- Phase 1: Document Control
- Phase 2: Your Choice (often this is Change Management or WT Parts, depending upon what is most important to your organization)
- Phase 3: Quality Management
As you’re onboarding with Windchill, it’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed by its wide array of functionality …assembly instructions, supplier management, classification searches… the list goes on and on.
Let’s face it – change can be intimidating, and ‘doing it all at once’ can seem like a lot.
In a perfect world, we’d always be implementing WT Parts and accounting for Change Management at the start of every single Windchill implementation, but the unfortunate truth is, that’s not always the case.
It’s natural to have the desire to implement a Windchill project in bite-sized pieces. This article aims to explain the advantages of phasing your Windchill implementation to do just that.
The Phased Approach
Our phased approach usually goes something like this:
First thing’s first – prioritize getting your data under control.
Start with your engineering data management. The check-in, check-out version control. Then when you’re comfortable with that, Change Management or WT Parts can be introduced as a viable next step.
Let’s not forget the costs associated with all these options. There are hard costs with respect to the implementation plan you decided on, along with any associated trainings or workshops you deemed necessary.
The end goal: a complete Product Lifecycle Management system that creates and enables a ‘digital thread’, ‘digital continuity’, ‘digital transformation’ (whatever you want to call it), throughout your entire organization.
Let’s talk about how you get there.
Phase 2: What is a WT Part? Why WT Parts?
The WT Part is misunderstood and why often, many shy away from it.
Sure, it’s a different concept, but that doesn’t mean its necessarily hard.
So, what do I mean by different? It’s different in the way that most organizations aren’t thinking about their engineering data.
But, as a matter of fact, that same engineering data is exactly what I would consider the ‘enabling piece’ which has the ability to facilitate the core functionality every organization should have within Windchill.
It’s a vital piece that lets you do all the ‘other stuff’.
Another way of describing the WT Part (or gear icon) is a central hub of all information that is related to a part. It has to do with your relevant CAD files, drawings, engineering change history, primary BoM structures that link to all your other parts.
I’ll use a hypothetical situation to explain.
There are all kinds of different parts that go into designing this bicycle. You have some assemblies that you have built up in Creo, along with a bunch of other different parts and sub-assemblies.
In this case your bicycle has a variety of different parts, that have many different versions – but the important part is – at this point, you have your data under control. You check out a part, make a change, check it back in. Soon enough, version A.1 becomes A.2, A.3, etc.
With WT Parts enabled, your system has the ability to create a paralleled data structure. This means you can have the same assembly structure in CAD that you do in Windchill.
WT Part acts almost as a placeholder (I like to think of it as a shoebox). Inside your shoebox, you can put all kinds of ‘other things’, and I’m not talking about just CAD files. For your organization this could mean PDF’s, published visualizations (allowing you to look at your bicycle in Creo view), word documents, links to other webpages, or just about anything else you want.
Let’s say (in this scenario) you outsource the break calibers, the tires, or the spokes.
WT Parts allows you to have images and direct links to your supplier webpages allowing you to document and specify the exact parts and versions you need. This creates a parallel data structure.
But even with your paralleled data structure (for your bicycle line), you know that how your products are modeled in CAD won’t mirror the way they need to be assembled in manufacturing.
Your manufacturing assembly process includes other things, such as tape, Loctite for the handlebars, cable shrouds, etc. In fact, there are all kinds of things you’re never going to model in CAD, but are still essential components within your manufacturing bill of material.
By using WT Parts, you can start off with an engineering bill of material, create a parallel data structure, then add to it, and even rearrange that part structure in your manufacturing bill of material.
This allows you to properly represent how things should be put together in the shop.
Furthermore, down the line when you create a service bill of material, you’ll no longer need to need use your entire CAD structure (as it was designed in Creo) because your product only needs new tires and inner tubes.
With WT Parts you can easily create a service bill of material that states exactly what’s needed to service your product.
It creates individual containers allowing you to put things in, shuffle them around, and re-arrange them, so you can easily create different bill of material structures. These structures can even be based on what you need to do, downstream from your CAD models.
It also allows you to quickly create a service document explaining how to properly change your tires.
Phase 2: Change Mangement
Perhaps you have heard of it as the ECN process or maybe even the ECR process. What these really consist of – is just one stop along the journey of your change management process.
You might be wondering why more organizations choose Change Management for phase 2 over WT Parts.
The answer is quite simple. It’s because most companies are already doing a change process today in one way, shape, or form.
