DMStec system

Electronic archive and document management systems (DMS software) have been on the rise in the commercial environment since the 1990s. The latter are characterized by additional functions for check-in/check-out and versioning compared to pure archiving, i.e. they include the secure processing of current documents. In addition to DMS, the term Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is also used today. Despite different theoretical definitions, manufacturers of such systems usually use both terms interchangeably. Today, ECM/DMS generally refers to all technologies and methods for recording, managing/processing, providing, storing and archiving information to support business processes in the company.

Document management system (DMStec )

Collaborate with DMS software on a uniform information basis

The topic of document management for technical companies is a cross-departmental and cross-functional challenge. The development of technical products and services takes place under increasing time pressure. Reality in many cases: Development, production and sales work on the same product, but on a different information base. Document management is directly linked to work processes and the control of associated documents. There are special requirements for document management due to the often project-oriented way of working. Documents from different trades and work areas must be brought together and kept complete and valid.

In highly complex environments in technical companies, conventional document management systems regularly reach their limits. In such companies, technical product structures encounter a wide variety of technical documents such as drawings, product documentation or specifications. This information is in a close structural context that cannot be represented by simply storing individual documents. The information in such documents, such as change requests, has a connection to technical components and in turn to other information from documents such as product documentation that cannot be managed in conventional DMS.

For the area of ​​application that manages documents but also relates technical product structures , a special category of document management systems (DMS) has been established under the term “DMS tec ”. DMS tec systems allow the mapping of technical structures and, together with PLM, form the product data backbone of a company, which in turn forms the basis for mapping digitalized processes.

Access business-relevant documents from your home office with DMStec

Sufficient notebooks and a good internet connection – these are the basis on which companies can let their employees work from home. However, in order to maintain the processes established and practiced in everyday office life in the home office, companies must first create the necessary initial situation. The reality is often different: employees copy important documents onto the USB stick in order to work on them at home. Or they send the documents to each other by email – which basically amounts to the same thing. But then the central principle of an electronic document management system (DMS) is broken: storing documents centrally and using versioning and check-in/check-out mechanisms to prevent duplicates from occurring and intermediate processing statuses from being lost.

In technical companies, systems in the DMS tec category are also able to map technical product structures and relate them to each other. Together with PLM, DMS tec forms the product data backbone of a company – a uniform information base that all departments that work on the same product (development, production, sales…) access together and use as a starting point for mapping digitalized processes. When many employees work from home, such a central data backbone is essential for maintaining important operational business processes. Locally copied, outsourced files fundamentally break this principle.

With a DMS tec , everyone – regardless of whether they are sitting in their home office or at the production terminal – accesses the same central document pool. You research them, process documents, forward them and archive them. If the sales employee files something in the DMS tec in her CRM system in the home office , her colleague in accounting immediately has access to it from his ERP application – as does the construction department, which accesses information in the DMS from their CAD program tec /PLM accesses. This must therefore be deeply integrated into the company’s existing IT landscape.

Many PRO.FILE users have already gained experience with connecting distributed locations to their central system installation, from which they benefit enormously: efficient business operations are ensured at any time and from any place, thanks to digitalized processes based on a central product data Set up backbone .

Why keywording alone is not enough

Many DMS/ECM systems today use the keyword search model. The user does not have to deal with complex hierarchical administrative structures, but can research all the information they need using a simple search mask à la Google in just one field. The prerequisite for this is that the documents to be searched have been sufficiently keyworded (indexed) in advance. This means assigning keywords to a document in order to make its content accessible for later searches.

However, this is not feasible in all areas, especially in complex technical product environments. If you look at mechanical and plant engineering, the energy sector or the automotive supply industry, you will find products, devices, systems and projects with an often very complex structure. The associated documents must be linked within this structure. Classic Windows Explorer folder structures are not suitable for this.

Relationships between product-related information

A DMS tec (document management system) brings these documents together, structures them and represents them via the technical structures such as a system structure and the assemblies and parts installed in it. Depending on the structure, relationships can be established between product-related information. With this relational knowledge from the affected documents, a company can set up information-based workflows as part of digitalization.

This means: Document keywording with search terms alone is not enough when working in a technical environment. This means that the searcher can find all documents that contain the term they are looking for, but the technical structures of projects and products as well as the document management and control based on them cannot be represented in this way. What is more important is to look at documents depending on the product/project structure in the company and then enable different views of individual departments or role managers on one and the same document.

The suffix makes the difference: from DMS to DMStec

DMS solutions in the DMS tec category allow you to build the structures of a product, a system or a project independently of the documents and then attach the documents to this structure. This is done via references. When changes are made to a document, they are only made in the source and are then available everywhere.

The basic principle of DMS tec is the basis for automatically created machine and project files. Since documents from the life cycle of machines, systems and projects can also be attached to the product structures , the static machine file becomes a dynamic machine and life cycle file upon delivery.

Product structures

Product structures create connections

Through the DMS tec approach, manufacturing companies can structure product information according to the product structure and carry out appropriate document management and control for typical work processes. Structural information about a component traditionally arises during development and is used in production and sales. However, CAD, ERP, PLM and CRM systems rarely work with consistently managed and structured storage. Classic folder structures with their large amount of unstructured data stored in them are not suitable for providing a structured product data backbone and creating a basis for versions, releases and collaboration.

The specification of a pump, for example, that is installed in five different places in a system is therefore located in five different places within the folder structure. In the event of a change, the specification must be adjusted in five places. The fact that these specifications are identical can be established through keywording, but their connection cannot be established completely clearly via the “day” of a document. Only through the structure of the attachment, because it is initially independent of a document, can it be seen that it is the same document. Therefore, technical documents belong to the assembly of the system, just as the patient file belongs to the patient.

