Why is it important to manage your product Bill of Materials (BoM) in a PLM (Product Lifecycle Management)? This is a tough question to answer across the board for every company, but this article breaks down what you need to know.

The level of BoM management in PLM can be dependent on your companies’ products, downstream systems, and product development processes.

With that in mind, here are some general benefits and reasons to manage the creation of your product BoM in PLM.

The benefit of bill of materials management in PLM

PLM in nature is meant to be a tool to help engineering manage their production date while allowing dynamic collaboration and change control throughout the product development cycle.

The data managed in a product lifecycle management system includes CAD and BoM information, as well as additional supporting product information and documentation.

PLM functionality typically allows an organization to store any and all product information in a structured manner. The structured manner is what properly represents the product within all stages of the product’s development.

This includes everything from initial design requirements, to manufacturing requirements and process plans, to quality assurance documents- all linked to a single product structure.

This gives you the ability to graphically see a truly complete representation of any and all products managed within the PLM system.

In addition, many of the top PLM systems (such as PTC Windchill) give you the ability to manage different views of a single bill of material.

For instance, you could see the design or engineering view of the structure and all design information needed for that BoM product structure.

You would also have the ability to look at a manufacturing view that has the structure defined in a way to support the best possible manufacturing process, while it also links to any supporting information and work instructions.

Additionally, you could see a service BoM that represents exactly what is on-site or on the hands of a customer, with linked product information specifically related to service or support (such as a service repair or product manual).

ERP or MES systems are all about the financial and manufacturing execution aspect of product management.

These systems focus on tracking and managing all cost and profit throughout the process.

Because of this, changes are tightly controlled and require significant steps to ensure proper applications across the system.

There are also few systems that allow for full product representation inside of ERP or MES as outlined above. Nor do they fully support many different views of the same BoM.

ERP tends to only manage what is required to properly manufacture or sell a product, which does not always represent the full product design or its full breadth of supporting information and documentation.

There many impacts on these fundamental differences.

When to use PLM for BoM Management

Here are some general concepts as to when to use PLM for BoM management.

When your product development is in the dynamic phases that require many changes and updates at each phase gate, your bill of materials should be primarily managed in PLM.

If your product requires specific requirements management, detailed manufacturing, quality work instructions, or an intensive manufacturing process, it’s in your best interest to use product lifecycle management for your BoM.

At the very least, all of your product information should also be managed, or linked to your product lifecycle management system to ensure full accountability to all information updates required in the instance of change.

Integrating ERP and PLM

At a minimum, if you have an ERP system it’s important to integrate your system together with PLM.

It’s essential to establish key integration points between your enterprise systems that send needed information back and forth to your enterprise resource planning solution. This will help you properly execute new product releases and changes.

By integrating your systems, your ERP processes will ensure all proper tasks and functions are executed in your ERP or MES systems.

From there, your ERP to PLM system integration would send information back to your PLM system to close the loop.

These are our best practices to help you get ahead and to take product data further. We would love to hear about your thoughts about this topic and answer any additional questions you might have. Feel free to drop a comment below or leave an inquiry under let’s talk.

Looking for an easy way to quickly assess your bill of materials and ensure projects stay on-time and on-track?

Download BoM Reports Brochure
Check out our BoM Reports App

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.

We live in a world of complex role, and department specific enterprise business systems (such as ERP, MRP, SLM, ALM, CRM, Accounting, PLM and more)

Product data game-changers

Product data silos limit productivity – PTC & EAC have the answer.

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, and utilities. It can basically connect any computer systems or physical assets as long as they have an API port or sensors streaming out data. There are many levels and combinations of each of these components, all serving unique business drivers. Please contact us if you’d like to talk through what you’re trying to do.

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)

Then you have ThingWorx Navigate

ThingWorx Navigate is the proper name of PTC’s applications that run off, or in other words, use the ThingWorx IoT platform.  You can learn more about ThingWorx Navigate by reading this data sheet. ThingWorx Navigate is a pre-packaged set of data interfaces (also known as apps or applications) built on an Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK). 

ThingWorx Navigate Apps use a Windchill (PLM) connector to extract product data for presentation to Windchill Product Lifecycle Management users.  

