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Tech-Clarity TV: Environmental Compliance and the Product Lifecycle

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Hear Jim Brown share his views on … efficiently and effectively meeting product environmental compliance demands using PLM software. This episode shares some interesting findings from Tech-Clarity’s Understanding Product Development Tradeoffs: Designing Products for Sustainability, Cost, and Compliance.

This is the latest edition of Tech-Clarity TV, let us know what you think.

The topics included in this episode include:

  • Continued regulatory pressure from multiple sources
  • Top 10 environmental regulations faced by global manufacturer
  • Common negative business impacts from difficulty designing products for compliance, cost, and sustainability (including time to market and missed shipments)
  • Increasing frequency (trend data) of these damaging business impacts
  • Framework for environmental product compliance that shows the steps and capabilities required to design for compliance
  • Discussion of how PLM meets the Tech-Clarity Compliance Framework

Let us know what you think. Do you agree? Disagree? Have a great example to share? Please see the related post, download the report, or review more free research and white papers about PDM, PLM and other enterprise software for manufacturers from Tech-Clarity.

SPEAK YOUR MIND

  1. Jim, how exactly is PLM helping in the compliance and sustainability muddle? There should be a live link to a global compliance tracker (is there one?)that keeps itself updated on developments. PLM will only bring in this feed and reconcile it with the BOM. For something like RoHS and REACH this makes sense since it is related to material compositions and hence impacting all items of the BOM. But what about product level compliance? Does PLM own a clear enough product definition such that an automatic comparison with above ‘compliance tracker’ can be done? 

    • I guess it depends on what kind of compliance you are talking about. Compliance is a big topic. I was really addressing environmental compliance which, as you point out, has a lot to do with material composition. Sustainability extends from there, and has to do with materials as well as manufacturing processes, energy, water usage, emissions, etc.  I do think PLM is a very good place to address environmental compliance and I have seen this work successfully at quite a few companies.

      But does PLM have a rich enough model of the product to provide everything? Probably not without some work. For example how many companies have all of their supplier parts and substitutes in their BOM? That may need some work to support compliance. And how many have a full manufactured BOM in PLM at all, versus a subset from an engineering perspective. And if we are moving beyond BOM to a bill or process (BOP) fewer companies are ready in their PLM system. But I propose they are more ready there than in other systems like ERP. For one thing, the information comes to late because you need to make the tradeoffs between compliance, performance, cost, and a host of other things as early in design as possible or the windows of opportunity start to close.

      I hope I helped with your question, if not let me know what kind of compliance issues you are talking about. It might turn out that PLM is not the right place at all, it certainly doesn’t solve all compliance problems!

      Thanks for commenting,
      Jim

      • Hi Jim. As always thanks for the propmpt response. What I meant by compliance was about the finished product like a UL or EN compliance at the product level. Lets take EMI EMC for example. It has to do with design rather than the materials.  Now, the factors that come into the picture could also include market based inputs like compliance for a particular global region. Currently its a difficult enough task to identify the regulations that apply to product. The question is how do you identify this early enough so that the designers can make use of the information?

        As always its a pleasure to read your posts
        Thanks
        Shyam

        • Shyam,
          I think you “jinxed” me by thanking for my fast response, I was really slow at replying this time. Sorry! Thank you for the continued discussion, those kinds of regulations are not as easy to analyze in an automated way, to my knowledge.

          You bring up some very interesting points.

          – Before you can comply, you need to know what you need to comply with. I have a framework that addresses environmental compliance, but as I mention in this post () there are many other regulations. Know what the regulations are, where they apply, and how they are actually enforced has got to be step #1 to compliance. Or this link shows a more humorous example of unexpected regulatory issues. http://tech-clarity.com/clarityonplm/2009/compliance-wakeup-manufacturers/

          2 – Once you know what you need to comply with, you need product data. I think we agree that PLM is a great source of information

          3 – Then, you need to be able to analyze for compliance. For environmental compliance, a lot of progress has been made: http://tech-clarity.com/clarityonplm/2009/environmental-product-compliance-sustainable/, although there is no relief in sight for regulatory pressures: http://tech-clarity.com/clarityonplm/2011/survey-sustainability/.

          But for something like UL compliance, there are a couple of issues. The first is that I am not aware of any tools that can automatically review CAD designs and find UL problems. They may exist, but I don’t know of them. The second is that the designs need to be certified by a 3rd party. In this case, I have seen some great examples of people submitting electronic designs to regulators (FAA, for example) to electronically certify designs. The collaboration and visualization capabilities in PLM can really help there.

