A New Generation of Decision-Makers for the New Year

In the past engineering groups made decisions about product improvement software internally. A CAD manager — often just another one of the engineers who got stuck with double duty — would read about a file manager or a CAD add-on that offered a bit of increased utility. The decision to purchase would be localized to the department, and the productivity gains were limited to which employees installed the new utility on their workstation.

For the most part, those days are gone. There is general consensus that software purchases are an organizational initiative. Productivity improvements are purchased to impact more than just one group or department. PDM (Product Data Management) software is now recognized as an enterprise automation solution, not a departmental file manager.

Product development leaders now hold their software to higher standards. There has been a change in thinking from individual achievement to a focus on enterprise business initiatives surrounding all of product development, not just engineering and design issues. To make the cut in this era, a PDM system must be able to:

  • Manage file relationships for parts, assemblies drawings, configurations;
  • Control access (check-in/check-out) of all design data, both in 2D and 3D;
  • Perform complex versioning and revisions;
  • Control access (check-in/check-out) of all design data, both in 2D and 3D;
  • Integrate with CAD tools and other technical and graphics-based software;
  • Unite the wider enterprise document management functions with engineering;
  • Provide an automated and robust audit trail.
  • Play nice with other enterprise systems such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) and supply chain management (SCM);
  • Guide and protect key business processes including quality management, approvals, and regulatory compliance;

Today’s PDM decision-makers want software that creates a competitive edge. They want to streamline business processes and automate existing workflows. Eliminating wasted time searching for all kinds of product data is also essential. They want a high return of business value for their investment, and are willing to take enough time to find the right solution. Read More

Synergis Adept: The Best of What Both PDM and PLM Offer

A newcomer to the engineering data management marketplace might quickly come to the conclusion there are two options if wanting to upgrade from Windows Explorer as a management tool. The first is to buy a system that helps engineers in a workgroup manage design files (PDM); the second is to buy a specialized database (PLM) that breaks down all information—CAD data and everything else—and stores it separately from the familiar files/folders structure. For many businesses looking to upgrade their engineering automation, the first option is too limiting and the second is too massive.

PDM vs. PLM

The traditional PDM (Product Data Management) approach is to make the CAD document the center of the universe. The PDM software manages sets of linked files for version control, synchronized check-in/check-out, and controls access right. The PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) approach requires the enterprise to import all data (CAD and from every other electronic document used in engineering) into a relational database, and then to adopt new workflows based on the design of the PLM system. Read More

PDM and the Truth About Multi-CAD Support

It’s no secret that engineers live in a multi-CAD world. As part of their daily routines, engineers routinely collaborate with customers, suppliers, and partners, each working with different CAD tools, yet all needing to be on the same page.

Most companies use, on average, 2.7 different CAD systems internally, according to CAD maker PTC, and that doesn’t account for other tools put into play by external partners. Each tool has a distinct file format and different flair for handling 3D CAD data and models. The variances can quickly turn into a nightmare for engineers who are simply trying to collaborate and share designs to get their jobs done.

CAD vendors have tried to address the multi-CAD issue for years, but it remains a struggle for many companies–some trapped by manual processes that don’t effectively do the job, others saddled with CAD management solutions that don’t live up to their promise of dealing with disparate models and CAD file types. Read More

Guiding the PDM Conversation Requires a Steely-Eyed Gaze

get-chekclistThe decision to invest in a modern engineering document management system is a big deal. A variety of questions arise, from the financial (What’s the budget?) to the logistical (How do we deploy and not fall behind in our work?) and the practical (Who is in charge of random issues?). Sometimes the answer comes from within the organization, and sometimes the answer is more like, “We’ll solve that with the software vendor.”

When the answers require a joint venture, it is important to enter into the conversation with the software vendor as an equal partner. Every vendor of product data management (PDM) and/or engineering document management (EDM) software wants a happy customer—but they prefer happy and compliant. If you let the vendor drive the conversation, you may not get what you really need from your new software. Read More

What is Your Company’s Risk in the New Data Management Age?

