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“Time” is a Four Letter Word

Whenever I have a deadline looming, a calendar alarm ringing or feeling pressed for time I think back to a play my children did in grade school… “Time, it’s a Four Letter Word.” That play taught the kids a number of great lessons, and I think it helped us adults recall a few lessons learned as well.

  • We all have the same amount of time…
    356 days a year, 52 weeks, 7 days a week, and 24 hours a day.
  • Time can be an enemy, or it can be an ally. Value each day.
  • Each of us has the ability to manage time to our benefit.

Today, time really is the four letter word in the world of manufacturing. As companies continue to look at methods to streamline their businesses, there is one commodity you can’t get back once it’s gone, that is Time!

A dollar invested in capital equipment may come back as $10 in profit through the parts it makes, a blank of steel purchased can be turned into a highly valued component. But each
day, time comes and goes, it doesn’t get recaptured or inventoried on the shelf.

We’ve either produced something with our time, or we haven’t. It’s the fruit of your labors that turn time into value for your company. So as engineers and designers, we need to be sure we’re using our time to its fullest potential.

PDM is a three letter word, and I’m here to say not only do good things come in 3’s, but it’s a great tool that saves you Time.

Let’s look at how PDM can save your company time?
Over a couple blog posts we’ll look at several examples of how PDM saves time. First, consider this SolidWorks customer’s story who recently implemented PDM…

The customer chose Enterprise PDM to better manage their data. They didn’t fully realize to what extent that would be until they began migrating their 120GB of SolidWorks files. As they did, they discovered 40GB of duplicate files! It took someone TIME to create that extra 40GB of data. Could that time been better spent on new product designs, improving the quality of existing designs, or getting current product designs done quicker?

I think we all know that answer to that. Creating duplicate data wastes time! Not only do you use time duplicating that data, but then you also created extra data files to manage.  That’s a ‘lose, lose’ proposition!

Consider how much extra data typically gets created, and how much time that consumes. You have a project you’re working on and you start to research information. You’re looking for supplier information, designs that have been done in the past, discussing ideas in company meetings, etc.

You know the infamous ‘widget’ your company designed a couple months ago would be perfect to reuse in project. All you need to do is find it! So let’s get started…

You know the ‘widget’ was part of the Acme project that Bill designed, so you go to that project folder on your network. Bill doesn’t really keep information organized the way you do, but you think you can find the widget.

  • You scan the folders.
  • You search in Microsoft Explorer on the Acme folder for ‘widget’, no results.
  • Search for ‘wid’, no results.
  • Call Bill, he’s in a meeting.
  • Send Bill an email, now you wait.

Time invested to this point: 10-15 minutes, maybe 20 minutes at the most of personal time.

  • Two days later, still no reply from Bill.
  • Now at the end of the 3rd day you find out Bill’s meeting had been offsite, after that he left directly on a 7 day vacation, and never saw your email. Aaaarg! Do you wait 4 more days for Bill, or create your own version of the widget? Losing 7 days on a tight deadline is not a pleasant thought. So you start to recreate the widget.

Time invested now: maybe only another 10 minutes of personal time communicating with co-workers, 20-30 minutes total. But also consider that you now have 3 days of project time lost trying to track down the ‘widget’. Hopefully you’ve been able to do other project tasks, and not having the ‘widget’ isn’t holding back the entire project.

If you redesign the ‘widget’ at this point then you need to factor in the design time of that part also as lost time in addition to the project delay of 3 days.

Lesson learned?  Recreating data costs your company by:
x    Searching for information
x    Unnecessary communications with co-workers
x    Time spent redesigning something that still exists somewhere
x    Additional data management time spent for those extra files

What if your company used PDM?
–   Operate more efficiently!
–   ‘Self-serve’ environment to find information
–   Powerful and intuitive Search & Find tools that apply to ALL your company’s data
–   Save hours of time that had been spent recreating ‘lost’ designs

The #1 benefit of saving time… In the past many companies didn’t consider Opportunity Loss in their business performance criteria. However, in today’s business environment you won’t be able to ignore this key measure of business operations. If you or your staff are spending time re-doing designs, or looking for information, what aren’t they doing? Creating new product designs!

How does that affect your business? I love Wikipedia. Check out the definition for ‘Opportunity Cost’, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opportunity_cost, and how to calculate its effect on your business at wikiHow, http://www.wikihow.com/Calculate-Expected-Opportunity-Loss-%28EOL%29.

So, instead of stressing over four letter words, like time… put a good 3 letter word to work for your benefit and use PDM! We’ll continue to explore more time killers in my next article. Until then you may want to explore more on this topic at the SolidWorks Leaky Pipe.

Dennis Strieter

Dennis Strieter
DASI Solutions

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