Many of the engineers (and not only) are using Microsoft Excel. People are literally lives inside of Excel spreadsheets. When it comes to PDM and PLM, I prefer to call it DIY (Do It Yourself) PLM. If you really on the DIY path, I think you need to be aware about so-called Excel Services available in Microsoft SharePoint since version 2007. In 2010, Microsoft improved significantly the capabilities of Excel Services.
You can read more about Excel Services by navigating to the following link. In addition, I found a very interesting video interview with Jon Campbell, program manager within Microsoft Excel services team. It was made almost a year ago. At the same time, I found it still something you use to educate yourself about SharePoint Excel Services.
Note, Excel services are very sophisticated. I was screening another article about Excel services – Excel Services in SharePoint. Here is the set of recommendation how to use Excel services to build a custom application:
Custom Applications: Excel Services help create custom applications—for example, ASP.NET applications—that can:
1. Call Excel Web Services to access, parameterize, and calculate workbooks.
2. Open, refresh external data, set cells or ranges, recalculate, participate in collaborative editing sessions with other applications or people, save, and save as.
3. Use custom workflows to schedule calculation operations or send e-mail notifications.
Above all this, in multiple server configurations, Excel Services load-balances requests across multiple Excel Calculation Services occurrences in a farm configuration. If your installation includes multiple application servers, Excel Services will balance the load in an attempt to help ensure that no single application server is overloaded by requests.
What is my conclusion? SharePoint is wide adopted by manufacturing enterprise companies. To use Excel as a platform to develop you DIY PLM solution can be an interesting option. However, I want to warn you about an appropriate resource planning and service budge allocation. DIY normally on the expensive side. SharePoint is not an exclusion from this list. Just my thoughts…