Integral Logistics Management — Operations Management and Supply Chain Management Within and Across Companies

17.5 The Management of Product Data and Product Life Cycle Data

Intended learning outcomes: Produce an overview on product life cycle management and engineering data management (EDM). Explain the engineering database as part of an IT system. Describe the data and functional model for general EDM tasks. Present object classes and functions for release and engineering change control.


Section 5.4 discusses business methods for planning & control in the field of R&D. This essentially means project management for integrating the various tasks that take place during the business process. The interesting aspect here is the simultaneous engineering during both time to market and delivery lead time. Integration is more difficult because the various people involved have different views of the business objects. This section deals with the IT support of the efforts for integration.


17.5.1 Product Life Cycle Management and Engineering Data Management

Product life cycle management (PLM)) is the process of facilitating the development, use, and support of products that customers want and need. PLM helps professionals envision the creation and preservation of product information, both to the customer and along the reverse-logistics portion of the supply chain ([APIC16]).

Engineering data management (EDM) is an earlier concept that focused more on a company’s procedures to be integrated — all across the company. Product data management (PDM) is a synonymously used term.

A product database, or engineering database, is a database for commonly
used information that can communicate with all information systems in the various areas.

CIM (computer-integrated manufacturing) is understood as a concept for information technology support of integrated business processes, based on the integration of the total manufacturing organization through information technology (IT).

Figure 17.5.1.1 shows the concept of engineering data management (EDM).

Fig. 17.5.1.1          The concept of engineering data management (EDM).

The following technologies are used in the CIM areas related to design and product:

  • CAE (computer-aided engineering): Computer tools to generate and test specifications, used in the product design phase.
  • CAD (computer-aided design): Computer tools to design and draw.
  • CAP (computer-aided process design): Computer assistance in defining production processes/routing sheets as well as in programming numerically controlled machines, facilities, and robots.
  • CAM (computer-aided manufacturing): The use of computers to program, direct, and control manufacturing through numerically controlled machines, robots, or entire flexible work cells.
  • CAQ (computer-aided quality assurance): Computer-aided quality assurance of the manufacturing process.

In production-related areas of CIM, there exist the following technologies:

  • Computer-based planning & control systems, often called in shorthand ERP or SCM software, refer to Chapter 9.
  • Computer-aided costing

To integrate the various IT-supported technologies the product database must contain all the information that is used by various IT-supported technologies or has to be transported from one to another, for example, the master data and technical product descriptions. EDM can also be associated with general office communicat­ions. This enables information and proposed action to be passed on to other areas, particularly to the company management and the planning and administration departments.

Figure 17.5.1.2 shows a possible structure of the tasks of EDM.

Fig. 17.5.1.2       Tasks of Engineering Data Management (EDM). (See [EiHi91]).

For a detailed EDM model, the basic idea behind the integration also means that the technical and commercial areas of the company must agree on a common functional and data model to represent the company’s products. For example, if the design department requires a certain functionality, then it must be comprehensible to planning & control, and vice versa. Viewed pragmatically, EDM, computerized planning & control, and CAD must ultimately be adapted to one another (see also Figure 5.4.3.2). This will often already apply since, ultimately, the same products are represented and handled in each case.


17.5.2 The Engineering Database as Part of a Computerized System

When implementing EDM, there are and always have been various options concerning the conceptual and technical aspects (see Section 5.4.1). The functionality of the individual links may differ greatly, depending on the direction of each link.

An engineering data management system (EMDS) is a database manage­ment system that links physically separate databases using the principle of a data warehouse as shown in Figure 17.5.2.1. The principle works as follows:

Fig. 17.5.2.1       Integration of order processing by an EDMS (engineering data management system). (From [EiHi91]).

Data are stored in the databases provided by the local software. Whenever data are modified, the changes are transferred to the local database. When a department requests data from the EDMS, it knows the location of all the data in the local databases, but is not aware of the values. The EDMS queries the local database to determine the value of the data and transfers the answers to the system. If there are m IT-supported technologies, then there will be up to m interfaces. Frequently requested data are also kept in a redundant central database that is connected to the EDMS. If there is no online interface, the data are transferred in batch mode by extraction programs and declared free-format files.


17.5.3 Data and Functional Model for General EDM Tasks

Engineering data management (EDM) is used to manage the technical data that describe a product, together with the relevant standards and classification. Many of these classes can be compared to the master data for planning & control described in Section 17.2:

  • Item master file: All the technical data used to describe and classify items. This category includes data for defining the release and transfer of data to the corresponding IT-supported technologies. Search criteria are used to find items on the basis of different attributes. The item ID may first be assigned provisionally by the designer. However, the standardizing committee within the company must define an appropriate identification before the item may be definitively released. This ID is then used for planning & control.
  • Drawing directory: This contains additional, item-related data, that is, data that are usually shown in the drawing header. The attributes are a description; the date on which the drawing was created, checked, or printed; and the people responsible for all these actions. A list of revisions is also provided.
  • Special object classes for works standards, for example, DIN standards, may be kept in separate object classes.
  • Bill of material (actually the bill-of-material position): This comprises the attributes described in Section 17.2.3. These include the “relative position in the drawing,” which generally incorporates the relative position number. This forms the bill-of- material position ID together with the product ID. Other attributes include the date and person responsible for all this information.
  • Work center, with the attributes shown in shown in Section 17.2.4.
  • Production equipment and bill of tools (see Section 17.2.7).
  • Operation (see Section 17.2.6).

