Get your data in order

According to Paul Herold, director of Logistics Geospatial Integration Center, United States Coast Guard, “You can’t share data when you don’t know what you have. Not effectively.” Product lifecycle management (PLM) offers big promises: integrating key processes in the entire lifecycle of a product or project to reduce design rework, and ultimately having a positive effe...

10/01/2006


According to Paul Herold, director of Logistics Geospatial Integration Center, United States Coast Guard, “You can’t share data when you don’t know what you have. Not effectively.”

Product lifecycle management (PLM) offers big promises: integrating key processes in the entire lifecycle of a product or project to reduce design rework, and ultimately having a positive effect on the bottom line. While the road to achieving a successful PLM implementation has many steps along the way, oftentimes the first step in any endeavor can be the most important. “Know thy data” is a simple rule to managing your data, ensuring it is standardized, and enabling the right people to easily locate and access it. That’s why product data management (PDM) and engineering data management (EDM) are so critical, and so basic to the foundation of any PLM implementation.

While PLM touts big bottom-line benefits, it also comes with some big hurdles, including cost, implementation time, data migration, and customization to name a few. Perhaps the foremost issue for transitioning to PLM is the cultural change it brings to the way people work and manage their daily information.

Whether users push back or accept a new system has a direct correlation with the success or failure of a PLM system. No wonder Eric Karofsky, a senior analyst in the product lifecycle management group at AMR Research Inc., says, “The main reason for PLM implementation failure [is] the inability to obtain cross-organizational buy-in, with engineering being the biggest holdout.”

Complex process

For the thousands of small- to mid-sized companies that don’t have the time, budget or staff to consider PLM, it isn’t even on the radar. And it’s no surprise that functions like engineering are hold outs. Engineers are not only working long hours on a design and its many iterations, they’re spending time searching for the latest revision among multiple projects; sending copies to numerous departments in house; and trying to collaborate with design teams all around the globe—all with too few resources and no automation.

The product development process for which they are responsible is complex, and even the simplest products might involve dozens, maybe even hundreds, of documents. Multiply that by the number of products one company releases, and the product development process and the engineers’ jobs become anything but easy.

An automated system that manages all the project data and related files in multiple formats of CAD or any Windows application is one place engineers jobs can become easier.

A single, centralized system giving extended teams access to accurate product data anytime and anywhere means there are no longer issues about collaborating, meeting standards, data accuracy or version control. Designers and engineers can be free to create.

Built into the everyday

This translates into time savings, cost savings and productivity increases. It also means a barrier to adopting PLM is removed. With a PDM system in place, a key building block to success—the information that engineers need to contribute and integrate with other systems for the PLM process to work—is done. It is simply built into their everyday practices.

Such a change is powerful. When an engineering team can manage its data—all its data, including multiple kinds of CAD files, office documents, etc.—in a simple, powerful way, the individuals can contribute to company-wide productivity, growth, cost savings, opportunity and advantage. With this basic first step implemented, with this glimpse of all the benefits PLM can offer, engineers can know what they have, and use the information to its best advantage.


Author Information

Todd Cummings is vice president of R&D for Synergis Software (




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