3 min read

From memory to mem

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In this blog post: We’ve built our very own mini-Google, covering all the engineering knowledge we’ve accumulated at PJM – with the aim of making our time-to-market even faster. Meet our new MEM - Modular Engineering Module.

Any new engineer will recognize the issue: Where to begin? And where to find all the knowledge, already stored in the organization? Our experienced engineers and designers have worked on countless projects, amassing huge amounts of knowledge of how to solve any given technical challenge.

But unless you are fortunate enough to know who to ask you might never find the solution that someone else has already developed. So, you start from scratch, effectively inventing the wheel over and over. This is a well-known problem in any technology-driven company.

We decided to find a solution.

PJM MEM on creen

Know-how can’t just be stored in the heads of engineers

After having designed and commissioned hundreds of automation solutions, our engineers and technicians have built an impressive amount of knowledge. Traditionally, most of that experience is proprietary to each individual and difficult to share.

Together with Carve Consulting, we’ve devised a MEM solution (MEM = Modular Engineering Model) to store all information about our projects. The goal is to deliver faster time-to-market for our customers and to avoid having to develop the same solution twice, and to avoid having to develop a similar solution that has actually been created years ago - but has been forgotten since. 

John Bo Jakobsen, head of design and engineering at PJM, explains: “I wanted to define our Best Practice for design at PJM. What we needed to do was to extract all the knowledge that our experienced engineers store in their heads and make it accessible to everyone in the company. So, we’ve created our very own Google, just for PJM engineering solutions.”

Hundreds of assemblies at our fingertips

All automation solutions are composed of several stations known as assemblies – individual technical solutions or stations that carry out a given task: assembly of parts, gluing, printing, pick-and-place, or some of the other countless different operations in an automated manufacturing process.

With so many custom-made solutions, it may seem difficult to standardize assemblies. But the point of the new MEM system is to utilize the vast amount of previously created assemblies and join them together in new, customer-specific solutions. 

In the MEM database, we enter all the assemblies that have been developed, complete with parts lists and a rating of various parameters such as cleanability, ease of assembly etc. These ratings are then used when making upgrades or improvements to a design, defining and underlining what Best Practice really means at PJM.

“Although all our automation projects are bespoke, we estimate that up to 80% of the design solutions we use have already been used in a variation on previous systems. We began by gathering our most senior engineers to dig out all the best station solutions, we’ve developed over the years and to get these described and entered into the system. We’re currently working towards a database of hundreds of assemblies, complete with full description, parts lists, full documentation, even videos and animations to explain the processes in detail, all with the intention of making it easier and faster to develop new automation solutions,” says John Bo Jakobsen.

MEM screendump

Screen dump from the PJM MEM database. Each station assembly is represented by a CAD drawing and a description of the station in question.

A powerful tool in the sales process

We plan to expand the solution to cover more sales-oriented functionalities as well – for instance by allowing us to incorporate animations and videos relating to the various assemblies. This should ideally make it easier for us and our customers to discuss the possibilities within a new project.

And the benefits for our customers? Faster time-to-market, easier dialogue about individual design solutions for their processes, and ultimately better, stronger automation solutions.

Questions, comments or reactions? Drop us a line!