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Product Lifecycle Management Software


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Fishbowl Manufacturing logo
 
Fishbowl Manufacturing is a business automation and inventory management platform for small to mid-sized. It integrates with QuickBooks accounting. Fishbowl offers inventory control, material requirements planning (MRP) and job shop... Read More
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Fishbowl Manufacturing is a business automation and inventory management platform for small to mid-sized. It integrates with QuickBooks accounting. Fishbowl offers inventory control, material requirements planning (MRP) and job shop... Read More
 
Infor VISUAL ERP logo
 
Infor VISUAL is an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System with end-to-end functionality built for manufacturing organizations looking for a complete solution that supports the entire operational lifecycle, from planning to sourcing,... Read More
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Infor VISUAL is an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System with end-to-end functionality built for manufacturing organizations looking for a complete solution that supports the entire operational lifecycle, from planning to sourcing,... Read More
 
Global Shop Solutions logo
 
Global Shop Solutions offers a One-System ERP software to serve clients across manufacturing industries of all sizes. The multi-modular application comprises of independent modules for customer relationship management, inventory management,... Read More
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Global Shop Solutions offers a One-System ERP software to serve clients across manufacturing industries of all sizes. The multi-modular application comprises of independent modules for customer relationship management, inventory management,... Read More
 
E2 Shop System logo
 
E2 by Shoptech Corporation brings all business operations into a single simple solution, from estimating to scheduling, purchasing, shipping and even customer management and accounting, with its easy-to-use solution. Designed specifically... Read More
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E2 by Shoptech Corporation brings all business operations into a single simple solution, from estimating to scheduling, purchasing, shipping and even customer management and accounting, with its easy-to-use solution. Designed specifically... Read More
 
IQMS MES Software logo
 
IQMS’ flagship product, EnterpriseIQ ERP, is developed specifically for SMB and large discrete, and batch process manufacturers in the aerospace, medical device, automotive, food and beverage, consumer products, plastics, packaging... Read More
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IQMS’ flagship product, EnterpriseIQ ERP, is developed specifically for SMB and large discrete, and batch process manufacturers in the aerospace, medical device, automotive, food and beverage, consumer products, plastics, packaging... Read More

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KeyedIn Manufacturing logo
 
KeyedIn Manufacturing is a cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution specifically designed for custom, make-to-order and mixed-mode manufacturers. The solution offers manufacturers a solution that can be customized to... Read More
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KeyedIn Manufacturing is a cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution specifically designed for custom, make-to-order and mixed-mode manufacturers. The solution offers manufacturers a solution that can be customized to... Read More
 
Infor SyteLine ERP logo
 
Infor SyteLine ERP is a mixed-mode application for engineer-to-order, configure-to-order, repetitive and service-based manufacturers. It’s suitable for companies in industries such as aerospace, metal fabrication, plastics and rubber... Read More
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Infor SyteLine ERP is a mixed-mode application for engineer-to-order, configure-to-order, repetitive and service-based manufacturers. It’s suitable for companies in industries such as aerospace, metal fabrication, plastics and rubber... Read More
 
SYSPRO logo
 
SYSPRO offers Enterprise Resource Planning software to support the control, integration, and synchronization of the life of the manufacturing process for both short and long production runs. Implementing SYSPRO is made simple with... Read More
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SYSPRO offers Enterprise Resource Planning software to support the control, integration, and synchronization of the life of the manufacturing process for both short and long production runs. Implementing SYSPRO is made simple with... Read More
 
Henning Visual EstiTrack ERP logo
 
Visual EstiTrack ERP is an on-premise solution for small to midsize shops that offers manufacturing execution management, light material requirements planning, product lifecycle management, supply chain management, customer management,... Read More
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Visual EstiTrack ERP is an on-premise solution for small to midsize shops that offers manufacturing execution management, light material requirements planning, product lifecycle management, supply chain management, customer management,... Read More
 
Epicor Manufacturing logo
 
Epicor ERP is a fully integrated ERP solution with extensive functionality for accounting, inventory control, pre-production materials planning, and manufacturing execution (MES). The system is delivered either on-premise, hosted,... Read More
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Epicor ERP is a fully integrated ERP solution with extensive functionality for accounting, inventory control, pre-production materials planning, and manufacturing execution (MES). The system is delivered either on-premise, hosted,... Read More

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MIE Trak PRO logo
 
MIE Trak Pro is an ERP offering that is ideal for manufacturing businesses with modules designed to accommodate most production cycles and optimize the capabilities of repetitive, custom, quick-turn and mixed mode operations. MIE... Read More
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MIE Trak Pro is an ERP offering that is ideal for manufacturing businesses with modules designed to accommodate most production cycles and optimize the capabilities of repetitive, custom, quick-turn and mixed mode operations. MIE... Read More
 
