Design Time vs. Admin Overheads: How to Win the Battle by Closing the Gaps


No more distractions, please! 45% of our time is already spent on admin. If you’re the average engineer, that is.

Techconsult, a German-based analyst firm has just found that almost half of the engineering time of any manufacturing company is spent feeding systems and re-entering data. So it’s no surprise that economists are scratching their heads trying to explain why productivity is declining, despite constantly increasing investments in IT systems.

Complexity stunts productivity

We asked Techconsult to look into this, so they spoke to more than 150 engineering managers to find out where the problem lies. The answer: The complexity of products and processes is increasing, putting engineering productivity under pressure. Design re06use seems to be a viable solution, but the managers doubt that the available systems will help them.

This is bad news – but it gets worse. In the information age, the common cure for any problem is to throw a piece of software at it. In the case of engineering, the consensus was: Map the product development process in a system, manage the design data, and this will solve the issue. But the survey data doesn’t bear this out, finding that 77% of engineering decision-makers expect to gain no positive productivity effects from a PLM system.

Admittedly, I’m not surprised by this outcome (though I was expecting a little more positivity). But it is completely in line with my day-to-day customer experience. From the Zuken perspective, it has always been an issue that the workflows and requirements of electrical and electronics engineering were not covered by PLM systems, opening a dangerous gap where there should be a seamless cross-discipline flow of design data and process information.

The good news

So, is there any good news here? There is, and it comes in a clear statement from the engineering managers surveyed by Techconsult: 78% believe there is value in dedicated design data management for electrical and electronics engineering, tightly integrated with a PLM system (and equally tightly integrated into the ECAD system, I would add). This is what we call domain data management at Zuken. It’s just a fancy term for electrical and electronics engineers managing their own data and workflow from within their own tools. It’s something we’ve been doing for electronics engineers for a long time, but now we’re making it truly cross-discipline by adding a dedicated tool for electrical engineers, with DS-E3.

We knew the need was there, and we had an idea that companies were beginning to understand where the gaps lay in their systems, but as Robert Heinlein said: “Being right too soon is socially unacceptable.” I guess the time for domain data management has come. Finally.

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Thomas Gessner
Thomas Gessner
Product Marketing Manager
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