Precision plastic parts maker Montaplast, Morsbach, Germany, costs new projects with a PLM (product-life-cycle management) shared database.

The PLM system from Agile Software Corp., San Jose, acts as a single product record across an entire enterprise. A major factor in Montaplast's adoption of the package was the need to cost out products earlier in the development process.

A lack of precise information makes estimating more difficult. "Any mistake could cost us the job," says Georg Diefenthal, Montaplast technical DP manager.

"Basically, any cost estimate is a bill of materials," says Diefenthal. "The basic structure is fixed right from the start, getting more specific as you go. Because the PLM system manages any CAD model we receive, we can start as soon as the customer places the order." When new machines or materials make components less costly, the Agile system makes cost data immediately available.

"The more experience we gain, the more sophisticated our scenarios and formula values get," says Diefenthal.