Manufacturers1 have used data in production and manufacturing since at least 3000 BC, when the oldest discovered cuneiform tablets were marked with pictographic words and numbers. It was production output that was collected and written – number of sheeps, bags of grain or output of spears. Back in that days, the information was only available for literate observers. Within time, data became an important element of manufacturing and design processes.
Initial product design activity was also purely paper oriented process. Engineers were creating drawings and passing them to manufacturing. When computer based design system was initially introduced, it was about replicating paper tasks and store information electronically.
From the standpoint of information management, design was first considered as an intellectual activity that needs to be supported by CAD operators. The role of CAD operators evolved from the role of drafts-people that converted sketches and mockup into computer based MCAD files.
Once completed design should be passed to manufacturing and production. Purchasing department should order parts and outsource work to subcontractors.
That was the first time data become critical for manufacturing. To manage design data and information flow between departments is not a simple task. It has to deal with lot of dependencies, dealing with variants of design and history of information.
All together it makes data one of the most critical element in manufacturing company. These days with an explosive growth of electronic information, to manage data about product, changes, dependencies, manufacturing activities and customers becomes the main priority of engineering IT organization in manufacturing company.
In my view data is a statement about some world (called Universe of Discourse en discussions on data modelling during the ’70ies) that is shared between people . Data is coded in symbols that refer to entities in that world and relationships between those entities. Those symbols can be pictograms, words in spoken or written language, bits in a computer system etc.
A paper drawing or a 3D digital CAD model is statement about a product in that world, refering to some state in its lifecycle (future, current or past).
Since bits are not readible to most people (although I have known people that could read a ditital memory dump as a novel) they have to be transformed into human readible symbols, projected on some visual medium. That is what most computer applications do.
A you state, data hase been used since ages. As long as a product is made by a single craftsman, the only data is the customer specification. When different people are involved, there must be data to coordinate their actions.
Today that data is mostly digital. The advandtage over paper is that digital data can be shared real time worldwide and it can be retrieved, transformed and presented at light speed. However the user depends on IT (HW, SW and people) that is often invisible and intangible and difficult to conceive.
Thanks for your comment! Agree – data is key element and must be shared, connected and intertwined.
Love this comment:
The advantage over paper is that digital data can be shared real time worldwide and it can be retrieved, transformed and presented at light speed. However the user depends on IT (HW, SW and people) that is often invisible and intangible and difficult to conceive.
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Nice article explaining the importance of data in simple words!
Data is king! and the importance of data cannot be over emphasized.
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