October 1991 Volume1, Number 1

 
ENGINEERING DATA MANAGEMENT
 
NEWSLETTER
 
The international monthly guide to the fast and effective implementation, management and use of EDM systems.
 
 
Welcome to the Charter issue of the monthly Engineering Data Management Newsletter. The Newsletter aims to help its readers implement Engineering Data Management (EDM) quickly and successfully. The Charter issue of the Newsletter briefly describes the potential benefits of EDM, and then outlines the overall objectives of the Newsletter, and the typical content of future issues.
EDM benefits It has only been in the 1990s that most companies have begun to understand the type and scale of the benefits that EDM offers. EDM helps reduce the time to introduce new products, and the cost of developing them. It helps reduce the cost of new products, and improve the quality of products and services. Companies pioneering EDM have found it can help reduce engineering costs by 15%, product development cycles by 25%, engineering change time by 30%, and the number of engineering changes by 40%. Results like these will have a significant impact on a company's ability to compete, its market share and its revenues.
EDM's role EDM systems allow companies to get control of all their engineering information, and to manage their overall, cross-functional engineering process. They provide a backbone for the controlled flow of engineering information throughout the product life cycle. Systems that make use of engineering data, such as CAE, CAD, CAM, MRP 2 and Technical Publications will be connected to this backbone. It is the cross-functional, integrating potential of EDM systems that makes them a necessary, enabling foundation of a successfully integrated computer-based enterprise, and leads them to have a much greater effect than systems and approaches aimed primarily at increasing performance in individual functions.
Implementing EDM Many companies find the potential benefits of EDM hard to achieve. An EDM implementation project faces all the usual problems of a cross-functional project to introduce a new technology. In addition, because it addresses information flows, it leads to a detailed examination of the way the enterprise is organized to work with engineering information, and because it addresses data structures, it leads to questions about product structures. As a result, the apparently simple task of introducing EDM soon leads to a series of complex, time-consuming, cross-functional and inter-related issues about products, processes, data, systems, workflows, procedures, and organisational structures.
Newsletter objectives The Newsletter aims to help its readers and their companies understand and address these issues quickly, identify an appropriate EDM vision and strategy, and then successfully plan and implement the corresponding systems and practices.
EDM user objectives Most companies approach EDM from one of the two following starting points. They either want to make proactive improvements to their performance, or they want to try to solve some of their problems. In today's highly competitive global markets, companies in a variety of industry sectors (such as engineering and construction, defense, aerospace, automotive, electronics, mechanical engineering, petrochemicals and pharmaceuticals) have similar requirements to get new, high-quality products (such as buildings, plants, ships, cars, drugs, computers, and computer software) to market quicker, and to provide better service to the users of these products. Although they are in different sectors and, perhaps, countries, these companies have similar problems with the data describing their products. In different industries this data is given different names (such as engineering data, technical data, product data, process data, and regulatory data), but these names refer to the same thing - the data that describes the product and the processes that are used to make and support it. Typical problems with this data include the difficulty of managing large data volumes; unacceptably slow access to correct versions of technical data; loss of control over traceability and configurations; extremely slow engineering change processes; and high data administration overhead costs.
EDM system functionality To overcome these problems, and improve competitive performance, many companies are starting to use EDM systems. Although some large companies are still developing systems in-house, most companies are looking for commercially available solutions. These are now in use in companies ranging from small, single-site enterprises, to Fortune 50 manufacturers with world-wide sites. EDM systems offer functions to provide fast access and secure storage for text, numeric and graphics data and documents in a networked multi-computer environment; to manage part, product and process descriptions and structures; to manage versions, changes, and configurations; to manage workflow; and to provide interfaces to applications such as CAD, CAM, MRP 2, and shop floor control. Vendors addressing this market include ACCESS, Control Data, DEC, Eyring, FORMTEK, IBM, HP, Intergraph, Optigraphics, McDonnell Douglas, Prime Computer, Sherpa, SDRC, and Tandem Computers. EDM systems help improve the flow, quality and use of engineering information throughout the company. They manage all the data related both to a product, and to the processes used to specify, design, manufacture and support the product. As well as providing better control of engineering data, they can also help improve the performance of engineering activities by improving engineering change management and by supporting concurrent engineering techniques.
Engineering data "Engineering data" includes all the data related either to a product or to the processes that are used to design, produce and support it. Engineering data is created, used and stored both in the engineering function and in other functions. It will be on media such as paper, aperture cards, magnetic tapes and disks. It will be used on mainframes, minicomputers, workstations, and PCs from a variety of computer manufacturers. There will be text and numeric data, and vector and raster graphics data. Some organizations have millions of paper documents, and many Terabytes of data. The diversity and volume of engineering data create a major data management activity. This is complicated by strict requirements for release control, quality, availability, and security.
Engineering workflow "Engineering workflow" refers to the flow of work through all activities that create or use engineering data. It is so closely linked to engineering data that it is impossible to effectively manage the data without managing the workflow. In theory, engineering workflow for a product might start with product specification, flow linearly through engineering and manufacturing departments, and end with product use by the customer. In reality, as cycle times are drastically reduced, and approaches such as concurrent engineering introduced, workflow will become much more complex and difficult to manage.
EDM system users While R&D and design engineering often play a major role in the creation of engineering data, many of the users of an EDM system will be found in other functions both in the company (e.g. marketing, sales, purchasing, manufacturing engineering, manufacturing, installation, after-sales) and outside the company (e.g. suppliers, customers, prime contractors, regulatory authorities).
THE NEWSLETTER
Readers Just as users of EDM systems will come from a variety of functions, readers of the Engineering Data Management Newsletter will perform a wide range of activities. Some readers will have responsibility for selecting and implementing a system, others for everyday management and use of EDM. Some will be corporate managers, or from corporate Information Technology, or corporate reorganisation functions. Others will be in engineering computing groups, or will be potential users of EDM in engineering and other functions.
Content To serve these readers, the Newsletter addresses EDM technology from both a stand-alone "functions and features" viewpoint, and from a wider, overall context taking account of its relationships with CAD, PDES/STEP, QFD, CIM, CALS, EDI and concurrent engineering. Regular features provide a guide to successful installation and management of EDM, and describe the experience of beginner and advanced EDM users. Each month, an EDM system is reviewed in depth, and an overview of worldwide EDM market news is provided. Periodically, internationally renowned EDM specialists are invited to present their views on important issues.
Format From November 1991, the Engineering Data Management Newsletter will have a 16-page format. Initially, its content will be oriented 40% to implementation, management and use of EDM, 50% to EDM systems, and 10% to the EDM market. As time goes on, the proportion addressing implementation and use will increase.
Editor John Stark, editor of the Newsletter, has more than 25 years experience of using, managing and developing engineering and manufacturing computer systems. He is the author of one of the first EDM books - Engineering Information Systems: beyond CADCAM, supporting concurrent engineering, and since 1989 has edited Auerbach Publisher's annual Handbook of Manufacturing Automation and Integration. One of his many books addressing the use of CAD and IT in manufacturing companies has been translated into Japanese. Since 1979, while with Battelle Memorial Institute, and subsequently Coopers & Lybrand, he has helped many companies throughout the world improve their competitive position.
Board of Advisors The Editor is aided by a Board of Advisors whose members, with top-ranking manufacturing companies, EDM vendors, and consultancy companies in North America, Europe and the Far East, have wide-ranging EDM experience.



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Copyright (c) 1998 John Stark