Manufacturing Configurator




What Is a Product Data Management System?


Numerous terms are used to identify PDM systems: Engineering Data Management, Document Control, Product Information Management and other descriptors. The definition problem is compounded by the genealogy of the vendors and their experi­ence; most PDM software vendors are approaching the market­place from the direction of CAD systems.

A Product Data Management system is "a system to organize, access and control all data related to an enterprise's products and to manage the life cycle of those products." [1]

The enterprise may include any or all of the functions of market­ing, engineering, manufacturing, quality, and accounting. The enterprise is linked by a need for common information about its product over the entire life cycle of the product—not just during the design phase. Therefore, users include manufacturing, qual­ity, and cost personnel, as well as design engineers. The concept of the "enterprise" within a teaming environment may include geographically dispersed companies.

Application Functions

The CIMdata view of PDM systems falls into two broad catego­ries: user functions and utility functions. The user functions are those most directly of interest to an APICS audience and will be briefly described. Utility functions support and facilitate the use of the system. A more complete definition of all functions can be found in the referenced CIMdata publication. [1]

User Functions

1. Design Release Management (DRM)

This function is concerned with managing information at all stages of the product life cycle, including all manufacturing and non-engineering data related to the product. DRM is the most basic and important function of a PDM system.

DRM must provide a secure data storage environment and access mechanisms for data storage and retrieval. The most common term for storage is "vault"—electronic storage of data, instead of vellum files or paper in a filing cabinet. The DRM function, therefore, must provide checkin and checkout of information based on some logic that represents company policy for processing the information.

The DRM function also needs to provide a subsystem of access privileges for individual users and departments. By definition, the DRM function must also:

• Support multiple release levels and a list of users authorized to release products to different release statuses.

• Insure that only individuals with appropriate authorization can access information.

• Accommodate the company's specific definition of release levels and stages.

• Manage information about the files and objects that are managed. This capability allows users to quickly find infor­mation based on attributes such as who released it, what product it relates to, when it was released, etc.

• Be able to link multiple data elements to a common entity. For example, a single part may have a specification, drawing, finite element file, and NC program—all of which need to be related to the same part.

To realize the importance of this basic function, consider the significance to manufacturing of having the right documents, at the right release and version level, to match the right parts at the right time!

2. Product Structure Management (PSM)

Product Structure Management provides the ability to define,

create, maintain, and modify the product structure. PSM orga­nizes all the information required to build and assemble the product, including relating other data elements to the bill of material represented by the product structure file.

PSM must also provide:

• Multiple versions of the product structure for each discipline requiring them, the most common being engineering and manufacturing.

• Methods and logic to recognize and reconcile discrepancies between versions.

• Logic for effectivity, versions, and build options.

• Search methods to access and traverse the files from any direction to provide retrievals and reports.

Notice the similarity of the PSM functional standard to the description of the bill of material file in MRP II software packages. Herein lies one of the major integration and implemen­tation issues: Which department(s) will create and maintain the information?

To be Continued


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