You know where the CAD files are. You know which version is WIP and which is as-built. You know which files went to the manufacturer. Does anyone else?
Making Complex Decisions
Coordinating design and manufacturing activities in large engineering organizations is extremely complicated. They employ distributed design, engineering, and manufacturing teams – often operating in remote low-cost locations – that must work in tandem to ensure quality, process efficiency, and output consistency. Many industries, most notably automotive and high-tech electronics, rely on well-developed networks of suppliers and contract manufacturers to undertake many of the design and manufacturing tasks.
Engineering organizations must excel in the coordination of all design, validation, and manufacturing activities between multiple internal stakeholders as well as with design partners, suppliers, and manufacturing operations. They need to ensure that teams and suppliers working on different parts of the design of a large complex product always have complete and up-to-date information to ensure that complex decisions are based on the most recent design iteration, test and simulation data, and quality assurance reports.
Many manufactures manage this complexity well. Despite criticism about inefficiencies, frequent design mistakes and highly publicized product recalls, large companies manage to get new and innovative products to market in time and under budget.
Key to these manufacturers’ abilities are rigorous process discipline and extensive use of PLM and PDM software tools to manage process flow and drive collaboration across distributed teams by allowing multiple designers to work on the same design and synchronizing multiple changes to ensure the data integrity of each iteration. Furthermore, workflow, versioning and configuration management rules are in place to manage the product development stages from design, to simulation and testing, and, eventually, to volume production.
But I Know Where My CAD Files Are
Obviously, to manage such complex activity and to maximize the utilization of the PLM software, these large organizations must abide by strict process workflow and versioning rules.
But if you are part of a small and nimble engineering organization you may feel you don’t need this overhead. After all, you know where the CAD files are; you know which version is work-in-progress and which one you are going to run FEA on; you know which files you sent to a contract manufacturers for a price quote.
Perhaps YOU do.
But in a study of small manufacturing organizations conducted by GrabCAD, 75% of the respondents reported that at one point or another they had used the wrong version of a CAD file to produce a prototype or even go into production.
In the next installment of this blog discussion, I will discuss the tools and practices used by many small engineering organizations to share CAD information and why they fail to deliver the integrity and quality of information that is so critical in running an efficient engineering organization.
In the meantime, what do you think? What else would you like to see here? This series is far from set in stone. What would make it great?
More teams are using Cloud, Analytics, Mobile, and Social tools to speed up product development. Independent analyst firm, Consilia Vektor, explains how this changes Product Data Management (PDM) as you know it and how this can help your team work smarter.