Monday, October 06, 2008
Information duplication is the enemy of efficient systems
Posted by Duncan Drennan at 08:29 Tags: electronic design automation , engineer simplicity , engineering , problems , processesEvery time information is duplicated there is the possiblity of an error. Let me say that again, every time information is duplicated there is the possibility of an erorr.
The electronic design process is made up of different parts such as schematic capture, PCB layout, component procurement and assembly. Each step requires information to be passed backwards and forwards. Certain information is only relevant to particular steps, for example you only need the exact part number for ordering, while a more basic part number or description could be used in the schematic (passives like resistors and capacitors are a good example of this).
Deciding what is important amongst all this information can be difficult, which often results in much of the information being duplicated in each step. The tools we use for electronic design automation (EDA) can inadvertently encourage us to create duplicate parts with detailed information contained within them. This seems fine until the parts library grows to an unmanageable size and discrepancies start to creep in, resulting in design and manufacturing errors.
Passing information between different systems, like the stock management and design systems can create an even larger mess. Typically these two systems are separated from each other and keeping them synchronised becomes a full time job. Any discrepancies between the two systems result in expensive time losses due to incorrect stock. The more information there is to keep track of, the greater the chance of errors and wasted time and money.
I am sure that most engineers have at some point in their career come across massive stock and bill of material spreadsheets which are overwhelming to manage, not just due to the amount of information, but also due to the incorrect tool (a spreadsheet) being used.
Yes, there are probably comprehensive ERP systems that can help with these problems, but those are not necessarily accessible to small engineering firms or individuals.
Information duplication is the enemy of efficient systems, we must eliminate it wherever possible.
That is the first rule of the process that I am developing for my own business. It will help me to develop faster and better, and once it is working it is going to allow every engineer access to the same opportunities.
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Engineer Simplicity specialises in the design and development of electronic products.
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