Priority logo
 
Priority is an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution that is suitable for midsize to large businesses in many industry segments, including manufacturing, apparel, electronics, food and beverage, industrial machinery and more. Priority’s... Read More
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Priority is an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution that is suitable for midsize to large businesses in many industry segments, including manufacturing, apparel, electronics, food and beverage, industrial machinery and more. Priority’s... Read More
 
EVO~ERP logo
 
EVO~ERP was first introduced to the market in 2004 as a fully integrated, real-world business solution, providing an organizational, financial management, and business intelligence platform from which companies can revolutionize their... Read More
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EVO~ERP was first introduced to the market in 2004 as a fully integrated, real-world business solution, providing an organizational, financial management, and business intelligence platform from which companies can revolutionize their... Read More
 
MasterControl Quality Management System (QMS) logo
 
MasterControl QMS is an integrated quality management system that can be installed on-premise or accessed through the web. It is suited for businesses of any size and a multitude of industries including agriculture, lumber, industrial... Read More
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MasterControl QMS is an integrated quality management system that can be installed on-premise or accessed through the web. It is suited for businesses of any size and a multitude of industries including agriculture, lumber, industrial... Read More
 
Microsoft Dynamics GP logo
 
Microsoft Dynamics GP is a financial accounting system designed to meet the requirements of small to midsize businesses. Microsoft Dynamics GP was originally developed by North Dakota-based Great Plains Software and was acquired by... Read More
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Microsoft Dynamics GP is a financial accounting system designed to meet the requirements of small to midsize businesses. Microsoft Dynamics GP was originally developed by North Dakota-based Great Plains Software and was acquired by... Read More

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SAP Business One logo
 
SAP Business One is an integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) software suite designed primarily to serve small to midsize businesses. SAP Business One is used to address the needs of many industry verticals including manufacturing,... Read More
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SAP Business One is an integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) software suite designed primarily to serve small to midsize businesses. SAP Business One is used to address the needs of many industry verticals including manufacturing,... Read More
 
Datacor Chempax logo
 
Chempax by Datacor is an integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) application designed specifically for chemical process manufacturers and distributors. The solution can be scaled to... Read More
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Chempax by Datacor is an integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) application designed specifically for chemical process manufacturers and distributors. The solution can be scaled to... Read More
 
Oracle JD Edwards - Manufacturing logo
 
JD Edwards Financial Management is the accounting component of Oracle's JD Edwards EnterpriseOne product line. JD Edwards Financial Management can serve businesses of any size. The system is horizontal; it is designed to serve the... Read More
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JD Edwards Financial Management is the accounting component of Oracle's JD Edwards EnterpriseOne product line. JD Edwards Financial Management can serve businesses of any size. The system is horizontal; it is designed to serve the... Read More
 
Enterprise 21 ERP logo
 
Ideal for small and mid-sized manufacturing and distribution companies, Enterprise 21 ERP from TGI offers a fully integrated solution that facilitates industry best practices. This robust ERP system provides a single platform to streamline... Read More
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Ideal for small and mid-sized manufacturing and distribution companies, Enterprise 21 ERP from TGI offers a fully integrated solution that facilitates industry best practices. This robust ERP system provides a single platform to streamline... Read More
 
Ross logo
 
Ross ERP by Aptean is an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution designed for the needs of process manufacturing companies in the food and beverage, chemicals, pharmaceutical and biotech industries. The solution is useful for... Read More
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Ross ERP by Aptean is an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution designed for the needs of process manufacturing companies in the food and beverage, chemicals, pharmaceutical and biotech industries. The solution is useful for... Read More

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Buyer's Guide

by Lisa Hedges,
Content Analyst
Last Updated: November 24, 2017


The goal of product lifecycle management (PLM) is to provide an infrastructure that companies can use to improve product quality. This is achieved by creating a centralized system to organize all data on all products, from initial conceptualization, to manufacturing, to sale and eventually to recycling.

For large companies with geographically dispersed teams, managing these processes and integrating data from throughout the supply chain is a complex strategy that requires software to help automate and connect disparate technology solutions. PLM software is the technology that ties these solutions together.

Here's what we'll cover in this guide:

What Is PLM Software?
Common Features of Product Lifecycle Management Software
Important Considerations
Market Trends to Understand

What Is PLM Software?

PLM software can be thought of as an application designed to help users track all information around product design, production and consumption. It integrates all technology and systems throughout the product lifecycle, from design and simulation technology to procurement and manufacturing solutions.

