The Best Cloud PLM Software Solutions

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Making sure that your entire company is on the same page when it comes to product design is pretty tricky. Cloud PLM software is a great way to stop communication and process errors in their tracks. These solutions provide heightened visibility and workflow checklists to ensure everything is done right the first time. An example of how these programs can be used is by allowing different teams to approve product designs. This means that if the financial team doesn’t sign off on the cost of a design’s material, the production team would then move on to developing a list of substitutes that could be used instead.

Developing new products is incredibly important to the longevity of a company, which is why product lifecycle management solutions help manage this process from the ideation phase to the time an item is offered for sale. These systems include functionality for easy document sharing, support for CAD, and automated notifications, among dozens of other features that vary from vendor to vendor. Deployment method also varies with different solutions, though many companies are opting for cloud PLM due to its high accessibility. In this article, we’ll explore the best cloud PLM software programs on the market today, along with some of the benefits and features of these systems.

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Cloud PLM Software

What Is Cloud PLM Software?

Cloud PLM software is a tool for managing product lifecycles at any time and from any location. These programs can help users keep track of new designs and iterations. They can also improve transparency and communication among internal teams. Think about it: how many times has a message gotten lost or misconstrued across your company? This software aims to alleviate these issues through change management functionality and approval processes. With your PLM system available on the go, you can approve the use of different materials, request more information on product specs, and more from your mobile phone, tablet or laptop.

What Are The Main Differences Between Cloud-Based and On-Site Solutions?

The two most common types of software deployments are cloud-based and on-site installation. So, what are the differences between these methodologies that will affect your business? Good question. One of the main aspects to consider is the level of accessibility your employees will need from a program. With cloud-based software, users can access the system from any location and at any time (as long as there’s an internet connection). Some solutions even enable administrators to restrict access to select geographic locations and hotspots.

Yes, cloud deployment sounds great, but why do some companies still opt for on-premise installation? One of the main reasons for on-site deployments is due to data sensitivity. Having physical control over all of the information stored in a system might be a better option for companies that deal with classified data. With cloud-based products, data is stored off-site and is managed by the vendor, so choosing a trusted system is extremely important if going for this deployment option. Cloud PLM vendors do provide advanced security measures, but specific functionality varies by solution, making this element one of the major factors to consider when selecting a vendor and deployment method.

What Are Some Common Features of Cloud PLM Software?

There are a few basic features to consider when selecting a cloud PLM solution. Availability of these functions varies from vendor to vendor, so you’ll want to keep a mental note of these basic components to make sure the solution you go with offers everything that you need to succeed.

  • BOM Management
  • Computer-Aided Design Management
  • Manufacturing Product Management
  • Product Regulation and Governance
  • Project and Component Maintenance
  • Quality and Compliance
  • Supply Chain Analysis
  • Workflow and Change Management
  • Collaboration and Reporting

Which Industries Commonly Use Cloud PLM Software?

Product lifecycle management software is an effective solution for companies in a variety of business sectors. Here are some of the industries where the use of a cloud PLM system is most common:

  • Media
  • Electronics
  • Furniture
  • Energy
  • Manufacturing
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Retail

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The Best Cloud PLM Software on the Market

Our team of experts analyzed all of the cloud PLM software options on the market today to come up with a list of the best solutions available now. Here are the programs that came out on top.

Arena PLM

Overview

Arena PLM is a cloud-based solution that’s well-suited for businesses in the engineering and manufacturing industries. Some other sectors that this system serves include electronics, technology, industrial, life sciences, transportation and consumer products. The program gives users visibility of the entire product design lifecycle, from ideation to end of life. Aspects such as data, people, business systems and processes can be integrated through the program so that you can analyze the supply chain and keep abreast of developments as they occur. Some of the specific features included in the solution are project data, bill of materials data, compliance data, quality management, collaboration and demand analysis.

Arena PLM

This solution enables you to manage BOM by importing, exporting and creating elements such as drawings, components and documentation. A hierarchical multi-level assembly structure is included to make the management of product information simpler. The program also provides collaboration features, which provide relevant parties such as partners and suppliers with secure access to product details. The document management module in Arena PLM gives users centralized access to documents to aid in sharing, storing and tracking. Users can access specifications, product drawings and changes from this location. Products can also be reviewed with the item’s entire record and related processes at top of mind, ensuring that designs are efficient.