You might be more familiar with the outdated process, or what I like to refer to as ‘the red folder’.
Many companies today still trudge around the office with that red manila folder when they need sign off on a change. They walk from station to station with documents, prints and more to whoever needs to sign off on that change to get it done.
The Windchill Change Management piece has the ability to replicate what your physical real-world processes can. This allows you to entrench the workflows you’ve already established digitally, inside Windchill.
This is also one of the many reasons why you should not be afraid of the Change Management capabilities inside of Windchill.
So how does change management inside of Windchill work exactly?
The out-of-the-box Windchill Change Management workflows include problem reports, change requests, and change notifications.
Built within the core capabilities of Windchill Change Management, there’s a process in place for problem reports.
Starting at the beginning, the typical entry level is what’s called, ‘the problem report’. You can think of this as your digital suggestion box. Anyone can create a problem report (PR).
With a widget, your problem report gets pushed forward to a change admin, who can then review that report.
Your change admin has the ability to either approve or reject the change request. They can even send it back to the person who originated it (if needed) to ask for further clarification.
This helps you easily keep track of your problem reports, know the length of time they have been opened, and be aware of how many reports are currently active. This enables you to see, as a company, how you’re doing with respect to your problem reports.
The next step along the way is a change request. In the instance that your problem report is moved forward, it gets sent to the next person in line who sees that as an engineering change request.
At this point, there may be some additional research to say, “well, wait, now what other part is used, or what other assembly part is done, and what they might impact?”
When deciding to make a change, its crucial to think downstream and about what the implications of that change might be.
This is what the engineering change request feature inside of Windchill is all about. It allows you to do the research.
Once you meet the set of criteria or you obtain a certain serial number, you can say – “yes, we are going to do that.”
This allows you to have a formalized process where you can either individually approve changes or run change requests through a more formalized review board.
That’s when the change notification task gets assigned back to your design engineer that can then go into Creo, open up the part, and make the change.
The best part? With Windchill Change Management you actually have a way to keep track of your changes, processes, and documentation.
You’ll no longer need to wonder what hasn’t been completed or what the status of a change request might be.
Although that’s the out of the box Windchill Change Management functionality, there’s a lot of subtleties and nuances that can be tailored and configured to your specific company needs. It doesn’t have to be a strict 1 to 1 mapping – there’s flexibility with respect to how you map and manage them.
Say, for example – you had three different problem reports on one specific part. You could now bundle those altogether and roll that into a single change request.
You could also take 2 or 3 different change requests and roll those forward into a single change notification.
Yes, this change process will be new and different – it’s designed to make your life easier.
The difference is – now you’re not cruising around the office with that red folder trying to catch up with all the information. Instead, everything you need is right in front of you. You can see which assemblies will be impacted, what you have on-hand, and what series you want to do the cutover on.
That concludes the first half of a closed loop change management process.
Phase 3: Windchill Quality
The second half of the closed loop change management process stems from things such as nonconformance, that actually come from the Windchill quality management piece.
Again, more Windchill functionality here is also tied together in WT Parts, but these are your corrective and preventive actions.
Looking at the nonconformance piece – where you actually build and manufacture something, but it isn’t measuring out right. Or perhaps your drilled holes that are in the wrong place…or your part is the wrong dimension…or something to that extent.
Windchill Quality enables corrective actions you can take against these incidents to make sure that you’re not building parts to the wrong specifications or dealing with nonconformance. This helps you to take preventive action.
In other words, what steps are you going to take to make sure that you don’t make the same mistakes again? What are you going to do with the parts that you’ve already built?
That’s the second half of the closed loop change management process.
To truly explain how all the Windchill functionalities can be intertwined to create a true ‘digital thread’ – this article would go on for days.
Sure, you can learn about all the different parts and pieces individually, but my organization has a real, tight, concise methodology for doing this.
That’s why EAC Product Development Solutions is here to help. We know and understand what it takes to get your system stood up and in place to truly transform your organization.
Don’t leave your Windchill system with untapped potential. It’s time to make the most out of your money.
You’re likely to have experience with Bill of Materials (BoMs) if the nature of your business has anything to do with product development.
Let’s talk about why bill of materials are so important, how BoMs impact business, and the best BoM management practices. Or check out another helpful article on BoM management, “How BoM Management plays a role in your PLM processes“.
