In today’s fast-paced manufacturing landscape, the new norm is to constantly seek ways to optimize your operations, increase productivity, and reduce costs. The integration of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) systems is a proven strategy for achieving these goals. By aligning these two critical systems, you can unlock a world of opportunities to streamline processes, enhance collaboration, and drive success throughout the entire product lifecycle.
In this blog, you will uncover the benefits of integrating ERP and PLM systems. We’ll also provide you with a detailed breakdown of the ABCs of integration – which data should be integrated, where and how that data should be integrated, and when it’s best to start the integration process.
ERP vs PLM
Before diving into the integration process, it’s important to understand the functions and purposes of ERP and PLM systems.
Enterprise Resource Planning
ERP systems are designed to manage physical assets, encompassing activities such as financials, purchasing, HR, demand and order management, forecasting, production planning, inventory management, and logistics. These systems such as SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft Dynamics ensure that products are produced according to demand, within schedule, and controlling costs.
As many have come to understand, the key to achieving success within your production process lies in adequately planning for the use of enterprise resources to meet customer demand and report financial results.
That’s why an ERP suite is designed with this goal in mind. It empowers your business with the tools and capabilities to effectively manage traditionally back-office resources, ensuring that operations align seamlessly with customer demand.
By harnessing the power of an ERP suite, you can optimize your planning processes, enhance operational efficiency, and deliver superior financial results to your constituents.
Product Lifecycle Management
On the other hand, PLM systems such as Arena, Agile, Teamcenter, Windchill and Autodesk are focused on managing the digital product definition. They are purpose-built to manage the digital product definition, encompassing anything that defines the form, fit, and function of a part, system, or vehicle.
PLM systems deliver comprehensive and robust data management capabilities, standardize and automate your product development business processes, and enable flexible and efficient collaboration with global teams across multiple departments and organizations.
As you can see, both of these systems have important functions for a smooth running production process, but they can often be disparate within a company. Understanding how to integrate these systems is the key to advancing the way you do business.
Integrating PLM and ERP
When it comes to integrating your ERP and PLM systems, understanding how to do that can feel overwhelming. There are three different levels of integration: one-way file push, API call, and a third-party integration platform. Understanding which level fits the needs of your company is vital for a successful integration. Let’s explore some key advantages:
Integration allows you to experience seamless data flow and improved collaboration between departments, eliminating redundant data entry and ensuring data accuracy. This streamlined workflow minimizes errors and delays, optimizing your productivity and reducing cycle times throughout the product lifecycle. You no longer have to manually enter BoM data into an ERP system and ensure that the data is correct in both systems.
Enhanced Data Visibility
By integrating ERP and PLM systems, you gain a holistic view of your product information. This integrated approach eliminates data silos and provides real-time visibility into critical data points, enabling you to make informed decisions and eliminating guesswork from your operations.
Improved Product Quality
This process empowers capture and link quality-related data at every stage of your product lifecycle. This comprehensive view of product quality enables you to detect issues early on and streamline processes for corrective actions, ultimately leading to improved product quality and increased customer satisfaction.
Integrating ERP and PLM systems eliminates the need for you to duplicate data entry and automates data exchange between systems. This saves you time, reduces errors, and minimizes your operational costs. Additionally, with better inventory management and production planning capabilities, you can optimize your resource allocation, minimizing wastage, and improving your cost efficiency.
Accelerated Time to Market
When you connect your engineering, manufacturing, and supply chain processes, your teams can seamlessly collaborate in real-time, enabling efficient communication and shortening your product development cycles. This collaborative approach gives your business a distinct competitive edge in the market, helping you achieve success.
Levels of Integration
When it comes to integrating your ERP and PLM systems, understanding how to do that can feel overwhelming. In the case you don’t know what level of integration would be best for your company’s needs, let’s explore the different levels below:
One-Way File Push
The first level is a simple one-way push. This means that your PLM system has the ability to create a data distribution packet (ex. BoM in a CVS, part file or PDF file format) that is released to the ERP system and then the info is stored in both systems.
This type of push can be set up to be done either direction to maximize data sharing and a smooth process. This level of integration will log everything, but not provide error or checking feedback. This is a great level for companies looking to minimize issues of mismatched data.
