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Engineering Departments Hold the Keys to Connected Data

The next wave of digitalization for engineering departments is connected data infrastructure that extends to the entire enterprise. Faster access to data can help improve engineering efficiency and time-to-market for new products.


If there is one fact several statistical institutions can agree on, it is this one: the total amount of data created every day by product manufacturing companies across the globe will continue to grow rapidly over the next couple of years. The common projection is that data creation within manufacturing will grow to 27 zettabytes by 2025. For context, a single zettabyte is enough storage for 30 billion 4K movies.

That is a lot of spreadsheets, BOMs, and test reports.

Add the ever-increasing complexities of today’s products, and suddenly you have a scenario where manufacturing organizations are struggling to efficiently manage the interdisciplinary collaboration across a product’s entire lifecycle.

This is because collaboration must extend beyond the traditional BOM-driven and mechanically oriented physical structures.


Catalysts for change

The global population is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050. Add a global pandemic, urbanization, labor shortages, diminishing resources, and vulnerable supply chains, and there’s a perfect storm brewing.

The product manufacturing environment is unprepared to handle what’s to come. Right now:

  • The price for raw materials is rising, and demand is accelerating rapidly.
  • Supply chains are vulnerable, with almost 60% of manufacturing companies reporting continued disruptions from the pandemic.
  • Too many products run 80% over budget and 20% over schedule.

Population growth will push for an even increased demand for various products

With so many issues plaguing the product manufacturing industry—increasingly expensive raw materials, disrupted supply chains, and delays and budget overruns —something needs to change.

The way companies manage their product definition data needs to change. Despite many attempts to streamline data management workflows during the past 40 years, it’s time to change again.

A proper data management system will enable connected and continuous data flows to help embrace and establish connectivity between multiple disciplines whose data models today reside in individual silos. The data management system connects people, processes, and insights with data flowing through a continuous loop of design, build, operate, monitor, and plan.

As product manufacturing companies continue to create massive amounts of new data, including measurements, materials, test reports, and fixtures, as well as contextual project information collected through reality capture, drones, sensors, and artificial intelligence (AI).


Does your data management help you save time? Or waste time?

In 1970, the first data management systems were introduced via relational databases and made a difference to the way departments worked and collaborated with data. Another milestone for data collaboration was made 15 years later, in 1985, when Microsoft introduced Excel to the world.

Fast-forward to today, Excel spreadsheets are still a significant part of everyday work life in engineering and manufacturing organizations across the world. But the world has changed quite a lot since 1985. Product Engineering is a digital discipline today in which 15 revisions can happen in minutes.

So has the demand for increased connectivity between spreadsheets, product data systems (like BOM and QMS) and enterprise systems like ERP and CAD. Many companies today arrive at a point where product data is stored in various systems across the organization with no interconnection.

But you need to ask yourself; is this really the smartest way of working?

  • Engineering teams often rely on formats like Word and Excel, but these tools lack connectivity options and cannot provide traceability and visibility
  • If your data is not connected, how do you trace the impact of changes to requirements?
  • And how can you make sure that your documentation, product specification, cost estimates, CAD drawings, and validation and verification plans are updated and distributed with the latest revisions?


Engineers should spend their time on engineering

Engineers are problem solvers by nature. If they need a spreadsheet, an application, or even a paper process to handle their data, they will create it.

The problem however is; engineers are not necessarily looking at how these small, quick-fix solutions affect the bigger picture in the organization. When you have several separate applications within your organization, you end up with a lot of small, disconnected data islands. That lead to:

  • Duplicate data
  • “Shadow” processes with limited or no data visibility or traceability
  • No single source of the truth

Engineers should spend their time on value-added activities like actual engineering, not wasting time searching for or recreating data. They need access to a system that supports the flow of data throughout the organization.

〉〉Learn more in our E-book about How to Break Away From Data Isolation

About the author

Johnny Minor Mørup

Johnny has a great passion for web communication and digital journalism. He is an expert in creating content addressing both the eyes and mind of the viewer in a unique and unforgettable way. Johnny has a concrete experience in optimizing journalism and communication, whether via an app, a website, through a newsletter, infographics, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, SEO / SEM or Adwords.

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