Product data is one of my favorite topics. People in product development and manufacturing organizations are surrounded by digital data these days. The life 20 years ago was much easier. I remember the story about how people collaborated before CAD systems came to aerospace industry. Engineers were gathered in a single room, drawing boards were setup in the way similar to functional scheme of jet engine or aircraft. As a result of that, people were able to collaborate with their colleagues working on related parts and systems.
Fast forward to 21st century. The life is much more complicated. Engineering and product data are scattered among multiple systems and data sources. 3D models, drawings, CAE files, suppliers data, ERP systems, released archives, etc. Earlier this year, during PI Congress event in Berlin, I captured the following slide from Gartner’s presentation – Navigating the Shifting Product Design and Lifecycle Management Software Landscape made by Marc Halpern.
Scattered product data creates lots of complication in a manufacturing organizations. Gartner research speaks about 7 sources of mistakes in product data. The following two are specifically resonated to me – inaccurate data entry and incorrect data flow between applications. One of the ways to solve this problem is to foster data access and data reuse. It is still not unusual to see how people cut/paste or re-enter data between applications. Various point-to-point integrations create a mess in terms of ability of people (and systems) to use data located in other systems.
What is my conclusion? Data Reuse. This topic should be in a focus on people implementing engineering and manufacturing information systems. Variety of data management systems, PDM, PLM, ERP, CRM… All these systems should be focused on how to make data searchable, accessible and re-usable across the value chain. Just my thoughts…