Some of the most valuable intellectual property information that your company owns is its product information. This information is generated in various forms including digital pictures, vendor information, product specification, marketing information, CAD drawings, simulation studies, CAM files and much more. Back in the day this information was stored in what most companies called the reprographics department. Updates were manual and there was a gatekeeper who made sure that all the changes were entered in a book. Aren’t we glad those days are over!
Today all this information is saved in computers where the necessary parties can look at them from time to time and make changes as needed. However, there is a need to maintain control of this very important information. Product data management systems provide a secure way to keep this information so that its integrity is maintained any changes that happen are controlled, monitored and recorded accurately. The original document is usually stored in a vault while reference copies are distributed freely to the various departments within the company that maybe involved in the design, analysis or the approval of the same.
Once approval to make a change has been given this new data is then sent back to the vault where it is under controlled access. When a change occurs in the data input concerning a particular piece of information on a product, the change is recorded and a modified copy is released. This modification in the data must be signed and dated and it is kept in the vault with the original record which is now known as the permanent record. The product data management system is therefore in place to control information on raw product data.
Even though in the past these systems were complex, difficult to work with and very expensive, today they are available in the various companies and are used commonly in several industries. Some of the industries and professions that use them include engineering, sales and marketing, regulatory compliance, manufacturing, purchasing, project management, quality assurance, technical publications, vendors and document control. If you are in one of these professionals you will find them useful. They are used to eliminate errors and to enhance control of the said information. Some of the PDM systems out there allow you to electronically map the process so that you can electronically send the documents to the involved parties for approval. No need for manually going from office to office.
A product management system will protect your most valuable product information by offering only controlled access and documentation of any changes in the original product.