ERP differs significantly from PLM, even if limited to managing product data. Once the design intent is defined, ERP systems focus on how to manage production related issues: managing inventories, sourcing, manpower, plants. A common factor for both systems is the “Bill of Materials” or the product structure.
But the approach is different: PLM product structure and attached docuemnts describe the physical characteristics of the product, its components, its functions and, possibly, actions necessary to produce it. An ERP BoM looks at the same
component from a “as-built” point of view, or as the product is assembled in the factory. The production BoM can include elements such as raw materials, routings, calibrations, “phantom” assemblies used to producte, but do not reflect the design intent. Beyond defining BoMs, ERP manages inventories, procurement, production processesand scheduling. Besiddes a ERP system sometimes extends to accounting, human resources, sales and other functions of the enterprise.
ERP systems technology has evolved at a slower pace, while PLM systems have followed the tumultuous development of design systems, are technologically modern, more flexible and more suitable to be configured and customized.
Therefore we have two well distinct systems, both fundamental for manufacturing companies and the best from them can be obtained if they are properly integrated.