Over the last 25 years, I have spoken to many companies about managing their engineering documentation. At the time, I was selling PDM/PLM [Product Data Management/Product Lifecycle Management] solutions. I discovered that no two companies are exactly alike.
Here we are decades later and still probably less than half of manufacturers have either PDM or PLM software installed. There are all sorts of reasons.
Most often the reason was ‘why change what is working?’
The engineering manager would introduce me to their document control person and I would discuss how they are currently managing their CAD files and bills of materials.
If they had a problem like missing files, using the wrong file, sending the wrong bill of materials [BoM] to manufacturing, manufacturing the wrong version of their widget – they would move quickly to find a solution.
If they didn’t have a problem, I pressed to learn more. The more I learned, the more I realized that these companies had an exceptional person managing their documentation. That person had a well oiled system in place to manage files including a creative naming convention. They had a person that performed all of the tasks required to manage engineering changes. They had a process in place to key in BoM’s and had another person proofread the entry. What they all had in common was that they were extremely efficient.
When I spoke again with the engineering manager, I would point out that he had an exceptional employee managing their documentation. Then I would ask, what happens when he/she goes on vacation? What happens if he/she gets sick? What happens if he/she finds a better paying job? What happens when he/she retires?
The engineering managers understood what I was saying, but they were in no hurry to ‘change what is working’.
I am not sure that companies give enough thought about business continuity. What will you do if a key person goes absent for some reason? What if more than one can’t do their job? The best time to get your engineering documentation under control is when you don’t have an immediate need.
Contact me to learn more…