One of the objectives of implementing a PLM or PDM system is to create a central and secured repository for Bill of Materials (BOM) and all related product data. Once you have reached these objectives and your product data is vaulted, the next challenge is sharing that information in a cost-effective yet secure and controlled manner with design and manufacturing partners who are not directly connected into your PLM system.
While sending spreadsheets, drawings and other associated product data in various file formats (.doc, .xls, .csv, dwg, .stp, .igs) via e-mail, is still in common today, sharing product data via PDX offers significant benefits when compared to these antiquated methods.
What is PDX?
PDX or Product Data eXchange is an xml based format that was developed by the Association for Connecting Electronics Industries as a standard method to exchange data between PLM systems or with suppliers that may not be connected into an OEM’s PLM system. When fully utilized, it allows data secured in aProduct Lifecycle Management systemto be communicated to supply chain partnersthat do not have direct access to the PLM system.
PDX is a simple and flexible way for OEMs to provide rich, detailed product information to suppliers without requiring the supplier to have access to systems secured behind the OEMs firewall.
The product data encapsulated within a PDX file can includestructured bill of materials (BOM) information, Approved Manufacturers (AML) or Approved Vendor (AVL) lists, Engineering Changes Requests (ECR), Engineering Change Orders (ECO) as well as the attribute data and file attachments (models, drawings, specifications, etc.) associated with these items. Since the PDX file represents a snapshot of the product at a moment in time, all item revision and document versions are guaranteed to be consistent.
These items are included within a single PDX file that conveniently captures this data in a single structured file.
PDX was initially popular among the electronic and electromechanical manufacturers due to the extensive use of manufacturer and supplier parts in those industries. However PDX brings the same benefits to all other discrete manufacturing industries.
Most of the leading PLM vendors currently support PDX import and export even though several don’t openly advertise this capability or encourage their customers to adopt it since sharing data via PDX can often mean limiting license revenue for full-priced purchased seats.
Companies such as SolidPartners and Zero Wait-State provide robust no-cost viewers to view PDX files. You can see a short demo and download this free viewer directly from: http://zerowait-state.com/watch-pdxstate-demo-form/
What are the benefits of using PDX?
Having product information exported from a PLM system into a single file provides significant value in communicating with partners such as manufacturing and design suppliers.
Security: IT departments, based on valid concerns over access to intellectual property (IP), are resistant to providing outside suppliers access to internal company systems installed behind the company firewall. In such cases, PDX can provide access to rich product data while not requiring system access inside the firewall where unintended access to company IP could be occur.
Ease of use – Many suppliers work with multiple OEMs. To facilitate this structure, these suppliers are often required to use a different PLM system for each OEM. This requires the supplier to maintain expertise in several systems. Since PDX communicates with almost all PLM systems, its use limits the number of systems that the supplier must develop and a maintain expertise in.
Cost –If as mentioned above, a supplier works with multiple OEMs, they are often required to purchase at least 1 license of each PLM system used by the OEM. The results in suppliers purchasing licenses of 2, 3 or possibly 4 different PLM systems. If communication can be facilitated via PDX, the supplier avoids the cost of purchasing and maintaining redundant PLM systems. At least a portion of this cost savings will be passed on to the OEM in the form of a reduction in overall project costs.
Accuracy – sending data via Excel or Word with IGES or Step files can be prone to error both in the quality of the data as well as making sure the data is the most current version. Short of being linked into the OEMs internal PLM system, which may require added costs, using PDX is the best solution available to ensure accuracy and timeliness of product data provided to suppliers.
What are the costs of using PDX?
One of the most attractive points of using PDX is the cost. The SolidPartners viewer (4G:PDX View) mentioned above can be downloaded at no cost from: http://zerowait-state.com/watch-pdxstate-demo-form/. The ability to create a PDX file is included in most of today’s PLM systems.
PDX is the equivalent of .pdf in the document world. Similar to creating a pdf, creating a PDX file is free (or very low cost) and reading the PDX file is free.
PDX is a standard that enables improvements in efficiency throughout the supply chain by providing partners a way to exchange rich product content in a common format. These improvements in efficiency contribute directly to the company’s bottom line.
Overall, the only cost associated with using PDX is learning how to use it. This makes the ROI for PDX a very simple calculation – whatever you gain from using PDX in your product process is pure profit to your business.
Once a PDM or PLM system is installed and product data is secured within the system, the need to share this data with selected partners can pose an obstacle to reaping the full benefits of PLM. Many companies resort to multiple file formats sent via e-mail to try to overcome this barrier. However, the Standard PDX format makes sharing files via these methods obsolete and provides significant productivity, security and financial benefits.
Free 4G:PDX View viewers are available from SolidPartners and Zero Wait-State at: http://zerowait-state.com/watch-pdxstate-demo-form/
For more information on the 4G:PDX View Standard, visit: http://webstds.ipc.org/standards.htm#x2570