The second level of integration is connecting your PLM system directly with other systems – Microstoft dynamics or other systems. This means that there is a rest service API call from the PLM system to release data directly into another system.
That being said, you will get error checking and logging from this level of integration, unlike the first level. A company might opt to do this level due to a need for logging and checking or because their ERP system doesn’t support importing data through files like the initial level would require.
Third Party Integration Platform
The third integration level piggy backs off of level two. Not only does it have logging and checking, but it performs a push and pull between the systems seamlessly. This level of integration works well for large companies with multiple systems to push and pull from. There are are third party integration tools like Tibco that integrate systems such as SAP and Oracle.
Ultimately, understanding the basics of ERP and PLM integration levels and the influencing factors such as cost, error checking, number of systems, company size and many more, is vital to understanding which level fits the needs of your company.
So, what are the next steps to finding that right integration and beginning your journey?
Next Steps of Integration
Integrating your ERP and PLM systems is a game-changer for your manufacturing business. By streamlining workflows, enhancing data visibility, improving product quality, optimizing costs, and accelerating time to market, this integration unlocks a world of opportunities for success.
While you may be hesitant to begin an integration like this because of data clean up still needed, EAC is here to provide services to clean up data to make sure the integration runs smoothly.
Finding a trustworthy partner to help with implementation can be difficult and daunting. Lucky for you, EAC has years of deep expertise in manufacturing processes to ensure a smooth integration journey. We work collaboratively with you to assess your requirements, design a tailored integration strategy, and seamlessly implement the solution that meets your specific business goals.
With EAC by your side, you can confidently embark on this transformative journey, knowing that our collaborative and solution-oriented approach will help you navigate the complexities and achieve your future state. Get in touch with EAC today and let us drive your success through integrated ERP and PLM systems.
I’m sure at least once in your life you’ve heard the saying, ‘Work smarter, not harder.’ But what a cliche, right?! Well, for those of you managing your Bill of Materials (BOMs) in Excel, it’s time to step away from the cell block prison (pun intended).
In this article, we’re going to break down what it actually means to revitalize your BOM strategy with the Digital Thread to start seeing the results you want.
What Is The Digital Thread?
First of all, let’s start with the basics. The Digital Thread is a term used to describe the seamless flow of information throughout the manufacturing process. From design and engineering to production and after-sales support. It provides a way to connect all the data and information generated at different stages and from systems of the product lifecycle.
Generally, the Digital Thread provides value by enabling better visibility and control of any processes that require or produce product data. It enables manufacturers to collaborate more effectively, automate and optimize workflows, and quickly respond to changes. All while adjusting quickly to customer needs.
Bill of Materials (BOM)
Next, let’s break down the concept of a Bill of Materials. A complete Bill of Materials (BoM) list usually contains all of the parts and components needed to create or manufacture an end product. You might think of a BoM as a recipe ingredient list. The information about each part can include details such as part names, part numbers, quantity required, and cost per unit. Not to mention, BoMs contain other relevant part details such as material type, color, or size if applicable; supplier information; serial numbers, etc.
By consolidating and organizing all the pertinent information product information, the BoM becomes a centralized resource. A critical resource that facilitates the manufacturing processes of specified products.
Ultimately, the goal of the BoM is to help track inventory and verify missing parts during assembly. Equally as important, BoMs are critical to support a healthy supply chain, as well as help with purchasing decisions and more.
The Digital Thread and Bill of Materials Working Together
Balancing a plethora of product information – it’s no surprise, the best BoM management strategy used within the industry does not leverage solely Microsoft Excel. Nor does it rely upon one Enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. Instead it works to unite data from multiple systems into a single source of truth.
Sounds great doesn’t it? But, if you’re like most – your product data lives all over the place in different systems from different departments. This situation tends to create data siloes resulting in time-consuming manual tasks using outdated operational processes. Generally, these are some of the biggest problems that inhibit manufacturers from achieving their business initiatives.
Oftentimes, during our EAC Assessments, we hear multiple teams across the enterprise and different management levels are frustrated by broken processes. In short, there is a lack of key information employees need to do their jobs right, at the time they need it most.
