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9.03 - Glossary of Terms

Enhanced Glossary of PLM terms

Term or ExpressionMeaning
Application InterfaceAn interface from an external application that provides access to the functional capabilities and database of a PLM system. The interface is usually built from a library of calling routines that may be embedded within other applications or programs to call PLM functions and to access or update the PLM database.
ApprovalThe process by which one or more authorities indicate their approval of a controlled data object such as a document, package of documents or data sets or to proposed changes in the object. Approval may denote a change in life cycle state of the object such as its release for manufacture or construction, or a confirmation that it is an accurate record.
Approval NotificationMessages sent to people telling them that an item or package has been approved.
AuthorizationThe level of functionality and access to PLM-managed information granted a specific user. Examples of access authorization include read, write, update, copy, and view. Examples of functional authorization include the ability to add users, review or release items, or launch an application.
BOMA Bill of Material (BOM) is an ordered list of the parts, sub-assemblies or modules, and assemblies and raw materials that define a product. Normally created and maintained within the Project Structure Management function, it defines the type, number, quantity, and relationships of parts and assemblies.
Bundled PLM SystemsPLM systems available only as an integral part of another software application. For example, some PLM systems are only available as an option to a CAD/CAM system.
CALSContinuous Acquisition and Life-cycle Support is a DOD digital data transfer protocol. It is intended to provide standard mechanisms for the delivery of digital data and enabling concurrent engineering for DOD sponsored developments and procurements. The CALS initiative has endorsed IGES and STEP as formats for digital data. CALS includes standards for electronic data interchange, electronic technical documentation, and guidelines for process improvement. CALS was known formerly as Computer Aided Logistics System.
Change ControlThe process and procedures that manage how changes are incorporated into a product.
Check-InThe process of placing or returning a new or modified PLM object to the electronic vault to replace the previous version (the PLM system may also be configured to retain the previous version). This procedure usually entails a review process controlled by the PLM system.
Check-OutThe process of getting a PLM-managed object from the electronic vault. This access may be for viewing, reference and use in another design or manufacturing task, or for making a design change.
ClassificationClassification is the assignment of attributes and other defining meta-data to managed objects and information within a PLM system. These meta-data are then used for finding data with similar characteristics. Some classification systems can work on the basis of shape characteristics of the CAD model of a part.
Concurrent EngineeringConcurrent Engineering (CE) is a management/operational approach which improves product design, production, operation, and maintenance by developing environments in which personnel from all disciplines (design, marketing, production engineering, process planning, and support) work together and share data throughout all phases of the product life cycle.
Configuration ManagementConfiguration Management (CM) is the process of defining and controlling a product structure and its related documentation. CM includes maintaining revision control and history information about all changes to a document or product.
Data TranslationTranslation of PLM data from one format to another via converters such as IGES or supplier- and user-supplied translators.
Data TransportThe action of moving PLM-managed information to meet the needs of distributed environments. Information may be either moved or copied. Unlike data translation, data transport maintains a consistent data format.
Data Vault and Document ManagementThe process of controlling design data. Components include check-in/check-out, release level maintenance, access security, and promotion authorization.
Design VariantUsed in the product structure to indicate a coordinated set of alternatives in the design which produce a different product, for example, a 4-cylinder auto versus a 6-cylinder auto. Design variants represent sets of variations which evolve in versions consistent with the rest of the product.
ECN/ECOEngineering Change Notices (ECNs) and Engineering Change Orders (ECOs) are formal documents notifying selected persons of proposed, pending, or accomplished changes. In a PLM-managed environment ECNs may be distributed by electronic mail.
EffectivityAn indicator in a product structure which specifies the versions at which a component part is used. These indicators generally specify a range of either dates, serial numbers, or build lots. Effectivity indicators are typically considered as 'conditions' on the parent-child relationships in a standard product structure.
EnterpriseA portion of a company which is related by a common interest in a product or group of products. An enterprise may also logically include a network of contractors or suppliers involved in creating or supporting the common product. PLM systems are often applied across an enterprise.
FrameworkA framework is an extensible structure for describing a set of concepts, methods, technologies, and cultural changes necessary for a complete product design and manufacturing process. Framework products are most prevalent in the area of Electrical and Electronic design. Frameworks provide a mechanism that guides users through a proper order of steps, applications, and data conversions via a common interface to the process being followed.
Group Technology(GT) See Part Classification.
Image ManagementThe management and control of raster images (generated by image scanning and raster conversions of electronic data created in other formats), vector data (from CAD and illustration systems), and multi-media data (audio and video images).
Independent PLM SystemPLM systems which are available as independent products distinct from any other application. These systems may be integrated with any number of other applications (such as CAD/CAM), but they may be purchased and installed independently and do not require purchase of some attached application. These systems contrast with bundled PLM systems.