ThingWorx Navigate Solution. Thingworx Navigate real based apps for tooling developers, purchasing agents, quality inspectors, processing planners and more.

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 Apps eliminate user intimidation based on the complexity of PLM platforms like Windchill. They ensure organizations can easily make use of their big data

ThingWorx Navigate Benefits

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

Download this FREE ThingWorx Navigate eBook

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) are also built on the ThingWorx technology platform.

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. 

EAC Productivity Apps for Windchill

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. 

These apps are unique to EAC

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 Navigate to provide a fully configurable and responsive interface. Productivity Home simplifies user interaction and helps administrators maintain the user portal after upgrading to new releases of ThingWorx Navigate.

PLM App 'Quick Search'

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.

You can also learn more about the Quick Search features in this brochure.

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.

Here's an example of what a user might see using the EAC Productivity Application Quick Access
Here’s an example of what a user might see using the EAC Productivity Application Quick Access

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.

You can learn more about Quick Access features in this brochure.

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.

Here’s an example of what a user might see using the EAC Productivity Application ‘Parts Association’

You can learn more about Part Association features in this brochure.

BoM Reports App provides a visual representation of cost roll-up for materials, and detailed informational listing of the items in a Bill of Materials. 

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.

Here’s an example of what a user might see using the EAC Productivity Application ‘BoM Reports’

Get better access to your product data 

See all the features of EAC Productivity Apps for PTC Windchill by watching our short webinar below or contact us to start the conversation about how you can get better access to your data with ThingWorx Navigate and EAC Productivity Apps. (Quick Access, BoM Report, Part Associations, Quick Search)

Imagine if you could manage quality, reliability, and risk at every stage of your product’s life cycle. You could reduce costs, speed innovation, and enhance next generation products. PTC’s product lifecycle management (PLM) software, Windchill, lets you do just that. 

Want to see an example of how Windchill software is used? See how Virnig Manufacturing uses PTC Windchill to change the way their data is delivered within their organization.

Already using Windchill and need help with admin and support? You’ll want to check out our Alliance Program,  provided to our customers for on-going technical support, business process consulting, and mentoring services on a monthly basis.

Already using Windchill but you or some of your team member don’t use it often, therefore, it gets confusing? You’ll want to check out our role-based apps for casual Windchill users – EAC Productivity Apps or ThingWorx Navigate will help you.

Don’t know what the heck PTC Windchill is? Then read on.

What is PTC Windchill?

PTC Windchill is a product lifecycle management (PLM) application suite that leverages a consolidated view of product information through multi-system data. It’s a systemic enterprise wide approach to maintaining product and process quality throughout the entire product lifecycle. 

PTC Windchill PLM software provides a complete functionality dimension to help organizations capture product structures from computer-aided design tools, transform them into full engineering bill of materials (eBoMS), to manufacturing bill of materials (mBoMS), to service bill of materials (sBoMS) all while retaining the linkages between different perspectives on the product. Windchill solutions break down organizational barriers, allowing teams to work faster and more accurately all while reducing time-to-market and cutting costs.

The Windchill Product Lifecycle Management system can help streamline your product development and service information processes. It’s a system that can help your organization create better products, with more variations, faster, at a lower cost. As a manufacturer, your pressures are not only continual – they’re mounting. Your industry is changing. Your customers’ requirements are evolving. And your supply chain is constantly adjusting to compete in today’s environment. In the middle of all this, more is being demanded of you and your entire organization.

Windchill helps with exactly that. As an integral component of PTC ’s Product Development System, Windchill manages all product content and business processes throughout the product and service lifecycle. And it has a robust, high-performing architecture to help you today – and to prepare you for tomorrow’s uncertainties. Windchill provides a rich systematic approach for creating, configuring, managing and reusing product structures and associated content, such as CAD files, documentation, requirements, manufacturing information, service information, part/supplier data, calculations and illustrations.

Windchill can also play an important role in increasing your company’s competitiveness by allowing continuous improvements and automation of business processes and procedures. Windchill is an integral suite of products that address the needs of product development. The Windchill family is composed of products that help support product data management, collaboration, product analytics, service information, product quality, and integrations. Check out the PTC Windchill Data Sheet to learn more.

