Maximizing productivity across your organization is key to staying competitive in the market. Optimizing the design process and getting products to market faster are both driven by

effective collaboration between individuals, teams, and organizations. Without the right collaboration tools in place, you could be making critical business decisions based on incorrect product information. Choosing the right product lifecycle management (PLM) solution is critical to supporting your business.

To help you determine which solution is best for your organization, we have decided to compare PTC Windchill PLM and SOLIDWORKS PDM on a variety of features. We will admit, we have a slight bias towards PTC as a dedicated partner, but we have done our best to be as fair as possible when comparing these two platforms.

PLM vs PDM: What’s the Difference?

You may have noticed, Windchill is a PLM platform and SOLIDWORKS is a PDM platform – can they really compare?

For a comprehensive overview of the differences between PLM and PDM, we recommend checking out our blog post, PLM vs PDM: What’s the Difference?. For a quick review:

  • Product lifecycle management (PLM): Manages every component of the product. This includes design, production, sales, service, and retirement. It provides a common repository of information to ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to your products.
  • Product data management (PDM): Just manages the data component of a product. Its primary role is to maintain versions and technical specifications. Ultimately, PDM is a sub-component of PLM.

The solutions are slightly different, but we find that these are two platforms that people often compare when looking for a collaboration solution. If you want to see how Windchill compares more directly with some other PLM solutions, download our PLM comparison eBook.

FREE PLM Comparison eBook

PTC Windchill vs SOLIDWORKS PDM: Feature Comparison

Implementation and Deployment Options

Many IT departments are continuously focused on migrating to cloud solutions. Utilizing the cloud is often a faster and more cost-effective way to use platforms and ensures that routine maintenance and backups occur. PTC Windchill PLM can be deployed on-premise or on the cloud. This gives users the option to deploy based on the best fit for the organization or allows them to migrate to the cloud once they are ready.

SOLIDWORKS has been deployed on Azure and some other cloud hosting sites, but not on its own. It appears that cloud deployment is not a top focus for the organization.

Windchill PLM can be deployed on-premise or via the cloud.

Design and Approval Processes

Product design and approval processes are some of the biggest gating factors within organizations. SOLIDWORKS EPDM includes the tools organizations need to create custom workflows using a graphical approach. Once workflows are set up, the system generates automated alerts and tracks approval processes.

Windchill PLM does support the creation of custom workflows, but the integrated capabilities in SOLIDWORKS give them the upper hand.

SOLIDWORKS PDM includes advanced custom and automated workflows to streamline approval processes.

Manufacturing Planning Processes

Transitioning from design to manufacturing can cause a plethora of issues. PTC Windchill fights this problem with the parallel processing of eBOM and mBOM to minimize unnecessary delays. It also includes comparison tools to assist in identifying discrepancies and ensures that manufacturing has the most updated information before they get started. This parallel processing significantly reduces time to market and helps prevent reworks and other manufacturing hold-ups.

SOLIDWORKS does offer integrations with ERP systems and CAD connectors that try to help minimize reworks and delays to manufacturing, but the toolset is simply not as robust as the one offered by Windchill.

Windchill PLM utilizes parallel processing to minimize unnecessary delays and product reworks.

IoT Capabilities

The number of connected devices will continue to skyrocket over the next 10 years. Being able to utilize this advanced technology is critical to staying relevant in the market and should be a top consideration for any organization. Windchill PLM includes a connector to the PTC ThingWorx platform, which captures real-time performance and quality data that can be used for further analysis.

It appears that the SOLIDWORKS platform does not include IoT functionality. Since PDM handles all product data, the data these products produce should also be a component of the solution. Without this functionality built-in, users may find that their products are more susceptible to unplanned downtime other delays.

Windchill PLM includes connections to ThingWorx so you can capture and analyze real-time data based on performance and quality.

Navigation

Windchill PLM includes role-based navigation tools to streamline workflows and speed up the entire deployment process. Users find that menu navigation is simple, and they can easily find the tools they need to complete their work. The role-based setup eliminates features that are not relevant to avoid being bogged down by an unnecessarily complicated interface.

SOLIDWORKS PDM’s navigation is similar to that of Windows Explorer. For many users, this means they are immediately familiar with how to navigate through tasks. The navigation is functional, but, Windows has never been known for particularly outstanding UI.

Windchill PLM includes role-based navigation to eliminate unnecessary tools from the easy-to-use navigation.

Security

Security is a top concern when it comes to collaboration as every user is a potential risk and IP must be protected. Windchill includes security labels at check-in and within BOM interfaces. The role-based setup simplifies security by automatically allowing or disallowing access to data based on a role’s need down the field level. It supports collaborative workspaces and simplified the technical packages required for sharing IP with outside organizations.

Security is also a priority for SOLIDWORKS PDM. They offer secure collaborative workspaces to protect IP, but simply don’t have the advanced functionality that Windchill provides.

Windchill PLM includes advanced role-based security options that truly protect your organizations critical IP.

Which is the Winner? PTC Windchill

Ultimately, PTC Windchill PLM is the superior solution. As we mentioned, we are biased, but we have many years of experience helping organizations find the right solutions to fit their needs. When it comes down to it, Windchill has the tools you need to improve collaboration, optimize processes, and stay competitive in the market.