Meanwhile, the digital thread uses advanced technology (such as product lifecycle management systems as well as the Internet of Things) to connect critical disparate processes. This, in turn, helps minimize manual tasks, and breaks down data siloes. Implementing the digital thread to your BoM strategy creates a major impact for all stakeholders involved. For instance, design teams, engineers, manufacturing, assembly, operations, finance, purchasing, and even marketing.
How The Digital Thread Supports Engineering
Furthermore, the Digital Thread plays a crucial role in supporting engineering and bill of materials (BOM) management by providing seamless connectivity and accessibility to relevant data throughout the product lifecycle. Here’s how the digital thread benefits these areas:
1. Engineering Collaboration
Firstly, the digital thread allows engineers to collaborate effectively by providing a centralized platform for sharing and accessing engineering data. This facilitates cross-functional collaboration, enables real-time communication, and reduces errors or miscommunications during the design and development process.
2. Design Consistency
Secondly, the digital thread ensures design consistency by maintaining a single source of truth for engineering data. Changes made in the design phase are automatically propagated throughout the digital thread, ensuring that all related documents, models, and specifications remain synchronized.
3. BOM Accuracy and Visibility
The digital thread integrates BOM management, configuration management, and BoM transformation capabilities. This enables accurate and up-to-date BOMs, as the data will automatically reflect changes. Additionally, it provides real-time visibility into the BoM status, including component availability, sourcing information, and cost implications.
4. Change Management
Next, the digital thread streamlines change management processes. By automating change notifications, approvals, and tracking. Essentially, it ensures that engineering changes are effectively communicated, documented, and implemented across the relevant stages of the product lifecycle, minimizing errors and delays.
5. Manufacturing Process Optimization
By connecting engineering data with manufacturing process management, the digital thread enables better coordination and optimization of production processes. By in large, system and data integration allows for improved manufacturing planning, efficient resource allocation, and reduced lead times.
6. Enhanced Visualization and Analysis
Another example includes leveraging augmented reality (AR) design sharing to provide visual representations of designs. In detail, enabling stakeholders to view and analyze products in a virtual environment. It’s recommended to use AR to enhance design reviews, simplify communication, and facilitate better decision-making.
Overall, the digital thread improves engineering and BoM management. Markedly, by streamlining processes, enhancing collaboration, ensuring data consistency, and providing visibility across the product lifecycle. It promotes efficiency, accuracy, and agility in engineering and BoM-related activities. Leading to improved product quality and faster time to market in the long run.
How A Digital Thread BoM Strategy Streamlines Manufacturing
Simultaneously, the digital thread plays a significant role in enhancing the bill of materials (BoM) management for manufacturing, assembly, and quality control processes. In sum, here’s how the digital thread benefits these areas:
1. Manufacturing and Assembly Planning
The digital thread enables seamless integration between the BoM and manufacturing planning systems. It provides real-time visibility into the BoM, ensuring accurate and up-to-date information for manufacturing and assembly operations. This allows for efficient production planning, optimized resource allocation, and improved scheduling in all.
2. Supply Chain Integration
By connecting the BoM with supply chain management systems, the digital thread enhances supply chain visibility and collaboration. It enables better coordination with suppliers, accurate tracking of component availability, and improved procurement processes. As a result, it minimizes the risk of production delays and ensures timely delivery of materials.
3. Work Instructions and Assembly Guidance
Thirdly, the digital thread facilitates the creation and dissemination of detailed work instructions and assembly guidance based on the BoM data. This ensures that assembly operators have access to accurate and step-by-step instructions, reducing errors and improving productivity on the shop floor.
4. Quality Control and Traceability
The digital thread enables better quality control and traceability throughout the manufacturing process. By integrating the BoM with quality management systems, it ensures that quality requirements and specifications are adhered to during production. It also enables traceability of components and materials, making it easier to identify and address any quality issues or recalls.
5. Continuous Improvement and Feedback Loop
Additionally, the digital thread supports continuous improvement initiatives by capturing data and feedback from manufacturing and quality control processes. It enables the analysis of production data, identifies areas for improvement, and facilitates data-driven decision-making to enhance manufacturing efficiency and product quality.
6. Post-Market Monitoring
Finally, the digital thread extends beyond the manufacturing phase to support post-market monitoring and quality assurance. Integrating BoM data with field service management systems and customer feedback enables organizations to identify and address product issues, initiate product improvements, and provide timely support and maintenance.
