CAD lifecycle management is not Product Lifecycle Management

Posted on November 6, 2012

I continue to write about the place of engineering in the scope of PLM. Once again I have never said it had to be out of the PLM scope. I just explained that as a project strategy, If the interfaces between departments were well defined, it could be good to start out of engineering for quick improvements in other departements getting more easily other employees involved in this management enhancement process which is PLM. In this article I’m more talking about a split that needs to be done. We need to consider CAD lifecycle management as a specific inner topic of PLM. I just went through some videos from the competition about PLM. What do we usually see? CAD models. It is really sexy but I do PLM everyday and the core issues that I see are much more about simple-data management than about CAD. It doesn’t mean CAD management is out of the PLM scope. It means that the CAD lifecycle management is a unique competency, like 3D modeler and it doesn’t have to impact the whole PLM software.

Split PLM software and jobs’ specific applications

This is a normal statement but still a lot consultants or vendor are not accepting it for CAD. Or maybe I just feel like it because I’m not a mechanical engineer. I’m an electronic engineer so when I come to PLM conferences sometimes I can just listen about CAD related issues and I’m not getting inside the discussion because I’m far from being an expert on this topic. And to me these discussions are specific to the process of managing the CAD data over time. And it’s not general PLM. There should be clear role descriptions like “CAD lifecycle management consultant” which would clearly define that this person knows about how a cad model will be able to handle changes, variants, … Why should you know how to manage a change in a CAD model. you can’t be the orchestra director and play all the instruments. You need to have enough knowledge to make these instruments fit together. Today there are too many issues about permissions, data-sharing, supply chain PLM distribution, contextual information access,etc. Someone needs to be focus on that while others are on CAD. One technology might not fit all.

PLM completing PDM

Historically, PLM comes from PDM and PDM comes from CAD. Most of our projects at Minerva are completing existing PDM systems. They are called PLM but most of the time we are requested to complete these installations because the effort to extend these PLM to the whole company is too important. As I just said, a reason for that is that you don’t always need the same technology to manage CAD file lifecycle and general product lifecycle related information.


I just did a search about CAD lifecycle management and I didn’t get much corresponding results. There is then a good opportunity for some companies who want to specialize in that field, providing APIs to non-CAD PLM providers. But as a conclusion I would like to see clear statement in PLM conferences about the topic covered whether it’s about  CAD lifecycle management or PLM.

Do you think we’re still mixing CAD data lifecycle management and Enterprise PLM?

Yoann Maingon

Yoann Maingon is an Entrepreneur and a PLM enthousiast. He is our main blogger at Minerva as he has been publishing articles about General PLM concepts and Aras Innovator for more than three years.

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