Product Lifecycle Management: CERN to host an important international conference

CERN designs, builds and operates machines that contain millions of items of many types, such as software, electronics, and electrical, mechanical and chemical components. It is a challenge to maintain a coherent configuration of everything that has been developed and installed. To do this, CERN developed the EDMS system – an integrated Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) platform that enables management of all the information related to the entire lifecycle of each single component. On 5 and 6 September CERN will host an international PLM conference at which participants will exchange experience and address how best to apply PLM in their organisations.


Pictogram representation of a typical product lifecycle. Picture by the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Manufacturing Engineering via Wikimedia Commons [Public domain].

PLM is the activity of managing, in the most effective way, an organisation’s products all the way through their lifecycles: from the very first idea for a product until it is retired and disposed of. In addition to the product, PLM also addresses the management of the documents and data related to the product itself, as well as all the processes, IT systems, people and techniques involved throughout the product’s lifecycle, from the very first idea to its disposal.

At CERN, the development of the Engineering & Equipment Data Management System (EDMS) began in 1997, in particular for support of the LHC. Today, the General Services (GS) Department is in charge of EDMS, and the GS-ASE Group is responsible for support and development. Thousands of people use EDMS, and it contains information about hundreds of thousands of products, components and parts throughout their lifecycle. Many people use it to manage data from CAD systems such as CATIA and AutoCAD. Others use it for office documents created in applications such as word processing, spreadsheets and project management. These documents may address a wide range of subjects such as risk management and safety procedures. All of these are part of PLM. Initially much of the information in EDMS was related to the design of the LHC. In recent years, the information has been increasingly related to operation and maintenance activities. With little time available for maintenance, it's important that exactly the right information is available for maintenance activities so that they are carried out as effectively as possible and don't result in accelerator downtime.

PLM is not just important at CERN. It's become very important for organisations all over the world in the last few years for several reasons. Organisations have to deal with huge volumes of product data. Often the development and production of a product is spread over multiple sites in different countries. Many changes are made to products during their lifecycle to adapt them to particular customer or country requirements. These changes have to be managed correctly, otherwise they will lead to problems. Last but not least, there is an increasing number of regulations with which products must comply.

The September conference will allow participants to exchange experience and help them identify best practices on how to apply PLM in their organisations. In addition to presentations by renowned speakers from numerous organisations and companies, the conference will feature an exhibition, which will enable attendees to see existing PLM solutions in action and find out about new PLM research and development activities. If you are interested in participating in the conference, please visit the dedicated website where you will also be able to register.

by CERN Bulletin