Reasons Why You Need PDM Now
Here are some common data management problems faced by engineering teams today, most often by 3D mechanical CAD users. Do any of these sound familiar?
Revision Control. Engineering organizations must have the ability to trace development of a product for a multitude of reasons, two that instantly come to mind are ISO 9000 compliance and for protection against possible legal claims. What did a part, assembly, or drawing look like at revision 1? Revision 2, etc? In most cases, engineering departments manage revisions by making copies of each level in the file system or server. Otherwise revisions will be documented on the face of the drawing and hard copies are stored to keep track of the history.
Reference Control. Most mechanical 3D CAD tools used today employ a file structure in which parts are fit together or even created in assemblies, and those same parts are used to create the various views in their detail or assembly drawings. The primary benefit of adopting this data structure is that any changes made to a part will be reflected in the assemblies, sub-assemblies, and the drawings it is used on as well. All of this is accomplished through the use of “pointers” or references between the various files – relationships which must be maintained to allow the file to be opened again later or to avoid errors. In large assemblies of hundreds or thousands of parts it can be virtually impossible to manually maintain these references, which causes engineering teams to create large project folders where they save an entire assembly, all of its parts, and the detail drawings. Moving any file from these large folders will cause errors throughout the assembly and any associated drawings, therefore impeding or completely eliminating any opportunity to reuse data in other designs.
Parallel Revisions or “Revision Collision”. Parallel Revisions or revision collision refers to the possibility that two users may be editing the same file at the same time – a common problem in development teams with satellite offices. When using a filing approach to data management, two users can easily open the same file, make changes, and save it back to the folder, thereby overwriting the other user’s changes – a perpetual cycle of “whoever saves last wins”. The problem is often not caught until much later in the process, causing confusion over which files are correct and which are not, thereby leading to schedule delays, rework, and even missed product introduction deadlines. This problem is amplified massively when team members are in remote geographic locations.
Besides stealing countless hours away from businesses, attempting to manage the large amounts of engineering data created during a typical product development cycle using only a file system approach will significantly raise both time and money required for product development, while at the same time virtually eliminating any opportunity for data reuse later. If these problems sound very familiar, it is almost certain an investment in PDM will easily pay for itself in a very short period of time.