Electronic Product Data Management(ePDM) MPTs to Improve Design for Producibility, Reliability, Availability, Maintainability, and Sustainability
Systems Engineering and Systems Management Transformation
Report Number: SERC-2016-TR-113
Publication Date: 2016-09-30
Project: Electronic Product Data Management (ePDM) to Improve Design Producibility, Reliability, Availability, Maintainability, and Sustainability
Dr. Mitchell Kerman
This paper is the final technical report associated with Stevens Institute Systems Engineering
Research Center (SERC) research task, RT-152. 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
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
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.