All in all, the digital thread enhances BoM management for manufacturing and assembly processes by ensuring accurate and up-to-date information, facilitating supply chain integration, enabling effective work instructions, improving quality control, supporting continuous improvement efforts, and enabling post-market monitoring. Concurrently, it streamlines operations, improves product quality, and enhances customer satisfaction.
The Polaris Story
Polaris utilized PTC Windchill, an advanced product lifecycle management system, to transform their Bill of Materials into a reliable new business model backbone. As a result, it allowed them to create a connected enterprise.
Windchill PLM combines the digital thread framework with a maximized BoM and change management strategy. This powerful product lifecycle management platform organizes all information associated with the development of its products, allowing every stakeholder to access the latest up-to-date information in a dynamic format.
Once it was clear to Polaris that they had outgrown certain tools and processes, they coordinated and synchronized a digital thread of data throughout the enterprise by leveraging PTC Windchill.
As of today, Polaris’ Windchill PLM system enables them to manage and organize the bill of materials (BoM) and implemented configuration management practices. This helped transform their BoMs as needed, effectively managing changes, overseeing manufacturing processes, and utilizing augmented reality (AR) design-sharing capabilities.
By orchestrating these elements, the digital thread ensured seamless connectivity and flow of information across different stages and departments within Polaris. This enabled improved collaboration, streamlined workflows, effective change control, and enhanced manufacturing processes. On top of giving the ability to share and visualize designs using AR technology.
To sum it up, it’s time to put Excel away and start working smarter, not harder. Successful BoM management derives from a single source of truth throughout the enterprise in regard to all the data contained in the Bill of Materials. The Digital Thread allows for the seamless automated flow of the BoM information to create a truly connected enterprise, working in sync along every step of the manufacturing process.
How, he asked, do I know where my PLM and ERP system should begin and where should they end? How do they work together? How should I structure my data be stored and accessed?
This question was coming at a moment of extreme digital change for him. His company was in the midst of a 2–year battle to evaluate ERP solutions and upgrade their obsolete system, and their prodigious growth had also forced them into expanding their investment in their product data management system. These parallel digital initiatives were critical to their continued growth – but it was not immediately clear to him on how to reconcile these two seemingly disparate systems.
Understanding the difference is a challenge for many companies, especially given how PLM & ERP systems have changed and developed since their inceptions decades ago. Both systems of record have matured and advanced far beyond their original conceits. Many ERP systems will offer modules which purportedly function like PLM and some PLM systems will allow you to interact with vendors in ways which are reminiscent of ERP. There are overlapping capabilities, but the central roles of ERP and PLM are distinct and optimizing a harmonious PLM-ERP connection delivers real value to the entire enterprise.
PLM is to your Intellectual Property what ERP is to your physical property
Both systems manage data but the distinction can be seen at the moment of financial impact. Once you physically buy parts or service and that transaction belongs on a P&L, then that transaction should be owned by ERP. Everything up to that point, however, is part of the product development process and we believe that PLM has many more impactful tools and processes when it comes to product development.
Think about building a house. Would you start by buying some amount of lumber and pouring concrete around a lot? No. You’d start by planning and drawing out schematics, calculating loads, and simulating the house in CAD before you ever buy anything. That’s the power of PLM – PLM is the planning tool that allows you to design and iterate a product before you ever purchase physical assets to build it with. It saves you time and money by planning smart and being precise.
One need not take precedence over the other, I explained to the CEO. The goal for any intellectual product is to one day become reality, and thus PLM needs to talk with ERP and ERP needs to be in step with PLM. Companies that want to understand true cost to produce and supply chain will need both tools working together. The key is to use the best tool for the job and not pour any concrete before the foundation is planned.
Communicating product data across an organization is complex. Let’s talk about how to make it easier.
Different departments gather product data from a variety of systems including Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Systems, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Systems, Manufacturing Execution systems (MES), and Quality Management Systems (QMS) and more, how do we know our organizations are making the most out of all this information?
Just think about it for a second. Our systems speak different languages, AND our departments often aim for different goals.
