Given today’s economy and the close tie between PLM and productivity improvements, it is no wonder that the PLM segment has grown to more than $10 billion a year. Businesses strive to stay competitive via process enhancements, organizational design, and technologies such as digital design and digital product data management solutions.
While PLM relies heavily upon accessibility, management, and flow of engineering data, external reference information—found in handbooks, materials property databases, online standards, libraries of math, and best practices—remains essential to the engineering process. To make sure accessing that information does not become a bottleneck, it is imperative engineers have a trusted conduit as part of the engineering workflow. This is vital to maximizing the potential of PLM because engineers can solve complex problems more efficiently.
Investments in PLM minimize product-knowledge losses as engineering staff retire or move on. With product-development speed and innovation driving profitability and growth, it is of critical importance to minimize those losses. One way businesses can do this is by ensuring their engineers have easy access to technical information.
With trusted reference information playing a significant role in an organization’s overall PLM strategy, there are countless benefits to be had. According to findings from a recent survey of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), more than 75 percent of engineers said electronic access to reference information improved their efficiency by 10 percent or more, and 34 percent indicated it improved their productivity by 20 percent or more.
The ASME e-Library, powered by Knovel, has become an invaluable productivity tool for its members. ASME members use it to quickly locate and compare critical information from published works; interact with data in customizable graphs, charts, and tables; and inject them into their own work. Many organizations find that supplying such trusted information provides engineers with higher degrees of confidence, improves decision-making and reduces risks. Furthermore, it is vital as more organizations look to invest in technologies that reduce costs, get products to market faster, and fuel innovation.
Like other PLM enablers, common access to electronic reference data across the enterprise can help standardize engineering processes and promote reuse. Access to targeted engineering reference content, on demand, helps newer engineers gain the knowledge and tools to contribute at levels well beyond their years of experience.
With this information at their fingertips, the next generation of engineers will be able to easily harness these resources, successfully taking over projects already in progress and ensuring that time-to-completion, and in the end, customer satisfaction, remain on the right track.
To truly drive value for their PLM strategy, organizations must view electronic access to engineering content as an investment in their engineers. Well-crafted PLM implementations consider the role, satisfaction, and morale of the engineers who will see that management values them highly enough to provide them with the best tools to do their jobs as effectively as possible.
While people form the foundation for innovation and problem solving, it is information that sparks their creativity. Organizations clearly cannot afford to have engineers depend upon unreliable content because they were unwilling to make wise investments. In today’s competitive global marketplace, every competitive advantage is essential.
Chris Forbes is President of Knovel, a web-based application providing technical information to engineers. Send e-mail about this commentary to DE-Editors@deskeng.com.