The importance of bill of materials
BoMs define products as they are designed (CAD or engineering bill of materials), as they are ordered (sales bill of materials), as they are built (manufacturing bill of materials), and as they are maintained (service bill of materials).
They incorporate product information from design and engineering, document control, operations, manufacturing, purchasing, contract manufacturers, and more. Bill of materials influence inventory levels, material purchases, shop floor assemblies, and so much more.
In fact, departments often rely on BOM records to get the job done right. Whether you realize it or not, your BoMs drive and affect your businesses’ operational success. This is why it is so important that your organization creates and manages well-organized, correct and up-to-date bill of materials.
BoM information accuracy and why it matters
BoMs require complete and accurate information, in order to successfully benefit design, manufacturing, sales and service building quality products.
The accuracy of BOMs influences an organization’s ability to make well-rounded product development decisions. These decisions fundamentally impact the efforts organizations peruse to generate a product in the most efficient, cost-effective way.
Oftentimes creating BOMs requires input from design, procurement, manufacturing, and sales. Using manual methods to collect and enter items on various BoMs increases the risk of producing inaccurate, out-of-date, or even possibly duplicate BoM versions.
Furthermore, if departments produce products based on incorrect or inaccurate bills of materials, delays to market can occur. This can not only be very costly for an organization, but it oftentimes impacts an entire supply chain.
Inaccurate bills of materials are one of the costliest errors engineering companies can make. In order to avoid the risks of inaccurate BoMs, many organizations have started to reevaluate the way they create, manage, and share product information.
BoM management processes
Bills of materials (such as eBoMs, sBOMs, mBoMs) are most-likely part of your product development process. That being said, what are your current processes for managing those BoMs?
How do you share, collaborate, and ensure the accuracy of your organizations’ bills of materials? Do you find it difficult to manage the differences between them and keep the data consistent across eBOM (engineering bill of materials) and mBoMs (manufacturing bill of materials)?
Odds are if you have yet to implement technology solutions to manage your bills of materials, your methods for BoM management most likely involve spreadsheets, emails, rekeying information, and multiple other systems of communication.
If this is the case, don’t worry – you’re not alone. Studies show nearly 50% of product development companies still use spreadsheets (or sometimes even nothing at all) to manage complex bill of materials!
Despite the big workload that BoM management represents, many organizations are still comparing bills of materials in excel spreadsheets or by opening separate BoMs and manually connecting the dots. This management approach is not only tiring, but it also increases risks of human error and mistakes, especially if the bills of materials are very long.
In fact, is not unusual to find one giant excel spreadsheet on top of information managed by PLM (product lifecycle management), ERP (enterprise resource planning), CRM (customer relationship management) and other databases. Why is that? The information required to assemble bill of material documents tends to reside within separate, disconnected enterprise systems.
It’s time to change that.
Connecting business systems and information
In a world of complex, role and department-specific enterprise systems, productivity can seem quite limited. But the truth is, with the help of technology, businesses no longer need to operate this way. Collaborative solutions exist, and they really are as simple to implement as they, well… should be.
System integration tools (such as applications) change the way organizations create, manage, and share product information- without even having to upgrade or change current enterprise systems.
Using system API connections, applications can pull data from disconnected enterprise systems and consolidate it into centralized dashboard display windows. In fact, many integration applications are even ready to go straight out-of-the-box (yes, this means they require absolutely no special configurations or complicated implementation at all).
For instance, productivity apps offer simple, role-based access to data and other enterprise systems making it easier for stakeholders to view and understand consolidated product information and data. What makes simple applications that integrate enterprise data even better is the fact that most of these system collaboration tools are even affordable.
With a single view to into multiple enterprise systems (such as ALM, MRP, ERP, SLM, CRM, Accounting, and PLM) you can be sure that users have access to the latest and most accurate product information when they need it, and how they need it. There’s really no catch. Productivity apps really are solutions that are; easy, affordable, and that solve the complexity of dealing with multiple disconnected enterprise systems.
Effective BoM management & bill of materials software
Parallel to system integration apps that can pull and consolidate enterprise data, BoM applications can also automatically consolidate real-time data across enterprise systems.
This means organizations can enable real-time BoM collaboration – and that is a game changer.
Real-time BoM collaboration empowers users with capabilities to collaborate and work together creating a bill, sharing BoMs and associated data, and even preview CAD drawings and images. It also opens up the ability to simultaneously edit manufacturing bill of materials, while completely avoiding duplicate and inaccurate documents. This enables users to get a virtual ‘live view’ of data.