With an estimated 90% of the world’s data created in the last two years alone (Conner, n.d.), it’s no wonder that companies are having a hard time using it all. The IDC estimates that just 0.5% of the data companies produce is ever used. It’s time to change that.
Here are 9 Ways Your Business Will Benefit From Connecting Your Data systems.
1. Increased Usability
Data experts believe that if Fortune 1,000 companies increased the amount of data they used by just 10%, they could realize over $65 million in additional net income (Marr, 2015). Not only are these numbers huge, they also help make my case about the critical importance of data usability.
The truth is – any one specialized system is often too complex for many non-specialized roles to navigate, find, and transfer the right information. This often leaves separate departments accountable for storing and sharing uncontrolled, out of date versions of product data. It’s not because they don’t WANT to use the right information. It’s because system complexity and interdepartmental gates make it hard to consistently get the right information.
So how do we make product data more usable?
A) Consolidating product data from disparate sources into one single system.
B) Give users a way to access the system using simplified role-specific dashboards.
2. Better Data Access
The most important reason your product data shouldn’t (internally anyway) be kept secret is because product data is your company’s most valuable asset.
Not everyone who needs access to specific product information hosted in your PLM system is from your engineering department, so don’t force them to go through the same vigorous Product Lifecycle system training. Don’t make them navigate an engineer’s world one click at a time.
In order to effectively use data, our departments must have ready access to it. We must make rich product information easy to accessible for a broad set of roles.
By creating an organized system that connects all of our product data, your organization will make information easily accessible to users beyond those who have created it.
Just think of the possibilities that come from connecting multiple systems and delivering information to all departments through a single window.
3. Complete Data
Imagine an entire enterprise with access to real data, at the right time, when it’s needed.
By connecting your product lifecycle management systems with your other enterprise systems, every stakeholder within your organization can impact the value flow of product data through your organization. It also equips team members to consistently drive critical decisions with the latest, most accurate information.
4. Better Insights
Better access to data = Better insights.
Your business teams can and should demand a lot of your PLM processes and solution.
A data-driven enterprise with insights into how current products and processes can be optimized can drastically improve productivity. Doing this requires teams to have access to up-to-date, accurate product data.
5. Better Decisions
Ready access to information is especially important to any company developing products.
Users without access to the system of record resort to error-prone workarounds that can result in inaccuracies, quality problems, and waste.
Decisions made from out- of- date inaccurate data threaten product quality and delay time to market.
Providing everyone in your organization with broad visibility into the system of record will drive better, more accurate decisions. This will ultimately improve quality, reduce waste, scrap, rework, and help you meet your time to market goals.
The analytical possibilities that come with connecting your data will help users across your organization make accurate product decisions throughout the entire development process.
6. Better Products
Who doesn’t want to create better products faster?
Providing your organization with universal data access will allow your company to drastically accelerate product development.
By connecting disparate systems, you will have access to real-time data allowing you to make better product decisions.
Because your decisions and actions are now driven by up-to-date information, you will achieve a higher product quality.
7. Increased Productivity
Why waste time manually reading, entering and analyzing data? It could be automatically collected, filtered, and combined.
By collecting your product data in one system and providing a simplified role-based interface, any user within your organization can access contextual, up-to-date, real-time product information anytime they need.
I guarantee your productivity will grow when your organization is able to plan earlier with manufacturing, order materials sooner with purchasing all while your engineering team is spending less time pulling reports.
8. Increased collaboration
Using a system that provides role-based data access to stakeholders throughout your organization provides every role with an ability to quickly understand the status of a part number and how the parts fit together in a design.
This will not only help mobilize and inform the work of teams throughout the organization, but it will also help maximize the success of your product development.
Giving your team the ability to extend and connect your PLM data into the rest of your enterprise will rapidly increase the overall effectiveness of your organization.
9. Real Results
The ultimate benefit your organization will achieve by connecting your data systems stems from your ability to acquire real results.
What does that mean?
Positive results have a tendency to snowball into more and more success. Results give your organization the confidence it needs to quickly deliver value. Providing access to the right information empowers a team, department, company to reach their true potential.
We want to help your company thrive. Our EAC Productivity Apps give your organization a way to connect disparate enterprise systems and easily deliver role-based dashboards to increase user confidence and productivity.
Let’s talk about ERP and PLM, the differences, the benefits and everything you need to know in order to be successful.
