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How to Turn Your Engineers Into Product Design Superheroes

In this paper we focus on how PLM empowers engineers to spend more time on product design by optimizing their relationships with the differing departments across the organization with which they interact. Download this white paper to learn more.

1 Sponsored by Arena Solutions How to Turn Your Engineers Into Product Design Superheroes PLM Streamlines the Design Cycle Product innovation comes in the early phases of development, often during requirements analysis and functional allocation, when things change quickly. Component advances can occur almost weekly. PLM gives systems engineering a way to incorporate new technolo- gies as their work progresses before allocations are made and oftentimes even after they are made, thus mini- mizing disruption and confusion. Hardware and software alloca- tions have a significant impact on product design and manufacturing. PLM provides a platform where systems engineering can announce reallocations in a collaborative effort with input from electrical engineer- ing and software engineering alike. In many companies, EE and SE are often one and the same, at least from an organizational standpoint. PLM also gives electrical engineers and software engineers a chance to influence the overall design. For example, let’s say that a specific functional allocation is better ad- dressed in hardware rather than software. This in turn may have an impact on memory requirements, power budget, board layout, test, QA and QC. PLM establishes a nexus for the presentation and collaboration on such conditions as they arise. It also provides a framework where cost-benefit analysis can take place with input from manufacturing, test, and even marketing. Plus, these changes can be shared project and enterprise-wide, which enables them to be integrated with a down-stream enterprise resource planning system. Engineering is an iterative pro- cess. PLM affords access to design decisions in a variety of formats, depending on the need. In many cases, expensive prototypes can be eliminated or at least minimized, when data is shared across engineer- ing functions. These interactions become a historical record of the decisions and rationales that drove them, which can prove particularly helpful in the next product release or audit. At design reviews, they offer clients and management transparency into the inner work- ings of the process itself. Changes or enhancements revealed at each phase of the design review process become incorporated more readily under PLM. With easy to understand Today’s innovative companies are built on the shoulders of the engineering teams responsi-ble for designing products. Smart companies invest in tools that make their engineers’ lives easier. In turn, that makes engineers happy and translates into better products. A modern Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solution removes tedious admin responsibilities, streamlines the design environ- ment, and empowers engineers to collaborate more efficiently with other cross-functional stakeholders. Good engineers are hard to find, so once one is found, a company should do everything within its power to ensure that they have everything needed to become productive. PLM maximizes a company’s price- less human capital and enables engineers to make the organization more profitable by allowing them to spend more time focusing on the task they do best: designing innovative, world-class products. In this paper we focus on how PLM empowers engi- neers to spend more time on product design by optimiz- ing their relationships with the differing departments across the organization with which they interact. Topics include: • PLM Streamlines the Design Cycle • Engineers Talking to Manufacturing • Engineers and the Supply Chain • Engineers Working with Purchasing • Engineers Helping Achieve Compliance • Real Examples of Success 2 progress reports and design reviews, this critical information is available to all. What’s more, discoveries and ap- plications made by EE and SE (and other functional areas), become a legacy, a knowledge base that is current, concise and valid, which can drive derivative products or enhancements to existing products. Engineering can locate and re-use discoveries and approaches from previous initiatives with greater confidence, resulting in less re-work and earlier problem identification and avoidance. This is especially relevant for software/hardware marriages. What was discovered or designed in the past may provide new insight into current and future engineering efforts. PLM superintends these intel- lectual assets, including property (modeling software, emulation soft- ware, et al), CAD and 3-D files, as well as the ideas that emanate from the engineering process itself. Even mistakes become part of this knowl- edge base. These valuable painful lessons point to approaches to avoid in the future, blind roads that simply became cul de sacs as well as ineffective and costly approaches. A mature engineering process values failure—simply fail fast—and learn. Customer and end-user input is included in the knowledge base for updates or modifications for future products, related to—but not con- comitant to—the current product. Under PLM, whatever changes are made to the physical product are reflected in the virtual product in a crowd-sourcing approach. EEs Talking to Manufacturing The manufacturing sector is no stranger to data organizing software. Systems of Master Data Manage- ment (MDM) and Computer-aided Manufacturing (CAM) assist manu- facturing companies in keeping track of a product’s development across the various departments responsible for its production. MDM solutions help manufacturing com- panies manage product