Document control and the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform

21-07-2020 | Posted by Principia

Irrespective of the industrial sector in which an engineering team operates, the way project information is organised and managed tends to be similar and is of the utmost importance. A typical engineer deals simultaneously with information on technical specs, state of the art, detail design, manufacturing or installation, in a great diversity of file formats.

Each project has files from word processors, spreadsheets, 2D drawings, 3D models, simulation files, etc, in various user folders or shared in a server, not always organised according to some convention or company procedures. Moreover, each of these documents may be edited several times in its lifetime, which creates difficulties for maintaining integrity and traceability.

Document control and the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform

One might think that saving a document under a different name maintains access to all versions, from the oldest to the current one, and it is true. But the multiplicative effects of number of versions, number of documents, members of the engineering team, even other company departments, makes this strategy risky, let alone disorganised. Indeed, it is not uncommon to see review or approve an erroneous or outdated version of a drawing.

Without a system that manages the information efficiently, this disorganisation may cause significant hidden costs: errors in manufacturing, assembly or installation, with associated project delays and costs arising from correcting or recreating designs.

A recurrent problem is delays in retrieving information. Dassault Systèmes has found that 20% of engineering time is wasted searching for documents or recreating them if not found.

All documents have at least two labels for retrieval, the name and the file format, but these may prove insufficient and additional information may be needed, such as supplier, part number, cost, material, responsible engineer, revision number, date, etc.

The additional data that may be required to retrieve files more efficiently are known as metadata, a sort of digital ID that accompanies each document or folder in engineering projects. They are at the core of the PDM (Product Data Management) systems for document control, which constitute the base on which PLM (Product Life Management) systems are built.

PDM systems keep track of and organise the different versions of documents, avoiding duplication and guaranteeing traceability, security, and integrity of the data, knowing precisely each interaction of the engineer with the document, from creation to review and approval.

PLM systems manage the life cycle of a product from its conceptual design to manufacturing, including its relationship with ERPs and other platforms. They are adequate for improving the productivity of companies over an ample spectrum of industrial sectors.

In the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform, a wide range of ENOVIA applications, with PDM and PLMsolutions, allow the collaboration of the members of an organisation, avoiding repetitive tasks and optimising the production process. Moreover, these solutions can be integrated in a project management tool, helping with the time planning, Gantt diagram and critical path, process diagram, and task management for each user in the team.

The availability of the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform in the cloud has brought the PDM and PLM solutions closer to the small and medium companies, which until recently considered that their cost and complexity was beyond their reach.