What sits within the intellectual property (IP) of your company? Your designs, blueprints, logos and marketing collateral? What about your engineering calculations? If they don’t reside amongst the stuff you actively protect, they really should.
Engineering teams work tirelessly to design and build quality products and ensure that they are shipped on time. The math that sits behind engineering calculations is the cornerstone of the entire process and, although it often starts with a giant, empty whiteboard and a brainstorming session, the resulting formulas are as precious to any engineering firm as their designs.
But where do engineering calculations fit into the IP of a company and how can you ensure they are both flexible and secure?
Pick the right engineering calculation software
It all starts here. It’s impossible to protect the IP of engineering calculations if you don’t have the right software within which to create and store them.
At the very least, the engineering calculation softwareyou choose should possess the following headline features:
- An intuitive user interface;
- calculation support;
- natural math notation;
- units conversion;
- comprehensive documentation;
- data input/output.
The features above combine to make a vital engineering tool that helps teams create accurate calculations and keep them from prying eyes.
The importance of centralisation
If your engineering calculations are strewn across multiple computers and housed within disparate applications, they are inherently insecure. The answer is centralised storage of all engineering calculations.
The right calculation software will usually feature a ‘calculation server’ which provides universal, secure access to an engineering firm’s certified calculations at any time, for designated employees only. What’s more, they’re typically capable of displaying the information on any device, be it a traditional desktop computer or modern smartphone.
Universal access to critical data is of course risky, unless the right controls are put in place. That means implementing a system that has robust security features (user/password access and industry standard web encryption if the application is accessed via a browser) and ensuring that every stakeholder is vigilant with management of their access details.
Securing engineering calculations on the web
We’ve highlighted just how important engineering calculations are, so the thought of hosting them on a web server to which you don’t have physical access may sound rather counterintuitive, but web-based calculation software is absolutely the way to go in the modern age.
With that in mind, how do you keep those calculations away from people intent on stealing your engineering team’s hard work? In order to secure critical engineering calculations online, the system you use should feature the following:
- HTTPS encryption. If you access your engineering calculations via a web-based interface, you should expect to see ‘HTTPS’ at the start of the web address. This means the pages are encrypted server-side using industry standard methods relied upon the world over.
- Recognised web hosting. When it comes to business applications, services such as Microsoft’s IIS and Amazon’s Web Services (AWS) are usually the go-to hosting platforms and ensure all data sits behind solid firewalls within data centres you can trust.
If your existing method for storing engineering calculations doesn’t feature either of the above, it’s time to move to a more secure platform.
Retaining flexibility with engineering calculations
With the right platform in place, you can be rest assured that the IP of your engineering calculations is as secure as it can be in the modern world. But what about flexibility? Does security trump ease-of-use for engineers? Not at all; the right calculation software should enable the following:
- Universal access. As noted previously, if your engineering calculations are centralised, your team will be able to access them from anywhere. This promotes flexible working and means engineers always have access to their work, wherever they are.
- Single point of entry. The days of team members searching for the correct calculations across multiple locations are long gone; a single repository for all calculations means they’re always easy to find and get to work on.
- Standardisation. With a certified calculation hub that houses all calculations, you can standardise calculation best practices.
We hope this post proves just how vital it is to treat your engineering calculations as intellectual property and how relatively easy it is to protect them with the right tools.