Configuration Management (CM) - A Bridge to Obsolescence Management (OM)

17 Oct 2012
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What is CM? 

CM is a management process technique which attempts to fully implement a process of documenting all requirements, designs and operational information of configurations and products in line over their lifetime. CM is a widely used technique in organizations to manage complex systems. CM manages the product information through its whole lifetime. One of the most important points of a consistent CM process is the documentation of all requirements, designs, baselines, part lists etc.. The CM process is establishing a process for the correct implementation of documents and ensures that they are always up to date, validated and released before use. The documentation has to be available for all users. CM verifies that the configuration is in line with the requirements and the documentation and ensures the functionality of the product. An important CM rule states that a "requirement is not a requirement unless it is documented". Documents have to be clear, concise and valid. They can be seen as the product's mirror.

To minimize mistakes of the end users the documentation and the communication of the use should be clear, concise and valid. The benefits of the CM process are cost savings, improvement of the production and avoidance of errors in the production. A major goal of CM process is to have full integrity of the documentation over the whole lifetime, from the development, over the production and use, up to the end of the life of a product. Furthermore should the CM process be fully integrated in the organization and be a part of it. The integration of CM improves the communication in the organization. This is supported by clear, concise and valid documentation as a measurement of CM. CM is defined in different standards e.g. ISO 10007 and the ANSI/EIA-649-A.

CM and OM

The integration of the CM process in a company and over the lifetime of a product can help to improve OM. CM manages all requirements, designs, maintenance plans, construction plans, the BOM (Bill Of Material) with the requirements and specifications of the parts and so on. If an item becomes obsolete, the requirements can be found in the documentation and this can help to find a substitute for the obsolete part. Before a part becomes obsolete CM can assist to build a bridge and can help to predict if a part can become obsolete. CM as mentioned before accompanies a product over its whole lifetime. It also manages all changes in a product or item and ensures that it will be proper documented. When everything is well documented, the information in the documents can be used to avoid obsolescence of an item included in the final product. Writing a document which includes all information about the importance of the items, the predicted lifetime of the product and additional information can be of use. Furthermore is this planned and documented lifetime an advantage to improve the logistics of the production, support and services. All requirements are included in the documents which are saved in a database and can easily be accessed to have an overview over the information about the needed items. If CM is established in an organization, everything is documented and well planned. In addition, everyone knows where to find everything and how to use the documents.

As a conclusion it can be said that a well-established CM can limit the risk of obsolete items.

Last modified on Wednesday, 17 October 2012 15:45
Andre Wissemborski

Andre Wissemborski is a Configuration Management Trainee at ABSC GmbH with a Master of Science and Business Administration in International Management. He can look back on a long experience in logistics in the German Army. He gained first insights in Configuration Management and Obsolescence Management.

As an innovative full service system integrator in the fields of engineering services and IT services ABSC GmbH supports many international companies along their development and operation of business processes with complete solutions since over 20 years. ABSC creates customized and innovative obsolescence management concepts and provides competent, reliable and sustainable optimization of processes, projects and infrastructure. ABSC supports businesses as long-term partner for the definition and implementation of customer specific complete obsolescence management solutions and round off their range of services with specific seminars and events.


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