How does SAP PLM support the product validation process?

Checking and validating each step of product development helps ensure greater success and detects potential failure. Here's a look at how SAP PLM supports that process.

New product development in discrete manufacturing is a complex process due to several intermediate production processes and interim storages of subassemblies. The product validation process saves time and money by extensive testing, checking and validating of each product development step of a new product. SAP Product Lifecycle Management in SAP ERP Central Component supports product validation by offering several functionalities and features.

Here are six subcomponents, or features, in SAP PLM that companies can use for the product validation process in new product development.

Project and Portfolio Management (PPM)

SAP PPM enables business users of a company and its partners to share documents and data and to create and update new product development projects, their associated tasks, activities, milestones and status updates.

PPM's Portfolio Management functionality enables users to identify and maintain business ideas and opportunities for new products or projects. These ideas or projects are then created in PPM as portfolio items. It is also possible to identify and rank risks in prototype development and testing.

PPM's Project Management functionality has all of the capabilities available in project management tools, such as SAP Project System (PS), Microsoft Project and Oracle Primavera. For resource planning, such as with machines, PPM also integrates with SAP Capacity Planning in SAP ERP Central Component to account for machines' capabilities to produce products.

It is also possible to use the SAP PS component for the product validation process if the product is quite complex and requires myriad resources to develop and test. In the PS component, a network activity represents a product validation task.

Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA)

FMEA categorizes risk of failure across three categories: occurrence (how likely failure is to occur), severity (how big an impact it would have) and detection (how likely the failure is to be detected as soon as it occurs). FMEA uses a one to 10 ranking for each, with 10 being very likely to occur, have a significant impact or be detected.

FMEA multiplies the three individual rankings of those three factors to come up with a Risk Priority Number (RPN).

RPN = severity x occurrence x detection

The value of the RPN can be in the range of one to 1,000. The higher the RPN value, the greater the possibility that failure will occur.

Document Management System (DMS)

The physical or virtual tests performed during the product validation process entail documenting the test results, known as test protocol. The test protocol containing the actual test results is maintained in the SAP DMS component of PLM. SAP DMS offers the advantage of linking test results to the product data, the physical prototype of a product, the SAP Quality Notification or even with the SAP Engineering Change Management derived from the defects. Doing so ensures complete traceability of the validation process.

If a third-party testing tool is being used for physical tests, then the data from this tool can flow and be stored in SAP DMS.

Quality Notification

SAP Quality Notification provides a formal notification to record details of defects found during product testing. It helps the teams involved in product validation to record defects and list out the corrective actions that are planned to address the defects.

Engineering Change Management

In the initial phases of product development and validation, it makes sense to just use SAP Quality Notification only for all defects recording and maintaining associated documentation. When the new product development and product validation process has reached a significantly advanced stage, using SAP Engineering Change Management provides better controls to manage changes to a product's component structure or its manufacturing process. SAP Engineering Change Management is a tool that companies can use to gain better visibility, as well as checks and balances, over the master data creation process. Engineering Change Management does that by recording all changes or updates to the SAP master data. It also ensures that business process owners validate and confirm every step of the master data creation process by updating the relevant system statuses available for this purpose.

Maintenance Order

Since product validation involves actual and physical testing of various prototypes of a product, companies often repair and salvage these prototypes to save time and money in the entire testing and product validation process. Using SAP Maintenance Order captures the cost of all components consumed and associates the overheads involved in repairing or salvaging prototypes.

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