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Survey Highlights Data Management Challenges Faced by Manufacturers (Infographic)

on ‎05-24-2012 05:39 PM

Guest Blog Post by Dave Chadwick, Global Marketing Manager, data management components of the Velocity Series for Siemens PLM Software. See bottom of post for Dave's bio.

In this 3-part blog post series, I plan to share the results of our recent survey of more than 2300 data management users in manufacturing companies worldwide. The results of the survey are summarized in the accompanying infographic, and are detailed in the full whitepaper from industry analyst Jim Brown of Tech-Clarity that can be downloaded from our Solid Edge Insight XT web page.

The web-based survey was made available to users in the manufacturing industry primarily in North America, China and Brazil and therefore covers countries that have been industrialized for a long time as well as those countries that have rapidly industrialized more recently.

Current Landscape

So what are the respondents in these roles and across these industries currently using for managing their design data? A surprisingly large number (24%) are still using a paper based file system to perform at least part of their data management needs. 29% are using local computer file systems and 53% network drives (respondents could select 2 options from these categories). Only 29% were using PDM/PLM and 8% were using a generic document management system. The numbers show that there is still significant opportunity for PDM/PLM solutions to expand their footprint in manufacturing organizations worldwide. Paper based file systems and local file systems are most commonly used in China, while network drives are very popular in North America. Perhaps surprising, PDM/PLM systems are in use more frequently in China than in North America, but on reflection with the recent industrialization in China, this should not be unexpected.

Top areas for improvement

One of the most interesting questions from my perspective was “What are the top areas for improvement that would have the biggest impact on your performance?” Two areas stood out significantly ahead of any others – “Fast and accurate searching and retrieval of data” and “Management of document versions and revisions”. Before moving on to more advanced data management capabilities such as automated engineering change workflows and sharing data with external suppliers and customers, for the majority of data management users there is still a great deal of work to do in these fundamental areas. This is reinforced by the response to the question “What percentage of your time is spent on non-productive data management tasks such as searching for data, printing and collating documents?”. The average of the responses was 15% with just over a quarter of respondents spending more than 20% of their time on non-productive data management tasks!

What are the top areas for improvement that have the biggest impact on performance?

Data management problems and a clue to their origins

We also looked at current problems by asking the respondents to rate the severity of the challenges they experienced in several key data management areas. The highest ranked area was “Search and retrieval of data is time consuming” with “Repetitive design office tasks are time consuming” as the second highest. To discover the origins of these problems,  we did a cross tab analysis of these challenges with the size of the BOM the respondents were managing. In every category, those respondents managing larger BOMs recorded a higher level of problems being encountered. We also did a cross tab of analysis by company size and found little impact of company size on the level of problems encountered. The data demonstrates that small companies can face just as serious issues with data management as larger companies.

Respondents reporting significant problems for different data management categories by BOM size

In the next two blog posts in this series, I will discuss in more detail the approach of companies who are leaders in product development, and a new product initiative from Siemens PLM Software that will help our users improve their data management capabilities.  You can also read a blog post from our partner for this survey Jim Brown of industry analyst Tech-Clarity with his insights into this research.

Dave Chadwick is responsible for global product marketing for the data management components of the Velocity Series for Siemens PLM Software. Dave has 20 years experience in data management and has led implementation projects across a wide variety of manufacturing organizations. You can follow Dave on Twitter: @davidchadwick