In a series of articles, the President of Mars International, Geoff Engelstein, outlined the steps companies need to take to develop a complete documentation package. This documentation is the key to controlling your manufacturing and product-related intellectual assets.
Engelstein says that while companies often focus on their fear of counterfeiting, it is a rare occurrence. “Most off-shore manufacturers are focused on contract manufacturing and have no interest in destroying their reputation by engaging in this type of activity.”
He goes on the say “There is a larger danger in protecting your intellectual assets that is much more commonplace, and while it is primarily an issue with overseas manufacturing it can affect domestic design and production as well. We see many companies that come to us wanting to shift production from their existing supplier for a variety of reasons, including quality, delivery, and cost.
But they often do not have a complete manufacturing-ready documentation package that allows for a rapid production shift. The documentation is controlled by the manufacturer or engineering firm that helped design the product. So they end up having to reverse engineer their own products, or just end up living with the deficiencies of their current supplier.”
What should you include in your documentation package?
The documentation package for your product is the “crown jewel” of your organization and the key intellectual asset of a company. It should include a complete accounting for all of the assets that go into electronic components including schematics, Gerber files, bill of materials, component datasheets and source code.
Your mechanical components should be documented with solid models of all parts, 2d drawings, material information and tool drawings.
In the end, this is the only way to adequately control the integrity of your product and the manufacturing process. This documentation is the insurance you need to protect intellectual and monetary investment your company has made in product development and manufacturing.
We will provide more details in some upcoming articles to help you create the documentation you need.