Configuration Management is the application of appropriate resources, processes, and tools to establish and maintain consistency between product requirements, the actual product as designed or deployed, and all associated product information and documentation over the complete lifecycle of the product.
EPOCH CM software provide users with all of Configuration Management capabilities required for managing, documenting, tracking, and reporting changes to the past, present, and future configuration states of products, equipment, systems, and other assets deployed in-service for years or even decades. The configuration management capabilities provided by EPOCH CM include:
EPOCH CM provides a Configuration Database of Authority (CDA) that OEMs, along with their contract supply chain and aftermarket service partners, can use for secure web-based access to all product metadata, documents, and drawings in support of their configuration lifecycle control, change, and review processes. The CDA vault delivers the capabilities and flexibility for managing the As-Maintained product structure and identification details of assets that may exist far downstream from the original engineering CAD or PDM data vault.
EPOCH CM maintains the CDA such that users, no matter their role or level of expertise, can access current trusted configuration documentation and product structure data in real-time. Rules-based automation of change review, change incorporation, and task tracking processes ensures that all items, parts, software, documentation, and change activities are synchronized dynamically with revision, configuration and access control preserved.
EPOCH CM provides all of the essential functionality needed for effective product structure and BOM creation, management, interrogation, and maintenance in support of configuration control and reporting.
Configuration management rules embedded into EPOCH CM ensure that the product data used for change analysis and execution is readily accessible, current, and accurate. Incorporating provisions for the change process at the time of BOM creation allows for automatic BOM updates upon change approval and incorporation. This provides for:
- Reliable easy access to all current and historical product information for status queries
- Support of full accounting, impact assessment, traceability and audit functionality
- Efficient part management from an in-depth search capability with real-time system updates
- Visibility and control of one-to-many, many-to-one, and many-to-many data relationships
- Consistent data exchange with external applications such as CAD, PDM, SCM, ERP, and ILS software
- Users are not required to search across multiple systems to find current product structure information
EPOCH CM provides the capability to identify, create, and then define relationships between hardware items, software components, and all associated documentation. This includes details for all components that may not be included in a traditional product structure or bill of material.
Unlike legacy PDM or PLM software which assumes that there is only one original source of data, EPOCH CM makes it easy for users to collect then relate item/part information from a variety of sources that exist external to or downstream of the OEM’s original data. These data can include changing product requirements, maintenance requirements, indentured parts lists, specification sheets, E/MBOM spreadsheets, service repair logs, and supplier work orders.
Configuration Items (CIs) denote unique components, software, data, or documents related to the configuration that are designated for separate configuration management tracking. These can include items that are serialized, high cost, long lead, safety related, regulatory approved, supplier certified, government funded, IP protected, ITAR controlled, other components specified by the customer or contract.
EPOCH CM provides the flexibility to manage the amount of CI detail or levels of indenture required in change analysis, configuration tracking, and report documentation of CIs. The capabilities intrinsic to EPOCH CM support this through a number of important characteristics:
- CIs can be used to create collections of parts or software items.
- Each product structure item or document can be related to as many CIs as desired.
- CIs can have unique parent-child relationships that do not need to follow the product structure.
- A CI can be created and structured before any items or documents exist, then once the items and documents are developed they are simply added to the appropriate CI as needed.
- When using CIs to track serialization, government-funded equipment, or other identifying marks, usage is captured on those items within the CI module.
- CI allocation allows tracking of the number of a particular item authorized to be produced or deployed under a given contract to ensure that additional unfunded resources are not used.
The EPOCH CM baseline management capability creates a snapshot in time of product components and/or documentation that then provides a basis from which to specify, assess, and process changes to a product. EPOCH CM baseline records produce a numeric listing of documents at their latest revision level including outstanding approved changes related to a product or CI.
Baseline records can be used to document the functional, allocated, and product baselines as a basis for evaluating and approving a configuration change. Baseline records may also be used to capture bid sets or create document sets for delivery of specs to subcontractors or audit results to customers.
