Leveraging Technical Data Packages for Competitive Advantage


If there’s one pattern we see repeating itself over and over again these days, it’s how the most successful manufacturing organizations are increasingly prioritizing the seamless, connected, and consistent flow of data. At its ideal, this idea takes the form of the digital thread — a unified ecosystem of information, spanning the entire organization, where everyone can view, edit, collaborate, and share the same documents. It’s a broad and ambitious concept, but one with clear benefits. At every stage of the product lifecycle, McKinsey found, organizations that leverage the digital thread realize productivity increases as large as 30 percent.

But implementing the full digital thread doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Organizations that are interested in streamlining data access and ensuring greater consistency between different departments, yet aren’t quite ready to implement a full digital thread framework, may instead want to focus on a more discrete tool: Technical Data Packages (TDP). Designed to consolidate all the information designers, manufacturers, and suppliers may need for a product or part, TDPs can be an effective way to streamline data access and ensure all information remains up-to-date and consistent — all of which are important to reducing errors, increasing productivity, and beginning to realize the full benefits of the digital thread.

Let’s take a closer look at the true value of technical data, as well as how Technical Data Packages help leverage it.

The Value of Technical Data in Decision Making

Having access to accurate and up-to-date technical data has long been assumed among designers and manufacturers. After all, their job is to come up with new designs, build prototypes, and create new products, responsibilities which make it necessary to have the latest specifications in front of them. But the value of technical data isn’t just limited to these roles. When it’s made available across an organization, from design and production to marketing and operations, it can help introduce efficiencies and improve strategic decision making across the board.

Consider how the marketing department can utilize this data. In traditional, segmented organizations, they’ll have to come up with marketing collateral based on product summaries or even data sheets describing, in broad terms, the capabilities of the product. But when they have specific, up-to-date technical data in hand, they’ll be able to more accurately tailor their marketing messages and position the products in the marketplace. If this technical data is shared with customers to give early visibility and gather feedback, manufacturers have a clearer view of customer requirements, can better differentiate their product(s) in the market, and avoid dreaded late-stage changes.

What about internal manufacturing teams and suppliers? Without the latest technical data in hand, they will be less equipped to meet delivery targets, design tolerances, and quality specifications. But when they are kept in the loop, they’ll have the complete design intent and product manufacturing information (PMI) they need to maintain tighter control over production times and product quality, enabling them to improve  visibility, responsiveness, and overall performance. In short, they’ll have access to the complete set of data that allow them to streamline operations and reduce costs without sacrificing quality.

Challenges in Managing and Utilizing Technical Data

So if broad, open access to technical data is so beneficial, why isn’t it more prevalent? In a word, because it’s hard. Unlike more conventional information, technical data is often complex and may require specialized programs to view and analyze. This can make it difficult, even impossible, for people outside of, say, engineering to use. This is why specialists must often take the time to repackage or even reduce this data to a few explanatory sentences and screenshots in an email, or as a PowerPoint attachment in an email — an effort that can take valuable time away from their tasks and possibly introduce errors.

But let’s break all this down even further and explore what’s really standing in the way of better technical data collaboration.

  • Data types and formats: Technical data doesn’t just come in one type. It can take the form of 3D CAD models, 2D production drawings, bills of materials (BOMs), product manufacturing information (PMI), QIF, STEP, or any other of a number of different formats, all of which will require their own applications to use. Ensuring everyone across the product lifecycle not only knows how to open these data types, but also has the appropriate tools, is often unrealistic.
  • Data security and privacy: Technical data often contains sensitive product information, whether because it is still preliminary and not yet public or because it is valuable intellectual property (IP). That can make it difficult when trying to share this data across an organization. If anyone gains unauthorized access to it, they could potentially manipulate the data, share it with competitors, or otherwise damage its integrity.
  • Information Overload: Even if you would want to give everyone access to your PDM and PLM systems, not everyone can handle it. The vast amount of technical data that is managed in these systems is too much for most people. And the user experience is very different from the way most people share files and data in their day-to-day work. The result is slower collaboration with stakeholders who are reluctant or who flat out refuse to work that way. 
  • Data scalability and storage: If there are large volumes of technical data on hand, ensuring access at scale for every stakeholder across an organization can quickly run into problems. It may strain data storage capabilities, slow processing functions, or lead to performance bottlenecks and latency issues. All this can affect productivity long-term.
  • Data analysis and interpretation: Finally, even if someone can access and view a set of technical data, it may require specialized knowledge or skills to properly understand. In order to extract valuable insights, people may need specialized domain expertise. If some stakeholders lack this, it will limit the usefulness of the data on its own.

