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

Making a Positive Impact on Time to Knowledge

It is easy to get bogged down in details when discussing topics like engineering data management (AKA product data management or PDM). Sometimes it is good to step back and look at the big picture. For me, the details of PDM are the bricks in a building; the building is Time to Knowledge.

I define “Time to Knowledge” as the time it takes someone to get the specific accurate information needed to answer a question. The typical day in engineering has hundreds of moments which trigger a Time to Knowledge event. Such questions as “What is the status of yesterday’s engineering change request?” or “Which document is the right revision, and where is it?” are specific questions that require specific answers available in your existing engineering data. If the answer is quickly accessible, productivity is enhanced. If the answer is an uncertain quest away, the human tendency too often is to find an imprecise workaround or to avoid the subject completely. Read More

What We Learned from You this Year

It’s the end of another year, and it gives us all pause to reflect on our accomplishments or lack of reaching our stated goals… and of cheering on the successes, and boo-hooing the experiments that utterly failed.

As writers, we can make educated guesses on what topics we think you’d like to read about. Some of our blog posts were clearly winners, others not so much. But in the end, it’s all about getting into your head. Trying to understand what attracts you, what engages you, and what you’re really seeking to understand about this messy world of engineering document management/PDM/PLM.

So looking back on the blog posts of 2015, we’ve put together a vague picture of you, our reader. And as the sibling of a psychotherapist and someone whose spent a lot of time trying to get your attention, I’m going to share what we have learned about you. Read More

New Decision-Makers Bring Fresh Questions to the Hunt for Product Data Management Software

There was a time when decisions about product data management software (PDM) were based solely on the needs of engineering. The primary goal of these engineers and designers was to automate file management beyond poorly followed rules about saving files in Windows. The preferred PDM solutions often emphasized check-in and check-out issues for CAD files, and did not necessarily take into consideration the wider uses of product data, let alone the important data beyond CAD files.

Today the decisions about how to select a product data management solution has moved up the org chart, beyond engineering. PDM is recognized as an enterprise automation solution, not a departmental file manager. The typical decision-maker of a PDM solution today is looking for a way to support the entire product lifecycle process, and wants a high return of business value for their investment. These people see PDM as an enterprise-wide solution that can be a right-sized alternative to expensive PLM installations. Read More

Fighting Medical Regulatory Bureaucracy with PDM

MedicaMetrix is a US-based startup in the medical devices industry. It is an industry notorious for chewing up and spitting out small companies like a monster finding bad grapes in a vineyard. Founder-CEO Christopher LaFarge says investors in his industry look for leaders “who will run through brick walls head first” among other attributes. “Somehow, they are going to end up in the market with something that makes money,” no matter what it takes.

One of the frustrations in developing new medical devices is the “alphanumeric soup” of regulatory and compliance agencies. There is the FDA in the US, and an equivalent agency for European Union nations. Each agency wants an incredible amount of documentation, presented their way. While there is some overlap, they both want schematics and circuit board designs, CAD file prints of the product, and all the accompanying documentation generated in word processing, spreadsheets, accounting, and other software presented in a specific way. Read More

Cringe-Free Engineering Change Orders

Talk to engineers or search the Web about Engineering Change Orders (ECO) and you will quickly realize you have stumbled into dreaded territory. People who engineer either the design or the manufacturing processes generally love their jobs, but universally cringe at the thought of having to request, document, and implement changes to their work after the fact.

One reason engineering team members cringe in reaction to ECOs is because they instinctively recognize inefficiency when they see it. In this era of computer-based automation and efficiency, ECOs seem to have been left behind. They are usually created on spreadsheets then processed manually and informally using nothing more sophisticated than Windows Explorer and email. It is a process offering no chance for department-wide visibility, no way to automate the surrounding information flow of alerts, status, and approvals, and no way to create a useful audit trail for future reference. Read More

Clear Thinking About Cloudy CAD

Sooner or later when talking about EDM or PDM software, the subject turns to return on investment (ROI). But before measuring the ROI of any particular software purchase, one must be clear about what exactly is being measured. Recent trends in the engineering software industry are muddying the waters instead of making things more clear about the purpose of PDM. So, (spoiler alert), this article is not about ROI of PDM specifically, but about the clear thinking required to measure it correctly.

There is a new set of CAD and PDM tools on the market using cloud technology. They all have one thing in common: they are geometry-centric. Like their desktop predecessors, they are very good at helping people turn ideas into drawings or models. The new cloud-based CAD systems offer a better way to streamline design collaboration. Distance is no longer an obstacle for those who must work together to create geometry. However, the work output has not changed; geometry is created, refined, and submitted to a larger product development process. Read More

From Silos to Reservoirs

The phrase “information silo” is often used to describe when departments can’t or won’t play nice with sharing needed data. But I’ve never read of a similar metaphor to describe the opposite, when companies root out all the inefficiencies and everyone has the direct access they need to do their jobs. So let’s call it “information reservoir.”

Silos and reservoirs are two very different types of infrastructure. If the existing infrastructure is Windows Explorer or a product data management (PDM) program that only works on CAD drawings, then not only are you definitely stuck in silo mode, you have much to gain by investing in an engineering document management system (EDMS) that works equally well with geometry, words, and numbers. Read More

Do Engineers Fear Innovation?

If the question in the headline seems odd or even stupid to you, please let me explain. I know engineers embrace innovation; it is part of their very nature to get ahold of something and improve it or to build something new and different, something innovative. What I refer to is a fear of innovation when it comes to the tools and procedures they use.

Many engineers want to be inventive and clever but do it with tools and processes that remain familiar and comfortable. It is why after more than 20 years of 3D MCAD and BIM there are still millions of engineers and designers using 2D CAD to create three-dimensional objects and design buildings. It gets the job done and they can focus on the task instead of learning new tools and procedures. Never mind that study after study shows using 3D CAD technology leads to fewer errors and reduces time to market. The ones who stay with 2D CAD don’t want the cognitive and emotional load of learning a new way to do their job. The companies and supply chains involved collectively don’t want to make the effort either. Read More

Who holds the keys to your project data?

Ready to upgrade your engineering data management from Windows Explorer? There are plenty of choices available. Your CAD vendor probably has a PDM system, and there are CAD-neutral options including Synergis Adept. Each vendor has plenty of information available to share about their PDM product, in spec sheets, white papers, case studies, videos, webinars, and direct sales calls. The marketing teams at each company have worked hard to be ready with answers to questions customers might ask. But there is one question most of them don’t consider: Who holds the keys to your engineering data?

By “holds the keys” I am referring to what happens when your valuable data and documents get sucked into the PDM. Databases are complicated systems, and there are engineering trade-offs involved in how these programs operate. Read More