PDM Part II: How to manage CAD files without Product Data Management software
The manufacturing software industry is the largest software vertical that has yet to take advantage of the spectacular advances in compute infrastructure and technology that have occurred in the last twenty years. All popular mechanical CAD authoring tools are still written for the Windows OS and architecture introduced in 1995. The companion PDM systems remain locked behind the corporate firewall, requiring special skills to deploy and administer.
The best PDM works where you do, online
In everyday life we perform many activities online using the web and mobile devices. We connect with friends online. We store our family photos online. We shop online. We do our banking online. Even our fitness activities and diet information are online. It’s hard to imagine a world without mobile and online applications and data.
Likewise many business activities have moved online. Customer data and sales campaign information has moved online. Employee performance and compensation management have moved online. Even corporate governance and boards of director activities are performed using SaaS solutions.
Yet today’s PDM systems still reside in the corporate data center. PDM systems are complex. They are difficult to deploy, difficult to manage, and expensive. Frankly, they are out of reach for most manufacturing companies. I covered the history of PDM in a recent post.
PDM should be accessible, secure, and flexible
A more contemporary data management solution would be delivered online. It would take full advantage of the facilities of the cloud. What advantages does a cloud architecture provide? Why has every other software vertical taken advantage of the cloud? By design the cloud offers:
- Opportunities to deliver applications that have zero install and deployment time
- Secure, backed up storage of sensitive data
- Access to virtually infinite, elastic compute resources
- Access to data from any device, including mobile, at any time or location
PDM shouldn’t add headaches, it should add speed
A modern PDM system would also do more than manage data. In today’s connected world it should be as easy to share engineering information with supply chain partners or with your friend in the marketing department as with the design engineer sitting at the desk next to you. And not just share information, but collaborate. A modern PDM system would:
- Securely store files for access by any person on any device at any time
- Facilitate sharing of data inside and outside the corporate firewall
- Make data available online or “on prem” for use in other applications
- Allow non-engineers to view, interrogate and comment on models without downloads or CAD seats
- Be available to companies without the resources or IT staff of a Fortune 500 company
Over the coming months we will be releasing GrabCAD Workbench enhancements that will make it even more attractive as an online PDM solution for manufacturing companies. Things like automatic synchronization of Workbench files and desktop files, “check in / check out” of files, and simple task management. Our customers who helped us focus on these features based on how they work are very excited.
What do you think the future holds for PDM? What if PDM was as easy to get started with and use as everyday applications?