Product Data Management (PDM)

Product data management (PDM) is the use of software to manage product data and process-related information in a single, central system. This information includes computer-aided design (CAD) data, models, parts information, manufacturing instructions, requirements, notes, and documents. The ideal PDM system is accessible by multiple applications and multiple teams across an organization and supports business-specific needs. Choosing the right PDM software can provide a company in any industry with a solid foundation that can be easily expanded into a full PLM platform. At its core, a PDM system provides solutions for secure data management, process enablement, and configuration management.[1]

PDM stems from traditional engineering design activities that created product drawings and schematics on paper and use CAD tools to create parts lists (Bills of Material structures – BOM). The PDM and BOM data is used in enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to plan and coordinate all transactional operations of a company (sales order management, purchasing, cost accounting, logistics, etc.) In 2001, the Open Icecat PDM, the open product content initiative, was launched. First, in the tech sector, but later in other sectors as well. Its globally used, multilingual data model stimulated software vendors to develop add-ons. PDM is a subset of a larger concept of product lifecycle management (PLM). PLM encompasses the processes needed to launch new products (NPI), manage changes to existing products (ECN/ECO), and retire products at the end of their life (EoL).[2]

Key PDM Capabilities[3]
Product data management software can help you create better designs, reduce errors, and build a more efficient development cycle with features including:

  • CAD file management: Take control of your valuable design files with PDM. Direct CAD integration keeps your data in sync in real-time.
  • Revision control: Automatically capture the revision history on documents as you work. Never lose track of changes.
  • Business system integration: Integrate design data with systems like MRPs and ERPs.
  • Access control: Strengthen data security by controlling access with permissions for version control and retrieval.
  • Engineering change orders: Easily manage engineering change orders (ECOs) with workflows that help automate the process.
  • External collaboration: Share 2D or 3D views of your work with others and get comments and feedback directly inside your product.

Applications of PDM[4]
PDM software is used to:

  • Keep track of the iterations of artifacts and the complex interrelationships between them, allowing individuals to save their progress, as well as revert changes.
  • Release engineering documentation to downstream participants, including manufacturing, procurement, and other departments, with the textual and graphic specifications for products.
  • Securely coordinate and synchronize artifact progress and changes between individuals and teams, including those that are distributed globally around the world, as well as those external to the company, including suppliers, customers, and partners.

Keep in mind that the scope of PDM software can range widely. This scope can include: managing MCAD artifacts (a.k.a. CAD Data Management); tracking engineering documentation like specifications (a.k.a. Engineering Data Management), and controlling all artifacts related to products across the enterprise (a.k.a. Enterprise Data Management).

See Also


  1. What is Product Data Management (PDM)? Siemens
  2. History of Product Data Management (PDM) Wikipedia
  3. Key PDM Capabilities Autodesk
  4. Applications of PDM Lifecycle Insights