exploring and evaluating several options for product and project management.

Keep in mind, these evaluations will be PDM systems only. Although the line between PDM and PLM systems is blurring, we’ll focus and restrict these evaluations to PDM only.

Check out the following video that clearly delineates the differences between PDM and PLM.


We’re currently in the process of putting together an evaluation series for MCADCafe that will compare and contrast the following PDM solutions for SMBs:

  • Autodesk Vault Professional (with Inventor 2014)
  • Siemens Teamcenter Rapid Start (with Solid Edge ST6)
  • PTC Windchill PDM Essentials (with Creo Parametric)
  • SolidWorks Enterprise PDM (with SolidWorks 2014)

Later this year we will publish a second round of evaluations covering online Web-based PDM/PLM systems, such as Aras Innovator, Autodesk’s PLM 360, DEXMA, and Kenesto.

The evaluation process has proven to be quite challenging, to say the least, and we will be publishing the results of the evaluations as a series over the course of a few weeks in Q2 2014, both individually, as well as a summary/wrap-up in the June/July 2014 time frame.

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