PTC Windchill Cost

PTC Windchill made updates to their PLM packaging and pricing – which means you can customize dashboards and product data more than ever before at a cost that makes sense for your organization. Here is a breakdown of the new PLM structure.

PTC Windchill Certification

Once you’re ready to purchase the software, you’ll need to make sure it’s learned and understood in a timely manner and without frustration. We have a few options:

Short-Term Support: EAC’s Product Development System Services Team has a long track record of successfully implementing Windchill products.

Long-Term Support: Check out our Alliance Program – EAC’s PTC Windchill system administration and support services for on-going technical support.

Support at your own pace: Your team can get PTC Windchill certified by taking our classes we offer for end users and managers. Check out our training schedule.

The Windchill Products Explained: 

Windchill products are application modules that offer users specific sets of features and capabilities within the Windchill application suite.  Some of the most common Windchill PLM modules include: 

      • Windchill PDM Essentials 
      • Windchill PDMLink 
      • Windchill ProjectLink 
      • Windchill PartsLink

What is Windchill PDM Essentials? 

PTC Windchill Product Data Management (PDM) Essentials is built on PTC’s production proven PTC Windchill software. 

Windchill PDM Essentials simplifies data management activities by transparently incorporating them into the design process. It manages all forms of information such as CAD drawings, customer requirements, schematics and Bill of Materials (BoMs) that are generated during product development.

This modern product data management solution makes it easy to manage, share, and review your data. It’s finally possible to have a single view of the latest product data, along with tighter integration to major end CAD vendors, Microsoft Office, and desktop tools. Plus, it allows your users to save time with better version control, automated data release, and simple search capabilities. Learn more by reading the PTC Windchill PDM Essentials Data Sheet.

What is Windchill PDMLink? 

With an abundance of data dispersed throughout your organization, how do you maintain the integrity of your product information when multiple people are working on the same files? The solution is easy – Windchill PDMLink. 

Windchill PDMLink is a Web-based, industry-proven Product Data Management (PDM) system that supports geographically dispersed teams while managing critical processes such as content, change and configuration management. Windchill PDMLink maintains the integrity of your product information by storing master data in a secure area where you can control, monitor, and record all changes. 

When a change is made to your data, Windchill PDMLink stores a modified copy of the data, signed and dated, in a secure area alongside the old data, which remains in its original form as a permanent record. In addition to providing change control management, Windchill PDMLink enables you to manage your product’s release cycle as well as its configuration. Check out the PTC Windchill PDMLink Data Sheet for more information.

What is Windchill ProjectLink?  

Windchill ProjectLink is a collaborative product development web-based environment that automates and tracks projects. 

ProjectLink provides a common workspace where you and your team can share and discuss documents and product structures, hold meetings, and communicate and track progress on tasks. From private exchange environments to public business to business (B2B) exchanges, ProjectLink is a secure web-based system that can easily be used in any collaboration environment.

It can also be used well beyond the engineering and manufacturing departments of your organization. Any project that requires team members to share electronic information such as writing annual reports to creating training materials, can be managed with Windchill ProjectLink.  For more information read the PTC Windchill ProjectLink Data Sheet here.

What is Windchill Partslink? 

Windchill PartsLink is a module for PDMLink that adds part classification-based features. 

PartsLink enables you to perform parametric attribute searching and manage your results through convenient navigation and searching. You can search parts by typing a free-form product description or a part number in the search criteria text box. You can browse the hierarchically organized structure of your parts using text and images. You can also refine your search by constraining parameters in a parametric search. 

Windchill PartsLink enables your team to perform similar part searches, expanding your search to look for matching parts that have parametric attributes that are within a certain percentage or absolute tolerance of the selected part. Additionally, you can export the result set to a file.

Many companies lack a comprehensive part search system and as a result they lose the benefits of reusing product components. Criteria-based searching limits the result set, which helps a great deal in reuse decisions. PTC Windchill PartsLink helps solve that problem. 

What is Windchill Quality Solutions? 

Depending on your specific Windchill Quality Solutions suite (Windchill Quality Solutions 10.1 Desktop, Windchill Quality Solutions 10.1 Administrator, Windchill Quality Solutions 10.1 Web Access) you may have access to one or more applications. 

