The 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.