Securing Engineering Documents in the Cybercrime Age

These days no company should consider itself immune to the possibility of cybercrime and data theft.  Engineering documents hold the company’s crown jewels; data must always be kept secure. With careful planning you can still take advantage of the latest cloud and mobile technology; security does not mean lack of accessibility.

Outdated approaches to data management are the most vulnerable systems. There is nothing that says “STEAL ME” more than important documents just sitting naked in a file folder on the network. Once the external firewall is breached, these files become easy pickings.  A comprehensive IT security solution for engineering/manufacturing data will include the user, the data management software, and the network, as well as application layer interfaces and interconnecting systems (such as PDM to SCM).

Older PDM/PLM systems were built with data, speed, and functionality in mind; security was a minor concern limited to user access rights. Today’s global networks, dispersed workforce, and cloud and/or mobile access to engineering data completely changes the security scene. (more…)

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Five Stars: Why You Need to Plan Ahead for Adept Experience 2017 Conference

In 1992 I went from being a full-time employee at a CAD software company to a self-employed consultant with my former employer as my first client. Several projects were on the list, but the one that I still recall with great fondness was organizing the company’s first user conference. This was before the Internet was a universal resource; less than half of the company’s customers had email addresses. So we reached out through a newsletter and with phone calls (a lot of our business was direct sales on the phone).

We expected 20-30 attendees, mostly regional. We were blown away when close to 100 people from all over the US and several foreign countries signed up. By the end of the first session, everybody in the room realized they were surrounded by friends. They all shared the same enthusiasm for the software and had the same questions about customization or the product roadmap. Over breaks and meals, they shared tips and swapped stories about how the software solved problems or created new opportunities. It was two days of high energy and excitement for everyone there. (more…)

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How Joy Global Tamed their Global PDM Monsters

Joy Global is a world-class manufacturer and services provider for high-productivity mining equipment. Customers around the globe use are using Joy Global products and services on the very largest mining projects in energy, industrial, and hard rock minerals. Over the years it has grown both organically and by acquisition, to the point where it how has eight major brands, 12,000 employees, and offices in 20 countries. With each acquisition came new data, new data management systems, and new challenges for creating, storing, using, and sharing engineering data.

In 2009 the company decided it must standardize on a single product data management system (PDM). “Our access and files were out of control,” says Joy Global’s Norm Kopp. Research on how to proceed started with a simple step. The small team assigned to the job looked at only 10 shared directory folders on the corporate network. More than 675 users had access across the 10 folders, with no tighter level of access control. In one directory alone, there were more than 1 million documents, taking up more than 2 terabytes. “We knew there just had to be a better way,” recalls Kopp. Their engineering data had become an uncontrolled monster hiding inside the organization. (more…)

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Dow Chemical Deploys Synergis Software’s Adept Engineering Information Management to Support Global Operational Excellence

Synergis Adept provides a single, global portal to quickly access as-built and capital project engineering documents via high quality, searchable metadata

Synergis Software, developers of the Synergis Adept Engineering Information Management (EIM) solution announced today that The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE: DOW) has selected and deployed the Adept EIM solution to over 4,000 users across the global enterprise. Dow’s five key objectives for Adept EIM include: Quick access to as-built and capital project engineering documents; improved global collaboration; greater protection for intellectual property; robust auditing and compliance; and accelerated post-project data handover.

“Dow Chemical has in excess of three million engineering documents around the world that were in at least 20 different information management systems,” states Gregg Schuler, global manager of collaboration for Dow Engineering Solutions. “Many of these systems were either unsupported, homegrown, outdated, or had poor usability, which could have resulted in documents being misplaced, incorrect documents being used, and projects being delayed. It was Dow’s Six Sigma process that recognized this issue and set us down a path to select a commercial document and information management system.” (more…)

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Don’t Forget the Big Picture

Engineers are detail-oriented; it’s the nature of the job. But there are times when it is good to think about the bigger picture. Whether the “big picture” is establishing best practices, launching a Six Sigma review of engineering or business processes, or calculating return on investment (ROI) for new products or services, establishing the big picture first is a very good way to make sure the right details are being accomplished.

Despite having computers in the workplace for more than a generation, there are still many aspects of business where the full utilization of digital technology is not happening. Many businesses, not just engineering businesses, are discovering new ways to fully realize digitalization in their businesses.

Google Chief Economist Hal Varian recently wrote an article for the International Monetary Fund on the importance of continually looking for “big picture” ways to increase and improve the use of computer technology in business. His audience was economists and politicians — definitely a “big picture” audience — but there are good lessons in his ideas for all of us.

Varian focused on five themes. Let’s take a look at his themes from the viewpoint of engineering data management.  (more…)

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Greene, Tweed’s Winning Recipe for Synergis Adept/SAP Integration

Greene, Tweed & Co. may be a major player on the global stage, but for most of its history, its engineering data had a decidedly local footprint, tucked away in different file shares around the world and typically painstakingly difficult to find and share.

