Design Reviews – Challenges and Solutions (Part I)

Did you just get out of a Design Review meeting? If not, when’s your next Design Review meeting? Almost each one of us have been involved in a Design Review meeting on a regular basis. OK, Design Reviews may go by different by names such as technical reviews, milestone reviews, value engineering reviews, code reviews, etc.  Whatever, you call it…Design Reviews are conducted to assess the product from different aspects such as meeting technical requirements, manufacturing objectives, cost, schedule, etc.  They typically include stakeholders from the extended organization.Callaway Although these reviews vary with project, content, objectives and stakeholders, they are generally event based and held at specific milestones in the Product Lifecycle. For example a technical review would evaluate the project’s status and progress, explore design proposals, and validate technical tradeoffs.

Recently, I had a discussion with Matt Sheridan, Director PLM Product Marketing at PTC on this topic He talked about five common challenges that customers are faced with and how PTC helps companies overcome these challenges.  This post is a part of series of posts and will cover the typical challenges with preparing and conducting Design Reviews.

Matt: Today we see many companies working to improve product development efficiency  through better reviews before releasing designs to production. The goal is to reach the market faster and ahead of the competition through fewer changes and rework after a product is released. Companies want to confidently review, verify and test the digital product against the early requirements and for manufacturability.  However, this can be a challenge as companies design products with a number of different tools, across different locations and with different design disciplines.  As a result, teams can struggle to review the full product design.  Common challenges include:

  1. Multi-CAD designs
  2. 2D Drawings
  3. Dataset comparisons
  4. Numerous Data Types
  5. Integrated MCAD-ECAD environments

Where is that data coming from?

Matt: Many design teams deal with multi-CAD data on a regular basis. A common trend CAD datain today’s design environment is design outsourcing including entire subsystems to partners or suppliers.  As a result, not every design may be developed with the same CAD system. Bringing together all the facets of a multi-CAD environment into one environment is necessary for conducting efficient design reviews.  

Paper or digital?

Matt:   Design reviews today still largely encompass reviewing 2D Drawings. This remains the principal method of communication for many companies.  Therefore, companies need a way for drawings to be evaluated and reviewed by the entire team.  Sitting around a table having everyone lean over sheets of paper can be difficult. Not to mention the cost to maintain print rooms and store drawings.  A better approach is to give everyone the ability to review drawings digitally, on-line, where individual comments and markups are captured.

What’s changed and When?

Matt:    Another aspect of a Design review meeting is  having a clear understanding of what has changed from a previous version to the latest version of the design. Being able to compare and contrast versions is critical to the decision making process. This is true for both MCAD and ECAD design data. Companies need to be able to provide reviewers quick and easy comparisons between different artifacts in a clear and intuitive manner.

The Big Picture – See all the data?

Matt: Most companies use a variety of tools to define products – CAD, ECAD, PowerPoint, Word, Excel.  Accessing all the product information in real time and in context is critical to an effective design review meeting. A full view of a product information goes beyond 2D Drawings and 3D CAD models to include illustrations, requirement documentation, pdfs, graphics, and pictures. Reviewers should have the ability to bring all these pieces together into one environment so they can markup and route them to the next person in the process. The key question is – how easy should the tool be to cater to all skill levels across the organization?  

What about ECAD design data?

Matt: The increase of electronics within everyday products poses a major challenge to many companies: Designhow to allow numerous people inside and outside the company to view and understand electronic design information. Besides analyzing mechanical designs accessing electronic data such as PCB’s and Schematics is important.  Sharing information like space-claim and keep out areas can reduce errors and rework. This means that ECAD data needs to be viewed, reviewed and commented on and in the context of both mechanical and electrical data. Should this be an integrated environment? Or a dedicated environment for MCAD and ECAD?

What next?

Matt: PTC offers a number of tools which I shall discuss in the next article that will help address each of the five challenges highlighted here. Stay tuned for the next post.


About Matt Sheridan

Matt is currently PLM Product Marketing Director at PTC.  He has over fifteen years working in Matt SheridanProduct Lifecycle Management and with discrete manufacturing companies.

Last Updated:  Nov 2014

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