Other unique capabilities of EPOCH CM’s baseline management include the ability to:
- Strike a baseline at any time and save for future use.
- Run and export default or ad-hoc baseline reports.
- Support Configuration Status Accounting (CSA) and audits.
An important capability that EPOCH CM provides is the ability to track the use of common design elements which are used across numerous product family configurations and product lines. This allows for preserving and documenting the original design provenance and relationships with downstream uses of these design elements over variant products, different programs, and multiple contracts.
Once a common element is defined in EPOCH CM – whether an item, part, or document – it can be reused in other product structures where desired. When supporting multiple contracts, this provides for accurate and comprehensive used-on queries and impact assessment. When changes to this data are required, EPOCH CM facilitates change review and planning decisions by easily and clearly displaying these relationships. Implementation strategy can then be designed with confidence that all downstream factors are considered.
EPOCH CM implements a Closed-Loop Change Management (CLCM) process that helps organizations to quickly access and assess changes to products and processes. The extensive change management capabilities within EPOCH CM provide all the necessary information required to make intelligent decisions when evaluating product changes.
EPOCH CM provides a standard change object that can be easily tailored by the configuration manager into the specific change process and documents your company wishes to use. These include:
- Engineering Change Request (ECR)
- Engineering Change Order (ECO)
- Engineering Change Proposal (ECP)
- Deviations and Waivers (DAW)
- Unsatisfactory Condition Report (UCR)
- Other industry-standard forms
These objects form the basis of the closed-loop change management system which is tightly integrated to provide all the part, data, and document information required for effectivity and impact analysis. Extensive process rules and data relationships within EPOCH CM ensure data integrity as changes are analyzed and executed.
Reviewers and approvers of change requests have ready access to where-used information that includes relationships of affected parts to other products and projects, as well as relationships to configuration items, document baselines, serialized fielded products, work-in-progress information, and other digital documentation.
This capability facilitates the rapid evaluation and traceable approval of alternative or substitute parts. Allowable substitutions by field service or repair can then be made without the requirement to go back to engineering just to record the approval chain. LIkewise, the process of supercession is facilitated where parts, documentation, or data are obsoleted in the case of a complete replacement.
The As-Configured Records (ACR) within EPOCH CM contain all the data for the product or asset as it exists in the physical world over its entire use lifecycle history. As-Configured Records can be defined and archived at any “As-X” stage in the product lifecycle from As-Designed through As-Built, As-Installed, As-Tested, As-Delivered, As-Provisioned, As-Certified, As-Maintained, As-Refurbished, and even As-Retired.
The ACRs leverage existing product structure tree details to create a record that includes parts, software, and documents such as user guides while maintaining all parent-child relationship structures. The structure then aggregates:
- Cross-referenced documentation at the current approved revision
- Parts list details such as alternate and substitute parts, reference designators, and packaging
- Certification records on any item in the structure
The ACR also provides a place for recording installed configuration details such as:
- Item Serial Numbers
- Item Unique Identification (IUID)
- Bar Codes
- Reference Designators
- Software Versions
- Actual Document Revisions
- Installation and Certification Test Data
- Task Records
- Work Order Authorizations
- Other User-Defined Identifiers
Once the record is established, users with proper access have the freedom to manipulate the record to reflect the actual configuration of parts and assemblies used in installations or builds, especially when they stray from the original specification. Entire sub-assemblies can be removed for refurbishment and reuse within other structures while maintaining all unique serialization history.
Configuration records stand alone and are decoupled from the original product design. Therefore, they are insulated from continuing design evolution and change. The preservation of the established configuration is maintained even as the product design and documentation may change. This decoupling of the established configuration record enables true management of in-service fielded assets.
Having this capability within the CM system provides visibility to the design and maintenance history well into the service life of the product. This enables failure tracking and more accurate impact assessment with improved risk mitigation. These are full-lifecycle capabilities which are found lacking in most engineering-centric PDM software.