develop- ment data in-house, while CAM soft- ware is critical in executing mass manufacturing. These solutions are responsible for issuing commands to manufacturing machines. While these systems are great for manag- ing the efficacy of in-house solu- tions, the overall development of a product is larger than the manufac- turing sector alone, which in some instances trivializes the criticality of electrical engineers. While electrical engineers are commonly responsible for working with manufacturers on compre- hensive CAM coordinates, CAM soft- ware rarely includes platforms for communication or error reports. It makes quality assurance and prod- uct management difficult for the EE, and correspondingly increasing the likelihood of error. This is where PLM software fits in. Outside of data collection, PLM may also serve as a platform through which EEs and manufacturers can communicate promptly, with relevant product record information readily available. PLM software not only enhances the EE’s productivity with manufactur- ers, it also improves communication efficiency between EE and supply chains alike. EEs and the Supply Chain The supply chain is another im- portant aspect of product develop- ment that can benefit from collab- orative PLM. While the supply chain often incorporates SCM (Supply Chain Management) to ensure the efficient execution of processes to- wards the production of a particular product, SCM may not incorporate the collection of all relevant data. It may also be difficult to successfully implement an SCM across an entire supply chain, as each organization has its own functional and software- related preferences. ERP solutions are great organi- zational tools that enable supply chains to increase profits and opti- mize time. The downside of an ERP; however, is that it leaves certain stakeholders out of the information loop, notably electrical engineers. EEs play a very important role in the supply chain and are instru- mental to the functional develop- ment and design of a product. Using PLM software to open the lines of communication between EEs and the supply chain results in produc- tion risk mitigation and increased profits. An EE can more easily oversee the production of a product to monitor potential risks and its adherence to the original concept using this inclusive platform. In this way, transitioning from an ERP to PLM is relatively simple. Many PLM software applications enable data transfer from ERP pro- grams, enabling a smooth transition for supply chains and facilitating enhanced communication across the entire product development and business cycle. The transition from ERP to PLM software enhances the productivity of purchasing firms as well as it allows them to bring their microscopes down yet another power so as to forecast demand, predict EOLs, select more intelli- gent ‘cross’ buys and better discover Sponsored by Arena Solutions their portfolio wide adoption of high runners as well as inexpensive components. PLM can greatly improve the ef- fectiveness of supply chain manage- ment by allowing managers and employees to stay abreast of every project detail, which makes commu- nication more crisp. This high level of communication and document management allows managers to codify and easily verify the change process to reduce the number of errors. EEs with Purchasing Many software solutions exist to take data from the supply chain to the purchaser, such as Supplier In- tegration and ERP solutions. These resolutions are extremely important in enhancing the successful transi- tion of a product from supply chain to the purchaser. Where these products fall short, however, is in neglecting com- munication between the EEs who designed the product and the purchasing sector who buys it out. This can put the purchasing agents at a disadvantage, as they may not fully understand the breadth of a particular product. If purchasing can communicate with the EE who designed a product, they can bet- ter understand the optimal target market and may discover other features of the product that became lost in translation through previous modes of indirect communication. Likewise, using collaborative PLM software can also improve EEs understanding of the end user’s needs, so they can translate them into the design. Using PLM software decreases costs for the purchasing agent and reduces the chance for miscommunication and error. While the product development chain has functioned independently of PLM software for decades, its joint implementation can make a considerable difference in the pro- ductivity of product development. EEs are responsible for creating a product that meets the needs of its end-user as well as comports to product safety requirements. Absent Turn Your Engineers Into Product Design Superheroes PLM Primer for Every Engineer 3 that marriage, current methods of production usually leave EEs with- out means to efficiently monitor the proper product development in a holistic fashion. Depending on the product, an error in data has the potential to harm members of the manufactur- ing sector or the end-user. For ex- ample, an error in the data transfer and manufacturing of an electrical product has the potential to harm the production team or end user. Since many ERP and MDM software solutions can neglect engineers, or innovation teams, the likelihood of an oversight is greatly increased, compared to incorporating PLM software in parallel. Incorporat- ing inclusive software, like PLM, can have significant impact on the efficiency of product development because stakeholders can commu- nicate with one another throughout the product’s ideation, development, production and retirement. This can eliminate differences between product concept and end product, minimize production risk, and increase profit margins