Benefits

BOM Intelligence: Arena PLM uses electronic component database information to develop in-product mashups, which are imported directly to the system’s BOM view. This enables employees to see the availability of different materials from suppliers in addition to risk status and BOM health.

Issue Management: This feature allows employees to conduct issue and defect management for hardware, software, electrical aspects and firmware. This is done using quality process actions, requirements, project efforts and product record.

Regulatory and Compliance: The regulatory and compliance tool includes access to the product record, electronic component market availability and the visualization of important compliance information. This ensures that all products are built “up to code,” per regulatory and stakeholder standards.

Product Record Control: The system contains a centralized record of products that includes Bills of Materials, items, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), Approved Manufacturer List (AML), documentation and packaging.

Demand Analysis: Users can look at component costs from the aggregated level and the component level through this tool. Product demand can also be estimated in the program, and deals can be negotiated with suppliers using price-based volumes. OEMs can, in turn, aggregate part demand and granular component level. Drill-down analysis is supported in the program and can be used for products such as capacitors, plastics and resistors. A demand aggregation calculator and volume discount assessment tool are included as well.

Visual Representation of KPIs: Arena PLM provides visualization of KPIs to make sure that new product introduction (NPI) processes are successful.

Reviews: 84/100
Price: $$$$$
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Company Size Suitability: S M L

Propel PLM

Overview

Propel PLM is available for deployment through the cloud and is commonly used by businesses ranging from startups to large enterprises. Some of the industries that Propel PLM’s customers are in include energy, consumer products, industrial manufacturing, food and beverage, robotics, IoT and transportation. The tool enables collaboration on aspects such as bills of materials, product designs, attributes, pricing and SKUs with various stakeholders. The ability to track phases, completion dates and project status is included as well. The system can track how product and commitment changes affect milestones.

Propel PLM

This solution allows users to look at product details such as design history, hardware, documentation, attachments and pricing. Through the manufacturing integration module, you can consolidate manufacturing costs and look at cost trends for the bill of materials, which are based on distributor allocations and Approved Manufacturers Lists. Product attributes such as pricing, BOMs, configuration rules and product catalog attributes can be graphically redlined through this tool as well.

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Benefits

BOM Management: The latest hierarchical BOMs are easily available through this feature. Users can look at product details such as documentation, design history, hardware, attachments and pricing as well.

Engineering Change Orders: Propel PLM allows you to develop approval workflows for Engineering Change Orders (ECOs), Engineering Change Requests (ECRs) and CAPAs. Change orders can also be reviewed and approved through this function.

Audit History: Approval history for change orders is supported through this feature and includes comments, reviewers and time-date stamps. The program can adhere to important standards such as 21 CFR part 11 as well.

Dashboards and Reporting: The system enables you to set personalized views and utilize built-in reports, Gantt charts, and Kanban task boards to improve project portfolio management.

Ecosystem Leverage: Propel PLM is built on the Salesforce platform. This allows you to benefit from the four million developers, 4,000 partners and one billion dollar R&D budget that Salesforce boasts.

Reviews: N/A/100
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Company Size Suitability: S M L

Oracle Agile PLM

Overview

Oracle Agile PLM is a cloud product lifecycle management software solution that is well-suited for businesses in the semiconductor, consumer goods, medical device and industrial manufacturing industries, among others. It offers various modules so that users can customize the solution to adhere to their particular operational needs. The system enables users to centralize product information in one area and to control the product lifecycle from ideation to delivery. The solution also offers compliance tools to ensure that all designs meet regulatory requirements and industry standards.

Oracle Agile PLM

Benefits

Enterprise Visualization: With this system, you can look at native documents from across your business. The tool supports more than 450 file formats, including MCAD and ECAD packages.

Materials and Equipment Management: Oracle Agile PLM allows users to manage and organize assets from the product design process to make day-to-day workflows easier for engineering teams, especially those scattered across different global locations.

Product Lifecycle Analytics: Users can leverage flexible, pre-configured reporting tools and dashboards that give insight on various stages in the product design lifecycle.

Customer Needs Management: The customer needs management module offered by Oracle Agile PLM captures requirements and ideas. It in turn allows users to collaborate, design and conceptualize with idea management and engineer to order.

Variant Management: This tool lets you manage the portfolios of product variants and related products throughout the design lifecycle.

Reviews: 87/100
Price: $$$$$
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Company Size Suitability: S M L

SOLIDWORKS Product Designer

Overview

SOLIDWORKS Product Designer is deployed via the cloud and contains tools that aid in product data, 3-D design, social collaboration and project management. Specific functionality includes sheet metal design, smart assemblies, 2-D and 3-D motion analysis and animation, manufacturing documentation and data management. Users can manage, save and merge product designs directly through this program.