There is also a classification system to aid the designer’s work. This enables an item to be traced using a standardized, hierarchical classification. The classification system shown here should ideally be filled in using standardized information, for example, conforming to DIN 4000. The bottom level of DIN 4000 corresponds to an item family and is linked to the class list of characteristics.

An (item) characteristic is a parameter or criterion typically associated with this item family. 

A class list of characteristics is a set of typical attributes for an item family, i.e., a description of a specific item from an item family using values for various item characteristics.

The item characteristics and class list of characteristics should ideally follow standards, for example, in Europe, in accordance with DIN 4000.

Multilevel bills of material or where-used lists would be needed to search the bill of material, as would tests for product structures with loops.. Queries will also be needed for the standardized classification system and class-list-of-characteristics hierarchies.


17.5.4 Object Classes and Functions for Release and Engineering Change Control (*)

The EC number, or engineering change number, is a standard concept in release and engineering change control (ECC). This is a unique and ascen­ding number assigned to every modification or redesign project.

In principle, a new object is defined for every item belonging to a certain release. This new object has the same item ID but is suffixed with a new EC number.[note 1708] A new item should be defined as soon as the function’s forward compatibility can no longer be guaranteed. This means that the new item cannot replace the old item in every situation. On the other hand, backward compatibility is not required, that is, it does not have to be possible to install the old item in place of the new item.

The following object classes could be used for administrative checking by the project manager for release and engineering change control (ECC):

  • Project header, with attributes such as description of the release, EC number, status and other data for staggered release, in each case indicating the person responsible.
  • Project operation, defining one of the various stages and works required for release, with attributes such as the EC number, position, description, status, start date, and end date, in each case indicating the person responsible.
  • Project bill-of-material position, specifying all the items belonging to the release, in each case with the status, date, and personnel responsible for release of the item; as well as its drawing, bill of material, and routing sheet. There are different pairs of “date / person responsible” attributes for different release stages.

The following functional model could be used for release control:

Firstly, definition of a new version, that is, of a new release or EC (engineering change):

  • Enter in the project header the date and person responsible.
  • Enter the items belonging to the release, each with date and person responsible for the various tasks, for example, creating or modifying drawings, bill of material, routing sheet, and item as a whole.
  • Enter the various tasks involved in the release, each with start date, end date, and person responsible.

Secondly, progress and release:

  • Enter the progress (with status changes) and the end of indi­vidual activities, plus correction of the status at a higher level.
  • Allow for (staggered) release of bills of material, routing sheets, items or entire rele­ase (of the new version), with automatic correction of the higher-level activity list.

Thirdly, queries, for example, sort work in process by person responsible or various statuses, monitor deadlines, and indicate the content of a release (of the associated items and activities).

The data could be transferred from and to the IT-supported technologies; for example, for linking CAD and PPC software via the engineering database, using the following functions:

  • Transfer bills of material and any variants online, either from the CAD to the engineering database by a “drawing re­lease” process or from the engineering database to the PPC software by a “production release” process (or, in both cases in the opposite direction by a revision process).
  • Transfer all: Transfer any data that has not yet been transferred.
  • Similar functions for the item master data, often in the opposite direction — from the PPC software via the engineering database to the CAD system. One example would be the transfer of all item descriptions modified after a certain date, but which have not yet been transferred to the engineering database or other CAx systems.
  • Transfer order data from the PPC software to the CAD system: Transfer the item and order ID, optionally with lists of parameter values (see Section 17.3.3), as a request to create a drawing.


Course sections and their intended learning outcomes

  • Course 17 – Representation and System Management of Logistic Objects

    Intended learning outcomes: Describe order data in sales, distribution, production, and procurement. Explain in detail master data for products and processes. Disclose extensions arising from the variant-oriented and the processor-oriented concepts. Produce an overview on the management of product and engineering data.

  • 17.1 Order Data in Sales, Distribution, Production, and Procurement

    Intended learning outcomes: Present the data structure of customers and suppliers. Describe the general data structure of orders in sales and distribution, production, and procurement. Disclose the data structure of the order and partial order header as well as the order position.

  • 17.2 The Master Data for Products and Processes

    Intended learning outcomes: Describe master data of products, product structure, components, and operations. Explain the data structure of item master, bill of material, and where-used list. Disclose the data structure of work center master data, the work center hierarchy, as well as for operation, routing sheet, production equipment, bill of production equipment, and bill of tools.

  • 17.3 Extensions Arising from the Variant-Oriented Concept

    Intended learning outcomes: Produce an overview on expert systems and knowledge-based systems. Explain the implementation of production rules. Present a data model for parameterized representation of a product family.

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