Product structures are formed by the technical characteristics of the system or its installation location. They can exist multiple times and independently of each other. They represent a context and the documents are stored in them. Links guide work steps across connections and ensure that the same information is only available and processed once.

In this sense, a product structure, a system or an infrastructure object is managed in a form that is separate from the document. Product structures direct the focus away from the file system-oriented folder structure towards dynamic views of a common database. Each document only appears once in the system, is stored with specific information and linked in structures with a logical connection. It is not in a fixed folder, but the folder structure is just a (dynamic) view of the document.

Differentiated views of documents

Different views depending on departments or role responsibilities

Providing everyone with all the information is not always productive or effective. Individual departments or role managers need exactly the information they need for their work. And this information differs in development, order processing, technical purchasing, service and business management. With DMS tec it is possible to give every role in the company a suitable view of the relevant information and documents, while at the same time ensuring that each file is only managed once in the product data backbone of the document management system.

The perspectives of development, design, manufacturing and assembly

The design departments create their own view of the native drawings, CAD models, cabling plans or circuit board layouts of a component. You work intensively with CAD and CAE tools. However, the documents that you work with every day differ significantly from the documents that are required in production and assembly. For example, the focus is on drawings as exploded views in PDF format, as simplified models in JT, work plans, or assembly and production reports. The view of the design and development department therefore differs from the view of the manufacturing and assembly department.

The project manager's perspective

The project managers who are responsible for a customer system and its timely delivery certainly also need some of the documents from the development departments – but not every technical detail. You also generate documents yourself, such as meeting minutes, resource plans and calculations, and store customer correspondence in an audit-proof archive. The project managers need a helicopter perspective and thus shape their view of the development documents.

The perspective of sales and buyers

Sales requires all contracts and correspondence relating to a system as well as complaints. Technical documents, such as photos of a machine or 3D models, are also required, which can serve as a reference for other customers. In addition, sales often need to access order processing documents. This also defines your own view.

The perspective in accounting and financial management

The commercial department also has special documents. Here, for example, in individual production, not only the offers, orders, order confirmations or invoices for a sold system come together, but also all documents for project planning services as well as the purchased parts that are installed in a system or machine. All of these documents relate to individual components within the product structure. A buyer does not need to know all the details of a machine, but he does need to quickly understand which spare part needs to be ordered. If there is a malfunction, the spare part must be available in the best possible quality, at an affordable cost and in compliance with the shortest delivery times. Access to technical documents must therefore be ensured. In addition, the commercial departments need an audit-proof archive.

The perspective of service and maintenance

The life of a system begins when it is installed and put into operation at the customer’s site. Optimum operation and customer satisfaction will only be achieved if the system is maintained proactively and repaired quickly in the event of malfunctions. The technicians on site need the digital image of the machine – the so-called digital information twin. If a pump is repaired or replaced as part of maintenance, the technician must actually know exactly which pump it is. What was the price? Who was the contact person at the supplier? Is there still a guarantee? Where is the installation instructions? Are there video tutorials for this? Some of the required information is in the invoice that is in the ERP system or SCM system. Others are completely different. Using DMS tec software, they can also be made available to the maintenance engineer at the click of a mouse – uniform, complete and without redundancy.

The overall view remains

Modern DMS tec systems allow different views to reflect the interests and requirements of the departments. However, without the Product Data Backbone this would not be technically possible. So both necessarily belong together. Only with the Product Data Backbone as a basis can the various connections between product structures , product-related documents and information be established. Why this overall view is so important in the context of individual views should be explained again using an example: The processing of service calls for customers is usually not part of product development. However, if a systematic product defect is discovered during service calls, this information must be reported back to the development, design and production perspective. The Product Data Backbone provides information via its connections to service operations systems that changes need to be made to a part or component.

Machine and CV files

The basis for document management and document control

Complete documentation and therefore document management is required for every technical product. By law, manufacturers must be able to demonstrate in detail how a system is constructed and how the components are structurally linked. This documentation cannot be created later, but must be created parallel to the development and manufacturing process.

In the practice of technical companies, for example, the first project structures arise from offers, orders and order confirmations in the ERP. These often refer to a standardized system, which then has to be adapted to the customer’s requirements on a project-specific basis. Ideally, this structure is transferred to the DMS tec solution and creates an empty file there, the machine or life cycle file of the system. In the course of product development, it is combined with documents from mechanical construction (CAD models, drawings, construction parts lists), electrical construction (circuit diagrams, circuit board layouts, external data sheets), project planning (specifications, contracts, customer drawings, production data sheets, E -Email traffic), quality management (acceptance protocols). Documentation for product management, for example for production, maintenance, repair and service, and the customer is then automatically available. This creates an information twin of the machine or system, whose life can be traced across the entire cycle, across all trades, departments and locations. The basis for documentation and document management has been laid.

Deep integrations into authoring systems increase the data quality of a DMStec solution

The quality of a well-functioning DMS tec solution also depends on its ability to be integrated into important authoring systems. For example, if emails are recognized by the DMS tec system as “correspondence”, the system automatically reads out important metadata (subject, recipient, sender,…). Duplicates are recognized immediately – even if an email is sent to ten recipients, it is only saved once in the system.

Through bidirectional integrations into authoring systems, project and article information can also be automatically transferred to the respective documents. A change request is then not only linked to the item to be changed and visible to everyone, but the associated item number, project number, author, etc. are also automatically read out, regardless of the system in which the information is maintained. Presenting the context of this information across system boundaries ensures real continuity in the product development process. Automation reduces effort and the error rate.