From our point of view, the problem has two sides:
on the one hand, the technical archive must be managed, with the information needed to build a product;
on the other hand, to design, build and manage the product with the most modern tools, we need to manage different data on different files (parts, assemblies, drawings, exploded views, etc.), therefore also what was once "a drawing" now there are at least two rows;
For this reason, a tool that holds together the digital data produced in designing becomes increasingly indispensable.
We are taking some things for granted, which is perhaps worth analyzing starting with the meaning of the word PDM: Product Data Management ... even if the beauty of the acronyms is that you can change it whenever you want and come up with stuff such as "Product Definition Management", or "Product Development Management".
We remain on Product Data Management, that is, the management of the data that are used to define and produce an industrial product and we try to give some "titles" to the themes that come into play (and which we will then develop in other articles):
- The first aspect is to order, catalog, classify and manage the documents that represent the product (starting from the drawings, of course). How are documents archived, logged and classified?
- Let's talk about collaboration: to stay in ever tighter times it is essential that the more people work in parallel on different topics, and the more people work simultaneously and quickly, the more it is essential to direct the traffic. How to coordinate and manage the design?
- The technical office is the main user of a PDM, but then drawings, bills, diagrams and everything needed to build a machine must be available from the rest of the company in the appropriate format (not everyone must have the CAD);
- Furthermore, this information is not immutable, but it develops and changes over time: who tracks and manages the change? Who communicates the change to interested parties?
- Once a machine is built, the production of information does not end: there are manuals and post-sales documents, feedback from interventions, repairs, sometimes changes ... all things that produce documents;
The aim is therefore to manage the information concerning the entire product life cycle in an organic way; we are talking about PLM (Product Lifecycle Management), this new acronym ultimately implies that the technical office expands and communicates with other information systems, first of all the management system (ERP). In fact, to go on to deal with the entire life cycle of the product, other information comes into play that is not the domain of the PDM and it is not even fair that you manage them.
From this brief introduction we can see that the problem is quite complex, for at least two orders of reasons:
- First of all, the technical management of an entire product is already a complicated thing of its own;
- Then we realized that people from different departments that operate on different processes, and typically with different tools, must communicate;
The important thing is to be sure not to make it more complicated than it already is by its nature, I am thinking of medium and small companies that often find themselves deciding on proposals and products, perhaps born for much larger organizations and consequently difficult to enter in the reality of the medium-small.
In conclusion, therefore, implementing a PDM means asking technical problems (which and how many tools), but also and above all organizational and strategic (what to do, how, who does what ...).
... But: what has been said so far is a lot of theory on classic PDM themes, which is fine and useful, but if we want to be practical, the first topic to be addressed is: "how do we manage 3D CAD data?".
3D modeling, digital simulation, etc. they are a great opportunity, but they carry a series of complications because they produce large amounts of data, often all linked together. So if I had to recommend "where we start" surely the management of the 3D model is the first point where a PDM can actually give relief to CAD users, helping them to keep together the amount of files that are used to manage a machine on a 3D CAD.
For years we have been supporting technical offices in various sectors: if your company has a technical office with less than 20 people using Autocad, Inventor, Solid Works or Solid Edge we most likely have the experience and products that are right for you.
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