A company’s intellectual property, or IP, is among its most important assets. In product development, IP includes the trade secrets, designs, inventions, methods, and any other knowledge that you have created.
For product development organizations, the IP includes the design information about its products. This includes the models and drawings that explain how to manufacture, assemble, and inspect those products, as well as the underlying engineering that led to the final design of those models.
Given the value of a company’s IP, it is critical that a company preserve and protect IP. Many tangible company assets – such as buildings, inventory, and machinery – can be recovered in the event of loss. IP, on the other hand, is often like time and critical personnel. Once gone, you often cannot get it back.
We need to protect our IP from external threats like corporate espionage and reverse engineers. This might remind you of Ben Affleck’s character in the movie “Paycheck.” (Trust me, skip the movie, and instead read the original short story by Philip K. Dick.)
There are websites and YouTube channels dedicated to product “teardowns.” A person will physically dismantle a new product to determine how it was assembled, what components it contains, and the new technology it contains. I supported the development of consumer electronics at Amazon. I was shocked to see how they figured out stuff that took weeks for design teams to develop.
You cannot prevent product teardowns, but PTC Mathcad can help protect your IP from external threats.
Data management tools. You can store and manage your worksheets in Windchill, PTC’s Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) platform. Windchill provides access control, so only people with the right permissions can view or modify your worksheets. You also have version control, so you capture the complete history of the development of your calculations.
Engineering Notebooks. You can embed your PTC Mathcad worksheets directly in your models. Only those who have access to your CAD have access to your engineering calculations. Storing your engineering calculations within your Creo Parametric parts and assemblies means that your team members, current and future, will know what you were thinking, but others will not.
These methods prevent others from reverse engineering your products and finding out your secrets.
The two bigger culprits in the loss of our IP are time and ourselves.
If you are capturing your engineering calculations in physical paper notebooks – as many engineers do – then your data is susceptible to loss. Anything can happen to these documents. They can be misplaced. They can be stolen. They can be destroyed accidentally or by forces of nature.
People leave product development organizations all the time. They change employers, they retire, and they get laid off or furloughed. Their notes and notebooks might walk out the door with them, or get put in storage, or be thrown in the trash. How much IP is leaving your organization this way?
In the Tom Clancy novel “Debt of Honor,” Cathy Ryan says, “If you don’t write it down, it never happened.” In product development, if you don’t write it down and store it in a manner that others can access and understand it, then that information is lost to the ages.
By performing and documenting your calculations electronically in engineering math software, you have now created a company asset that can be preserved and reused.
Think of your company’s most successful product.
If you want to stem the tide of loss, investigate the benefits of capturing your product data with engineering calculation software. PTC Mathcad can help preserve your IP from external and internal threats.