This article elucidates how computerized product data management (PDM) systems allow designers to immediately be apprised of changes and communicate them to others in the manufacturing chain, and to discuss, via their computers, project status or glitches in the process. Datel of Mansfield, MA, has used a computer system called OnTrack to closely follow production of the power converters and other products it makes for use primarily in the telecommunications industry. The OnTrack system automatically sends its pertinent information gleaned from the PDM system to the planner. If the part is already being made without this latest revision, information about its current production is included in the file. This information can be a listing of the specific workstations on which each particular part has been made and how they have been configured for part production. Because many companies now include engineering departments when linking a company’s financial or manufacturing information, the engineers themselves have access to information used to run the business. Moreover, more information means that they have a greater say in decision making.

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