The advantages to using PLM software can be distilled to three main benefits:

Faster production. Through the use of computer-aided design software, designs can be quickly and easily created, and at lower costs. Meanwhile, computer-aided manufacturing functionality can manage machining processes to create more products, quickly.

More accurate production. PLM software can reduce the chance products deviate from design specifications during machining. Its users can also simulate and test designs before production to ensure finished products will be reliable.

More efficient production. Users can communicate with coworkers throughout the organization and share designs, production forecasts and other data. The creation of definitive, automatic processes for product build, assembly and disassembly.

These benefits combined lead to more organized, profitable product development.

Common Features of Product Lifecycle Management Software

The modules and features found within PLM applications will vary vendor by vendor: some systems are fully featured suites, containing modules to handle every step of the lifecycle, while other solutions offer phase-specific functionality to handle only one aspect of the lifecycle. Most applications act as the “integrator,” connecting various applications and data sources into one, coherent solution.

When evaluating PLM software, here are the key features and functionality to be aware of:

Application Description
Computer-aided design (CAD) CAD applications create two-dimensional drawings and three-dimensional models of components. Users of CAD software are able to produce designs more accurately and at greater speeds than professionals who design by hand. In addition, engineers can also reuse and update designs as needed.
Computer-aided engineering (CAE) CAE is an essential process to simulate products, anticipate weaknesses and build-upon preliminary designs to create safer and more structurally sound assets. Its features commonly include performance simulators, finite element analysis, mechanical event simulation and fluid dynamics analysis.
Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) CAM ensures that manufacturers create products precisely to design specification. Its applications communicate with machinery to create items exactly as intended, while creating the necessary documentation to trace manufacturing trends at later dates. These applications can greatly reduce raw material usage and improve production efficiency.
Manufacturing process management (MPM) MPM software manages and automates all of the processes that take place to machine products. MPM is also a key component in streaming processes through various reporting functions that look to reduce lead times and inventories.
Product data management (PDM) PDM creates a central repository for all information on product design, requirements and processes. PDM modules are often accessible from any device and offer data security features for users who need to secure production information. Bill of materials (BOM), CAD files, supplier and materials data and information on machine processes are accessible through PDM modules.
Reporting and analytics Analytics can be used to find where lead times are getting out of hand and costs are greatly overshooting estimates. Many systems feature pre-built reports, as well as ad hoc reporting that users can customize to their own needs.

Important Considerations

When evaluating PLM software, there are a few key considerations that you should keep top of mind:

Integrated suite vs. best-of-breed software. Buyers have a lot of options in this market. Many of the major vendors in this space offer multiple applications with varying degrees of functionality. When it comes time to purchase software to assist with PLM, buyers have three main options:

  1. Purchase PLM software from your ERP vendor. Most enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems offer PLM functionality with their suites. Example vendors include: SAP, Oracle and Infor.
  2. Purchase a best-of-breed PLM software application. There are PLM-specific vendors that offer a suite of modules and applications to manage every step of the product lifecycle. Example vendors include: Siemens, PTC and Dassault Systemes.
  3. Purchase PLM modules on a stand-alone basis. Buyers may also choose to purchase CAD, CAE or other modules on as stand-alone tools. Example vendors include: Autodesk, MasterCAM and CAMWorks.

All three options have their merits and faults for particular buyers. We recommend buyers first evaluate their needs, consider the systems that new PLM technology must integrate with and then evaluate the systems that best meet this criteria.

Cloud-based vs. on-premise. Cloud-based PLM software is still in its infancy, but many of the big vendors now offer to host some functionality and allow applications to be accessed via the Internet. The benefits of using PLM software in the Cloud are similar to many other applications, such as low upfront spend and easy online access.

Because of the proprietary nature of the information stored in PLM software, many buyers choose to deploy this type of system in a private Cloud, or an online network managed by the users’ company, rather than by the software vendor. This allows buyers to enjoy the cost- and access-related benefits of the Cloud while maintaining tighter control around their data.

Market Trends to Understand

As we look to the future of PLM, there are some glaring trends on the horizon. First and foremost is the advancement and blurring of the lines that we’re seeing in connected devices. Over the next 5-10 years, more and more products will become connected. While this will lead to exciting product performance and maintenance monitoring, it’s also a new component of product design that must be taken into account.

From a manufacturing perspective, more and more products are going to require baseline software components built into them. This will add another team for existing design, mechanical, electrical, and other manufacturing teams to work with. Organizations will have to determine where, when, and how to embed software teams into the traditional PLM processes.

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