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VPDM (Virtual Product Development Management) is replacing PDM

VPDM (Virtual Product Development Management) is replacing PDM

Engineers want the knowledge in their heads to go with the parts they design. Virtual product development helps that to happen, says Lemke.

Design News: Has product data management (PDM) had a hard time catching on? And if so, why?

Lemke: It has had a hard time. Product data management is hard to do. The processes necessary from an engineering usage point of view require a lot of work. Companies believe they need to implement product data management, but at least in the early days of the technology it was hard to prove the return on investment (ROI). You have to stick with it to see the ROI.

Q: Well, if it's worth the effort, what are the benefits?

A: The primary benefits are reductions in cost and cycle time. When you do an engineering change order (ECO) today, it's hard to know the effect. Until the advent of PDM, many companies would wing it.

But from a cost control standpoint, it's very helpful to know what's going on with change orders, and PDM enables that. Additionally, PDM gives everyone the chance to look at the data, and that's good. Being able to do a pre-release of ECOs to manufacturing personnel adds efficiency. Also, in cases where companies were manufacturing driven, when an order came in prior to implementation of PDM, the manufacturing group would send engineering a work order and that takes time. With PDM, staff can go into the database and see if the configuration is right, which could save a week or even a month in the first cycle.

Q: What is the difference between PDM and VPDM (Virtual Product Development Management)?

A: Previously, when an engineer wanted to collaborate with others, share data, and achieve quick turnaround, we used to say PDM was the answer. But the roots of PDM are in manufacturing, and it got too cumbersome as it moved into the design-concept stage of product development. The value in data management is shifting from manufacturing to product creation, and that's where the big savings will be. About three years ago, VPDM emerged as a supplement to PDM. VPDM has a lot of the elements of PDM, but it is more real- time. "Action flow" means you need a response now, and it's tracked in the system. With VPDM, you can do digital mockups and track them in the system. Basically, VPDM enables the sharing of design concepts by everyone in the product development process right at the outset. We try to capture all the knowledge the engineer put in the product when he conceptualized it. That helps us leverage the tremendous intellectual assets of a company.

Q: What impact will the Internet have on PDM?

A: It will have a big impact. How big, and how quickly we'll see that impact depends on security issues and context. Users must be able to access large 3-D models and the context of the data. For the Internet to achieve its potential as an aid to product development, it must include the context of the design data-the knowledge and intent of the engineering author. That knowledge should go with the product data so others will have real-time, worldwide access to it.

Q: What makes Enovia different from other similar products?

A: We have defined five foundations for Enovia, and we believe they are necessary for the full implementation of the digital enterprise:

A portal through which you can view, interact with, and analyze data anywhere, anytime.

Life-cycle applications.

A product process and resource hub that links all product knowledge into the model.

Rapid application-development environment, which extends applications or integrates legacy applications.

Enterprise architecture, which enables enterprise scaleability.

I believe Enovia is the only VPDM product with all five features. Plus, where other companies with PDM and VPDM products have about 150 to 250 developers, we can leverage Dassault to get another 1,200 developers.

Lemke joined Enovia, a wholly owned subsidiary of Dassault Systemes, at its founding in 1998. He came from IBM, where he had been general manager of the solutions business unit for manufacturing industries. He has more than 20 years of experience in information technology. At IBM, he held several executive positions with responsibility for strategy, product development, technical services, marketing, and sales for hardware and software. He led the initial introduction of ProductManager, IBM's 1992 entry in product data management. Lemke has a bachelor of science degree from Purdue.

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