Engineering teams use product data management as a process and a set of software tools.
Product data management software suites enforce processes that are part of a competitive strategy.
The best data management software suites will be used within a comprehensive PLM strategy.
Electronics engineering teams create products that are built from a larger database, comprising component information, physical designs, diagrams, product documentation, and much more. Storing and organizing data are important tasks for design teams, but data management should fit within a larger competitive strategy that considers many other important business processes and functions. A product data management workflow is the key to providing internal and external stakeholders with the information they need to execute a go-to-market strategy.
For growing companies, the idea of implementing a process to grant data access to stakeholders may seem foreign. At smaller companies, simple tasks like accessing files involve going into a shared folder or requesting it from a collaborator via email. At larger organizations, this simply doesn’t work due to the scale of product data and team size. The availability of product data can enable a competitive strategy that companies need to move a product through the market as well as manage its lifecycle.
Product Data Management in an Engineering Workflow
Product data for electronic products include much more than schematic drawings and physical layout files. As engineering teams create new products, they also create product data that must be tracked and categorized within a specific workflow. Depending on the organization, the product, and the strategy used to bring the product to market, companies may need to implement totally custom product data management processes as part of their engineering workflow.
Engineering and production workflows for technical products follow a specific design and development path, as shown below. Along the way, teams will create significant amounts of data that must be stored and tracked. Data tracking helps ensure everyone has access to the most current data and previous revisions, but it will also need to be available beyond engineering teams. As the product nears completion and is ready to move into the market, other teams will have to take over and will need access to the original design data so that they can aid the transition.
Product Data Management System Requirements
Product data management systems operating within this workflow must enable some specific tasks that will prepare the manufacturing, sales, and distribution teams for a successful product launch and strategic execution.
- Organize data so that it is easy to find, access, track changes, view revisions, make clones, and reuse. Tracked data should span from an individual component to the entire assembly, documentation, application code, and foundational requirements documents.
- Automated regeneration of manufacturing data when changes are implemented in the design, followed by inventory and order updates in a company’s ERP/IMS systems. This should also apply to each component as well as any required raw materials.
- Determine and assign obsolescence statuses to each portion of a product (code, documentation, components, etc.), normally by pulling data from vendors or a 3rd party supply chain management source.
- Provide access to all project stakeholders, including customer engineering teams and a contract manufacturer. External service providers should also have access so that communication can be streamlined.
- Managing and tracking releases of project data into fabrication, assembly, distribution, and ultimately to customers.
- Enforcing a part numbering system, document naming system, project release and version control system, and lifecycle status system on all data associated with a product.
Product designers and engineers will take the lead on these tasks on the front end, but they will be taken over by procurement and product on the back end as the product is transitioned to market.
Visibility Keeps You Competitive
With so much data to track and manage as part of the product data management workflow, design teams need customizable workflow management tools that provide the visibility stakeholders need to execute their competitive strategy. Data management software with customizable, semi-automated workflows allows management to streamline the design process while reducing errors and delays. With this type of workflow management environment, enterprise-level teams can implement their PLM process and strategy to ensure a successful release of a product to market.
A product data management workflow will help keep your team competitive and efficient, and it fits within a larger go-to-market strategy for advanced electronics. When you need a scalable platform for workflow management within an enterprise PLM strategy, consider Allegro Pulse. Pulse features include a workflow engine, data management, security protocols, and search capabilities. And, Pulse integrates seamlessly into many design tools, allowing it to manage the design data behind the scenes, freeing up engineers to focus on their work instead of juggling design files.
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