For many years all of the major CAD vendors have been touting the importance of managing the mountains of design, engineering, and manufacturing data created using their software. Conversely, most manufacturing organizations, large and small, have made the transition from 2D to 3D and are finally investigating how to best manage these mountains of CAD and associated product development data beyond files, folders, Excel spreadsheets, Window Explorer, and FTP servers.
It is estimated that approximately 70% of commercial CAD seats today still are not connected to any product data management (PDM) system, and the CAD/PDM/PLM companies are very aware of this situation and are doing everything possible to change it. It has come down to an aggressive SMB-marketing of existing “scaled down” or “right-sized” PLM solutions, as well as introducing of new opportunities by leveraging cloud and open source solutions.
The biggest challenge in the SMB space is promoting an answer to the question, “Why change?” At the end of the day, if a company can get things done by using Excel, Office and email, a very compelling alternative solution to change is needed. Small doesn’t necessarily mean simple. Small- and medium-sized business is complicated and competitive. Cost and implementation challenges are still two key elements that every vendor struggles with when trying to provide a viable PDM solution for SMBs.
Various sources claim the following benefits of PDM, including:
- 30 percent to 70 percent shorter development time
- 65 percent to 90 percent fewer engineering changes
- 20 percent to 90 percent faster time to market
- 200 percent to 600 percent higher quality
- 20 percent to 110 percent higher productivity for engineers
While these are impressive figures, many SMBs are still not convinced of the benefits of PDM and remain on the fence as to whether to implement it or not. This indecision presents both a challenge and an opportunity for making believers of SMBs in PDM.
Generic Product Data Management Overview (From Wikipedia)
Organizations implement PDM for many different reasons, but virtually all implement with common goals, including:
- Securely controlling product-related information
- Sharing product knowledge for collaboration
- Searching for and reusing product information.
The two biggest words and phrases that resonate with SMBs regarding PDM are “preconfigured process workflow” and “design reuse.”