The Science & Business of Engineering

By Martin van der Roest

Keeping An Eye on What Ultimately Drives The Business


Peter Schroer, the Aras CEO and Founder, recently penned a compelling article that contrasts the irony that exists for many manufacturers today. He notes that sophisticated design technologies are used for 3D CAD, analysis and simulation, and DMU (digital mock-up) work. Yet, to manage the resulting data, manual steps, paper, email, Excel, Lotus Notes, DropBox, FTP, and homegrown systems are used.

He refers to these design technologies as the "science of engineering." He further states, "Leaving other critical processes, including software, electronics, requirements, process planning, technical publications and quality – the "business of engineering" –  is disconnected and underserved." It's the contrast between the "science of engineering and the "business of engineering."

Moreover, the business of engineering is creating profitable products. Product lifecycle management (PLM) is about the business of engineering. Still, other roles and tasks are required to produce profitable products: requirements management, configuration and change management, manufacturing, quality, supply chain, packaging, logistics, and field support.

In the last issue of the Practical PLM Newsletter, we talked about the value of PLM. Our contention is that ultimately this value shows up on the company's P&L. Peter reinforces the theme by cutting to the chase and stressing the importance of producing profitable products. And, that's where PLM comes in.

He closes out the article with the thought that it's imperative for manufacturers to rethink their PLM strategy and consider how to impact the business of engineering. As he emphasized, “We need to replace all the chaos with a platform that efficiently supports the new business requirements."

Imagine what could be done if the same level of effort and attention that has been applied to the science of engineering, would be directed to the business of engineering.