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PLM Essentials - 2. Attributes


Attributes play a key role in effective product lifecycle management (PLM). In the second of our PLM essentials series, we take a closer look at what they are and how they can benefit your business.

In part 1, we explored how to create a part numbering system. Attributes are able to work within or alongside part numbering, so give it a read if you want to find out more about part numbering before getting stuck into part 2.


What are attributes? 

In essence, attributes are a reference system that will help you identify the individual properties of every part of a complex product, such as a car or aircraft.

Attributes can either be used with part numbers, to indicate design elements of a part or technical information. They can also work with your bill of materials (BoM), an inventory of everything needed to manufacture a product, to define how parts should be used.   

At their best, attributes – sometimes known as metadata – simplify complex products and components, enabling everyone across your business to quickly access critical information about how they are put together and used.


Building robust attributes for your business

Every attribute system will be different, reflecting the specific nature of your product. But good systems share several common elements, including: 

  • Attributes that can be used with all parts. 
  • A clear purpose and reason for each attribute.
  • Choice lists providing a pre-defined selection of options where possible.
  • The ability to easily input mandatory attributes across systems.
  • Comprehensive information so that data doesn’t need to be stored elsewhere.

A system that incorporates all these characteristics is likely to be intuitive and accurate, providing the same up-to-date, reliable information to all parts of your organisation. 


Attributes in action

The below case study outlines how we used these building blocks to develop an attribute system for an electric vehicle manufacturer, tailoring each attribute to the specific needs of the business for both its part numbering and BoM systems, establishing a logic that could grow with the company.

This kind of effective attribute system is an important element of your product lifecycle management, helping you categorise and locate relevant parts efficiently. This in turn oils the wheels of your production processes, preventing delays and costly mistakes that could damage your business. The earlier you introduce such a system the better. Implementing one that can expand at the same pace as your business is preferable to sorting out a mix of ad hoc data management fixes years down the line. 

To delve deeper into the system we created for the electric vehicle manufacturer and the benefits it has generated, download the full guide and case study below.

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