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Under the Hood - All things PDM and PLM

Autodesk PLM Best Practices for Consumer Products Companies

Christa Prokos
January 31, 2024

By Gus Quade, Technical Solutions Executive, Autodesk

Hello design and manufacturing leaders! I co-hosted a webinar with Dave Chapman several months ago, where we explored the transformative power of Product Lifecycle Management (PLM). The session was packed with insights, and I wanted to distill some of the key points for you in this article.

In the webinar, we unpacked the fundamentals of PLM, its role in the product development process, and the outcomes it can help companies achieve. We also walked through different personas and how they interact with PLM, from engineers to project managers, quality technicians, procurement leads, and marketing professionals.

Key Takeaways

  1. PLM is not just for engineers: PLM is a task for the whole company, connecting all departments, people, data, and processes. It streamlines the movement of information and helps manage product lifecycles.
  2. The importance of integrating PLM with CAD tools: An integrated PLM system allows engineers to manage design data, automate the flow of design data to downstream tools, and streamline day-to-day tasks without leaving their CAD environment.
  3. The role of PLM in quality management: PLM can help manage quality issues, track changes, and facilitate a closed-loop quality process, ensuring that all stakeholders are on the same page

Let’s dive into the details

PLM: The Basics

PLM, or Product Lifecycle Management, is a strategic approach to managing the lifecycle of a product, from its conception, through design and manufacture, to service and disposal. It’s a task for the whole company, not just the engineering department.

PLM sits in the middle of your tech stack, connecting your CAD environment with other enterprise tools like ERP or MRP. It streamlines the flow of design data, passes bill of material data, automates processes, and serves as a single source of truth.

A Day in the Life of a Mechanical Design Engineer

We started the webinar by demonstrating a typical workflow for a mechanical design engineer using Autodesk’s PLM, Fusion 360 Manage with Upchain. As an engineer, PLM is a game-changer. It allows you to manage design data, track revisions, and collaborate with other engineers seamlessly. You can check out files to work on, modify designs, and then check them back in, all within the PLM system. This ensures that everyone is working on the latest version of a design, no matter what CAD software you use, reducing the risk of errors and miscommunication.

PDM model check-out workflow

See a full list of compatible CAD tools

Utilizing PLM for Quality Management and Issue Tracking

We then moved on to show how PLM can be used for quality management. From a quality perspective, PLM provides a platform for identifying and tracking non-conformances (NCRs) and implementing corrective and preventative actions (CAPA). It allows you to log issues, assign tasks to the relevant team members, and monitor progress in real-time.

Here is the workflow we followed in the webinar:

  1. Identify the issue: If a quality issue arises, it is logged into the PLM system. This could be done by anyone in the company who notices the issue.
  2. Create a change request: A change request is created in the PLM system to address the quality issue. This request includes details about the issue and proposed solutions.
  3. Route for approval: The change request is then routed to the appropriate stakeholders for review and approval. This could include engineers, managers, and other relevant parties.
  4. Implement the change: Once the change request is approved, the proposed solutions are implemented. This could involve design changes, process changes, or other actions to address the quality issue.
NC inside of PLM and NC workflow diagram

Managing Projects Effectively with PLM

Next, we looked at how project managers can use PLM to manage their projects. For project managers, PLM offers a way to monitor the progress of a project, assign tasks, and keep track of budgets and timelines. It provides a high-level overview of the project, making it easier to identify potential issues and take corrective action.

This is particularly useful in New Product Introduction (NPI) projects. We showed how to identify a project, add tasks, assign those tasks to team members, and monitor progress. The PLM system provides a clear overview of the project, making it easier to keep track of tasks and deadlines.

Gantt chart and task list views in PLM NPI workspace

For project managers, the integration of PLM into their workflow can significantly enhance their ability to manage and oversee projects. PLM provides a comprehensive overview of the project lifecycle, from initial conception to final product delivery. This includes tracking tasks, monitoring progress, and managing resources. With PLM, project managers can have real-time visibility into the project status, which allows for more accurate forecasting and better decision-making. It also helps in identifying potential bottlenecks or delays early, enabling proactive measures to mitigate risks. In essence, PLM can transform project management from a reactive to a proactive process, resulting in improved efficiency and productivity.

Streamlining Procurement Processes with PLM

We also discussed how procurement leads can use PLM. Procurement leads can use PLM to review bills of materials (BOM), update quantities, and monitor costs. It provides a single source of truth for all product-related information, making it easier to coordinate with suppliers and ensure that all parts are ordered and delivered on time.

We demonstrated how to find the correct project, look at the bill of materials, perform an analysis, and make changes to the bill of materials. This helps ensure that the procurement process is aligned with the design and manufacturing processes.

Accessing and editing BOM in PLM


PLM can transform procurement teams into strategic, value-adding partners in the product lifecycle management process. By providing a single source of truth for product-related information, PLM allows teams to accurately determine the materials needed and manage orders effectively.

Harnessing PLM for Marketing Management and Product Requirements

Finally, we looked at how marketing managers can use PLM. From a marketing perspective, PLM can be used to manage requirements for new products, coordinate tasks, and monitor progress. It provides a platform for creating and managing product requirements, ensuring that all stakeholders are on the same page. We showed how to create a new SKU, copy an existing design, make minor changes, and release the new SKU. This helps ensure that the marketing team’s

changes, and release the new SKU. This helps ensure that the marketing team’s requirements are incorporated into the design and manufacturing processes.

Requirements workspace in PLM


In the realm of marketing, PLM can be a game-changer. It provides marketing professionals with a clear view of the product lifecycle, enabling them to align their strategies and campaigns with the product’s development and launch timelines. With PLM, marketing teams can have access to up-to-date product information, which can be used to create accurate and compelling marketing materials. Moreover, PLM can facilitate better collaboration between marketing and other departments, ensuring that marketing strategies are in sync with product development and business objectives. This can lead to more effective marketing campaigns, improved customer engagement, and ultimately, increased sales.


In conclusion, PLM is a powerful tool that can help streamline processes and improve collaboration across different departments in a consumer products company. Whether you’re an engineer, a project manager, a procurement lead, or a marketing manager, PLM can help you manage your tasks more effectively and efficiently.

If you want to learn more about PLM or watch the full webinar, feel free to reach out to me or Dave Chapman. We’d be happy to help!

Thanks for reading, and I hope you found this recap useful!


Christa Prokos

Christa is a product marketing manager at Autodesk. She researches and writes about product development strategies and technologies, including data management and product lifecycle management. Outside work, you can find Christa gravitating toward engineers at social gatherings.