Solidworks Product Designer

The solution also enables you to share design data and control what other team members can use the information for. The system includes the ability to develop collaborative tasks and to assign and link them to components. Additionally, you can monitor project progress through the project management dashboard.

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Benefits

Social Collaboration: The program enables user collaboration through features such as design and file access control, communities, lightweight visualization, sharing and product review.

2-D and 3-D Analysis and Animation: This function contains motion analysis, which allows you to analyze how a product will perform throughout the operational cycle. Preliminary motion design and support for 2-D and 3-D sketches are utilized in connection with comprehensive motion verification of 3-D assembly to optimize the quality and performance of a product. The system measures the loads and forces of a design and uses this to size motors and develop the product efficiently.

Manufacturing Documentation: Users can create 2-D drawings through this tool, along with describing how the design should be produced. Drawing views are also automatically updated when changes are made to 3-D models in the program.

Sheet Metal Design: Sheet metal components are designed in the bent and/or flattened state through this module. For manufacturing purposes, you can develop flat patterns with bend composition.

Smart Assemblies: The smart assemblies tool is innovative in that assembly components can “learn” how they are referenced and positioned, meaning that when the component is used in the future, it “knows” what position it should have in a new assembly.

Reviews: N/A/100
Price: N/A
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Company Size Suitability: S M L

Siemens Teamcenter

Overview

Siemens Teamcenter is available for deployment both on-site and through the cloud, unlike the other entries on this list. It enables users to control product processes and data, including electronics, documentation, embedded software, 3-D designs and bill of materials. The system uses a common source of BOM information to provide product information to users. It contains master product definition and up-front planning capabilities as well. Search and filter tools are included to assist users in finding relevant data in the system.

Siemens Teamcenter

The program contains visualization features so that users can see the people, data and processes that are affected by design changes. It can assist users in developing analysis reports, specifications, spreadsheets, 2-D/3-D illustrations, technical publications and test results that are in line with product changes.

Benefits

BOM Visualization and Decision-Making Unit (DMU): Teamcenter offers a 3-D representation of the BOM that can be interacted with. With this visualization, communication efforts can be improved and DMU capabilities tie the physical and virtual product definitions together, leading to the creation of digital validation and simulation.

Issue Management and CAPA: This feature can capture defects, complaints and non-conformance from across a business through the inclusion of enterprise quality teams in the software itself. Production planning simulation, product engineering and validation toolsets help detect non-conformance.

PLM Extensibility: Teamcenter is highly integrative and can connect to ERP solutions, along with other programs that aid in processes such as manufacturing, finance and engineering. Users can integrate the solution with SAP and Oracle products to facilitate a bidirectional exchange of information.

Artwork Design and Proofing: The advanced proofing feature enables users to create packaging and artwork designs. The program includes markup functions such as deep zoom, collaborative review, color separation and support for various file types. Users can also add comments and annotations to files, which are captured automatically.

Electrical Design Management: The program centralizes electrical CAD data. By managing this information, Teamcenter enables you to automate processes such as validation, engineering change and approval. It also puts information such as revisions, design data and product configurations from various locations and from along the supply chain in a single, easily accessible area. Users can look at design changes as they occur through the program’s validation and digital mock-up capabilities. Access controls and version management are included in the system as well.

Search and Analytics: The search and analytics functionality enables users to drill-down through relationships and product structures to find relevant information. Users can search through multiple data sources, and Teamcenter presents results in logical groups so that information is easy to obtain.

Reviews: 85/100
Price: $$$$$
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Company Size Suitability: S M L

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Lindsey JenkinsThe Best Cloud PLM Software Solutions

2 comments

Join the conversation
  • Rami Ringling - August 28, 2020 reply

    Consider reviewing Onshape cloud CAD+PLM. It’s pretty quick to learn, especially if you’re familiar with SolidWorks. John Hirschtick, the founder of SolidWorks is the CEO, and the tool does seem more next-gen than most, and I have had a really good experience using it for managing CAD data.

    Khaleel Hayes

    Khaleel Hayes - September 9, 2020 reply

    Thank you for the suggestion, Rami. Our list cannot satisfy
    every business’ needs, which is why it’s important for users
    to find and compare solutions that best meet their business
    needs and requirements.

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