Strategy 8: Manage product design data efficiently
Using CAD tools to design innovative, error-free products will get you only partway to your goal. An effective CAD leader realizes that creating solid models is only the beginning. How well you manage, leverage, and utilize product design data will determine the overall productivity of both your development process and manufacturing enterprise.
In the past, product data management (PDM) was more product document management. Engineering organizations managed documents—paper drawings—within large cabinets using elaborate sign-off systems for approving and releasing design revisions. In today’s 3D realm, the sheer number of links, references, and associations between parts, assemblies, and configurations precludes a manual approach to data management. Fortunately, you have access to integrated PDM systems to manage data, control revisions, safeguard intellectual property, and unleash the power of 3D to the extended enterprise.
PDM allows you to formalize and automate workflows inside and outside of your department. Because modern PDM systems are easy to administer, you can control the level of access to design-related information that you grant to technical and non-technical personnel. Within product engineering, you can set user rights for the players involved, including team members, partners, vendors, and suppliers, so that contributors can access and alter the only information related to their specific function. And they don’t necessarily have to be on-site to access design data because some PDM systems support web browser access.
You can also administer, manage, and control access by colleagues outside of product development who can benefit from leveraging design data but cannot edit or change it. With PDM, you can provide nontechnical personnel such as managers, purchasing agents, marketing professionals, and service technicians with access to product design information—and control how they can use it. Moreover, they often don’t need a CAD system for access.
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*This article is an excerpt from the "Ten Strategies for Becoming an Effective CAD Leader White Paper", published by DS SolidWorks Corp.