Manufacturers are moving from paper drawings to digital models of their products and parts. The ability to include more data within these models has created some concerns within the manufacturing industry.
“There is debate across industry sectors about what should be included in those digital models in a particular context,” said Nathan Hartman, Dauch Family Professor for Advanced Manufacturing, who has received funding from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to help create a framework for these information models. “This project is meant to begin to answer what kinds of information should be in that model or should accompany that model in a given workflow.”
His research aims to answer a variety of questions, including how to handle sensitive intellectual property and how to use the technology to its fullest potential. He is also studying a spectrum of options, from always including all information to providing only the minimum information.
“This research is trying to figure out where that optimal state is,” he said. “The challenge is that it is context-dependent.” The research includes a series of surveys and interviews with key constituents, with each successive survey and interview being more specific. The goal is to generate consensus among this community of experts.
Hartman, who is also director of the Product Lifecycle Management Center, says the potential impact of his final report could be far-reaching. One of the biggest impacts could be in the amount of time – and its ensuing cost – wasted on poor or ineffective communications. Billions of dollars worth of company time are wasted each year because of poor data exchange, ineffective processes and more.
“We have the potential to reduce costs associated with sharing information across organizations and to reduce acquisition, maintenance and sustainment costs,” Hartman says. “If industry is to make the leap away from two-dimensional, paper-based to 3-D digital, information-based processes, this is something that has to get sorted out.”