Implementing a Data Management System for Electronics

May 25, 2022 Cadence PCB Solutions

Key Takeaways

  • A data management system helps you track product documentation and important data for a new design.

  • Electronic products contain diverse sets of data that need to be tracked and managed.

  • Data management systems for electronics are used as part of product lifecycle management (PLM).

data management system

The electronics industry (and many other industries) would not be where they are today without digitally-enabled design and data management tools. Product data comes in many forms that must be tracked and categorized as part of product management. In the past, this involved manual processes and paper forms, but today companies are using digital tools to manage their data and make it available to stakeholders. Companies have now moved their data into the cloud so that it can be kept secure while still being accessible from anywhere.

There are data management systems that provide a front-end interface for product data management tasks, but these tasks are always part of a larger objective: product lifecycle management, or PLM. A data management system is used as part of the PLM process, thus PLM systems will include a file-agnostic data management system. For products as advanced as modern electronics, a data management system is one of the cornerstones of product management and will help a design team keep their projects organized.

How Electronics Dev Teams Create Their Data

Electronic product design and development requires the creation of multiple data types and packages. Starting from an initial concept, a development team will compile lists of requirements, initial mechanical and electrical drawings, and eventually a complete set of schematics that are used to show electrical connections between components. Data management systems need to support multiple data types within this process so that a development team can access all data needed to create a physical design.

Once the initial data package is created, electronics development teams add to it with a design of the physical layout, followed by manufacturing files and drawings. Final deliverables for the manufacturing process need to be kept alongside other design files to enable a comprehensive design review and smooth transition to volume production. Other data may be generated during this 2nd phase of the electronics development process, and this needs to be tracked alongside the rest of the project data in a centralized location.

Data Management Systems in Electronics

Data management systems are important for keeping track of the data packages created during design and development. Electronics development teams generate a huge amount of data during the design, testing, evaluation, and manufacturing phases of development. The types of data that need to be tracked and organized in a data management system include the items in the following table.

ECAD

ECAD data includes all schematics needed to define the electrical connectivity in a PCB or multi-board assembly as well as the PCB layout files for each circuit board.

MCAD

Mechanical design files can include enclosure or harness design files, fabrication and assembly drawings, and STEP files showing assembly models.

Application

Code for embedded firmware or software as well as code for external desktop or web applications is developed in parallel with hardware.

Documentation

Datasheets, application notes, functional or block diagrams, marketing and sales collateral, and programming guides are created for internal and external use.

Manufacturing

Standard manufacturing file formats are generated, including Gerbers, drill files, drawings, pick-and-place files, and mechanical production data.

Revisioning

Part of successful data tracking is version control, which is typically built into data management systems. External version control systems may also be accessible through an API.

Data Management Is Part of PLM

The typical data management solution simply aggregates product data into a single location so that all project files are organized and available for sharing. While tracking product-related data is important as part of the development process, companies need to manage all of a product’s data throughout the product’s lifetime. The use of data to guide organizational efforts to support product development, growth, distribution, redesigns, and retirement is the heart of product lifecycle management (PLM).

phases of PLM

Phases of the product life cycle

To implement a successful PLM process, multiple product stakeholders need access to product data, which is provisioned through a data management system. The goal in PLM is three-fold:

  1. Create a successful path to market for a product
  2. Extend a product’s lifecycle when new technologies are introduced
  3. Eventually wind down the product and focus organizational efforts on its replacement

Innovative enterprises will use a PLM system to track and manage product data for all product stakeholders in an organization. PLM systems provision data access, as is done in a data management system, but they also enable the assignment of tasks and change orders, integration with other enterprise systems, controlled release of data to certain parties, and the tracking of lifecycle status at all levels of a product.

The need to enable data access across an organization is driven by demands for higher productivity, faster time to market, and the multifunctional nature of product teams. In the electronics industry, product life cycles are shorter than ever, and companies need to use PLM systems to ensure all data associated with a product is kept up to date and accurate.

As your organization grows beyond the need for a data management system, you’ll eventually need to step into a full-fledged PLM system like Allegro Pulse, the industry’s most comprehensive PLM platform from Cadence. The PLM features in this platform help electronics development teams move through the entire development process, push products to production, and access the data needed to distribute and maintain products while monitoring obsolescence and the supply chain. Keep your products competitive and maximize your product lifecycles with the industry’s best PLM solution.

Leading electronics providers rely on Cadence products to optimize power, space, and energy needs for a wide variety of market applications. If you’re looking to learn more about our innovative solutions, talk to our team of experts or subscribe to our YouTube channel.

About the Author

Cadence PCB solutions is a complete front to back design tool to enable fast and efficient product creation. Cadence enables users accurately shorten design cycles to hand off to manufacturing through modern, IPC-2581 industry standard.

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