Engineering firms, large and small, all rely on different management systems to fulfill design, manufacturing, and quality control tasks. ERP, PLM, and PDM are the most often used systems nowadays. In this post, we’ll go through the roles of each system and how they’re employed in an engineering firm.

What is PDM (Product Data Management)?

Engineering Product Data Management (PDM) is a system for managing the data related to a product’s design and development process. It includes tracking, organizing, and managing all of the digital data associated with a product, from its conception to its end of life. The main focus of PDM is to ensure that the data is accurate and up-to-date, and to allow for collaboration between different teams and departments.

What is PLM (Product Lifecycle Management)?

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is a system for managing the entire lifecycle of a product, from its conception to its end of life. PLM is a comprehensive system that involves product development, production, marketing, sales, and service. PLM focuses on the entire process of bringing a product to market, including design, engineering, manufacturing, and customer service. It also helps to identify and manage the risks associated with the product lifecycle.

What is ERP(Enterprise Resource Planning) system?

Engineering ERP is an enterprise resource planning system that helps engineering and manufacturing companies manage their entire enterprise, including design, production, planning, inventory, customer service, and financials. It’s designed to provide real-time visibility into every aspect of the enterprise, allowing managers and executives to make informed decisions that will improve efficiency and profitability.


What is the difference between PDM and PLM?

PDM and PLM are two different processes used to manage product data and streamline product development. The main difference between them is that PDM focuses on the engineering process while PLM focuses on the entire product lifecycle. PDM is used to manage product designs and engineering data such as CAD models, drawings, and simulations. Conversely, PLM is used to manage the entire product lifecycle from design to production, and even post-production activities such as customer service and product disposal. PLM software also allows for collaboration between different departments and stakeholders to drive product innovation.

Compare PDM, PLM, and ERP
Compare PDM, PLM, and ERP

R&D Document (Product Definition, Research, Meeting Minutes, Etc.): Document all conversations with customers, research related to product definition, and all design review meeting from concept to finish design.

Design Document (Released Drawing Control): Centralized storage of engineering documents and drawings, version control, and automated comparison of revisions.

Bill of Materials (BOM) Management: Management of the hierarchical relationships between components, assemblies, and subsystems.

Design Review and ECN Automation: Automated routing of engineering documents, drawings, and change notices for review and approval.

ECN Impact Analysis: Automated tracking of changes to documents and other components, and their impacts on the system as a whole. Analyze cost change, project schedule, and rework requirements automatically.

Quality Management and Control: Define quality requirements and apply quality specifications to product design, manufacturing, and testing.

Supplier Design Document Management: Automated tracking of supplier activity, and the associated documents and drawings.

Product Lifecycle Management: Tracks and manages the entire product lifecycle from concept to design, manufacturing, and FAT. Include future maintenance requirements like testing, inspection, and spare parts.

Supply Chain Management: Manage vendors and suppliers, as well as shipments and deliveries.

Inventory Management:  Track inventory levels and order new stock when necessary to ensure that the right products are available when needed and keep the manufacturing running smoothly and efficiently.

Work Order Processing: Create work order sequences automatically. Track and manage work order completion. Schedule and manage projects, tasks, and resources.

Quality Assurance Document Control: Ensures that products meet quality standards, inspection, and FAT throughout the process. Document all related test reports, quality issues, and resolutions.

Cost Tracking: Track Engineering hours spent on specific tasks and projects. Manage costs and financials associated with engineering projects.

Why do most companies choose PDM/PLM + ERP as their engineering system?

PDM/PLM typically integrates CAD modeling and drafting tools to greatly boost engineering design efficiency. ERP is primarily concerned with quality and manufacturing management responsibilities. Combining these two platforms provides engineering businesses with a full solution. ERP+PLM allows businesses to plan and manage their resources, operations, and products in a unified and efficient manner. It also assists companies in tracking their product development, manufacturing, and supply chain activities, as well as facilitating cross-departmental cooperation. It can also be used to manage client relationships, optimize marketing campaigns, and come up with fresh product ideas.

Popular ERP system:


SAP offers a complete set of integrated business applications. It is intended to integrate with other systems and provide access to real-time data from numerous sources. SAP has a robust customer service system and a wide range of customization choices.

However, SAP is frequently costly to establish and maintain. Its implementation can be time-consuming and difficult. It may necessitate substantial investment in hardware, software, and training.


Oracle offers extensive software solutions for enterprises of all sizes. It’s highly customizable, allowing clients to customise the software to their own requirements. Oracle databases are well-known for their dependability and speed.

Oracle, like SAP, may be expensive, with many capabilities requiring a supplementary license. Furthermore, it is a complicated system that requires frequent maintenance and backups for optimal operation and has a steep learning curve for novice users.

Popular PDM/PLM system:

SolidWorks EPDM

SolidWorks EPDM is a secure, cloud-based data management solution that allows users to organize, store, track, and retrieve all of their CAD files. Many of the time-consuming procedures connected with preserving and archiving CAD documents, such as version control, file management, and secure collaboration, are automated by the software. SolidWorks EPDM also includes several capabilities, such as interaction with other CAD applications, a robust search engine, advanced security and user access control, and a variety of customization tools.

EPDM functions as a PDM system, focusing on the management of Solidworks 3D models and drawings. Solidworks EPDM can only be efficient with the support of a sophisticated ERP system due to its restricted functions on BOM control and document management.


PLM system is Teamcenter. It offers a user-friendly, comprehensive, and integrated solution for product lifecycle management. It has many capabilities, such as product data management, engineering change management, product visualization, engineering collaboration, and project management. A platform for cooperation amongst many stakeholders in the product development process is also available. It delivers an efficient, secure, and dependable environment for product data management and engineering change management thanks to its robust engineering function. It is very scalable and can be utilized in both large and small businesses. It provides numerous integration options with other enterprise systems, such as ERP, PDM, and CAD.

To meet the demands of the organization, Teamcenter may require extensive customization. The system is sophisticated, and learning all of its features and functions may take some time. Furthermore, the cost of running this system may deter many small businesses.

What is the best option for a small and medium size engineering firm?

ERP is sufficient for a small engineering firm. Because there is no cross-departmental coordination, PDM/PLM is unimportant. A combination of Solidworks EPDM with ERP may be the finest option for a medium engineering firm. There are some excellent free ERP options for small and medium-sized businesses that can dramatically reduce operating costs. In a separate article, we will go over these free ERP systems.

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