Efficiency Redefined: Filtering Metadata in Hardware Development

January 9, 2024

Hardware teams need to be increasingly agile in swiftly bringing products to market. The overall organizational goals for OEMs in 2024 remain consistent with those of 2023: achieving additional efficiencies in the NPI process, establishing tighter feedback loops with strategic suppliers, and promptly addressing arising issues. Each of these requires different stakeholders having the right information to facilitate workflows and proper decision making.

Traditionally, cross-functional teams encompassing Design, Manufacturing, Supply Chain, Quality, and Service have relied on PDM/PLM systems as a central information repository. While some, like design engineers managing file check-ins and check-outs, actively contribute to this information, others serve as consumers of this data. These systems house an exponentially expanding pool of data across various versioned and released files, comprising CAD PMI (product manufacturing information) or custom metadata established within the PDM/PLM.

To sustain agility, teams must harness this wealth of information by swiftly pinpointing pertinent data, particularly in instances where users might not be familiar with the data structures due to infrequent engagement. This self-sufficiency in information access saves users valuable time by eliminating the need to inquire about the data's whereabouts. Although most associate sorting and filtering data with tools like Excel or analytics platforms such as Tableau, employing this functionality directly within PDM/PLM systems significantly aids workflow management and expedites decision-making. Let’s take a look at a few scenarios:

Scenario 1: Acme Inc has created a custom metadata field for a Quality Spec Attachment. This attachment contains a PDF document describing all inspection requirements.

Requirement: All parts, assemblies, or other files in the Pre-Release stage must have this attachment as part of the upcoming release process.

Workflow: Create a filter to find all files in this stage that don’t have the Quality Spec Attachment

Filter Workflow - Example 1

Without the ability to find these quickly, users would have to individually go through all Pre-Release files’ metadata to confirm which Quality Spec Attachments were missing. While Design Engineers may know where in their file/folder structure all their Pre-Release CAD files are, the Quality Engineer may not. With this filter, both can ensure no delays with approval and release processes. To carry this scenario further:

Scenario 2: Acme Inc titles their Quality Spec documents by Specification number. There has been a change to a particular specification document.

Requirement: Parts/Assemblies referencing the old Specification document need to have the attachment updated.

Workflow: Create a filter to find all files which contain attachments with the old Specification title

Filter Workflow - Example 2

With this filter, users can quickly find the files referencing the old specification document to then update it. This will help ensure all stakeholders have the latest specification and no downstream costly inspection rework needs to be done.

Scenario 3: A sub-team of engineers has been making changes to parts and a sub-assembly based on supplier DFM. Another supplier was found, who did not require any design deviations.

Requirement: Find and roll back to the previous versions for the files modified due to supplier DFM

Workflow: Create a filter for files modified by the sub-team between the January 3rd - January 5th dates

Filter Workflow - Example 3

With this filter, users can swiftly locate the modified files and revert to versions that did not necessitate supplier deviations. Employing this filter helps ensure that all files altered within that timeframe by those engineers are visible, minimizing the chance that certain files retain modifications made as per supplier DFM.

Metadata serves various stakeholders and purposes. In CAD PMI, typical fields encompass part number, revision/version, and description, facilitating 2D drawing title block automation. Design teams commonly utilize additional fields such as color, material, and surface treatments. Manufacturing teams may require fields for manufacturing processes, while supply chain teams may prioritize supplier or production location fields.

Design teams might prefer a bi-directional sync between CAD and PDM for select fields, opting to confine non-Design related metadata to reside solely in PDM/PLM systems. These non-Design custom metadata fields can be established and managed within PDM/PLM systems like Bild, offering access to both CAD metadata and custom metadata fields for filtering purposes. Let's explore further scenarios to understand how this functionality can be effectively harnessed.

Scenario 4: Manufacturing volumes are high enough to justify changing manufacturing process from machining to die casting. Some files will need to get redesigned for casting.

Requirement: Identify machined components and decide which will be casted and redesigned

Workflow: Create a filter to find all machined parts that are not Stainless Steel, and are not Anodized

Filter Workflow - Example 4

With this filter, engineers can get a starting point for all candidates available for redesign to further down-select from there. With additional metadata fields for Assignee, parts can be assigned to different users for redesigns. Once re-designs have been checked in and Stage updated to RFQ, Supply Chain users can then filter for these Die Casted files to begin creating their RFQs.

Filter Workflow - Example 5

While various teams might adopt distinct metadata fields tailored to their specific use cases, a unified central system plays a crucial role in consolidating data. The absence of this data, along with the lacking tools and processes for retrieval, prolongs response times and certain stages within the comprehensive design workflow. These delays exert increased pressure downstream, resulting in potential cost overruns. Integrating CAD files, CAD metadata, and custom metadata within a PDM/PLM system like Bild empowers users with swift access to design-related information. This information serves as a catalyst for streamlining subsequent workflow steps, contributing significantly to overall decision-making processes.