Technical Report: Electronic Product Data Management (ePDM) to Improve Design Producibility, Reliability, Availability, Maintainability, and Sustainability

Report Number: Technical Report SERC-2016-TR-113

Report Name: Electronic Product Data Management (ePDM) to Improve Design Producibility, Reliability, Availability, Maintainability, and Sustainability

Publication Date: 30 September 2016


Executive Summary:

This paper is the final technical report associated with Stevens Institute Systems Engineering Research Center (SERC) research task, “Electronic Product Data Management (ePDM) to Improve Design Producibility, Reliability, Availability, Maintainability, and Sustainability”. The research task was to assist the US Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC) to identify and define evidence-based electronics-centric best practices and tools utilized by corporations and government agencies (such as government contractors, DoD, and NASA) implementing and using these state-of-the-art and evolving electronic Product Data Management systems. The research identified best practices for development, collaboration, and production as well as understanding the benefits for design for producibility, reliability, availability, maintainability, sustainability and the associated costs for execution. Since CERDEC has selected PTC Windchill, the research focused on corporations and agencies that are using this product, but the results and conclusions are generally applicable to all ePDM tools and installations.

This report begins with background information related to the CERDEC organization. The CERDEC mission is to actively advance Soldier capabilities that enable situational awareness and understanding, establish and secure communications, and protect Soldiers from surprise attack. To accomplish this mission CERDEC is divided into six directorates; Command, Power & Integration (CPI), Intelligence & Information Warfare (I2WD), Night Vision & Electronic Sensors (NVESD), Space & Terrestrial Communications (S&TCD), Product Realization Engineering & Quality (PRD), and Software Engineering (SED). Each directorate supports the organization’s goal to discover, develop, and deliver innovative technology and integrated solutions that enable, shape and transform the joint warfighter’s ability to collect, disseminate, and protect information, knowledge and understanding.

Next the concept of product lifecycle management is discussed. Lifecycle management refers to the process of managing the entire lifecycle of a product from inception, through engineering design and manufacture, to service and disposal of manufactured products. The relation of electronic product data management and product lifecycle management are examined. The background section concludes with the concept of the “digital thread” and how it links all the electronic data and product information throughout the life of a product.

The report then focuses on the current status of product data management within each CERDEC directorate. Currently, the methods of data management include; MS SharePoint, PTC Windchill, shared hard drives, local servers, the Software Control Reference Office (SCRO), and paper. The majority of directorates employ a combination of SharePoint, shared drives, and local servers. Each method is discussed in detail, including how it is being used at CERDEC. The advantages and disadvantages of each method are included in the descriptions and summarized in a table. A comparison of current data management techniques is also provided.

Then the future view and goals for data management at CERDEC is presented. The vision is to leverage current and evolving technologies to enable users to better manage and execute their tasks. The system should support technical data management, its analysis, and usage across all CERDEC directorates by providing a system engineering centric approach to product realization across a product lifecycle. The goal is enterprise management of all CERDEC products through Report No. SERC-2016-TR-113 2 use of model based engineering and model based support. The current methods of data management within CERDEC are analyzed for their applicability to this future view. The goal is a US Army-wide system that links each command and promotes force wide sharing of product data. The ultimate goal is to extend the system across the Department of Defense and promote sharing of information across all of the services.

Identification and analysis of industry and government agency best practices are then examined. This section is based upon the results of meetings with industries using PTC Windchill, multiple branches of the Department of Defense, and other federal agencies. The results of the meetings are summarized, and the benefits of electronic product data management are discussed. Industry practices are compared and contrasted. The section concludes with the shortfalls and opportunities of electronic product data management.

Lessons learned are presented based upon interviews with industry, meetings with other Department of Defense agencies, and the review of technical papers. The lessons are focused in five main areas: Implementation Strategy, Architecture Standardization, Configuration versus Customization, Evolving Technologies and Analytics of Enterprise Management. Each lesson learned area is explored in depth.

The paper concludes with conclusions and recommendations regarding PTC Windchill implementation at CERDEC and achieving product lifecycle management goals.