Welcome to the Loosely Coupled World

I am noticing a change in thinking in the engineering data industry. Current trends in IT are driving new capabilities and new methods. The industry is moving from consolidation to federation, from tightly coupled systems to loosely coupled systems. This transition has important implications for all engineering companies.

There was a time when product lifecycle management (PLM) was advertised as the evolution of product data management (PDM) or engineering document management (EDM). The three largest vendors of PLM software made a nice business for many years helping enterprise-class manufacturers consolidate all their engineering data into a single comprehensive database. In IT-speak, this is an example of a tightly coupled system. All data and all processes were consolidated into one large program. Centralization was a guiding principle, not only for how the software managed engineering data, but also for the computer infrastructure used to run the PLM platform. (more…)

Read More

Best Practices When Using EDM Vendor Services

The old adage “to fail to plan is to plan to fail” is certainly true when it comes to something as important as installing engineering document management (EDM) software. Research by Jim Brown of Tech-Clarity shows it is possible to achieve EDM implementation benefits rapidly by following a few key rules:

  • Use preconfigured best practices for security, part numbering, and other common information standards;
  • When possible, use standard workflows such as “release to manufacture” and “engineering change control;”
  • Limit initial customization; evaluate customization needs after full initial implementation and training.

As important as it is to minimize initial customization, no EDM system out of the box will offer an exact fit for every company. Many companies have workflows which evolved over years or decades; these processes do not need to be eliminated just because of automation. Other companies need customization to help unify far-flung engineering offices and long supply chains. (more…)

Read More

Ruhrpumpen Realigns Global Engineering for Efficiency and Innovation

Large-scale engineering organizations constantly search for ways to differentiate their products from the competition. Many engineering-centric companies are using acquisitions as a way to increase their product line and market reach. As product complexity and variety increases, the smooth flow of data in the organization increases in importance. The sheer volume of product data increases, requiring not just the organization but its supply chain to spend more resources defining, translating, and transferring product data and solving technical problems associated with data management.

Ruhrpumpen is a prime example of this set of challenges. It is a global centrifugal pump technology company with a wide variety of engineered-to-order products for Oil & Gas, Chemical, Power, Industrial Applications, and Water & Mining. They also manufacture a wide variety of off-the-shelf centrifugal pumps for these industries and more. From its home base in Germany, it has grown by acquisition; it now has manufacturing and sales offices in 11 countries on five continents. (more…)

Read More