A Culture of Flexibility Helps Space Age Electronics Transform Itself with Engineering Document Management

For more than 50 years, Space Age Electronics has built custom and short-run life safety and fire protection electronics products. Such a specialized, narrow focus has served it well. The company has developed a wide range of specific business processes that help it build quality components within specified budgets, taking advantage of its depth of experience and market knowledge.

Willingness to embrace change is a strong part of Space Age’s company culture. The company has a deep team of multi-discipline experts to move from customer support to design to manufacturing or even IT, as needed.

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A Disaster Recovery Plan Doesn’t Need to be Scary

Your company has insurance covering its buildings and equipment, because everyone knows the old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” If a natural disaster happens, your physical infrastructure can be repaired and replaced. But too often the same cannot be said for the information infrastructure; at some companies, another old adage is in play: “out of sight, out of mind.” Unfortunately, some disasters that hit information infrastructures are hardly “natural” in nature, yet can be more devastating to a company than an earthquake or fire.

Engineering departments using Adept should have their own disaster recovery plan in place. In many organizations, the Adept installation flies under the IT radar, so to speak. Precautions and backup serving enterprise IT will not necessarily provide the safety net your engineering team requires. Read More

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.” 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. Read More

Change Does Not Have to Be Hard

In my 25+ years of attending engineering software user conferences, there is one consistent theme whenever users gather: how to gain “buy-in” from colleagues or employees for a major software upgrade or new product. Over time I have observed how the ability to embrace change varies with the nature of the new endeavor.

It seems to be easier to get users to embrace specific, individual productivity features than to get a group of users to adopt new workflow methods that affect the team. I credit this to instant gratification. If you now use five clicks and two key-ins to modify an existing door (or weldment or whatever), and I can show you how to do it in two clicks and one key-in, you can immediately put that to work. It is a small bit of learning with a quick reward. Read More

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).

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Improving Oil and Gas Industry Safety With Better Data Management

After a series of high-profile accidents involving gas transmission pipelines, in 2014 the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) commissioned a study to see what could be done to lower the incidence rate. The report, “Integrity Management of Gas Transmission Pipelines in High Consequence Areas” included an analysis of how pipeline quality data was gathered, used, and shared. A close look at the report offers some interesting insight into engineering data management issues.

The NTSB report on Integrity Management (IM) published 33 findings; seven of the specifically mention data management issues. Following the findings, the report listed 22 recommendations to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, seven of which specifically mention data handling. Read More