          Another part of the issue is storing third party (or internal) testing results. Here it makes total sense to link test results rest of the product design by including them in PLM. More to come on linking requirements to testing in an upcoming report, by the way.

          Then there are the other parts of the compliance framework including correcting any issues found, documenting compliance, and then closing the loop back to design. PLM can help here too.

          But what tools exist for other compliance checking? It sounds like UL listing, for example, would be a great CAD add-on to check designs for panel gaps, etc. Does anybody know of one? Or examples for other compliance issues?

          Thanks!
          Jim

  2. Jim, how exactly is PLM helping in the compliance and sustainability muddle? There should be a live link to a global compliance tracker (is there one?)that keeps itself updated on developments. PLM will only bring in this feed and reconcile it with the BOM. For something like RoHS and REACH this makes sense since it is related to material compositions and hence impacting all items of the BOM. But what about product level compliance? Does PLM own a clear enough product definition such that an automatic comparison with above ‘compliance tracker’ can be done? 

    • I guess it depends on what kind of compliance you are talking about. Compliance is a big topic. I was really addressing environmental compliance which, as you point out, has a lot to do with material composition. Sustainability extends from there, and has to do with materials as well as manufacturing processes, energy, water usage, emissions, etc.  I do think PLM is a very good place to address environmental compliance and I have seen this work successfully at quite a few companies.

      But does PLM have a rich enough model of the product to provide everything? Probably not without some work. For example how many companies have all of their supplier parts and substitutes in their BOM? That may need some work to support compliance. And how many have a full manufactured BOM in PLM at all, versus a subset from an engineering perspective. And if we are moving beyond BOM to a bill or process (BOP) fewer companies are ready in their PLM system. But I propose they are more ready there than in other systems like ERP. For one thing, the information comes to late because you need to make the tradeoffs between compliance, performance, cost, and a host of other things as early in design as possible or the windows of opportunity start to close.

      I hope I helped with your question, if not let me know what kind of compliance issues you are talking about. It might turn out that PLM is not the right place at all, it certainly doesn’t solve all compliance problems!

      Thanks for commenting,
      Jim

      • Hi Jim. As always thanks for the propmpt response. What I meant by compliance was about the finished product like a UL or EN compliance at the product level. Lets take EMI EMC for example. It has to do with design rather than the materials.  Now, the factors that come into the picture could also include market based inputs like compliance for a particular global region. Currently its a difficult enough task to identify the regulations that apply to product. The question is how do you identify this early enough so that the designers can make use of the information?

        As always its a pleasure to read your posts
        Thanks
        Shyam

        • Shyam,
          I think you “jinxed” me by thanking for my fast response, I was really slow at replying this time. Sorry! Thank you for the continued discussion, those kinds of regulations are not as easy to analyze in an automated way, to my knowledge.

          You bring up some very interesting points.

          – Before you can comply, you need to know what you need to comply with. I have a framework that addresses environmental compliance, but as I mention in this post () there are many other regulations. Know what the regulations are, where they apply, and how they are actually enforced has got to be step #1 to compliance. Or this link shows a more humorous example of unexpected regulatory issues. http://tech-clarity.com/clarityonplm/2009/compliance-wakeup-manufacturers/

          2 – Once you know what you need to comply with, you need product data. I think we agree that PLM is a great source of information

          3 – Then, you need to be able to analyze for compliance. For environmental compliance, a lot of progress has been made: http://tech-clarity.com/clarityonplm/2009/environmental-product-compliance-sustainable/, although there is no relief in sight for regulatory pressures: http://tech-clarity.com/clarityonplm/2011/survey-sustainability/.

          But for something like UL compliance, there are a couple of issues. The first is that I am not aware of any tools that can automatically review CAD designs and find UL problems. They may exist, but I don’t know of them. The second is that the designs need to be certified by a 3rd party. In this case, I have seen some great examples of people submitting electronic designs to regulators (FAA, for example) to electronically certify designs. The collaboration and visualization capabilities in PLM can really help there.

          Another part of the issue is storing third party (or internal) testing results. Here it makes total sense to link test results rest of the product design by including them in PLM. More to come on linking requirements to testing in an upcoming report, by the way.

          Then there are the other parts of the compliance framework including correcting any issues found, documenting compliance, and then closing the loop back to design. PLM can help here too.

          But what tools exist for other compliance checking? It sounds like UL listing, for example, would be a great CAD add-on to check designs for panel gaps, etc. Does anybody know of one? Or examples for other compliance issues?

          Thanks!
          Jim

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