By Anthony J. Lockwood
When any enterprise initiates improvements to its design, development, and manufacturing processes, the business concerns tend to be much the same: cut costs, minimize or eliminate error-prone manual processes, and improve time to market. While sharing similar concerns — indeed, the differences are often semantic — engineering managers have their own set of priorities: reducing errors in engineering change processes, eliminating paper processes, and speeding up review and release cycle times. For engineering managers, the key is not simply throwing technology at problems. Rather, it is to use technology to create processes from which their teams derive value from existing functions, all without creating more work or overhead. This, in turn, provides the enterprise and its clients value. Today’s Check It Out case study looks at how one company is doing just that.
Titled “Design & Product Data Management Delivers Next Generation Technologies,” this case study offers a robust look at how an engineering product data management solution, specifically Synergis Adept, enabled engineering managers at QinetiQ North America (QNA), to build new processes that not only addressed their concerns but added new value along the way. The paper ranges across such issues as engineering-change request (ECR) management, achieving certifications like ISO9001, peer-review and approval tracking, and getting rid of paper completely in manufacturing.
One aspect of this paper I found engaging was how candid the QNA representatives were about the extent of the problems Adept has helped them fix and the role played by engineering technology. To the latter point, the paper may have the best quote ever to explain why technology for technology’s sake is a bad idea and why a good process is critical to engineering success: “I don’t want a process in place just so I can get a checkbox or have a flag outside that says we have AS9100 or ISO9000 certification,” says Andrew Courier of QNA’s Technology Solutions Group. “The processes we do have to be real. A good process is as invisible as possible yet still delivers significant benefits.”
An important subtopic of the paper is the need to have a tight, collaborative relationship with your data management software provider. Frequently, QNA speaks of how they asked Synergis for a function or feature to be added to its implementation of Adept. These are almost an aside to the main point. For example, Adept enables QNA to track the average time it takes to review/approve documents and what or who is holding up the process — vital for time-to-market calculations. Yet, hardly mentioned is that this came about as a side benefit of a different modification to Adept for the review/approval cycle.
This seven-page paper was a pleasant surprise. The candidness of the company representatives was refreshing. As well, the wide path across engineering process issues it covers is done briskly and without a bunch of marketing hooey. Hit this link and give it a read.
Thanks, Pal. " Lockwood
Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering