Take a few seconds to jot down (or at least think about) the obstacles you run into on a regular basis at work.
We’ll hazard a guess that your list includes one or more of the following:
- Inconsistent versioning and documentation practices
- Incomplete or incorrect drawings
- An overly complex or inefficient change management process
- Software systems that don’t talk to each other
- A lack of standardization across engineers/teams/disciplines
- A lack of communication among engineers/teams/disciplines
- Having to wait for other departments to finish before you can get started on a project
- Cost overruns
- Time overruns
- Finger-pointing and blame
How’d we do? If you work in any sort of engineering or engineering management capacity and don’t regularly experience at least a couple of the headaches on this list, please contact us. We’d love to hear about how you’re doing it right!
If you do encounter these types of issues, you’re par for the course. These are well-known problems in the industry, and we talk with engineers and managers every day who are struggling with how to solve them.
While these problems may seem overwhelming, the answer might be much simpler than you imagine. In fact, there’s a change you can make that will put your on the road to solving, or at least significantly diminishing, many of the headaches on this list.
Here it is: a common data model.
Think about the items on the first half of the list — inconsistent versioning, incorrect drawings, a lack of standardization, and so on. All of these issues arise from different engineers not working together with the same data model. That’s how you end up with the electrical engineers working on version 5, while the design team is on version 7. And it’s how incidents like the Mars Climate Orbiter disaster happen — that disaster was caused by different teams using different units of measurement.
Now think about the things on the second half of the list. Often, they’re caused by the things on the first half. Inconsistent versioning and incorrect drawings lead to rework. Inefficient change management leads to cost and time overruns. A lack of standardization and communication leads to mistakes. And all of these situations lead to finger-pointing and blame.
How does a common data model solve these problems?
Having everyone in your organization work in the same database, rather than on separate ones, brings cohesiveness to a project. It flat out eliminates versioning problems because everyone has access to the most recent documents. It also eliminates a lack of standardization because everyone is working with the same underlying data. And it can go a long way to reducing rework and other situations that cause deadlines to be missed and engineers to become frustrated.
As an example, here are some of the benefits global design and manufacturing company Claudius Peters has realized from bringing their data into a common model using Engineering Base:
- Interdisciplinary bridges and a new culture of communication
- Better understanding between process and electrical engineers
- Seamless simultaneous editing of a project, even with 20 users
- Information that’s always up-to-date
- Reduced project runtimes
- Improved interactions among company-wide software tools such as ERP and 3D
- Less time spent on redundant data maintenance
- A “transformation of their software environment”
How do you move to a common data model?
Adopting a common data model requires two fundamental components:
- The right mindset
- The right technology
By the right mindset, we mean moving from a drawing-oriented approach to a data-oriented approach. This represent a paradigm shift in engineering. For centuries, drawings have been at the center of engineering projects. But, we live in a data-driven world, and the way we work needs to change. By putting data at the center of the circle, we can be more efficient and more innovative in the way we design projects and solve problems.
Once we have the right mindset, the second component is a no-brainer. You need a technology that can support a data-oriented model and that will allow everyone working on a project to access the data. That means you need a single tool that puts data first, that supports the entire design process from start to finish, and that allows engineers on different teams to collaborate easily. That tool is Engineering Base.
To learn how Engineering Base provides a single source of truth for your projects, watch our introductory YouTube videos. If you’d like more information or to give Engineering Base a try, request a free software consultation.