Machine Design

Spotting the Problems

To examine problems and solutions that small work groups encounter in managing their documents, it is helpful to look at the software aimed at the lower levels in PDM, software capabilities, and issues and standards that surround drawing management.

Document problems in engineering groups can come from having to deal with paper and electronic formats at the same time. Companies trying to juggle the requirements and large databases in both formats are likely to lose more drawings.

Also, information hoarding in companies that have mostly paper-only drawings can be a problem. The engineer who created a drawing becomes reluctant to loan it out for fear that it will be lost.

But, the most common problem is the overwhelming volume of engineering information. "It's so easy and inexpensive to generate a document," says Gary Heath, president of Informative Graphics. "For example, drawing scanners once cost $65,000. Now models go for $10,000 or less, so almost anyone can afford them. Service bureaus make a living transforming paper drawings into electronic formats and several CAD packages are available for less than $1,000."

Even though CAD packages such as AutoCAD have a built-in software drawing manager, drawing management systems are needed if an engineer wants to look at drawings created by a particular draftsperson, those in a single project, or those with a particular part.

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