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Why Consider Integrating CAD to Product Lifecycle Management

As many engineers and other PLM professionals know, the data that makes up a CAD file can be quite complex. Beyond imagery,  geometry, or PCB layouts, CAD files can contain robust design information – like configurations, footprints, machine production files, bill of materials, information for work instructions, metadata, and much more. 

This complexity combined with collaboration requirements and the way CAD systems create and output data is a continuous challenge to manage. PDM and TDM systems can alleviate some of these challenges but tend to lack the depth and breadth required to work across an enterprise with this critical data. Enter CAD integration to Product Lifecycle Management or PLM. Most PLM systems inherently include PDM functionality, but take it several steps further to include multiple downstream people and processes. However, companies often resist the temptation to integrate CAD with PLM.

But that is a shame, according to today’s guest on Minerva PLM TV, Mark Caradonna of XPLM. Schooled as an electrical engineer, Mark has been working with CAD for a number of years and has specialized in CAD integrations to PLM systems. According to Mark, companies that are considering making their CAD and PLM systems coexist should do it right away because:

An integration:

  • Eliminates manual data entry and eliminates errors
  • Enables collaboration across the enterprise
  • Keeps mechanical and electrical/electronic product data in lock-step
  • Gives you the possibility to automatically integrate BOM – including configurations – which means less time on paperwork and more time for design innovation

Of course, there are various types of CAD integrations, and in this episode, Mark outlines the main differences between integrating ECAD and MCAD.

He goes deeper and addresses a typical discussion with people considering integration, for instance, whether it is easier to add the ECAD files into the PLM system in a zip file instead of integrating with the existing ECAD software.

Further, Mark sheds light on why companies may need both Technical Data Management (TDM) and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) and why these systems work best together, not as a substitute to one another.

He concludes the episode by answering commonly asked questions in ECAD integration with PLM.


Keep the Conversation Going

What are your takeaways? What initiatives are you focusing on in 2021? Are you considering integrating your CAD with PLM? Why would or wouldn’t you?

Share your thoughts and key takeaways with the community and keep the conversation going.

Want to share your story? Drop me a line or send me an email at I’d love to hear from you.

About the author

Jennifer Moore

Jennifer Moore has more than 15 years of experience in Business Transformation across different industries. Her extensive experience includes helping companies navigate complex regulatory requirements through software solutions. She has been developing and deploying large, multi-faceted enterprise software project, driving revenues as well as market adoption.

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