While I certainly enjoy a good discussion and review of technology, especially the technology of 3D CAD, I equally enjoy a good discussing and review of the process of product development. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I have had the opportunity to visit many companies over the years specifically to review their product development process (PDP) and to consider what and how improvements can be made. Over the last 12 months I have had the privilege of doing process assessments with about 15 different companies. I know this is a small drop in a very large bucket, but it's been interesting.
The companies range from small 2 or 3 facility companies to huge global companies. Industries represented include high tech, machinery, medical, bio-sciences, military, oil & gas, and transportation. Product lifecycles range from 6 months to 50 plus years. Annual product volumes range from one to millions. Throughout these companies there is a vast array of different tools and technologies used to support the process.
Here are some of my random observations:
- A PLM system does not necessarily reduce the need for individual discipline
- Duplication of effort is much too common in product development
- 2D drawings are by far the preferred method of conveying definition and design intent
- Habits, culture and the path of least resistance often take precedence over process
- Much data is created in the PDP that adds no value beyond the individual
- Engineers doing more data entry and project management
- Individual productivity does not equate to team productivity
- Tools and technologies are often chosen based on personal preference over process
- Still a lot of shared drives out there
- IT often has significant influence, but equally often has little PDP knowledge
- Throw-it-over-the-wall is still all too common
- Much regulatory compliance is still paper based, (so they think)
- ISO Certification is a book on the shelf
- Regardless of value change may not happen
- Regardless of value change may happen
- Knowing how to use a wrench doesn't make you a good mechanic
- Not knowing how to use a wrench is a problem
- "PLM? I just need to get my job done"
Some of those appear to be more negative. Here are some that are more positive.
- People genuinely want to do what’s right. Engineers are top-notch people
- Engineers are also very creative, (this isn’t always good)
- The vision for product development is relatively consistent and progressive
- Innovation happens and tools don't get the credit
- There is a huge culture gap between the senior and the youth, (good as long as youth knows where help comes from, and senior is open minded)
- Having a full toolbox is a good thing when problems need solved
- Collaboration with outside suppliers and venders is improving
- 3D is making its way into all aspects of product development
- From drawing boards in open spaces and real-time collaboration - to - CAD in scatterd cubicles and... Twitter??
I started adding examples for each but it got a bit crazy so I will just leave it at this for now. You're welcome to add some of your own random observations.