In the highly competitive manufacturing industry, time to market is one of the primary indicators of survival and success. As a result, manufacturers are constantly looking at new processes and new technological solutions to help them shorten that time to market. Fluid Components International LLC (FCI), a manufacturer of fluid flow, level, temperature and pressure monitors and switches for diverse industries that include industrial and nuclear processes, as well as, on-board aircraft applications, is one classic example.
“One of our key challenges is reducing the time to market for new products,” affirmed Eric Wible, Director of Engineering at FCI. “Our ability to design, develop and produce quality instrumentation is a key factor to growth in our current markets as well as expanding into new markets. This process is directly tied to our internal capability to control and easily find our intellectual property and proprietary information, which is primarily in the form of engineering documentation.”
But getting engineering documentation let alone related business documentation under control throughout the company can be challenging. FCI has struggled with this task for years. They began with a roll-type -style index and paper logbooks and moved on to an electronic flat file document management system. Both attempts fell short of their goal.
Finding the Right Product to Meet Specifications
Karyn Dawes, Document Management Supervisor at FCI, knew she had to investigate other options. Because FCI’s Aerospace Division had standardized on SolidWorks design software and its Industrial Division was migrating to SolidWorks from AutoCAD, compatibility with both platforms was at the top of her well-thought-out criterion.
Surrounding herself with SolidWorks and AutoCAD experts from FCI who could understand the CAD capabilities of Adept, Dawes began her in-depth evaluation of engineering document management products. In addition to requiring multi-platform support for SolidWorks and AutoCAD, Dawes’ criteria included proven success in other ISO approved companies as well as powerful database, search, viewing, and reporting capabilities. The database functionality she sought, for example, included such things as multi-level security, the ability to add records with or without a physical document, the ability to easily access historic records, and so on. Of course, being user friendly and affordable was high on the list. Only Adept, one of the SolidWorks Gold PDM Partners’ products, met all the criteria.
Developing an Implementation Plan that Works
Once the company selected Adept, Dawes planned for the implementation. First she attended the Adept Administrator Training course at Synergis’ headquarters in Quakertown, Pennsylvania. Armed with knowledge, she returned home with plans to train an additional 100 FCI employees.
Dawes was ambitious with her implementation plan. “Initially, we brought 20 years of data and more than 50,000 records into Adept. What I learned from that effort is that it’s better to implement a new system in stages and bring in only clean electronic data first,” remarked Dawes.
After the Engineering Department’s data was brought into Adept, Dawes planned to bring in data from other departments. “We use Adept to manage product design information including drawings, parts lists, operation sheets and all the things that the production floor uses to build the product,” said Dawes. “Plus, we manage version control for general business documents, including the marketing brochures we use for ISO compliance as well as standard operating procedure documents. Eventually, we hope to manage different forms and open up Adept to other types of documents from Quality Assurance,” added Dawes.
Adept’s Benefits Expand Throughout the Enterprise
Adept has brought FCI many benefits. The Audit Trail capability enables FCI to track the entire history of the document and each of its contributors. The Manual Relationships feature helps associate Word, Excel, ECN and PDF documents as ÃƒÂ¬childrenÃƒÂ® to drawings or models, making it easier to access and track all relevant information throughout the lifecycle of a product.
Dawes sees many more opportunities to expand Adept throughout the company. “Adept’s powerful capabilities can benefit virtually every department including the Sales Department’s sales order packages and Quality Assurance’s mil-specifications.”
“Adept has so much power and capability. It’s not just for Engineering. It can manage whatever you throw at it,” concluded Dawes.