Data, Document Management, PLM & Process

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Data, Document Management, PLM & Process

The Product Data Management (PDM) Challenge

Engineers spend, on average, 15% of their time managing data and some routinely waste the equivalent of 1 day a week or more. Then, when you need to share this data with colleagues, you have to release and track a series of PDFs, spreadsheets, and design files, and it only gets more complicated when working with 3rd parties. Much of this waste is due to the simple fact that Windows Explorer wasn’t made for engineers. And it certainly wasn’t made to manage and collaborate with CAD files.

Which common data management and collaboration challenges do you experience most often?

  • When sifting through thousands of files, you wish you could search for more than just a file name
  • Too often, the data you’re looking for is spread across local drives on individual workstations and shared folders on assorted servers
  • You dread copying or renaming files. It’s tedious and you typically need to repair broken references
  • When you work with other engineers on a project, you worry constantly that they will overwrite your files
  • You manually maintain spreadsheets that document every instance where parts and subassemblies are used
  • When you need to work with external parties or multi-site staff, file formats and firewalls lead to complications

To overcome these challenges, you need a file manager that’s made just for engineers. It should understand the complexities of CAD file relationships, help you find the files you need when you need them, and, most importantly, make it easy for you to collaborate with your colleagues.

PDM is a strategy for managing your product-related information and engineering processes—all in one spot and falls into 3 key areas:-

  • Data - is all about managing the files and metadata that make up the source code for your product
  • People - is about the challenges your engineering and non-engineering staff have while developing the product with regards to collaboration
  • Process - is about the challenges with maintaining standard procedures throughout development

Maintaining control over your documents can make or break the success of your projects,
especially when it comes to deadlines. But countless factors can undermine your efforts, like
unorganised and unprotected shared network folders, messy and unmaintained spreadsheets,
and hardware failure. This leaves your intellectual property at risk, and data difficult to find
and reuse. PDM solutions such as Autodesk Vault Professional can help you keep your data safe by keeping it in one place, setting permissions, backing up your data, and tracking files and revisions.

When engineers are asked about their data management challenges, they typically identify search and retrieval of design files as top issues. In fact, 46% of those involved in product development cite “finding the right information” as a top design challenge.

Top Design Challenges Related to Data Management. 

This all adds up to a lot of wasted time. When you can’t find the files you need, you may end up wasting even more time designing something that may already exist, which is compounded by the need for additional investments in tooling or redevelopment of manufacturing processes that were already available for the design you couldn’t find. These situations make clear why Windows Explorer is simply not up to the task.

Watch the below webinar recording and demonstration on developing your company's product data management strategy. 

Download and read the whitepaper complied by our partner Autodesk on Product Data Management (PDM), a guide to managing engineering data, people, and processes: The Complete Guide to PDM

Call 01992 807 444 or email to discuss your specific Data & Document challenges.

How we can help?

Excitech provide a range of Document & Data Management systems spanning across a spectrum of different industries. Whilst many of our customers utilise the Autodesk Product Design & Manufacturing Collection within our industry focus which includes core products such as AutoCAD & Autodesk Inventor. The Excitech team promote the use of Autodesk Vault Professional which is driven by the level of interoperability between the different Autodesk applications and subsequent benefit to the user. 

Through the provision of the necessary licensing, training, consultancy, technical support and required IT infrastructure, Excitech can provide a full turn key solution to your Data & Documents Management needs.

Autodesk Vault Professional has a comprehensive range of functionality allowing such challenges to be directly addressed including,

  • Controlled access
  • Advanced search capability
    • Search for more than just file names
    • Use multiple search criteria
    • Save your common searches
  • File association management
    • Copying existing design to create new versions whilst maintaining the complex file associations
    • See where parts or subassemblies are used in turn appreciating the impact of design changes or the creation of new versions
    • Rename and automatically have complex files associations updated
  • Collaboration for internal and external stakeholders
  • Release and change process
    • File history incorporating both version and custom revision control
    • Reviewing & approval workflows
    • Tracking and control
    • Custom lifecycle management e.g. WIP, checking, approval, released
    • Engineering Change Order (ECO) process
  • Review and feedback
  • BOM Management
  • Link to (ERP) Enterprise Resource Planning technologies

The following lists the associated technologies available,

Autodesk Vault Office
Design data access to your project vault for non-CAD users.
Product Information  Please call 01992 807 444 or email for information on available services

Autodesk Vault Workgroup
Manage change with intuitive revision control and configurable data security.
Product Information  Please call 01992 807 444 or email for information on available services

Autodesk Vault Professional
Integrate advanced functionality and features with business applications.
Product Information  Please call 01992 807 444 or email for information on available services

Scroll through the collection of videos below for further expansion within some of these specific areas,

Concurrent Design   Direct CAD Integration   Data Reuse   Collaboration   Shared Views   Revision Control   Change Control   BOM Management

Scroll →

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)

PLM, also referred to as Product Lifecycle Management, extends Data Management capability further providing additional benefits within 3 key areas,

Bill of Materials (BOM) Management
Just like you wouldn’t want your doctor working off outdated, inaccurate, or absent medical records, you don’t want to leave stakeholders unable to access reliable product data. BOMs are the medical records of product development, and perhaps your most important deliverable. Excel spreadsheets might get the job done, but they leave these critical documents vulnerable to errors that can have a substantial impact on your bottom line. PLM takes the uncertainty out of managing BOMs. You’ll be saying:

  • We’re always on the same page
    • Quickly find and understand items in one centralised system, revision control ensures everyone is referencing the correct version
  • This makes so much sense
    • View only the information relevant to you with easy-to-use filters, everyone always sees the same, up-to-date data
  • Our calendar is under control
    • Trace exactly what a BOM looked like on a particular day, and track when items were manufactured or delivered
  • We know exactly what changed
    • Easily identify changes between new or different versions of BOMs, meet compliance requirements by analysing product history

Change Management
Change is inevitable. Staying on schedule and on budget? Not so much. PLM keeps work flowing, regardless of design changes. With a clear view of the details you need to approve ECRs and ECOs, you can say:

  • We avoid bottlenecks 
    • When you configure workflows, everyone can monitor change requests and change orders in real time
  • Information is at my fingertips
    • The full details of components or sub-assemblies to a change are just a click away, understand the impact of change and see what’s been changed in the past

New Product Introduction (NPI)
Get your latest product innovations to market without costly launch delays. PLM provides the tools that will have you saying:

  • Everyone is aligned
    • Configurable project templates standardise milestones, deliverables, and tasks
  • We know what needs to happen next
    • Progress and performance can be monitored at any time, task-level views keep everyone accountable and real-time to-do lists and instant notifications help everyone stay on track. 

Additional use cases
PLM also provides tools to help with quality management and supplier collaboration. Plus, connected Product Data Management (PDM) keeps everyone in sync with engineering teams.

Call 01992 807 444 or email to discuss your specific PLM requirements.


A managed BIM process brings huge benefits to the delivery of projects today, and with protocols and standards the government has mandated all projects involved with central funding should now be developed in line with the principles and practices of BIM.

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