Preparing procedures

The importance of the CAD/CAM/CAE system and its efficient operation should be made clear to all users and managers in the company. This is especially true for senior managers and users who may be required to assist in the production of the new CAD/CAM/CAE procedures. The fact that the company will be following these procedures or their derivatives for a number of years and that they define, at a detailed level, the impact of CAD/CAM/CAE on the company's operation should underline their importance and the need to involve senior managers.

To ensure that the preparation of an update or a new procedure is carried out efficiently, a single person, the procedure writer, should be assigned direct responsibility for preparing the document and given a budget and work plan. A number of experienced users and managers should be allocated to assist the procedure writer in this work. They will be expected to use their knowledge and experience to help the procedure writer identify the most appropriate workflow and responsibilities. It is important that full use be made of all the available CAD/CAM/CAE experience during procedure preparation. This will help ensure that full use is made of all the system's capabilities.

Care should be taken to identify and approach the most critical topics early in the implementation. These will vary from company to company, but ensuring that, for instance, the standard data is correct from both product development and IS viewpoints will be more critical than deciding whether the print room or a system operator should be made responsible for plotter supplies.

The first step in preparing any procedure is to decide its scope and purpose and how it will interface with all existing standards and procedures. This will ensure that any impact on the company's existing working methods is both recognized and taken into account.

Operational efficiency can be improved through use of CAD/CAM/CAE procedures. This will not be the case if existing manual methods are mirrored without due recognition of the technology and its most effective utilization. To gain the most from the introduction of new methods they must be appropriate to both the installed system and the company. Identifying how existing practice can best be improved requires experience and knowledge of CAD/CAM/CAE and its likely impact on the company. The initial step should be to analyze the requirements and prepare an outline of the proposed working method. This outline should not fully develop the methodology, but define in a few key steps the proposed procedure.

Preparation and circulation of an outline ensures that the basic underlying method is understood and agreed upon before a procedure is fully developed. The outline should be circulated to all interested parties for comment and review of both the technical and procedural content. Any contentious issues should be discussed with the originating party to ensure that they are resolved through mutual agreement before their incorporation.

Once the outline has been agreed, the writer should analyze all the steps in detail, using the information obtained during review of the outline. No major new activities should be specified at this stage. The identified steps should be fully detailed.

Any specific additional software, hardware, or training needs should be identified and prepared as a formal statement of user requirements. The statement should not refer to system commands or specific hardware, except as examples, but should fully and clearly specify the required capability. This will allow the company to establish the resources and time required to provide any additional facilities and allow management to review the costs of implementing the procedure.

Once the CAD/CAM/CAE procedure has been approved and adopted by the company, an on-line copy should be made available, everyone involved informed and the corresponding training should be arranged for. Rather than giving a copy to all system users, it may be more effective to have a copy available by each terminal. Other copies should be available for general reference away from the system. The procedure mailing list should be controlled and reviewed each time any procedure or update is introduced.

The responsible manager or supervisor should carry out procedure training. It should consist of a brief presentation of the scope and purpose of each procedure and should outline working methods. It should highlight interfaces and key points. The training should stress that procedures are live documents that will be revised in the light of experience. All users should be encouraged to provide comment and feedback to refine the procedures and improve their content.

The initial creation of CAD/CAM/CAE procedures will require a significant contribution from the CAD/CAM/CAE Manager. Their maintenance and consolidation can, however, in most circumstances, be delegated to another member of the CAD/CAM/CAE team. This person should have a good knowledge of the procedures and be made responsible for their update and control as instructed by the CAD/CAM/CAE Manager.

As part of the overall company quality control system, the CAD/CAM/CAE procedures should have their effectiveness reviewed by management at regular intervals. The objective of the review is to ensure that the procedures are being adhered to and that their scope, purpose, and content are still appropriate.

Procedures must be recognized as a means to an end and not seen as an end in themselves. Procedures are time-consuming to prepare and maintain, but they are vital to the long-term success of any CAD/CAM/CAE installation.

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Page last modified on February 11, 2000
Copyright 1999, 2000 by John Stark