Users are able to maintain and manage all associated product documentation such as part datasheets, materials required, CAD drawings and files, as well as anything else that is needed to manufacture a product all in one centralized location. This reassures one sole accurate and revision-controlled bill of material for a product.
This is exactly why it is so important to establish systems and methods that enable all departments within your product development process to be able to share, collaborate, and ensure the accuracy of your bills of materials.
A simple bill of materials software
Our experts at EAC Product Development Solutions recognized the need for better BoM management within many organizations- That’s why we created our bill of materials software application, BoM Reports.
Our BoM Reports PLM application is essentially an out-of-the-box PLM system plugin. It’s easy to use, simple to integrate, and an extremely affordable for any organization.
We designed our Bill of Materials Reports application with the intention of making manufacturing bill of materials and engineering bill of materials management ‘easy’ for organizations of all sizes. Meaning- our bill of materials software can even work for small businesses!
Our BoM Reports app delivers access to your accurate bill of materials database while it provides visual representations, cost rollup for materials, and detailed informational listings of items within bill of materials.
We guarantee our BoM Reports application will enhance your bill of materials management. In fact, it has changed the way many of our customers do business.
Our EAC Productivity app enables purchasers to see product cost roll-ups during design, so they can hit cost targets. It allows project managers to see the highest level status and availability of constituent parts so they can keep projects on time and budget. It helps fabricators see what version of parts go into the build so they can prevent scrap and rework- and SO much more!
We’re excited about how our organization is enhancing product development and we would love to share more information with you about how our EAC productivity apps really work.
If you would like more information about apps that could work for your business insert your information below. We promise not to fill up your inbox with overloads of information, we simply want to share tips, tricks, and tools that will help your organization succeed.
These days product data is everywhere. Everyone seems to collect it, have a lot of it, but the question remains; how exactly can you ensure your organization’s product data is being put to good use?
It’s time to take your product development one step further by providing role-based data access, connecting your enterprise systems, and learning how to make the most of your product data. I am going to explain exactly how easy that is to do.
The current state of product data
Companies today have many different roles that require access to product data. This may include people outside of the typical roles of which you may be thinking.
Departments such as engineering, manufacturing, that’s a given, but expand your thinking to include operations, purchasing, and marketing. They all need data access in order to edit and consume information. Think about sourcing…I’ll stop there, but you get the idea.
Let’s focus on the engineering department for a moment.
People could be involved from the mechanical side, the electrical side, or even a quality standpoint. Beyond that, people need to either contribute or consume information that could include manufacturing, service, sales, and more.
Product data game-changers
PTC ThingWorx Navigate was designed to address data accessibility problems by providing simple role-based apps that deliver just the right information to different groups (or departments) in the way that they need
When non-engineering colleagues need access to vital information, they typically interrupt an engineer or designer with a request. ThingWorx Navigate eliminates that distraction and “double-billing.” Through role or task-based self-service applications, data can be securely shared with a team. That way non-expert teams can use a simplified user interface to access the product data they need, right when they need it.
To help accelerate product development processes and take product data even further, our company (EAC Product Development Solutions) has also created what we call EAC Productivity Apps that work alongside ThingWorx Navigate apps.
So what’s the difference between ThingWorx, ThingWorx Navigate and our EAC Productivity apps?
This is a great question- I am going to try and paint the picture for you.
First, it’s important that you understand what ThingWorx is and how it is different from ThingWorx Navigate.
ThingWorx is the proper name of PTC’s Internet of Things (IoT) platform comprised of 5 components; foundation, industrial connectivity, analytics, studio,
The foundation component is the heart of the ThingWorx loT platform used to make connections to ‘things’ which could be machines, products or software systems or pretty much anything with an IP address and a communications interface.
User interfaces to the data coming from these connections are displayed on websites called ‘mashups,’ created with ThingWorx foundation. You might know these perhaps as ‘data mashups’ or possibly as ‘data dashboards’. Simply put, Thingworx is the IoT platform that makes everything possible. (Here’s exactly what makes Thingworx the leading technology for industrial IoT)
ThingWorx Navigate is the proper name of PTC’s applications that
ThingWorx Navigate Apps use a Windchill (PLM) connector to extract product data for presentation to Windchill Product Lifecycle Management users.
Fundamentally, ThingWorx Navigate Apps are all simply data and product information mashups created with ThingWorx. With ThingWorx Navigate you receive out-of-the-box apps that are instantly ready to be used with your PLM system. The idea behind these product lifecycle management apps is to ensure users can capture the complete functionality of their PLM (product lifecycle management) investment.
