This is the first in a series of articles we will publish on the subject of Product Data Management and the Autodesk Vault family of products.

A little history…
For a long time I worked in the technical office of a metallurgical company, here in my city. We produced all kinds of parts, mainly sheet metal.

Among the files we had created, there were several tens of thousands between:

  • 3D parts files.
  • 3D assemblies files.
  • 2D drawings.
  • Auxiliary files:
    • pictures,
    • documents,
    • standards,
    • or CAM programs.

Mostly linked with each other.
That involved a great effort on our part to keep everything tidy:

  • the files that were in the process of creation or change,
  • files finished to approve,
  • approved files,
  • Files with information sent by clients for new designs or to generate changes in existing designs.
  • files with images of surveys made in the field to produce improvements in the designs.

It was a huge volume of information, which had to be handled carefully, to avoid mistakes.
Especially errors due to involuntary changes that caused designs that were not correctly updated to be sent to production.

We also had situations in which we found several copies of a file, with the same name, but with different content. In addition, other situations in which two people made changes in the same file almost simultaneously, resulting in files that did not contain all the updated information.
In those moments, the only way to keep all that orderly is by setting procedures for the job. This implied that, on the one hand, everyone had to remember a large number of work methods and, on the other, that each time a new person joined the team, the training process was long and tedious, losing a lot. time from entering this person’s work until he was able to produce designs, which was our main objective.

At that time, practically no mention was made of Data Management or, being more specific, of the PDM or Product Data Management.

When I left that job and started working with an Autodesk reseller, I was able to get in touch with other companies, of different sizes, with different numbers of people involved in the design process, including different specialties, not just the category of product manufacturing as in which I had worked, if not, also, in the areas of architecture, civil engineering and construction.

After a short time of interacting for various reasons (training, technical support or consulting on the applications of Autodesk) I realized that everyone, to a greater or lesser extent, was going through the same problems and for the same reasons.
To name some of them:

  • large amount of files,
  • mostly large in size,
  • general disorder when saving those files,
  • Duplicity of files,
  • issues in controlling changes,
  • lack of controls over the information that was sent to customers or suppliers and to production or to construction.

Seeing all this, is that my curiosity led me to investigate about the methods to organize this work and that was when I started to have contact with the terms PDM – Product Data Management and PLM – Product Lifecycle Management, all this, from the hand of a family of Autodesk products, known as Autodesk Vault.

¿What is PDM and PLM?
If we look for the definition of these terms, we will find, in general with the following (according to Wikipedia: Product Data Management):

Product Data Managementis the use of software applications and other tools to track and control the data related to a particular product. The controlled data often involves technical specifications of the product, specifications for the development and manufacture or construction, and the types of materials that will be required to manufacture or build them.

Product Data Management is often part of Product Lifecycle Management and Configuration Management (another engineering process) and is used primarily by engineers.

Within the PDM, the objective is the management and monitoring of the creation and storage of all information related to a product, whether it is a product to be manufactured or a building to be built. The information that will be saved and managed will include engineering data such as CAD models, drawings and their associated documents.

PDM serves as a central repository for the processes and history of the product and promotes the integration and exchange of data between users of different specialties, which can interact with such information, including Project Managers, Engineers, sales personnel, buyers and quality assurance teams, to name a few.

Author: Claudio Fortunato
Click here to see more information about the author

In the next note we will continue with the topic of Product Data Management and we will talk about Autodesk Vault

To see the following article, you can click on the following link: Product Data Management: ¿Qué es Autodesk Vault?