across the enterprise. EE and Compliance PLM software minimizes the time it takes to file certification paperwork and check compliance standards. EEs have to carefully plan and approve changes in design, as well as be ever vigilant before they are tendered to hardware test. PLM allows them to keep track of the process and approve changes, to ensure other employees are using the most up-to-date product plans. It also enables them to stay informed on electrical compliance standards and regulations like UL for the United States, and CE (Con- formité Européenne) for Europe. Since many manufacturers create products for delivery in multiple countries, the EEs are responsible for compliance with standards for each respective country. PLM allows organizations to avoid potential compliance errors by giving every employee access to current order information, standards, and ap- plications. EEs can also keep track at what stage each project is in and which change orders are still pend- ing or have been approved. This makes it easier for them to approve products for further compliance testing. While PLM cannot cur- rently track testing, having a more rigorous supply chain management can prevent the likelihood of testing failures later. Additionally, PLM can track a product through a closed loop, which enables product man- agement of all iterations throughout its lifespan. This accelerates time to market launch through repurposed designs and tribal knowledge. As demonstrated above, there are a number of benefits that EEs can gain from using PLM. The benefits, concerns and considerations of PLM by EEs will be illustrated below using case studies and academic journals. Real examples of success Ruckus Wireless is a manufac- turer of WiFi routers and modems. They use Arena PLM software to increase the level of efficacy in their manufacturing process from start to finish. Ruckus Wireless was having issues with quality control because items were being damaged due to manual errors. Because Arena PLM BOMControl is cloud-based and provides a centralized loca- tion for all product information, it is particularly useful for EEs. The software makes all information easily accessible and ensures that it is current, which minimizes errors from engineers who are otherwise acting upon outdated data. This allowed the company to cut costs by minimizing errors. PLM software also proved ben- eficial for EEs when compliance standards changed in the European Union. Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS) and Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE) stan- dards vary greatly from country to country. EEs have to keep track of a high volume of compliance and ever changing standards to ensure each product will meet the legal require- ments of each country. PLM allows for easy access to this updated information. Companies can also print off certification reports at the click of a button, which reduces compliance reporting. Providing cer- tification reports is also crucial to ensure merchandise arrives quickly to retailers by shortening the time merchandise is stopped for border inspections and quality assurance. Yukon Medical is another compa- ny that benefited from using Arena PLM, but they used it for slightly different reasons than Ruckus Wire- less. Yukon Medical is a manufac- turer of pharmaceutical preparation and delivery devices. As such, it is not only important for their devices to comply with electrical compli- ance standards, but their products must also comply with strict FDA regulations. Considering the stakes – medi- cal devices are often the difference between life and death. Engineer- ing and design time was becoming lengthier and lengthier, but PLM fa- cilitated collaboration, which helped Yukon speed up its processes. With particular respect to engineers and specifically EEs, the instant creation of Engineering Change Requests (ECRs) and ECOs significantly sped Sponsored by Arena Solutions4 Sponsored by Arena Solutions up the communication processes, diminished time spent waiting for approval, and reduced the possibil- ity for errors. All employees can request changes for approval, see when/if a change is approved, and act on the most current engineering and design data. Zeelander Yachts benefited by using PLM to establish a closed knowledge loop system that enabled them to optimize product control and improve relationships with all stakeholders. As one can imag- ine, many components come into play when building a yacht. Many departments must work together to innovate, engineer, and construct the vessel. PLM allowed Zeelander Yachts to keep track of every single component, design, costs, and all other considerations every step of the way. This not only allowed Zeelander to create and deliver a perfect product, but the company also communicated this information more easily to stakeholders, includ- ing manufacturers and investors, by broadcasting timely, comprehensive product launch reports. While Zeelander Yachts made use of the ECR, ECO, and BOMControl features of PLM, they also made use of the customer relationship man- agement system (CRM) to strength- en communication between their varied stakeholders. Better CRM can lead to lower manufacturing costs and satisfied investors. Conclusion PLM is a tool engineers can wield that makes their job easier. They can collaborate to button down every facet, for each department to strengthen their capabilities to Black Belt status. It is the interconnectedness of PLM that gives engineers these “capabilities.” Being able to reach around the globe and collaborate across departments on a whim. And it’s easy. n Resources: 1. case-studies/ 2. testimonials/ 3. http://www.product-lifecycle-manage- 4. resources/Top_10_PLM_Report.pdf 5. en/index/electronics_hightech.html 6. EVGA recall 5