... big question ...
in my experience I think the main difference is this:
- the main purpose of a PDM is to manage CAD files
- the main purpose of a PLM is to manage products
probably no one PDM vendor will admit this ... they will tell you that their PDM can manage product lifecycle and workflows, ERP integration, project management, and so on ... but their product was probably born to manage CAD files, then adapted to do other stuff ... conversely a PLM system is built to manage the complete lifecycle product and only in a further step cares about CAD files ...
just my two cents
Matteo is right on track with his observation IMO.
There has been a huge increase in the push for PDM/PLM systems over the years. Things were easier in the 2D era when one file with no links were all you needed to care about. When files start becoming connected with external references, and solids to drawings and assemblies and other parts, the whole world of CAD changed. I saw the need for Data Management early and adopted PDM Works back in 1997-8 at the company I was at. We had a plan, adopted it, trained it, and all went perfectly. So, do you need PDM or PLM, that to me depends on the size of your organization. If you are small (less than 10 ish), then a PDM is all you probably want to adopt, but still plan it out and get religion when using it. If you are a bit bigger group, plan for PLM. If you compare PDM Workgroup vs. Enterprise PDM this is a good start to show you difference between Data management and Lifecycle management. Now, workgroup can do some Lifecycle management but it is not intended to do as much as EPDM. To go a step further there are much bigger PLM tools out there. Best to know, where you are currently, where you want to be, where you think the growth is, and will you have a budget to support it. If you don't support it, it will probably not be a smooth transition. Do your homework, plan, teach, and maintain and it will be the best decision you make! Every situation is different, but if you are using 3D CAD you should be using something to control your files. Saving on the network just does cut it anymore.
John, although I agree with most of what you said here, I do take issue with your statement, "If you are small (less than 10 ish), then a PDM is all you probably want to adopt...", for reasons that are two-fold: one, the cost to implement PDM over PLM is normally insignificant, and second, the business benefits of PLM outweigh PDM.
Considering the fact PLM handles most of what PDM does, the only reason I could see taking PDM over PLM would be based on functionality (some feature that PDM provides that cannot be seen in PLM) or personal preference. All in the way you look at it, I guess.
On my blog I did create a rather concise analysis of PDM and PLM based on experience and knowledge gathered in the field that might help clear some high-level questions about the overall behavior and comparison of the two. I hope it is insightful:
Rockwell - "the cost to implement PDM over PLM is normally insignificant" You are saying PLM is almost the same price as PDM? That is not at all what I have seen. Of course it depends on exactly what mix of CAD users and other users you have, but in most cases I think PLM will cost more to implement and more to maintain. Unless you really do it yourself and set up the free version of Aras PLM (but then you lose some PDM capabilities).
From the little I have seen it seems like a PLM system (in order to have all the functionality of a PDM system, plus all the PLM stuff) basically needs a PDM system inside it. And you usually pay for those PLM to CAD connectors.
What PLM system do you like?
See also Re: Aras Users
Thanks for your comments, Brian. I will state that I have installed Aras and find it to be a fantastic PLM tool. I was able to speak to Peter Schroer, president of Aras at Inforum 2014 and he mentioned that the amount of free downloads were mostly from China and India. Apparently they have their own way of handling PLM that most don't necessarily accept or believe will work. I am not quite sure of the reasoning, but free is free, until you are hit with the support agreement. Maybe that is how they make it work, install and forget (something I call "the Wild West" approach).
I would hazard a guess many systems out there, and not strictly PLM are somewhat overpriced and try to appease the greatest audience possible. Some try the "barebones" approach, and other the cloud approach. You may want to look into Arena which is a cloud-based PLM solution catering to the start-up and smaller company. I have even heard of CADTalk, a tool that will import the BOM directly into ERP from the source. Whatever floats your boat.
I am partial to Infor only because that was where I received my PLM roots and find it a decent middle ground that still caters to Infor products. It gives a decent functional PLM platform and interface without locking you into a specific company's CAD system. They all try to be universal, but some simply are designed for specific CAD packages.
My two cents.
That is fine to take issue with my statement Brian, I did however use "probably" and that is just my opinion. I've interacted with hundreds of users and companies all struggling to gain control over files, and many of those users and small businesses just are not ready for a full on PLM system, and PDM helps them ease into it. PDM serves a purpose as does PLM, the best advice I can give is for everyone to look at what they need, but also what they would like to have in the future. The number of solutions out there continues to grow, and there is no one concise answer in my opinion. Thanks for sharing the article as it provides some good info on the differences.
Thanks for investigating. I appreciate your comments and it is always good to hear different opinions. You have a point in that the smaller company is looking for a short-term solution to keep the engineer's hands off the file directly, which sometimes is a question of budget over functionality. Either way, it is the old adage, "you get what you pay for."
Two things I have experienced first hand since 2008 that drive who gets what:
Management commitment/intention & Cost/ROI play HUGE factors
A small Military Contractor @ start-up wanted top level document management & configuration - they bought ePDM, and integrated SharePoint.
An International Organization with medical documentation requirements allowed their ENG Dept. to use Windows Explorer Management - they balked at WPDM set-up.
Again, generally speaking, more serious results equals more spent, so if you are part of the admin team "success", you should show measurable gains each month once it's implemented. If they aren't serious, you'll get something low end, and probably "make do".