Our most popular blog throughout the years has been a defining article of what the differences are between ERP, MRP, and PLM. If you want a high and fast overview of the terms read our previous blog, “ERP/MRP/PLM” – or keep on reading below for a more in-depth look at ERP vs PLM.
Oftentimes organizations wonder: Do you really need both a PLM and an ERP system? Should you, or can you, use just one enterprise system to manage all of your product information? Which system is best? An ERP (enterprise resource planning) system or a PLM (product lifecycle management) system?
We hear these questions all the time.
This article breaks down the similarities as well as the differences between ERP and PLM so you can make the best and most informed decision for your specific situation.
As an organization, it is in your best interest to use technology as a competitive advantage – therefore it’s important to understand the ins and outs of both systems.
With everyone needing to get products to market faster and more efficiently, it’s good to understand that building and sustaining brand equity is just as important as speed to market.
As your company searches for technology that will give you a competitive edge, it’s crucial that you choose the right technology to serve as the foundation for your digital transformation initiatives.
This means choosing technology that will boost your innovation efforts, fulfill your operational and strategic business goals, and help you get closer to your end customers.
While your company continuously faces tough decisions when it comes to technology investments, you may be wondering if it is better to go all-in on an ERP system or invest in a PLM solution.
After all, both ERP and PLM vendors ‘claim’ they can manage both Bill of Materials (BoMs), costs, changes, and other information related to products.
My goal is to help you learn what system or systems are best for your organization.
What is ERP and how does it work?
First, let’s breakdown what ERP is and its benefits.
ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning systems, software, and solutions.
One of the biggest driving factors for an enterprise-class ERP system revolves around finance and accounting. ERP systems are important because they ensure your quality products are manufactured in a timely, cost controlled manner once they have been engineered and approved.
This could be why approximately 97 percent of mid-sized companies already use an ERP application.
It’s important to also take into account that ERP solutions are considered to be one of the first software solutions to be categorized as an essential business tool. This could also be why so many organizations are already familiar with ERP.
Although there are many ERP software solutions on the market today, systems you may be familiar with might include Oracle ERP, SAP, Epicor ERP, Microsoft Dynamics AX, and a variety of others.
The fact is, ERP systems are generally built to satisfy the needs of business operations.
This means they are often used for manufacturing (such as manufacturing resource planning), human resources (HR), finance, accounting, purchasing, inventory management, order management, distribution, labor, customer service, and more.
An ERP system can take a product to market and is known for handling operational concerns such as logistics, warehousing, and inventory management.
These systems also provide vast amounts of transactional data which can be used to gauge your financial position and make informed choices about future business decisions.
What is PLM and how does it work?
PLM stands for Product Lifecycle Management software, systems, and solutions.
While ERP systems take transactional units to market, the data and information these systems use should originate in PLM.
PLM is all about the management of the process behind the product, as well as the history and collaboration that goes along with it.
Some PLM systems you may be familiar with include SAP PLM, PTC Windchill, Area PLM, Teamcenter, Siemens PLM, and more.
By adopting PLM software you can reap many rewards.
PLM solutions allow anyone involved in design, development, and manufacturing to work collaboratively with one set of comprehensive, accurate, up-to-date information.
PLM software works by supporting processes that define your brand, engage your customers, and differentiate your company’s products in the marketplace.
The unique value of PLM provides is that the software delivers a “single source of truth” about your product to anyone and everyone who has anything to do with product development.
The difference between ERP and PLM
A simple way to think about the differences between ERP and PLM is to focus on what each system was intended for, especially because both of these systems originate from very different foundations.
Product lifecycle management systems focus on planning.
Enterprise resource management systems focus on execution.
To take a deeper dive, the focus for each system influences the key and unique features that the system provides.
PLM is a collaborative planning tool for your products.
The typical users of a PLM system tend to be product designers and engineers who need to work together to figure out what a product looks like and what it should be made of.
Since PLM is about planning everything about your product, it provides capabilities around managing designs, related services, collaboration with red-lining, task management and more.
Most PLM systems even have a PDM (product documents management) system inside of them. This how they often control the history of the intellectual documentation needed to design and manufacture a product.
