Engineering drawing status tied to product lifecycle

These are product and document life cycle phases. The product is defined by its documentation, and therefore it is necessary to tie these product phases to the documentation. Since the development of the product should be evolutionary it is necessary to be able to look at any single document and tell which phase it “represents”. This is sometimes done by stamping the document. For example: “OK for Pilot Build.”

Phases of product lifecycle

Product lifecycle management (PLM) is the process of managing the entire lifecycle of a product from inception, through engineering design, manufacturing, and services.

PLM describes the engineering aspect of a product, from managing descriptions and properties of a product through its development and useful life. The main processes are:

  • Conceive
    • Specification
    • Concept design
  • Design
    • Detailed design
    • Validation and analysis (simulation)
    • Tool design
  • Realise
    • Plan manufacturing
    • Manufacture
    • Build/Assemble
    • Test
  • Service
    • Sell and deliver
    • Use
    • Maintain and support
    • Dispose

Many software solutions have been developed to organize product’s lifecycle. PLM software should not be seen as a single software product but a collection of software tools integrated together to address either single stages of the lifecycle or connect different tasks or manage the whole process.

Phase 1: Conceive

Conceive: Imagine, specify, plan, innovate

The first stage is the definition of the product requirements based on customer, company, market and regulatory bodies’ viewpoints. From this specification, the product's major technical parameters can be defined. In parallel, the initial concept design work is performed defining the aesthetics of the product together with its main functional aspects.

Phase 2: Design

Describe, define, develop, test, analyze and validate

This is where the detailed design and development of the product’s form starts, progressing to prototype testing, through pilot release to full product launch. It can also involve redesign and improvement to existing products. The main tool used for design and development is CAD. This can be simple 2D drawing or 3D parametric feature based solid/surface modeling. Such software includes technology such as Hybrid Modeling.

This step covers many engineering disciplines including: mechanical, electrical, electronic, and other engineering fields.

Along with the actual creation of geometry there is the analysis of the components and product assemblies. Simulation, validation and optimization tasks are carried out using CAE.

Phase 3: Realize

Manufacture, make, build, procure, produce, sell and deliver

Once the design of the product’s components is complete the method of manufacturing is defined. This includes CAD tasks such as tool design; creation of CNC Machining instructions for the product’s parts as well as tools to manufacture those parts, using integrated or separate CAM computer-aided manufacturing software. This will also involve analysis tools for process simulation for operations such as casting, molding, and die press forming.

Once components are manufactured their geometrical form and size can be checked against the original CAD data with the use of computer-aided inspection equipment and software. Parallel to the engineering tasks, sales product configuration and marketing documentation work take place. This could include transferring engineering data (geometry and part list data) to a web based sales configurator and other desktop publishing systems.

Phase 4: Service

Use, operate, maintain, support, sustain, phase-out, retire, recycle and disposal

The final phase of the lifecycle involves managing of in service information. Providing customers and service engineers with support information for repair and maintenance, as well as waste management/recycling information.

Phases of drawing lifecycle

The drawing life cycle may have several different stages. It may start as a sketch, progress to an experimental drawing, reach active status, and then be marked obsolete. Whatever their status, drawings require an accounting system to follow their changes in status. An engineering function, the data processing area, or a separate group may control this accounting system.

  1. Sketch
  2. Experimental
  3. Active
  4. Obsolete


A drawing often starts with a sketch of an assembly. From that sketch additional sketches may show interior parts and details of those parts. If the ideas seem worth the additional effort, the sketches may be transferred to formal detail and assembly drawings. Even though sketches may seem trivial at the time they are created, they should all be dated, signed, and stored for reference.


Many ideas make the transition from sketches to experimental drawings. Parts made from these drawings may be tested and revised several times prior to being formally released as active production drawings.


As the name implies, an active part drawing has gone through a formal release process. It will be released as any other drawing and, with good reason, should be accessible by any employee.


When a part is no longer sold, the drawing has reached the end of its life cycle. This does not mean a part could not be produced, but only that its status has changed to “Obsolete.” Drawings are never destroyed. Drawings may be classified obsolete for production but retained for service, or obsolete for service but retained for production. If necessary, the drawing may be reactivated for production, service, or both.

  • Refrences:
    • Wikipedia, Product lifecycle
    • Paul J. Drake, Jr. Dimensioning and Tolerancing Handbook