By implementing a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) system, companies both large and small, benefit by simplifying and shortening each phase of the product development process.
Due to their focus on product development and engineering, discrete manufacturers in the small-to-medium sized space typically adopt a PLM system to support best in class engineering processes and to address challenges with continual new product introductions, shorter product lifecycles and shrinking profit margins. Yet, budget restraints usually leave quality processes left managed manually with tools such as Excel spreadsheets.
The result is tight engineering and design processes with costly quality issues that surface downstream.
This article is based on data from a recent LNS Research report titled, An Enterprise Approach to Quality for SME Discrete Manufacturers, and focuses on the key reasons SMEs (small to midsize enterprises) should consider leveraging PLM for quality management. Taking this approach can help manufacturers produce higher quality products, gain a significant competitive advantage, and meet their overall quality objectives.
To support the research, LNS performed a Quality Management Survey and asked SME executives a number of questions regarding strategic objectives as well as top challenges as each pertain to the quality management space.
It is interesting to note in the charts below that executives in charge of quality for their businesses ranked ‘reducing the cost of quality’ as a top objective.
This correlates with the top challenges these same discrete manufacturing managers found: ‘quality metrics are not effectively measured’ as well as ‘disparate quality systems and data sources.’
This reveals that quality managers for SME discrete manufacturers need better tools to efficiently manage quality processes. The need is even greater in highly regulated industries such as Aerospace and Defense and Medical Device.
Extending PLM into Quality
According to LNS, many organizations are already using PLM to deliver quality management functionalities in the engineering and design stages. Examples may include the use of PLM to conduct risk management with tools such as Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA), using simulation tools to help companies quickly and cost-effectively implement changes, employing Design for Reliability (DfR) to tie upfront quality (pre-build) to the back-end (post-build) and enhance the overall quality process and change management capabilities that allow organizations to effectively manage engineering and product data changes over time.
Leveraging PLM to deliver Enterprise Quality Management System (EQMS) functionalities that streamline, standardize, and centralize quality process data and content takes these existing functionalities to new levels.
PLM was designed to manage product data throughout the product life cycle. A PLM system is crucial during the design phase, where engineers need instant access to product data including specifications, engineering parameters and documentation. PLM tracks and manages component data, BOMs, product documentation, engineering changes and revisions, as well as compliance data and centralizes all of this information for easy access by all team members.
Extending PLM to encompass quality management allows manufacturers to link quality information to the product record all within in a single database. This provides a mechanism to give engineers direct access to customer feedback to help make better design choices and gives quality visibility into the design process in order to catch costly issues before products are built.
 LNS Research: An Enterprise Approach to Quality for SME Discrete Manufacturers http://t.co/gQDlNFn2Lc
Chuck Cimalore, the CTO and Co-founder of Omnify Software, is an expert in business-ready PLM solutions for small to mid-size businesses. Prior to founding Omnify Software, Mr. Cimalore held positions as application engineer, software engineer, engineering manager and vice president of engineering since 1994. Mr. Cimalore’s years of electronic design and manufacturing process knowledge and his keen awareness of industry needs, has brought Omnify Software to the forefront of the product lifecycle management technology market. Chuck can be reached at 978-988-3800 or firstname.lastname@example.org. www.omnifysoft.com
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