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Still typing up parts lists in 2023? Why an ERP interface is essential

Storing data separately and transmitting information manually – that is unfortunately still common practice in many companies and a frequent source of errors and mistakes. One thing is clear: ERP, CAD, and PLM fulfill different tasks and each system has its rightful place in the company. An automated sync between these systems is extremely important to avoid mistakes and working efficiently.
ERP/merchandise management systems and PLM solutions for managing the product lifecycle are both solutions that support manufacturers in completing their daily tasks. They help safeguard competitiveness in the long term, but they serve different purposes and should remain separate systems. It is important to clarify which data is exchanged between CAD software, an ERP system, and an intermediate PDM/PLM solution, and how the interfaces are to be designed. It’s this task of synchronizing article master data, parts lists, and project data that poses a major challenge for manufacturing companies.

If data is maintained separately, then make it sync automatically

Separate storage of data by development and engineering departments on one side (where CAD is used and the data stored in the PLM system) and job preparation, purchasing, material planning, and manufacturing departments on the other side (where the data is maintained in the ERP system) is a primary cause of inconsistent data in the company. Above all, syncing information manually between the PLM and ERP system is a real threat to productivity. Not only because it wastes valuable time on the integrated path from engineering to manufacturing through to sales – it is also extremely prone to error.


Unlock the secrets of PLM and take control of your product development journey. Click now for our comprehensive ‘PLM for Manufacturers’ guide!


Unlock the secrets of PLM and take control of your product development journey. Click now for our comprehensive ‘PLM for Manufacturers’ guide!

Outdated drawings – you’re guaranteed to stumble across them

A further stumbling block on the path to faultless production are outdated drawings and manufacturing documents. They can be avoided by making sure a drawing only exists once – as a neutral PDF, PDF/A, or TIF document – for direct access by all departments. These drawings can be accessed on the ERP workstations in master data management. Drawings are then no longer distributed as plot diagrams in the company, but rather made available digitally on the machine in the production hall. In addition, a parts list can be added to a drawing in the PLM system for the service department.

This also has to work in the opposite direction, in other words bidirectional communication is essential. Employees from development are given access to information in the ERP system. This can include prices or warehouse availability of purchased goods. If the technical purchasing department in a company has agreed on certain favorable terms with its motor supplier, then this usage guideline must be communicated to the engineering department via the integrated CAD/PDM/ERP systems.


How many ERP systems does your PLM/CPQ solution have automated syncs with? It’s worth checking since ready-made interfaces from the PLM/CPQ solution are critical for automatically comparing two domains. Since the ERP landscape is colorful, this means that the more ERP systems can be connected out-of-the-box, the faster the automated transfer of data can be implemented between them.

This creates important added value for the entire value chain and at the same time allows the continuous monitoring needed by a modern company. Innovations, differentiated products, as well as cost and quality improvements are only possible by integrating ERP systems into the PLM world of a manufacturing company.

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