Application of product data management within the product development process
Manufacturing companies need to be able to respond to customer demand quickly and accurately. This requires the capability to manage product data effectively. Product Data Management (PDM) systems have been identified as a solution to deliver this capability by providing the right information to the right people at the right time and in the right format. The foundation of this research is that the concept of PDM is relevant and important within the product development process. This research focuses upon how the PDM concept is applied in practice to define and configure products and how it can be integrated with other major information systems to enable an enterprise wide information system. To enable the research aim, an extensive review of literature was undertaken to investigate the effectiveness of PDM in enhancing the product definition process and in creating an interface between different business functional areas. A survey ofPDM system usage was undertaken aimed at identifying the current level of PDM usage within manufacturing enterprises in the UK. This was followed up by three industrial case studies to provide some degrees of validation of the results obtained. A need for effective one time order capture was identified from the three case studies which led to the development of a model specification for a late product configuration tool. A prototype system was produced to validate the design specification and was successfully demonstrated to a collaborating company. During the submission of this thesis, the collaborating company and the university are working on funding a project to pursue with its implementation. The work undertaken has firmly established the relevance ofPDM within the product development process and the importance of effective interfaces between PDM and other manufacturing information systems. The research will be of interest to small and medium sized manufacturing companies searching solutions for improving the management of their product data to enhance product definition and configuration.