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Definition: PLM

(1) (PL/M) (Programming Language for Microprocessors) A dialect of PL/I developed by Intel for its microprocessors. See PL/I.

(2) (Product Life cycle Management) A comprehensive information system that coordinates all aspects of a product from initial concept to its eventual retirement. Sometimes called the "digital backbone" of a product, it includes the requirements phase, analysis and design stages, manufacturing, product launch, distribution, quality assurance, in-service maintenance and spare parts provisions.

The terms PLM and PDM (product data management) are sometimes used interchangeably; however, PDM is typically only the data handling component of PLM. PLM also interfaces to the CRM and ERP systems within a company, which support the customer relationships, supply chain management and accounting. Following are the primary elements of a PLM system, all of which must interrelate with each other in order to provide the integration necessary to be a PLM system.

Requirements Management
Used throughout creation, manufacturing and distribution. Keeps track of total costs ("cost rollup") and manages constraints (if one part is changed, what are effects on others). Also provides collaboration and feedback.

Product Data Management
Manages data in all phases and interrelationships between all databases (see PDM).

Configuration Management
Provides sophisticated change control for as-designed, as-manufactured and as-serviced product structure databases. Shows interrelationships between data; for example, if a part has to be replaced in a product years later, it can locate original requirements.

Program and Project Management
Program management provides the overall schedule for building multiple products, while project management provides the individual timelines for each team building a part.

Authoring Tools
CAD (computer-aided design), CAM (computer-aided manufacturing), CAE (computer-aided engineering) and process planning applications.