This overview presentation will introduce you
to the concepts and capabilities of Product Data Management (PDM)
systems and Configurators. The first part of this presentation
provides background. The remaining parts of the presentation
develop the following aspects in more detail:
• Definition of Product Data Management systems
• Definition of Configurators
• Sources of software and selection issues
• Final conclusions
Leading manufacturing companies are constantly
reassessing their growth strategies in light of the intense
competition that always looms on their flanks. The dominant
strategy of the 1990s will be speed and flexibility. Speed is the
ability to reduce the total product development cycle to get to
the market first, and flexibility is the ability to offer a
product to meet unique customer needs.
In many industry sectors, companies wi'l no
longer be able to compete just because they have successfully
implemented JIT (Just-in-Time) in the manufacturing area.1;.
The ability to define products for the customization market by
To-Order companies (Design, Make, and Assemble) will be critical.
The lead time reduction concepts of Concurrent Engineering—with
enabling software tools—will need to be implemented also.
PDM systems are relatively new software and
hardware technologies for better management of the product and
process development cycle and the related documentation
throughout a company. PDM systems have been called Integration
Enablers. The software capabilities provide the potential to
integrate fully all forms of data from CAD, CAM, and MRP II
Configurators are rules-based software systems
to define product information for the To-Order company.
CAD and MRP II systems have developed somewhat
independently. Many companies are still struggling with problems
integrating these two major systems. CAD systems have tended to
grow without the commensurate level of control needed to assure
accurate documentation. The ease of access to product information
by electronic means makes it easier to lose control over the
integrity of the design. The need to increase productivity of
design efforts by distributing the processing capabilities of
workstations has also compounded the problems of control. So, the
product is designed with the aid of modern computer systems, but
the process of documentation management has lagged.
Some companies are still burdened with multiple legacy systems
•semiautomated documentation systems that are
error-prone, not integrated, and slow to respond to increasing
demands for more timely information. MRP II, JIT, and EDI
techniques have improved the flow of parts and products markedly
through the plant. But what about the speed and accuracy of the
process documentation relating to the parts?
Why Consider Implementing a PDM System?
In a recent survey, the CAD consulting firm of
CIMdata (Ann Arbor, Michigan) received these general answers to
the question of implementing a PDM system:
• Product and process data are becoming prolific.
• The various elements of CAD, CAM, MRP II
need to be brought together into a coherent system.
• Companies want a cost-efficient
alternative to the huge overhead staff functions now being
used to track product and process information.
• Major manufacturers are passing down
requirements to their first-tier suppliers—"forcing"
may be a better word.
• In the defense industry, CALS
(Computer-Aided Acquisition and Logistics Support) mandates
electronic transmission of text, graphic, and image data for
Why Consider Implementing a Configurator?
The To-Order company has been one of the most
difficult environments in which to implement MRP II. In numerous
texts, the concepts of restructuring bills of material to handle
features and options seemed deceptively simple; in reality, some
companies found the cost of creating pseudo bills to be
prohibitively expensive. Other companies have tried the impossible
task of creating individual bills for every unique combination of
options. The classic methods of product definition, i.e., unique
part numbers and/or modular bills, proved cumbersome, if not
impossible, to adopt in the To-Order company.
In such situations, a number of related
problems appear: excessive involvement of engineering personnel to
define products at order entry time, inconsistent forms of product
documentation, and inaccurate pricing and costing.
Conclusion to Introduction
More companies are recognizing the need to
implement Concurrent Engineering (CE)—to compete vigorously in
the marketplace of the 1990s. Serial methods of product
development have been identified as one of the major reasons the
product life cycle is too lengthy and results in a higher cost
product. Simply defined, CE is the parallel processing of design
and development functions traditionally performed in a serial
fashion—conceptual design, detail design, prototyping, drawing
release, process design, etc.
In the compressed time environment of CE and
teaming arrangements among suppliers, the need to adequately
manage product documentation becomes as critical as managing the
flow of parts, and perhaps more so.
To be Continued
stay current on bullet-proofed manufacturing solutions, subscribe to
ezine, "The Business Basics and Best Practices Bulletin."
Simply fill in the below form and click on the subscribe button.
also send you our free
Special Report, "Five Change
Initiatives for Personal and Company Success."
personal information will never
be disclosed to any third party.
leaders have a responsibility to educate and train their team
members. Help for developing a self-directed, World Class
Manufacturing training program for your people is just a click
are welcomed to print and share this bulletin with your
manufacturing teams, peers, suppliers and upper management ...
better yet, have them signup for their own copy at:
the escalating spam-wars, it's also a good idea to WHITELIST
our bulletin mailing domain via your filtering software or
This will help guarantee that your bulletin is never deleted
Knowledge you’ll not find at offsite
seminars nor in the books at Amazon.com
Lean Manufacturing - Balanced Scorecard
ISO 9000:2000 - Strategic Planning - Supply Chain
Management - MRP Vs Lean Exercises - Kaizen Blitz
Lean Six Sigma - Value Stream Mapping
All at one Website: Good
Six Sigma Training Thinking
Out of the Box
Supply Chain Inventory Management Total
Quality Management Principles
Manufacturing Implementation Lean