Process Management is a Major Component of PLM
Early on, PLM [product lifecycle management] software companies learned from their customers that some kind of rules based process management was a necessary component for their software to be a real solution.
Years ago, all aspects of engineering change control happened on paper.
The change request forms were on paper. Engineers typically hand wrote the change request and passed it to document control. In the paper world, the document control department was responsible for distributing the ECR to the right person. Toward the end of this process, there was a CCB [change control board] meeting to approve or reject the request.
A paper based change control system had some basic problems:
- It could take as long as 2 or 3 months to approve a change request.
- The manpower of document control is an overhead expense.
- Collaboration was cumbersome. Often, engineers were unaware that a change was already pending against a drawing they were to work on.
- CCB meetings took engineers away from their tasks for hours – usually every other week.
- It could take days to find out the status of a change request.
- Since the process was manual and on paper, mistakes happened. Mistakes can be expensive in real time and hurt your company for future business.
Add together all of these issues and you can see why the engineering change control process is the most expensive process for any manufacturing company.
Process Management Provides
Control – The process management component of PLM ensures that your engineering change process is followed. The software moves the ECR to the right person at the right time. It ensures compliance so that ISO audits are a breeze. It prevents ‘back door’ shortcuts from happening – or at a minimum documents them. The software can make sure that 2 people can’t work on the same file at the same time.
Visibility – Users can quickly see the status of a change request. They can see who is working on the request at any moment in time. If an engineer wants to make a change to a drawing that is being worked on, they can see who has it and call them. They can quickly see what the latest version is.
Today’s PLM software can ensure that the right information gets to the right person at the right time resulting in much shorter turnaround times for your change requests.
Next week – configuration management…