Using PDXpert PLM software with an MRP system

PDXpert product lifecycle management software is designed to import your design data from "upstream" applications such as CAD, as well as export your approved product data to "downstream" manufacturing applications like MRP/ERP and support applications like CRM and field service.

PDXpert facilities for exporting data to MRP and other systems

PDXpert real-world data objects include parts, documents, change forms and related entities (BOMs, suppliers, approvers, file attachments, etc.). For export, PDXpert converts internal objects to XML structured data. As with any XML file, PDXpert's XML objects may be reformatted into other useful formats by applying an XML transformation file ("XSLT"). PDXpert conveniently contains a Data Transformations collection that contains XSLT code that can be applied using the Report/Export Wizard. In a single operation, you can export parts, BOMs, approved sources, etc. into text-based file formats such as XML, Excel XLS(X), comma-delimited CSV, tab-delimited text, and Access database tables.

Downstream ERP/MRP systems (from QuickBooks, SAGE and Epicor up to Oracle/SAP, and even cloud-based systems like NetSuite) will typically have a CSV, XML or similar import facility. Some systems can accept all PLM data in a single file, while others may require separate imports for item master records, BOM relationships, and approved supplier part relationships. The PDXpert XSLT maps the PLM system's internal representation of this data to your specific manufacturing system.

PDXpert also exports PDX ("Product Data eXchange") packages, an industry standard described by IPC-2571 (www.ipc.org). These more complex, multi-object files contain documents, parts and change forms as well as their related file attachments. We publish PDXplorer, a free PDX viewer that you can share with your supply chain partners, allowing them to view your PLM data outside of PDXpert. Some MRP systems can read and extract data from PDX packages.

For those computer applications that can work with OBDC data, PDXpert offers several standard database views that provide immediate real-time access to your product data.

Data transformations are, by far, the least expensive transfer mechanism for small volumes of product data changes. They remain relatively stable on either side of the export/import link despite software application updates. Other methods, such as PDX and ODBC, have their own advantages but are usually implemented at a higher cost. These require more significant time and development resources, but are often cost-effective when handling a thousand or more engineering changes annually.

Exporting parts, BOMs and approved suppliers to MRP via DT

This section outlines how released part and bill of materials (BOM) data is moved from the PDXpert PLM system to your manufacturing software application using the Data Transformations collection.

Preparing for export

You have substantial flexibility in determining the point at which your released product data is transformed from PDXpert's objects to your MRP system's format:

  • Transform the data objects within PDXpert using a Data Transformations collection member, which exports it in a format that's compatible with your MRP import
  • Extract data using native SQL Server T-SQL into CSV files and formatted reports
  • Extract data into the client-side SQLite local cache using PDXpert's Views collection members.

PDXpert has predefined Data Transformations that may be used with your MRP import utility. Alternatively, a Data Transformations can be designed that precisely matches the column/row requirements of the MRP import tool.

Exporting your released data

PDXpert has a built-in facility called the Report/Export Wizard. With a few clicks, the Wizard lets you specify the required data transformation, accepts the items to be reformatted and exported, and creates the file in the selected location.

Using your exported data

Upon release of an Engineering Change Notice (or your equivalent implementing change form), the change workflow can specify that an email notification be sent to the person responsible for importing new information into the MRP system. The person runs the MRP import utility to obtain the released PLM part and BOM data.

Alternatively, the changed data can be exported from PDXpert into a shared folder, and the MRP system can poll the directory for changed files.

In either case, the PDXpert export / MRP import only needs to occur when a change form workflow has been completed.

System initialization and data migration

While product data typically flows from the PLM system into the MRP, there's one significant counter-flow: using existing MRP part, bill of materials and supplier information to initialize the PLM database. Your MRP can often export the master item list into a CSV or similar text file, which we can then import for you as starting values for your new PDXpert PLM application.

Although the source for initializing your PLM software is often production information captured in an MRP system (anything from QuickBooks to an enterprise ERP), the data source may also be a collection of Excel spreadsheet BOMs, a file server folder containing your CAD and PDF files, perhaps some Access database part records, or Word templates for engineering changes. Since this legacy data may be loosely structured, it will need to be analyzed, restructured, cleaned, and mapped to the PDXpert database schema before it's used.

After your legacy data is well-structured, the data can be imported using both database tools and XSLT tools. After this one-time activity populates your PLM system, all further data transactions represent approved incremental changes to your product definition, and will be handled as data exports from the PLM system to your production and support applications.

Current releases of PDXpert include a built-in External Data Importer tool that accepts CSV files that contain part/document data (including custom attributes), BOMs, approved sources, file attachments and compliance-related materials lists. The PDXpert help file contains several topics related to this tool.

This application note was relevant to the PDXpert software release that was current at time of publication. Product changes since that time may affect its utility. We'd be happy to assist you in assessing the applicability of this note to your situation.

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