PLM and Engineering Documents Identification

My new website and blog is BeyondPLM. The original post is here.

The question of identification is probably of the most complicated and always raises lots of interest. I had a chance to discuss early on my blog a topic related to Part Numbers and Part Identification. The discussion raised lots of opinions and comments. You can track them on the following link. PLM marketing and sales speeches are rarely discussing this topic. It assumed as a solved problem. However, I don’t think so. Today I want to discuss multiple aspects related to the identification of drawings.

I read article by Kean Walmsley of Autodesk on his blog – Through the interface . He is discussing the idea of identification of drawings using QR Code. Kean presented various ways you can today handle QR codes in software and how you can organize your work with help of QR-enabled software. He is talking about coming AutoCAD plug-in to do this job.

Another article by Jeff Sweeney of 3DVision Technologies in his bar-coded blog post presents an idea how possible to use bar-code or how he called “1949 year technology” to identify drawings. In his example, he proposed to create an association between file attribute and bar-code and automate processes related to document.

Both articles made me think about different aspects related to identification of engineering documents, and I decided to share and discuss it.

Internal vs. External
Documents are everywhere. However, in my view, most of the organization can clearly differentiate between documents that are belonging to an organization and are under formal control of the organization and documents that circulated outside.

Logical vs. Physical
Most of us are working with virtual documents or files – CAD Files, Related PDF files, Images, Scans and just office documents with embedded design and engineering elements. However, organizations are still printing documents for various purposes. I can see some of them, such as use of documents in the manufacturing shop floor or sending documents together with physical products as part of documents and some others.

Integrations
Inside of the organization your documents are flowing between different people and organizations. You can see more and more organizations are starting to think about a single content management system. In some cases, PLM system is playing a role of a content management system for engineering documents. However, there are lots of situations where documents are distributed between multiple systems- CMS, PDM, PLM, ERP, etc. To be able to identify correlated documents can be an interesting solution.

Archives
The cost of storage is growing down. I’d expect IT in few more years will be discussing an option how to have all data on “spinning disks”. Flash storage is still expensive. So, a question of archiving and identification of drawing in archives can be interesting as well.

What is my conclusion today? I think, the problem of identification is a huge one. With all respect to our paperless future, we are document-driven society. I’m not touching now the future CAD on the cloud without files. We are still in a very preliminary stage in our trials to understand the problem of handling documents globally. There are many aspects that I mentioned in this post, and it seems to me, they are still very distributed within an organization’s boundary and beyond. I can envision kind of layered solution that will solve this problem. I’m looking forward to your comments and discussion.

Best, Oleg

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2 Responses to PLM and Engineering Documents Identification

  1. Jez says:

    Oleg – I think there are several different concepts here.
    First we need to define what is a document?! Is it the same as a computer file? What about a BoM?
    Second we need to uniquely identify the ‘document’ with a number (and revision).
    Third we might need to be able to computer-read the ‘document number’ using a bar-code, qr-code, ocr, …

    Let me try to answer the first question – the most difficult I think – and it touches on the second:
    “A document is a bounded set of data. It is given a unique identity. It can be under revision control (or effectivity date, or similar). For any change in the content (part of the whole data set) the identity or revision is changed.”

    There are still plenty of questions remaining – is the pdf version of a Word file a different document? If it’s printed on Letter paper instead of A4 and the Table of Contents changes due to new page numbers, is it the same document? Does an editorial change affect the edition/revision the same way as a real content change?

    best regds, jez

  2. Jez, thanks for your insightful thoughts and comments! I agree, the definition of Document sometimes is not clear. However, I’d be trying to be less ‘smart’ in this case and stick with almost your definition- ‘a document is a set of data bounded as a file’. CAD file, PDF, etc… Multiple documents may represent the same, similar or related content. I see this topic separate, and somewhat I probably will call “product data”. Does it make sense to you? Best, Oleg

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