The Importance of Having a Good Data Management Solution
Articles • Central Innovation • 10 July 2017
For the past few years the manufacturing industry has seen an increase in the need for interpretation and integration of large amounts of data to assist in improving production workflows. The use of advanced analytics has helped organisations improve product quality and yield, help reduce variability, and has enabled real time decision making throughout production stages. As demand for analytical information continues to grow, understanding how important data management is in a heavy process driven environment and the importance of a good data management solution is vital for firms to remain productive.
Central Innovation’s PDM Solutions Specialist, Julian Spencer, believes there is a growing need for organisations to better understand how to manage increasing volumes of data at an operational level. “In its simplest form, data management is the ability to secure and access data easily, and at the same time knowing you have the current correct version.”
To better improve the production workflows in an organisation, especially for process driven industries like manufacturing, simply understanding the data being generated and what do to with it can be a critical advantage in the market. An effective data management solution equipped with project management tools can provide this advantage.
“A combined solution will basically allow for easy retrieval of data, version and revision control, streamlined workflows with approval gates and possibly an automated transfer of data between systems.”
“Data management solutions however come in many forms, and it is important to purchase a solution that understands the idiosyncrasies of your style of data. CAD data, for instance, has relationships parts, assemblies and drawings, so a data management solution must recognise these relationships and maintain them when change occurs” explains Julian.
There are various solutions on market that like any other product should not be approached with a “one size fits all” mentality. In every business, needs are different and understanding the desired outcome is important. A simple example is deciding the importance of a solution allowing for multi-site and replication of data needs. If multi-site is important, do teams of designers/engineers need to work collaboratively? Is access to controlled data via the web an advantage? Perhaps the company has service personnel on the road that may wish to get access to the latest data via a mobile device. Also as businesses grow they often take on other major solutions such as ERP and CRM systems. These are great tools but can often be constrained to their own individual silos if the right connections do not exist. For this reason when choosing a data management solution having the ability to script through API’s is an important consideration.
The benefits of a reliable data management system are often unseen, referred to as the “leaky pipe” syndrome. If data loss or incorrect use of data occurs in a company, it is money leaking from the system. Ask your employees “how much time per day do you spend looking for files?” and in most cases without a data management solution it can be hours a day. Multiply this across the number of people you have working for you and all of a sudden you have a possible leak and major loss of productivity. A good data management solution dramatically reduces search times and insures the latest and correct information is found.
Another major benefit is the controlled flow of information – a projects’ document can flow in a correct path through the appropriate people to get the work done and approved. Double electronic signatures can also ensure approvals are correctly obtained.
In the modern world time is often our enemy. If we are spending unnecessary amounts of time looking for information, waiting for the correct piece of information to come to us or relying on manual input to get processes done then we become unproductive. We also now live in a world where more often than not items are designed locally but are manufactured overseas; risks can appear in ordering the wrong items due to a simple error of a file version.
A recent example occurred with an Australian company with a poor data management system and a large stockpile of out of date components. The company’s design team had repeatedly forged ahead with new designs only to realize there had been poor management of stock purchased for existing designs. The result was thousands of dollars of unusable stock that had to be written off. No data management in place can simply be that it is hard to successfully reuse items already in stock for new designs.
Multiple data management tools on the market have advantages and limitations whether it is speed, accuracy or user capabilities. Organisations need to understand their desired outcome including who will benefit most and this will assist in considering which tool will work correctly with the file types you work with. Considering where your company is going, and what future functionality it will require to improve business needs may be a key factor. A product that will allow for growth and has additional modules is always advisable.
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