Your Product Data Management Strategy Breeds Success in Electronics

Key Takeaways

  • Product data management is an information management process used in engineering.

  • There are also product data management software suites that help enterprises track and organize product data.

  • Product data management software with some specific features can help users keep track of their data and product development progress.

Product data management

Every engineer knows their designs and products are built on an entire database, comprising physical designs, schematics and diagrams, product documentation, and much more. Product data management processes and software are used by enterprises to help keep track of this data and organize product information into a coherent structure. Product data management is both a business process and a suite of software tools, and innovative engineering teams use data management to help them seamlessly move through the product development process.

Product data comes in a variety of forms that must be tracked and categorized as part of product management, including in a larger product lifecycle management (PLM) strategy. Dedicated product data management systems used in the electronics industry help companies track their entire database of design data alongside important manufacturing data, applications, documentation, and much more. These systems are always implemented as part of a larger PLM objective, and growing companies will eventually need to graduate from a PDM system to a PLM system.

Product Data Management in Electronics

Product data management software and processes are used by electronics engineers to organize and track all design data associated with a project. Data organization spans across disciplines, especially when we consider the multi-functional nature of engineering teams. A product data management software suite can help design and engineering teams track all of their data, regardless of file type, and may include version control features that are needed to work in collaborative environments.

Some of the data types that need to be tracked for electronic products are shown in the table below. This data includes everything needed to understand and build the product from scratch.

Electrical

  • Block diagrams and flowcharts
  • Electrical schematics
  • Physical PCB layout
  • Simulation models and results
  • Component models

Mechanical

  • STEP files
  • STL files (if applicable)

Application

  • All flowcharts and application functional requirements needed to build and debug the application
  • Any raw code for building an application that interfaces with the product
  • Any compiled HEX/BIN files for flashing to the end device

Documentation

  • All documentation needed to understand the internal workings of the product or its application
  • All documentation needed for users to understand the product clearly

Manufacturing

  • Gerbers, ODB++, IPC-2581, etc.
  • Pick-and-place files
  • Drill files
  • Fabrication and assembly drawings
  • Testing requirements

Obviously, there is a lot of data to track in any project, and the tracking/revisioning of data can become time-consuming as an organization grows. More complex products that are being moved into the market will require a more complex PDM process that eventually becomes part of a larger PLM strategy. OEMs need PLM systems that include product data management tools to help them stay competitive and work across business groups to ensure a successful release of a product to market.

Growing From PDM Into PLM

Product data management systems enable the basic tasks needed to track and categorize product data with a collaborative process. Because engineering teams are so multi-functional, data management systems are needed to organize multiple file formats across design domains, reaching right up to manufacturing data and application development. As products get more complex, more business processes are implemented to support products, and enterprises will need to implement a PLM strategy.

Larger enterprises with multiple product lines and long-lifecycle products will carry the product through multiple phases, beginning from ideation and design to volume production and distribution. Enterprises use PLM systems to manage all business processes surrounding a product’s development, revisions, manufacturing, and distribution to market. Some of the major tasks involved in a PLM strategy include:

  • Storing and organizing data for all parts of a product, ranging from an entire assembly to individual components and application information
  • Assigning obsolescence status to each piece of data, including physical parts, ECAD/MCAD, application code, documentation, and more
  • Tracking component inventory and sourcing information in enterprise resource planning systems, inventory management systems, and any other internal management systems
  • Enforcing part numbering and version control on all data associated with a project or product
  • Releasing data to stakeholders, including customers and manufacturers

The PLM process requires that products be periodically upgraded and refreshed with the latest technology and features in order to extend their lifecycle as long as possible. Product extensions are possible as long as the change management is implemented as part of PLM. The same ideas apply to other aspects of the product beyond the physical design, including application code, documentation, and even sales collateral.

Product lifecycle management

Although virtually no product can ever have an infinite lifetime, product data management is one of the processes and systems that helps extend product lifetimes as long as possible. By tracking lifecycle status across all aspects of a product, it’s possible to react quickly to changes in technology and stay competitive.

If you are looking for a scalable product data management solution that fits within an enterprise PLM strateg, consider Allegro Pulse. Pulse features include a workflow engine, data management, security protocols, and search capabilities. And, Pulse integrates seamlessly into many design tools, allowing it to manage the design data behind the scenes, freeing up engineers to focus on their work instead of juggling design files.

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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