As new items, documents, and changes are added to the product data, reviews are constantly being performed to verify components for suitability, accuracy, completeness and conformance to requirements. Changes to design details, product documentation, or service orders must go through these checks prior to incorporation. Any change to product data should be vetted by a process that is appropriate to the complexity and impact of the change. Business Process Automation (BPA) of these review processes is vital to the efficient management of product information and change.
Standard functionality in EPOCH CM includes workflow automation that routes objects for digital review and approval. These processes are driven by templates that are created by either CMstat or our customer’s IT resources. Process flows can be user-defined to fit industry specific norms and unique organizational requirements.
The integrated Advanced Business Process Management (ABPM) option within EPOCH CM provides additional automation of more challenging processes. Process flows can be user-defined to fit industry specific norms and unique organizational requirements. These ABPM templates can be programmed to design user-input forms, capture data and export it back to the EPOCH CDA or other programs.
Workflow processes that can be configured by the user or CMstat include automation of email notifications, task assignment, task escalation upon missed deadlines, transfer of signoff responsibility if needed, and other capabilities that satisfy the routing, review and approval needs. All workflow history is stored in the product database.
The configuration management capabilities within EPOCH CM share the same digital foundation and database as do the data management capabilities within EPOCH DM. This means that management of all of the numerous data deliverables – such as contract records, acceptance tests, engineering documentation, and performance certifications – can be conducted in one modular platform. And most importantly, the interdependent relationships are preserved to facilitate contract performance audits.
The data deliverables are created, vaulted, versioned and tracked just like any other item managed within EPOCH CM. Likewise, their use in and relationships with the submittal, receipt and resubmittal processes are also managed and tracked. For additional information on the optional EPOCH DM licensed module visit EPOCH DM Overview.
Documents and other data that are under CM control are revised through a change process that can be tailored to suit. To-be data is defined and can then be routed through workflow processes for completion, review, and analysis. Prior to the document being revised, users may access work-in-process for the status of the current document revision with its unincorporated changes. Once approval is gained, EPOCH CM incorporates the changes and creates the new revision. Any attached files are automatically linked as a part of the incorporation procedure. All historic revisions and associated change documents, including legacy items archived and still on paper form, are clearly identified and accessible to users.
Document Records (DR) within EPOCH CM may be created from a number of sources including single-assembly parts list, assembly bills of materials, document trees, and MRP-indentured bill of materials. They can then be referenced and linked in relationships through other objects and product data.
Access to attached digital files for viewing, storage, and retrieval is provided through a two-level security system. Product configuration metadata and associated cross-referenced information is easily accessed through a contract project oriented security mechanism. Drawings and document are stored in the EPOCH CDA vault where a second set of user credentials and permissions can be established to further enhance security. For example, while users may have permission to view configuration metadata, they may not be allowed to view the actual document.
EPOCH CM supports compliance and certification efforts by providing baselines and up-to-date real-time product data in support of audit planning, validations, and other product reviews. Product baselines can be produced to maintain records of what version of data was used for validations, testing, product reviews, customer evaluations, and any other type of compliance processes. Action items are a standard function that can be applied to certification efforts through resolution. Workflow may be employed for these reviews if desired.
EPOCH CM secures and manages sensitive data to provide access control and data rights identification. Data that falls under ITAR (International Traffic in Arms) designation can be flagged in EPOCH CM to indicate to users that special processing, marking and distribution applies. EPOCH goes a step further by allowing the CM or DM Manager to designate which countries are prohibited from accessing this data and checking user accounts to determine those users who should or should not be allowed access to sensitive data. When ITAR is applied, users whose country of origin is on the restricted list will be prohibited from seeing those records in question either through direct searches or by cross-reference from other data sets. User profiles accounts for dual citizenship and both are considered under ITAR data access rules.
EPOCH CM, like its predecessor PDMPlus CM, has been developed from its original specification to support all of the leading industry standards and best practices. CMstat professionals have been involved with and contributed to most of the important standards including: EIA-649, EIA-836, and ISO 10007. Learn more about these standards HERE.