InstanceThis term is used differently in product design systems, in PLM product structure functions, and in image management systems. As used in product design, an instance is a reference to a geometric object that allows the same geometry to be located at several places in a geometric model assembly without actually copying the geometry. When the original geometry is modified the modifications automatically appear at every instance location. Similarly, in product structures, an instance is a reference to a Part. It allows the same Part to be used in several assemblies without copying all part information into the assembly. In image management, an instance is an occurrence of an image in some format. An image management system may maintain multiple instances of the same image in distributed locations to improve access performance.
Item MasterItem master is similar to Part Master except that this set of data describes an item (file) managed by the PLM system, not a part.
Life CycleThe description of the distinct phases through which each product passes during its product life. This includes phases such as requirements definition, concept design, production, operation, maintenance, etc.
Management DataInformation required for proper planning and control of product development. Examples include scheduling and audit history information.
Meta-DataInformation about the data controlled by the PLM system. For example, drawing number is an attribute within the meta-data about a drawing. This definition differs from that used by information systems professionals as a definition of a database's underlying schema.
Materials Requirements Planning (MRP); Manufacturing Resources Planning (MRP II)A methodology and system used to plan and manage manufacturing operations. The BOM for products released to manufacturing is a key part of the MRP system's database. Manufacturing Resource Planning (MRP II) is the same as MRP, except that the concepts are broadened and MRP II systems are newer generation systems.
Object-Oriented DatabaseObject Oriented Data Base Management System (OODBMS) is a DBMS in which data objects are encapsulated by classes that have pre-defined characteristics. Objects added to the database automatically acquire (inherit) the characteristics of their class. These data are accessible only through messages which they recognize. Object Oriented Databases are expected to be more frequently used in future PLM systems.
OptionSee Design Variant.
Part ClassificationMechanisms to classify parts and other elements of a product by their function or by the processes used to manufacture them. Part classification is used to find PLM-managed components to use in a product design or PLM-managed processes to use in the design of similar processes. Also called Group Technology.
Part MasterA set of data (information) about a part which serves as the control definition of the part. This might include information such as part number, date created, currently active revision level, department responsible for design changes, etc. The Part Master will have relationships to other information which describes the part's use in assemblies, etc.
PromotionThe act of moving an item of product information from one Promotion Level or state to another in a PLM-managed approval process.
Promotion LevelProduct information is assigned to Promotion Levels. These are defined and named by the system administrator. Examples names are Preliminary Release, Prototype Release, and Production Release. Each Promotion Level has its own set of authorizations for access and approval.
RDBMSRelational Data Base Management Systems (RDBMS) are database management systems that maintain data records and indices in tables. Relationships may be created and maintained across and among the data and tables.
Release Action NoticeMessages sent to people whose action is required as part of a release process.
Release LevelSynonym for Promotion Level.
ReviewA process in which one or more persons checks changed documents or data to determine if the changes have been correctly performed.
Review Action NoticeMessages sent to people whose review is required for a defined release procedure.
RevisionIs a modification of any product data after that data has been released for use.
Standard for the Exchange of Product (STEP)A proposed international standard (ISO 10303) to facilitate the storage and exchange of all types of information related to products. STEP defines formats of product data for all types of products as well as for specific industry sectors.
Substitute PartA part which is approved to be used in a specific design instead of a preferred part, if conditions warrant.
TriggerA mechanism that detects some activity, or change in state of some object, in the PLM system and as a result, can initiate some subsequent action.
VaultThe PLM system's computerized data storage area and databases. Information stored in PLM vaults are controlled by system rules and processes.
VersionVersions of an object or product structure are used to represent the different objects or structures as they change during their life as an object or product.
WBSWork Breakdown Structure (WBS) is used in Project Management to plan and manage the process of developing a product design, to produce a product, and to support it. A WBS is a mechanism for breaking work (generally related to some specific project) into smaller elements which can be used for assigning resources, budgets, schedules, etc. The WBS provides a basis for controlling projects.
Workflow and Process ManagementThe interaction of people working with product data according to the predefined business processes of an enterprise to achieve corporate objectives. Repetitive workflows and processes can be programmed as part of a PLM system to route data and work packages automatically, to control and monitor processes, and to provide management reporting. Change control is a workflow that is common in most enterprises, but other workflows exist for design release management, bid preparation, engineering reviews, purchasing, problem tracking and resolution, and contracts management. See also, Change Control.
WorkgroupAny group of people working toward a common goal as a team. An enterprise will typically have a number of workgroups involved in a product development project.


We thank CIMdata Inc for allowing us to use their PLM glossary as a basis for this one.

Further Reading