The Importance of Product Data Management (Part 2)

Posted on behalf of John Holub.

QUESTION: How important is Process? Consistent process. Process, allowing Companies to define policy and procedures.

In part one of “The Importance of Product Data Management”, we discussed the importance of being able to find and reuse a company’s intellectual properties. Now that the data is secure and accessible to those that need it, when they need it, let’s put process in place to add controls to how we use/reuse this information.

A company that we once worked with called us in to assist them in revamping their Engineering Change Process. This was a manual process that they said had really become a bottleneck. Their goal was to try and automate the process with the aide of their new data management system. They felt that they could reduce the time that it took to process an engineering change by 20%. In Dollars, this broke down to about $1,000,000 per year. As we started to dig a bit deeper into the situation, there seemed to be an inordinate number of  Engineering Changes per week. We suggested that the Engineering Change bottleneck might be the result of a greater problem. We then asked about the design and approval processes. Our client went on to say that there have been a number of serious issues with regards to manufacturing product to the wrong revision. He also added that he had just received a “Nasty Gram” from their biggest customer. For the second time in 18 months, they had shipped to the wrong revision of the design. The customer stated that if this happened again they would take their business elsewhere. We asked what impact that would have on the company and we were told that this customer represented 40% of their annual business. We told the client that we certainly could help them improve their Engineering Change Process, but first let’s figure out how we save 40% of your company’s business.

The keys are consistent process and visibility of that process. Controlling access based on where designs are in their development process. Restricting access to certain areas in the organization until all approvals have been applied.

In the third and final installment of this series, we will discuss what I refer to as the “One – Ten – One Hundred Rule”.

“For more information, contact InFlow Technology at

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