ThingWorx Navigate PLM Apps include:
View Design Files – A design file would be a format of a file that isn’t the native CAD format. This could be a staph or Induce or perhaps a 3D PDF
View Drawing – Allows you to look at just drawings. This application pulls drawings from your Windchill PLM system.
View Part Properties – This feature allows you to look at part properties- as if you were hitting the ‘Information button’ next to a file.
View Parts List – Allows you to look at bills of Materials (BOMs)
View Part Structure– With the View Part Structure App, ThingWorx is actually going into PDMLink and showing different aspects of a specific part instead of different ways of going at it (such as having to open several different tabs to get information). Using this application, you can get all your information together on one page. This feature also includes capabilities that cross-highlight part structures within your product. For instance, you could select a component and it would highlight that part and create a hyperlink that allows you to directly look at that specific part. This feature essentially creates a mash-up that takes information from different places inside of Windchill PDMLink and brings them together putting them on one screen, allowing you to have all your information at your fingertips.
View Document & View Document Structure
If you would like to learn more about ThingWorx Navigate technology or if you have any questions, you can always request to talk with Thingworx Navigate specialists here.
PLM Applications created by EAC
Our EAC Productivity Apps (also known as product lifecycle applications)
They allow departments to access content and perform common tasks through a very simple interface, versus having to use a complex product lifecycle management system (PLM) or Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.
PTC Navigate Apps vs. EAC Productivity Apps
Our EAC Productivity Apps provide capabilities beyond that of the out of the box ThingWorx Navigate apps.
In short, ThingWorx Navigate applications allow you to securely access and present role-specific data from your Windchill system. They provide all of the power of a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) system to someone who is not familiar with its ins-and-outs of product data management.
EAC Productivity Apps take it a step further by taking the underlying technology of ThingWorx Navigate, and the ability to get at the information in the PLM system and create even more complete applications that really give individuals instantaneous access to the information and product data they need to do their job. EAC’s PLM applications are created using PTC’s ThingWorx IoT platform, however, they can run independently of ThingWorx Navigate.
While built using the same ThingWorx foundation, ADK and [Windchill connector], they have their own look, feel and functionality. These mashups are packaged and sold together as a collection. EAC Productivity Apps created for Windchill promote user adoption and amplify the return on the investment you’ve made in your Windchill system, as well as extending role-based visibility into relevant product data and the impact PLM has on your organization.
Take your product data further with EAC Productivity Apps
Every subscription of EAC Productivity Apps includes free access to EAC Productivity Home. EAC Productivity Home is a proprietary framework, or launcher, for ThingWorx Navigate applications.
It sits on top of Windchill and
The EAC Productivity App, Quick Search, provides a simple way for users to find content in Windchill. It removes the need for users to apply an understanding of how Windchill objects are related in order to find the information needed to do their job.
The Quick Search PLM application also allows users to search for components and retrieve information and file formats. For instance, if you were to grab a drive system and do a quick search, it’s going to find product information such as parts, EMP like documents, CAD files and more. See EAC Productivity Application Quick Search in action here.
The Quick Access EAC Productivity Application streamlines access to critical and select data sets. Simplifies downstream users feeding critical quality information back to engineering with minimal effort.
This EAC Productivity App allows downstream users to feed critical quality information back to engineering with minimal effort. The simplified interface and consolidated task workflows help users easily submit new problem reports, new change requests, and new variances.
For instance, you could select a component (such as a product), pick its name (the end item number), search for it, and you would get straight to assemblies. With the use of Quick Access users can easily submit new problem reports, change requests, variances and more.
The Part Associations EAC application provides a “shortcut” for non-CAD users to access critical files and documentation associated with designs like drawings, parts, assemblies, and other documents associated with CAD files and part data.
BoM Reports App provides a visual representation of cost
This EAC Productivity App allows users to quickly assess a Bill of Material and ensure projects stay on-time and on-track. The simplified view helps ensure products are built with the appropriate design iterations. With the use of BoM Reports users can easily see BoMs, lists of unreleased parts, parts that have been created or modified by specific users and more.
This app allows users to see the progress of a bill of materials, and apply filters to focus on parts that are not yet released. It is also useful for viewing all of the “make” parts or “buy” parts in a given BoM, or all parts created/modified by a particular user.
Get better access to your product data
See all the features of EAC P