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Study: PLM Systems Remain Limited, Report Majority of Engineering Product Designers

Electrical and electronic engineering product designers reportedly spend an 45% of their time on administrative activities, according to a new report.

Electrical and electronic engineering product designers reportedly spend an 45% of their time on administrative activities, according to the report “Design Data Management in Electrical and Electronic Engineering,” produced by tech consult on behalf of Zuken.

One of the main reasons is insufficient management of design data and component libraries. However, PLM systems are not seen as the ultimate solution for managing these issues, with 52% of those using PLM systems to manage electrical and electronic engineering data rating their systems as being suitable, but with limitations. When questioned further, 77% of respondents did not believe that a PLM system would help them work more productively.

Following are some key results:

  • 52% have doubts about the suitability of current PLM environments for their specific requirements;
  • 39% need to better coordinate mechanical and electronic engineering activities;
  • 52% cited growing product complexity as their greatest challenge; and
  • 45% see a need to implement end-to-end digital processes from sales to engineering and production.
Engineers were found to spend 45% of their time, on average, on supporting activities, according to the report.

“This distribution of engineers’ time needs to improve for companies to continue to be successful; for optimized development processes leading to increased productivity. In every design project a huge amount of data is generated and, with growing product complexity, this will only increase. So design engineers need access to solutions that allow them to manage large volumes of data and retrieve up-to-date information when it is needed,” says Verena Bunk, senior analyst at techconsult.

Solutions for effective engineering data management could support engineers in their day-to-day work by making processes more effective and allowing them to focus more on their core activities. When asked whether PLM systems were likely to help with this, 77% of respondents did not expect to work more productively using a PLM system. Engineers perceived PLM systems as complex and requiring duplicate data entry, and there is also the expectation that the specific requirements of engineers of all disciplines would not be adequately considered. Indeed, 62% expected additional overheads due to the manual data entry required to maintain different systems.

Industry Challenges

Respondents, who were primarily engineering team leaders, R&D directors, product managers and project managers, cited product complexity as their greatest challenge in electrical and electronic engineering (52%), followed by the need to increase design productivity (46%) and increase design reuse (45%). Almost half, 45%, see a need to implement end-to-end digital processes from sales to engineering and production, while 39% need to better coordinate their mechanical and electronic engineering activities.

The survey, “Design Data Management in Electrical and Electronic Product Design,” was designed and conducted by techconsult GmbH on behalf of Zuken GmbH. A total of 163 manufacturing companies in Germany, Austria and Switzerland were surveyed about the design of their electrical and electronic engineering assemblies and systems. The sample covered technology-intensive industries such as mechanical and plant engineering, vehicle construction including the aerospace industry, electrical engineering and electronics. Only companies of all sizes with an annual turnover of 80 million euro and more were considered.

For more info, visit Zuken.

Sources: Press materials received from the company.

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