Peter van Leeuwen Peter van Leeuwen
Apr 13, 2022 10:17:04 AM

Data is the backbone of the manufacturing industry. Any error in data impacts your entire business, resulting in purchase errors, defects in manufactured products, and dissatisfied customers.


Maintaining data quality is undoubtedly crucial due to its impact on your business and the role it plays in ensuring smooth operations.

The integration of your product lifecycle management (PLM) system with enterprise resource planning (ERP) ensures that the right information is transferred from engineering to manufacturing, solving the issue of data errors.

But how can you be sure that your PLM-ERP integration can ensure data quality?

Working with various global manufacturing companies, we at STAEDEAN have helped multiple businesses connect their PLM systems with Dynamics 365 ERP.

This article will discuss the importance of data quality during PLM-ERP integration, its impact on your manufacturing business, and a potential solution to maintaining high data quality.

What is the impact of incorrect data during PLM-ERP integration?

The PLM system contains engineering data, which is usually owned by the engineering team. This data contains all the information related to the product design, its parts, and materials.

The ERP system usually consists of the manufacturing, operational, and logistical data, owned by the manufacturing and production team. This system has all the relevant data required to manufacture a particular product.

A PLM-ERP integration connects the two systems and allows data to transfer from the PLM to the ERP system. But a simple data transfer is not enough. You must ensure that the data from the PLM to ERP is in the correct format because the manufacturing team uses this data in product manufacturing which impacts your entire supply chain.

If there are any issues around data quality in the PLM, it affects the ERP and impacts the entire organization.

Purchasing wrong product parts due to a data error in the bill of materials (BOMs) would mean incorrect manufacturing, and a waste of money, time, effort, and resources. If there is no quality check to verify the manufactured product, it would be dispatched as it is, leading to product recalls, disgruntled customers, and a hit to your reputation.

How and why does data change during PLM-ERP integration?

When you’re looking to integrate your PLM systems such as PTC Windchill, Siemens Teamcenter, Autodesk, Dassault, etc. to Dynamics 365 ERP, there is a clear distinction between how product data is owned in the two systems (PLM and ERP).

During integration, you must realize that both these systems own a certain part of the product data:

1. Engineering data that determines what the product should look like (form, fit, and function) is owned by PLM
2. Operational and logistical data, which gives information about the manufacturing process and associated logistics, is owned by ERP

The entire product data lies in two systems. A simple import-export using data entities will reset the data at the operational side in Dynamics 365, as each update in the PLM system will override the operational information.

This results in a data change at the sending and receiving ends and impacts data ownership.

For instance, the PLM system usually handles BOMs, and when an incorrect BOM is transferred into the ERP, it results in faulty production. This BOMs data must be resolved and corrected in PLM, after which the interface is connected again to the ERP to ensure correct data transfer.

Additionally, there could be a need to change data between PLM and ERP, as each system has its own data formats and definitions. Connecting the two systems with a simple code to import and export the data cannot transform and validate the data from the PLM system to Dynamics 365 ERP.

So, a simple integration cannot ensure whether the data from the PLM is mapped correctly in standard Dynamics 365.

How can you ensure data quality during PLM-ERP integration?

The way to ensure data quality during PLM-Dynamics 365 ERP integration is to look for an integration solution that prevents data change in the PLM and ERP systems through an established data validation process.

You could either develop such integration software or opt for activating the engineering change management (ECM) module in Dynamics 365 in combination with a standard integration embedded in Dynamics 365 to validate data and maintain data quality.

Which solutions for Dynamics 365 ERP can control issues around data change?

1.    Engineering Change Management in Dynamics 365

Dynamics 365 launched the engineering change management (ECM) module, to control product versions and releases.

ECM addresses one of the most challenging aspects of data management for program managers by efficiently supporting product version management and releases. It handles version management and centralized data ownership with change management and releasing product data to several subsidiaries in line with PLM.

For instance, you’ve manufactured an inverter battery and received feedback that the wiring is frail and breaking easily. You plan to change only the wiring in the inverter battery with better quality wires to enhance the quality of your product.

However, without ECM, this inverter battery will get documented as an entirely ‘new product’ in the ERP system. With ECM, you can control this version change by retaining all the information of your inverter battery, except the data upgrade on the wires alone.

This would result in the same inverter battery in your ERP with a second version, having the upgraded wires.

This makes product data management easy and reduces the load on your database as it documents different versions of products instead of different products altogether.

You could explore more about the capabilities of ECM in Dynamics 365.

2.    A standard PLM-ERP integration software

After implementing ECM, you will need an integration to transfer the data from PLM to ERP. You could opt for a fully automated standard integration that is embedded in the Dynamics 365 environment, making the software robust and easy to use, with a quick implementation time.

Such a standard out-of-the-box integration allows the manufacturing team to validate any data that comes from the PLM system.

A standard PLM-ERP integration embedded in Dynamics 365 ensures data quality, as you can:

  • Validate if the data is mapped correctly to standard Dynamics 365

  • Analyze the accuracy of BOM data in a staging journal, before releasing it

  • Decrease the need for manual interaction through advanced mapping capabilities

  • Reduce risks around data quality through an automated process

  • Ensure data edits are made in line with business needs during updates

  • Maintain data ownership in the two systems

  • Safeguard engineering data in ERP and prevent deletion of operational data during PLM updates

  • Set conditions for data transformation from PLM to ERP through a simple configuration

This data validation process can also be automated after some configuration within the software, in line with the standard data validation rules of Dynamics 365.

What is more, if you want additional attributes or data sent to the ERP, a standard integration allows it easily. The addition of attributes is done with a simple configuration and provides information about the product specifications such as weight, height, dimensions, and so on.

This always gives you access to all vital data of every product in your manufacturing system.

What can you do to implement a PLM-ERP integration which ensures data quality?

The first step you must take is to analyze your current PLM and ERP systems and look for software vendors that offer integration solutions supporting your PLM and ERP systems.

The vendors must have experience implementing PLM-ERP integration and knowledge of PLM integration in Dynamics 365.

Next, you must analyze the type and list of data you want to transfer from the PLM to the ERP and begin the implementation process.

If you’re looking for a standard PLM-ERP integration software embedded in Dynamics 365, you could explore the integration software we offer, that ensures data quality, as discussed above.

We provide out-of-the-box standard integrations that easily support output formats from two PLM systems: PTC Windchill and Siemens Teamcenter.

We also offer integrations for any other PLM, PDM, or CAD systems, using a PLM framework that can be easily configured according to the data output format.

You could explore how our standard PLM-ERP integration in combination with Dynamics 365 ECM will guarantee data quality, by checking out our factsheet. 

This factsheet shares information on:

  • What the integration can do for your business

  • Benefits of PLM-ERP integration

  • Features of a standard integration

Once you’ve read the factsheet, you’ll have a clearer insight into the offerings of a standard PLM integration with Dynamics 365 ERP for your manufacturing business.

Peter van Leeuwen Peter van Leeuwen
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