Written by: Dennis Strieter, PDM Product Manager
This is the second in our six-part series on using Data Management to reach Business Goals that affect engineering, manufacturing and management teams. View Part 1 (the introduction) here.
In our recent webinar (Note: You’re taken to a sign in to view the webinar), we discussed the importance of protecting your company’s intellectual property.
Over the next few articles we’ll explore how data management can help eroding profit margins due to a variety of challenges in businesses today. Some margin challenges are simple, while others are more complex. One common theme we hear about from prospects and customers is how to bridge communicating these challenges from the perspective of management and engineering.
Let’s begin with an economic definition of Profit Margin before we get into some specific areas that affect margins. Normally I head to Wikipedia for simple researching. However, for this subject though, I found a good definition at a site call Investopedia.
There are a lot of areas on which engineering can have a positive impact to reduce the company’s Operating Costs. Here’s a list of the ones we’ll be reviewing over this portion of our series:
- Repurposing data
- Product Innovation
- Tailored solutions
Time IS a Four-Letter Word
Let’s begin by looking at labor and communication costs. Both are time resources that are considered part of the Fixed Costs associated with most companies’ operating costs. Here is a partial list of common time wasters for engineering staff…
- Searching for common or similar data to begin a new design project
- Reviewing past projects with other staff to find the best information to repurpose
- Confirming you have the most recent version to reuse
- Copying previous design data for new projects
- Assigning new part numbers to repurposed designs
- Fixing broken references for reused designs
- Updating property information for each new project
- Setting up new data storage area for new products
- Coordinating work and file access when collaborating with co-workers on a design project
- Confirming accuracy of new designs (especially in collaborative design environments)
- Routing new and revised designs for review and approval
- Tracking the status of new designs and design changes
- Providing updates on new and revised designs to data ‘consumers’, i.e. Sales, Customers, Purchasing, Quality Control, Manufacturing, Field Services, Vendors, Contractors, etc.
- Providing released documents to these same groups
- Answering questions to confirm where and what are the most current files
That last bullet can apply to any number of departments or groups. We have a term to summarize that, and really all these time wasters… Making sure the right People get the right Data at the right Time.
To say these are time wasters doesn’t diminish the need or importance of this work. It simply means that today there’s a much better way to address these tasks… Data Management.
The Value Proposition for Data Management
Through automation and notification capabilities, these traditionally manual business processes are handled by a Data Management solution, saving you considerable amounts of time. Time that tends to go unnoticed and unaccounted.
For example, many of our customers track billable engineering hours, time allocated to new designs or shop time for a project. But how many companies track time spent preparing and releasing new designs or communicating design changes? Very, very few… Nor would I advocate for such painstaking attention to detail to track these times! Nonetheless, the fact is that such tasks are productivity leaks. They accumulate to become a considerable amount of time over a period of days and weeks.
Time is better spent! What’s more appealing? Engineering and manufacturing staff doing tasks mentioned earlier, or focusing on designing and building more new products or projects. While staying focused on their core mission rather than being distracted by ‘busy work’ with low returns for the time spent.
When designers and engineers show management areas where they can save and focus their time on higher level work, the solution becomes a win-win for both groups. We get to spend more time on engineering (what we intended to do with our career!) which provides a higher rate of return on time spent for the company.
I’d be interested to hear from you. How much time do you spend on these or other tasks? You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll share additional items as follow up. You’ll also want to attend our upcoming webinar (on Friday, June 16th) where we discuss these and the other areas that affect operating costs.