“No matter how smoothly your data management systems may work today, the savvy CAD manager should keep in mind that things change constantly, and a new set of data management challenges are always on the horizon. The question is, how can you proactively plan for them?”

That’s Robert Green’s advice in his latest article on Data Management.

  • Data is exploding at an alarming rate…especially in the CAD environment.
  • IT is not always fully-attuned to the data management needs of CAD professionals…and that’s getting more and more dangerous every day.
  • Cloud storage is raising a whole new list of questions…many of which are going unasked and unanswered.
  • New standards and security measures must be implemented…but are being ignored at most companies.

What is your company’s risk in the new data management age?

Robert Green provides you with all the questions you should be asking and 6 crucial action steps you must take to reduce your company’s exposure in his article, A Data Management Wake-Up Call for All CAD Managers. Check it out to get his key takeaways.

Survey Update Confirms Strong Interest in CAD Data Management

The 2016 edition of the Business Advantage Annual CAD Trends Survey is out, and there are few real surprises in this year’s results. CAD-using businesses are watching the newer technologies, but only a small percentage of potential users are deploying. Meanwhile, technologies that have been around longer are the most trusted. But with the exception of the CAD tools themselves, most technologies used by design and engineering professions have plenty of room to grow.

Four of the top five technology trends, based on both usage and ranked importance, are the same as last year. 2D Drafting tops the charts as a deployed technology, followed close by 3D modeling CAD (which is given a higher ranking of importance by users). Far from becoming the Windows 95 of engineering, 2D drafting continues to be essential. Based on asking the same questions over and over for years whenever I talk to CAD managers, I believe there are 2.5 seats of 2D drafting CAD used in manufacturing for every seat of 3D modeling CAD. In AEC the ratio is more like 5 to 1.

The Business Advantage Quadrant

Ranks engineering technologies into four categories based on the results of survey data Read More

When Legacy Data Projects Go Bad

All engineering software vendors publish case studies about successful clients and projects. Good case studies help others understand the specific value a software product or service can be. But what about projects that nobody wants to talk about?

Two recent articles here have discussed the business value of legacy data, and how to decide what data is worth putting into the new PDM.

Today I want to tell you about an engineering legacy data project that will never make it into a case study. They say experience is the best teacher, when it comes to failure I think it is better to observe it second hand than to experience it directly.

By the way, I know this is a guest post for Synergis, but this case does not involve Synergis Software or any of its customers. I am going to be intentionally vague to avoid embarrassing those involved and to avoid violating confidentiality agreements. Read More

Understanding the Business Value of Legacy Data, Part 2

In the first article in this series, I introduced the importance of clear thinking about legacy data when installing a product data management (PDM) system. I spent time recently talking to Todd Cummings, VP of Technology, about his nearly 20 years of experience helping companies of all sizes install and use Synergis Adept. One of the first things he told me was “If you haven’t worn that gift tie for several years, then it’s time to donate it to the Salvation Army.” Apply the idea to legacy data, Todd said, not as a hard-and-fast rule but “as more of a healthy challenge: don’t assume legacy data should automatically be put into the PDM/EDM system.”

It is all about the business value of the information. Todd advises clients to make business value the lens through which they review legacy data. If data created 10 years ago is still accessed by your field engineers and support team, it stays in.  When it comes to some projects—not all data is valuable. Every business is different. Read More

Understanding the Business Value of Legacy Data, Part 1

When a company invests in a new product data management (PDM) system like Synergis Adept, one of the first agenda items is (or should be) to decide what to do with legacy data (product/project information created in the past and not in active current use). When engineering information is first created it is always of high value. But over time, value diminishes. The rate of value decay varies by company. So, how important is it to make older engineering data a part of the new PDM?

Some companies want to sidestep the question. On one hand, some will think the best choice is to only use the new PDM system with current projects. On the other hand, some will think the way forward is to put everything into the PDM. Both of these choices are based on overly simplistic assumptions about the value of data. Read More

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. Read More