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Compliance Best Practices of a PLM Super Star

superstarLast year at an ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) sanctioned event, Michelle Lee, Nimble Storage’s PLM Project Manager, spoke at a popular manufacturing webinar titled, “Turn Disruptive Change into High Tech’s Next Big Thing”.

The webinar examined how technological developments impact product design and a manufacturer’s success depends upon how quickly they can respond to change. The truth is that the change of a single component can have a dramatic “Butterfly Effect” on product design with a rapid engineering effort required to incorporate, source and purchase the follow-on components that result in subsequent changes in manufacturing line/tooling, cut-ins, and the very production floor itself.

Lee received positive responses from attendees for her insights and best practices for corralling disruptive change without slowing down new product introduction (NPI). She offered tips and tricks for streamlining engineering change order (ECO) cycles and explained how companies use product lifecycle management (PLM) to remain nimble, so we decided to interview her and hear more of what she had to say. Last week, we published the first part of this three-part blog post interview. Here’s part two of the interview:

Arena: Last week you shared some best practices for integrating PLM with enterprise resource planning (ERP). Do you have any other best practices to share?

Lee: One key best practice we implemented is to assign each item number with a vendor and a manufacturer. That information also gets populated into the ERP system so if somebody does a purchase order, it automatically gets populated if they pull that item number. Their item sourcing from the manufacturing comes along automatically on that same purchase order. A lot of the information that I put in Arena PLM populates into the ERP so there is not a lot of after-the-fact searching that has to be done. It’s already there. So everyone, especially engineers, know that they are getting the right part from the right manufacturer and it goes on the purchase order. This also assists in the planning process so we have enough raw material to meet our requirements per the next quarter.

Arena: What best practices can you share related to compliance?

Lee: Engineering wants to compile a compliance bill of materials to see if I have all the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS) documents associated with the bill of materials (BOM). We’ve kept it very simple. In Arena PLM, users can go to the top level and run a compliance bill of materials that has all the attachments of all relevant RoHS compliance documentation from their associated manufacturers. So they have it all right there, in one convenient place, to just zip it up and send it to a manufacturer and they have all their compliance information knitted together with their BOM. This is another thing that we’ve set up in Arena PLM—when you’re looking at a bill of materials, you can see from the top level all the way down to all your RoHS compliance documentation. Arena PLM is a great tool.

Arena: Tell me about how Arena PLM helps you achieve compliance.

Lee: The best practice for RoHS compliance I’ve found is to assign a supplier item number to the item in Arena PLM. Bundle the compliance record to that sourcing item number and have a compliance document file attached to the same sourcing item. The file gets associated with the item, which will then all roll up into the product itself. That is where I get all compliance documentation and how I know which ones need compliance to have evidence files against them.

Safety regulatory UL (Underwriters Laboratory, ID, and CSA (Canadian Standards)) requirements are met at the top-level SKU and the files are attached, thus the storage array is the only thing that we have to get compliance from the UL. Everything underneath doesn’t really matter. I have two compliances: the safety compliance and the RoHS at the current levels right now. Later down the road, we will see, when we start shipping to Europe, what other requirements we will need to add and have the evidence files associated with them as well.

If you’re interested in hearing more of Michelle Lee’s best practices, please read part 1 of our blog post interview. And if you want to know how Arena PLM helped Nimble achieve business success read this case study.