That is until the manufacturer of high-performance elastomeric and thermoplastic materials embarked on a journey to deploy Synergis’ Adept Product Data Management (PDM) system to centralize its critical engineering assets, including SOLIDWORKS CAD files, and to automate approval workflows on a global scale. But Greene, Tweed wasn’t content to stop there. Its vision was to integrate the Adept PDM platform with its core ERP system to make engineering data accessible to a much broader audience.

Greene, Tweed, like many companies, sees value in syncing its core enterprise systems rather than fostering silos that prevent groups like engineering and manufacturing from readily exchanging data and working off the same page. That’s according to Steven Danasko, SAP Solution Specialist in Greene, Tweed’s IT Center of Excellence, Product Lifecycle Management, who was the key orchestrator of the project. Danasko says that beyond a desire for more centralized data repositories and integrated workflows, the Adept/SAP integration made sense from a financial standpoint because it opened up access to critical engineering data to existing ERP users without requiring investment in additional software licenses. (more…)

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DOW Chemical’s Best Practices to Plan, Deploy, and Measure a Global Document Management Solution

DOW Chemical Company was an early leader in the use of Engineering Document Management (EDM) in the 1980s. But through the 1990s and 2000s it grew rapidly by acquisition. For data management, this meant the company acquired and continued to use more than 25 different homegrown and commercial EDM systems. An internal Six Sigma audit in 2011 revealed a variety of gaps and other inefficiencies in the use of engineering data; the wide variety of EDM systems in use was cited as a major factor. “All of them had some usability or supportability issues,” says Barbara Migl, CAE Technology Leader for DOW. “One system took 45 minutes to sign in a document.”

The problems found in the Six Sigma internal study are not that unusual, according to research by Dr. Mario Hirz, a leading research on engineering data and documentation management. Successful EDM is highly dependent on interdepartmental and interdisciplinary integrations of both data and workflow. His research notes key issues that large companies often struggle with when trying to gain efficiency through better EDM:

  • Insufficient transmission of knowledge;
  • The need for a systematic approach to the design and development of EDM processes and systems;
  • The complexity of implementation in large organizations;
  • Lack of unified processes.

(more…)

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Transmittals are a Pain in the Ask

Does anybody actually enjoy creating and sending engineering transmittals? Possibly. But in most companies, for most people, transmittals are a tedious pain.

It starts with gathering up all the documents, making sure every document is the correct version, and making sure all the XREF images and part files are included. Even when assembled with painstaking care (a time-consuming task) there is still high risk for overlooking key components. Once the transmittal is sent, there are still the issues of tracking, managing content, and controlling access. And then, what if there is an audit?

If the most automated aspect of creating and sending transmittals in your company is dragging files around on the screen, it is time to take a look at exactly how much of a drag on productivity transmittals can be. Synergis Adept user Stan Jancovic of Taggart Global figured out once just how painful transmittals can be to the bottom line. “When we added up the cost for our engineers’ time and labor, we were spending $400,000 a year just to send transmittals.” (more…)

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Synergis Named a Winner of 2017 Top Workplaces Award

Synergis Technologies, LLC, a premiere provider of CAD and Data Management software and services to engineering and design companies throughout North America, announced it has been awarded a 2017 Top Workplaces honor by The Morning Call. The Top Workplaces lists are based solely on the results of an employee feedback survey administered by WorkplaceDynamics, LLC, a leading research firm that specializes in organizational health and workplace improvement. Several aspects of workplace culture were measured, including Alignment, Execution, and Connection, just to name a few.

Synergis Technologies, LLC was founded in 1985 by David B. Sharp III, Janet Kiehart and Bill Stamp, all longtime residents of Quakertown.  The company has over 90 employees, with many having worked at the company  an average of 10 years.  Synergis is deeply committed to a core set of values that foster family spirit and unity, innovation, service beyond expectation, an extraordinary workplace environment, personal growth, and giving back to its community. (more…)

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Taming the Vast Ocean Called Search

I participate in a rural business development roundtable. At our most recent meeting somebody mentioned they wanted to find the owner of some property near town. All he had was a name and a possible home town. He asked me what I would do. I said “just a minute” and reached for my tablet. In 30 seconds I told him the owner’s residence and business addresses and telephone numbers, and in which church he was active. And I never got beyond the first two lines displayed in the typical Google search, and it was all in the first page Google presented.

In this era of instantaneous web search, many still think the World Wide Web consists of millions of discrete sources of information, instead of seeing it as one comprehensive reference work. We have been conditioned by centuries of sorting information using encyclopedias, card catalogs, telephone directories, parts catalogs, city directories, drawing cabinets, Windows folders and more. If we remain stuck in the old model, we think we must search through these sources, one by one, and then combine the information to him in on the answer we need. (more…)

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