Last week in Part I, we discussed the nature of CAD data and the challenges of managing this data and the engineers who create it. Balancing between the need for freedom to foster creativity and productivity versus the discipline required to convert this output into tangible results is daunting. Creating systems that accomplish this end goal is no small feat. We will dive into how these systems try and address these challenges and the compromises companies must make when choosing the best approach to harnessing their engineering output.
When you vault CAD binaries in a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) system, the stakes rise immensely. The PLM must have a data model that can capture the design product structure. The architecture must be able to support the transmittal of large amounts of information. The security must ensure that the information is locked up tight to avoid theft or error. All of these things impact the user experience from an interface and speed perspective. On the other hand, not having some sort of engineering data in your PLM can severely cripple the benefit of having PLM in the first place. Many companies avoid the whole issue by adopting a user friendly PLM that either has no ability to capture CAD information or allows adoption without engineering. I am sure these systems yield significant benefit to the companies or they wouldn't bother putting them in place but they are missing a huge value opportunity by excluding engineering. In general, having everyone connected to the same system with a single data vault is preferable. This ensures early access to engineering which allows for optimization of cost and delivery. Change management becomes a much more integrated function and change is obviously one of the major drivers of product cost and delays. Early access minimizes late change and having engineering integrated into the change process gives you the ability to respond more rapidly. Some of this can be done without having engineering data in the system but it requires a lot of manual work to get product structure synced up between engineering and the rest of the company.
Please check out our Engineering Integration/Collaboration Hub or read our Engineering Collaboration e-Book.
[Edit: Updated and reposted; original post 2015]