Enhancing Product Development with Technical Data Packages

While everyone wants to enjoy the benefits of open technical data sharing and collaboration, no one wants to deal with the challenges. Thankfully, TDPs offer an easy and elegant solution. 

By design, Technical Data Packages skirt the complexity inherent in navigating the typical systems that manage technical data (and its challenges) by consolidating the various technical design and manufacturing files, as well as documentation and any other related product information, that’s necessary to manufacture a part or product. In other words, it puts everything you need in one place for easy access. No more searching for the right data — all the necessary data is instead right at your fingertips. This comes with several notable benefits:

  • Greater data accessibility: TDPs can package up any type of technical data, from CAD to BOMs, eliminating the need for multiple tools or training to access this information.
  • Streamlined communication: By replacing the need for multiple emails, printed documents, and other forms of communication with a common reference point, TDPs help make communication simpler and cleaner across the design and manufacturing process.
  • Improved productivity: With TDPs, less time is spent trying to access technical data or having to explain it to others, allowing more time for leveraging that data to improve marketing collateral, supply chain management, or any other aspects of the larger product lifecycle.
  • Enhanced security: Because it is easy to control what is included in a TDP, as well as who gets access to it, they offer much more granular security and governance control than simply providing blanket access to technical information as a whole.
  • Fewer inefficiencies: When an organization can easily share technical data to downstream departments and suppliers across the larger product lifecycle, it enables them to identify areas they can eliminate waste, improve production, and become more efficient. And when the packaging and publishing of TDPs gets automated, organizations can eliminate human error and enjoy even larger efficiencies and cost savings.


Modern manufacturers cannot overlook how critical it has become to build systems that facilitate the seamless and open flow of data. In lieu of a larger digital thread framework, Technical Data Packages offer one of the best ways of doing this. Flexible, manageable, and discrete, they make it easy to share complex technical data with a diverse set of stakeholders, regardless of their training, tools, or expertise. And in doing so, they allow organizations to leverage the myriad benefits of more open data access, including more efficient internal and supply chain operations, improved product designs, and more effective sales and marketing.

But where to get started with TDPs? Anark Workstation makes them easy. With access to standard templates and the ability to automate tasks, you can start importing your data and building packages today. File-less web TDPs make the publishing process simple, while our CAD adapters make it possible to easily translate native CAD designs into ready-to-share 3D PDFs. Contact us today to request a free demo.


How do technical data packages help organizations make better decisions?

Access to specific, up-to-date technical data across an organization makes it possible to gain more accurate insights into how best to support a product. These include more effective marketing materials, more efficient supply chain operations, and more customer-centric product designs.

What are the challenges of sharing technical data?

The complexity and sensitivity of technical data can make it difficult to share for several reasons. These include the multiple formats that it can come in, the need to provide sufficient context and explanation for it, and the security requirements it will need, among other challenges.

What are the benefits of using Technical Data Packages?

Benefits include greater data accessibility, more streamlined communications, improved productivity, enhanced security, and more control of inefficiencies.

About the Author

Patrick Dunfey
Vice President of Marketing and Sales Enablement
Patrick is an accomplished marketing and sales enablement professional who knows that customers are at the heart of every great innovation. He focuses on driving customer satisfaction and business growth through aligned Product-Marketing-Sales programs. He uses digital systems and data-driven approaches to understand, measure and deliver success, resulting in unparalleled customer experiences and value.  Patrick has 20 years of enterprise software expertise, with specialties in CAD, PLM, ERP, AR/VR and IoT. Prior to joining Anark, Patrick developed and taught a business course on XR value strategy, helping companies identify and realize value using virtual, augmented, and mixed reality. During 14 years at PTC, a leading provider of product development software, Patrick led teams responsible for the design, build and launch of an award-winning, state-of-the-art technology experience center resulting in 5X customer meeting growth, and 66% close rates on those meetings; he led the development of a new IoT sales enablement strategy to map business value to enabling technology contributing to 52% YoY IoT revenue growth; and met with over 1000 companies, ranging from SMB to the Fortune 100, to help bridge the gap between technology and customer value. Patrick began his career as a mechanical engineer, working on product design and development projects with Brooks Automation, Arthur D. Little, U.S. Army, Keurig, and others. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Tufts University.
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