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Manufacturers evaluating software to manage product information from inception through retirement are getting several new options to consider, thanks to a couple of mergers and a new offering from IBM.

The goal of each option is to give companies a better handle on product information to improve design, manufacturing, marketing and servicing of those products.

IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., last week announced a new PLM (product lifecycle management) service under which IBM Business Consultant Services will work with customers to design PLM business processes and implement third-party PLM software. The unique element of IBM’s yet-to-be-named service is that the company will purchase the PLM software and host it, charging customers on a per-user, per-month basis, according to IBM.

In addition, IBM’s PLM service offers workflows that allow users to automate approvals of engineering change requests—a process often completed manually.

IBM has an agreement with Parametric Technology Corp., of Needham, Mass., developer of the Windchill PLM platform, and is in negotiations with additional PLM software makers to host their products under its PLM service.

“The advantage is, you pay based on the amount that you actually use the software,” said Marc Halpern, an analyst at Gartner Inc., in Stamford, Conn.

IBM’s news comes in the midst of several recent PLM software developer mergers. Earlier this month, MatrixOne Inc., of Westford, Mass., announced its intention to acquire Synchronicity Software Inc., of Marlboro, Mass., for $18 million. The acquisition will allow MatrixOne to provide its customers with Synchronicity’s design reuse and collaboration software.

At the same time, UGS Corp.—itself recently spun out from EDS Corp.—announced the acquisition of D-Cubed Ltd. International. UGS, of Plano, Texas, will add the geometric modeling functionality from D-Cubed, of Cambridge, England, to its own PLM roster.

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