Product lifecycle management (PLM) software is used by enterprises to manage all aspects of product development.
Cloud PLM applications can integrate with other systems such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and inventory management systems.
As product development teams become more diverse, they will operate with a broader set of design and production software that will need to interoperate in a consistent workflow.
In today’s business and engineering environment, it seems like everything has either moved into the cloud or contains a cloud component. Working in the cloud has its advantages, mainly the ability to access important projects from any location and nearly any device. Cloud computing and cloud applications have changed the way we work and share information, and now cloud systems have begun to encroach on the domain of PLM systems.
Cloud PLM tools are offering new ways to connect design teams across design domains by linking multiple applications. An enterprise PLM system would normally be used on-premises or within a limited workgroup, and these systems would not normally provide integration with other enterprise systems like inventory management, CAM/manufacturing management, or even CAD systems. Instead of continuing to do everything locally on a desktop, cloud applications are transforming the engineering environment and processes.
Mass Migration to the Cloud
There are many reasons companies are moving their critical operational and managerial systems to the cloud, ranging from broader access, outsourced security, ability to collaborate, and ease of data sharing. For electronics designers and PCB design teams, pushing everything to the cloud simultaneously opens up collaboration opportunities, but also enforces a unique workflow and product management process. Designers working together to build advanced electronics are now innovating and collaborating in two environments: cloud-based CAD tools and cloud PLM systems.
Cloud-based CAD software operates totally in the cloud, on an engineer’s desktop through a cloud portal, or a hybrid of both environments. Storing, accessing, and sharing projects in the cloud logically extends collaborative workflows to their logical conclusion: other systems like word processing have moved into the cloud, so it makes sense to operate with PCB design data in the cloud as well. Cloud PLM systems provide a whole new set of opportunities, where ECAD data are linked to every other system involved in product management and manufacturing.
Why Engineering Teams Use Cloud PLM Systems
PLM systems are used to act as a single reference for all data related to the design, production, operation, and distribution of a new product. PCB design teams don’t use PLM systems directly to design their systems, but the PLM system does provide a way to catalog all product data, ranging from the entire assembly to the individual components in the PCBA. For electronic products, the PLM is used to track multiple pieces of product information:
- Functional requirements for the finished product, which might include everything from electrical/mechanical performance requirements to user experience requirements
- Mechanical and electrical design data for use in MCAD and ECAD applications
- Any other data needed to evaluate the product
- Component libraries for each project as well as a general parts database that includes CAD models and distributor sourcing information
- A complete BOM for every assembly that includes supplier data matching information in the component database
- Any application firmware that would be flashed to the device during production, including past revisions and relevant documentation
- Product datasheets, application notes, sales collateral, and lists of related evaluation products
- All historical information regarding past design revisions, change orders, fab/assembly runs, and documentation revisions
Each of these items can be stored in a version control system and tagged with a lifecycle status that will help guide product managers throughout a product’s lifetime. Starting with inception in CAD tools, products will eventually be moved into mass production and released to market; PLM systems help teams track this progress throughout a product’s relevant lifetime, right down to individual pieces of data.
Integration Thrives With Cloud PLM
PLM systems need to store a ton of data on products, but these aren’t the only systems design teams use to create and manufacture advanced electronics. Today’s cloud PLM systems can do more than just store and tag data, they allow users to customize their product management workflow by integrating with other management systems. Additional integration is provided by ERP systems, inventory management systems, and even CAD tools that can access data from a cloud PLM system’s database.
Older platforms that are purely desktop-based or that do not provide integration with other enterprise systems can’t offer this level of integration or custom workflow for product management. As a result, teams typically build a workflow centered around file exchanges and manual data entry to track a product’s design data, technical documentation, manufacturing files, and any other data needed to take a product to market. Instead of relying on inefficient file exchanges, look for a cloud PLM platform to help expedite product data management.
As a product nears the peak of its lifecycle, new technologies and customer demands will eventually drive the product into decline unless new features and capabilities are engineered into the product. Competitive companies use their cloud PLM system to track these lifecycle challenges and expedite the required updates. These systems help teams stay competitive by reducing time to market and giving all teams visibility into a product’s data.
When you need to manage all aspects of the product lifecycle for electronic products and assemblies, use Allegro Pulse, the industry’s most comprehensive PLM platform from Cadence. The scope of PLM features in this platform help teams move through the entire development process, push products to production, and access the data needed to distribute and maintain products. Keep your products competitive and maximize your product lifecycles with the industry’s best PLM solution.
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