These systems control and manage everything from CAD (computer aided drafting) files to program, project and change management processes. A PLM system combines all this functionality and integrates it into an overall product lifecycle management process.
This is why PLM solutions have a higher impact on revenue and brand image.
ERP on the other hand is a system focused on making and executing a product. The primary user of an ERP system tends to be people who deal with manufacturing operations.
Since ERP is about execution and fulfillment, it focuses on capturing information around things such as inventory, purchases and more.
While ERP systems focus only on traditional entities such as item masters, bill of materials and dates, PLM solutions encompass all of the iterative, collaborative, and creative processes that make up the vital elements of your product’s lifecycle.
In short, both solutions are vital for a company to develop and make products as efficiently as possible.
How PLM and ERP work together
Despite sometimes being viewed as competing solutions, ERP and PLM systems work very well together.
In fact, these enterprise systems complement each other, and it is in your benefit to have both! We can help you work through a Return on Investment (ROI) analysis if you’d like. Just contact us.
So how do enterprise resource planning and product lifecycle management systems work together?
PLM software provides the single point of product truth used by ERP to manage product resources and financials.
For example, by using eBoMs (engineering bill of materials) data from your product lifecycle management system, ERP can accurately generate purchasing and inventory management records, creating a unified management of both your resources and production.
Essentially, ERP systems pick up from PLM solutions and take finalized products forward.
This means that design, development, sampling, fitting, approval, assortment planning and all other activities essential to creating great products have already been signed off by the time your products reach the ERP system.
PLM systems help define, design, and plan your product. PLM integrated to ERP allows the systems to feed relevant BoMs and file components, so your manufacturing teams can efficiently order, make, and ship your products.
In fact, combining these two software solutions has only improved end-to end business performance and has already proven to be necessary. This is why so many ERP providers have started to acquire and develop their own PLM platforms!
By using ERP and PLM together, your organization can create a powerful source of data, information, processes and workflows. It can make it easier to create and deliver products from idea generation through design to manufacturing and distribution.
Now that you have a better understanding about how PLM and ERP solutions can positively affect the profitability of your entire company, you are in a better position to understand why it is best to invest and integrate both solutions.
PLM ERP integration benefits
Oftentimes, PLM only gets associated with engineering. In fact, many people don’t even realize that the full product lifecycle management system can integrate with ERP.
Rather than considering whether or not a PLM system could complement an ERP system, you should focus on the benefits your organization will gain by integrating the two.
When used together, your organization will have unified control over your manufacturing process and here’s why.
Today, in order to stay ahead of competition it is essential to deliver the right product, on time, and under budget.
To meet these requirements your organization must shorten design time and product engineering cycles.
By using PLM and ERP systems together, you will increase collaboration throughout your entire organization. ERP and PLM work best together as they collaborate and facilitate movement throughout your organization.
Without PLM, your ERP system is likely to consume and manage inaccurate data from design and engineering. This in turn is likely to deliver minimal (if any) improvements to your business.
Only using an ERP system without a complementary PLM system puts your organization at risk of mismanagement of product changes – which could lead to instances of inaccurate financial planning.
Together, PLM and ERP enhance collaboration between engineers, operations, and suppliers as they provide a single source of product truth. This will help you to seamlessly deliver products from design concept through manufacturing and distribution.
Because these two solutions both focus on products, they help create one single version of your product truth. This helps reduce errors and guarantees that your product documents and product versions are under control.
Seamless PLM to ERP integration will enable your organization to be more agile and reactive in all business activities including traceability, cost, delivery, quality, innovation and more. It helps ease your manufacturing process and creates a more cohesive environment.
By integrating both PLM and ERP, your organization will accelerate innovation, increase productivity, improve quality, and boost your overall performance.
Our Solution: Windchill PLM System
PTC Windchill is our PLM solution that we offer to our customers – so for the 97% of you that already have an ERP system, you should consider complementing it with Windchill. A popular blog called, “What is Windchill?” distinguishes all the ins and outs of this system.
“Windchill and our new ERP system make it very easy to manage customizations and helps us to make sure that we have materials in-stock and on-time to meet those needs. We save about four hours per job with just the front-end BoM load and getting the information into the ERP system – which has been huge for us.” – Myron Pundt, VP of Engineering, ALM Positioners