Is it time for a PLM system?

PLM software is used to automate the management of data used to develop products. Today PLM systems can manage CAD data and integrate CAD files into the BOM or Bill of Materials. The BOMs can then be controlled with automated revision and change management processes.

Today’s higher end PLM systems can also manage Quality Control data as well as Manufacturing data and BOMs and can also be used for project management functions for the development of these products.

kids-bubble-PLM

Do you know where all your CAD files reside?

cad-file

CAD Data Management: As your designs and CAD files grow, data management becomes imperative. If you currently do not manage your design data within a PDM or PLM then managing and controlling the versions of these files becomes cumbersome as now you need to manage complex folder structures in order to know which files are the latest. Revision control at this point becomes unmanageable.

In addition, searching for specific files or designs is difficult as well and usually requires the file names to be a complex combination of part number, revision, variation etc. 

Sometimes, Change is a good thing

change management

Change Management: Most Engineering departments have a Change Process which is either a very manual paper process where approvals are physically signed or have complex manual review processes.

The strength of a PLM is that the Change Process is used to manage and control the design data— by doing this you can see exactly what those changes will affect across product lines. Automated notifications and Tasks allow informed decisions and approvals to be made quickly and efficiently. The distribution and management are all handled in the PLM system.

It is all about the BOM

BOM-chart

BOM Management: Managing the Bill Of Materials as the pieces are put together and built into a product is a process that warrants more care than merely adding a table to the corner of a drawing. A real BOM should include everything for that phase of development—for example the eBOM is an acronym that is used for a BOM that is in the design or engineering phase of development. This eBOM will include (but not limited to) technical specifications like paint, or finish—or show a supplier specific design process. Whereas the mBOM will show objects that can include work instructions or additional objects like kits which would be put together and shipped with the main product. The complexity of these configurations makes it an ideal process for a PLM system.

Moving through an Automated process

automation-chart

Automation Speeds up your Process: If you are currently managing your processes in a manual way, or if all your systems are not fully integrated—then you will see gaps in your process or see manual data entry mistakes that may make your design process take even longer. At its core a PLM system needs to be a document control system whereas each version of that document is managed. In a PLM you should be able to see the whole history of an object, you should see when an object was created, modified, release or revised—and you should also see who performed each of those tasks. Automated notifications (emails) and tasks are assigned to specific users—so you will not have to manually track what needs to be done. Remember, PLM stands for Product Lifecycle Management, so we will be able to see the fully history and life of that product and all of its supporting objects.

trash

Time to Scrap the Scrap.

Reduce your Scrap: PLM can help companies reduce scrap, excess, and rework ranging from a more modest 8% to upwards of 60% by ensuring manufacturing personnel, buyers/planners and suppliers are working from the right revision of a specification, avoiding development of parts that must be scrapped or reworked. This benefit is further enabled by means of an MES integration (automated shop-floor execution pulling latest work instructions from PLM). Reducing data errors through the design process.

For example, cutting manual data translation errors between CAD/CAE tools, PLM, ERP and MES. Incorrect unit of measure data entry into ERP is cited as a problem by clients. One client had ordered an expensive material in meters instead of feet resulting in significant waste. Upon investigation the approved engineering change had the correct information and the issue related to manual data entry into ERP.

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