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Author's profile photo Joseph Chukwube

Efficient Collaboration in PCB Design Using SAP Tools

PCB’s are getting smaller, yet more complex to design. In this age of 3D designs, PCB designs for Internet of Things devices are now carried out using advanced CAD software which requires cohesion between the electrical and mechanical aspects.

Without efficient collaboration among the team of experts in charge of board designs, there would be communication problems that would lead to a disconnected workflow, costly mistakes, and missing deadlines.

If the team uses different CAD tools for electrical and mechanical design, miscommunication becomes costlier.

Nevertheless, this problem can be solved partly by using a single ECAD/MCAD PCB design software or using different tools that operate seamlessly together. This makes for efficient data sharing so that all the designers can be on the same page.

Even better if the tool features live changes and can store revisions. When every member of the team can see the changes being made live, that would reduce the possibilities of confusion in operations.

However, since they are primarily for designing, CAD tools only solve the technical aspect of the design and do not do so much in improving workflow. For instance, if members of the team work remotely, there should be a more efficient way to pass information among each other.

Without a proper collaboration tool, there would be several operational conflicts and inconsistencies. The solution to this is to have a product life cycle management (PLM) tool integrated with design data.

The PLM software then becomes a central platform for handling the design workflow. An example is SAP Intelligent Product Design.

Benefits of Integrating your PLM Tool with PCB Design Data

  1. Avoiding Operational Conflicts

Collaboration tools such as the SAP Intelligent Product Design enable a smooth flow of communication. This mitigates the possibilities of two members of a team making changes to different parts of the same design.

With an efficient way to manage interactions and actions, everyone can track the changes made.

  1. Consistency

SAP IPD allows the integration of other apps and design tools, all managed from a single source. A centralized approach allows team supervisors to monitor other tools being used by team members in the design.

By ensuring that everyone uses the same set of tools, they can hold the entire team by the same standards.

  1. Extend Collaboration beyond the team

Collaboration tools not only allow team members to communicate with each other but also with other parties outside the team but relevant to the project.

For instance, the collaboration tool can be used to connect with suppliers and monitor purchased materials. It may also be used for communicating with the customers, who may not be part of the project team, but need updates on the progress of the work.

  1. Better decision making

There are different factors involved in making any decision related to PCB design. However, since all the information related to a project is stored on a central platform, team members can make smarter and more informed decisions rather than resort to guesses (however reasonable they may seem).

  1. Mitigating the risk of failure

Errors happen every now and then, even when designers and engineers work with utmost carefulness.

However, PLM tools that integrate PCB design data reduce the risk of errors because, since all data is stored in the collaboration software, it is easy to determine if there has been a deviation from the requirements.

Therefore, errors are identified earlier and addressed quickly before they blow out of proportion.

SAP Intelligent Product Design

SAP Intelligent Product Design is a software based on the SAP HANA framework. It enables collaboration between team members for efficient product design and is useful for PCB designers as well.

SAP tools run on the cloud and that ensures that product designers can communicate in real-time.

The SAP Intelligent Product Design has two product options across a range of 5 capabilities, all discussed below:

  • Collaboration

This is the principal feature of IPD and allows team members to share relevant documents and exchange correspondence relating to a project.

  • Live Product Cockpit

PCB designs are very complex and require simultaneous work in different aspects. IPD ensures that product designers never lose track of any part of the project by using a card-based approach. This keeps team members up-to-date with any changes or required actions. These first two features are available in the collaboration option while the engineering option has all five features.

  • Requirement Acquisition

This feature is for sending and receiving feedback for product and process improvement.

  • Requirements Management and Systems Modelling

This allows for managing requirements and tracking their process. Team members can also use different diagram formats to model requirements and understand the relationship between them. This form of patterning ensures clear communication.

  • Test Management

Prototyping and testing are integral to PCB design. IPD enables designers to manage testing information, as well as analyze testing results and compare them with requirements set at the initial stages of operation.


With the PCB design market set to witness more growth and innovation in the coming years, more complex systems would emerge which would require greater efficiency in operations.

Miscommunication causes errors in the design process that cost time and money, and in severe cases, can even end the project. PCB designers and engineers have to work in hand and constantly be on the same page with each other to reduce the possibilities of setbacks.

The best way to do so is via a centralized management system, built specifically for design projects. SAP’s cloud tool, Intelligent Product Design, is a product lifecycle management platform that integrates with other design tools for seamless communication. It is one thing to come up with a functional PCB; it is another to do so in an efficient way.

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