Windchill Quality Solutions, the desktop version, is the cornerstone of the Windchill Quality Solutions suite. It is available in both the team and enterprise additions and is the feature rich windows application for all of your reliability and maintainability activities. 

Available in the enterprise addition you will also find Windchill Quality Solutions Administrator which provides you options for administrative controls including options to support secure login. 

Windchill Quality Solutions Web Access available specifically for Windchill FMEA infractions in the enterprise edition, allows you access for data entry, filtering, graphing, reporting and more. 

Is there other Windchill Software for product data management and process management?

  • Windchill MPMLink acts as an integral solution for Manufacturing Process Management.
  • Windchill FlexPLM is a product lifecycle management solution that is widely used for retail, footwear & apparel and consumer product companies.
  • Windchill Requirements Management is a combination of PTC’s Integrity product and Windchill PDMLink that manages product data software and hardware requirements.
  • Windchill PPMLink is a program that provides portfolio management capabilities to discrete manufacturers.
  • Windchill Service Information Manager creates associative, interactive service parts information used throughout a product’s serviceable lifecycle.
  • Windchill Service Parts improves service operations by enabling service information to be organized and optimized for accuracy, applicability, and rich, graphics-driven delivery.

Want to see a PTC Windchill tutorial to see the software in action? Watch this on-demand video of Windchill’s basic software capabilities.

Watch this on-demand webinar recording to learn more about Windchill software.

Part II – (You can read part 1 here) Evolving your BoM strategy, tools, and abilities. “EBoM vs. MBoM” transforms into “EBoM integrates with MBoM.” This integration includes associativity to one another, time saving tools, elimination of error prone manual steps & more.
Imagine eliminating the common disjointed processes, additional time, and error prone manual steps involved in the creation of downstream BoMs from Engineering into Manufacturing, Production and Service management.

Concepts & examples such as Manufacturing Bill of Materials (MBoM) are shown below, all under one system, integrated & associated, and created with a single click. Then they’re easily edited to meet downstream BoM needs.

BoM creation can be streamlined & improved by associatively creating downstream BoMs (S or M or other) and eventually, connecting them to your ERP system. For now, we’ll focus on the first step of this business transformation concept; the creation of the second, or downstream M or SBoM, starting with a simple EBoM example, created in minutes, and easily viewed & tracked.

Who should be involved in this topic at your company? Ideally, your Configuration Manager role should be leading or heavily involved in this process.

The starting point & tool is PTCs Windchill and your willingness to change & improve.

Once your CAD data is ready to check into Windchill, there is an option (check box) to auto-associate the EBoM to a downstream BoM such as an MBoM. It is a 1:1 relationship for starters. Options can branch out from here into many CM (Configuration Management) directions. Such as multi-level BoM management, uses, visualization and more.

Once created, you can manipulate & edit the default 1:1 downstream BoM to your needs; adding bulk items, manufacturing specific sub assemblies, (build throughs) even new service end items. You can also flatten out an EBoM to meet assembly or production needs. BoM items such as adhesive, lubricant, paint or coatings, packaging items, all things that typically are not on an EBoM, can and do belong on the M or SBoM.

If this fits your company’s needs? consider using Windchill’s auto-associate feature.

This article covers a couple examples. If this is not deep enough…here are even more tools to consider. Topics such as creating associated manufacturing instructions, work instructions, work plans and more. Change Management is shown as reference only, it is an optional element of Windchill for another blog.

There are many options to this topic, these are common examples that fit a lot of needs and is considered a starting point.

1stexample shows all BoM & change components all connected in one system vs. manually done in silo fashion, which is industry’s most common method today. These examples are shown in PTCs Windchill reference viewer tool, which ties all related objects into view for easy visibility with just a few clicks.

  1. 1. EBoM structure (highlighted in green) 
  2. 2. Change requests, notices and tasks (highlighted in red) 
  3. 3. MBoM structure (highlighted in blue) with their own, or connected Change Management Requests, Notices & Tasks

 

Evolving Your BOM Strategy, Tools, and Abilities | EAC Product Development Solutions

2ndexample shows an EBoM, SBoM (Service Kit in this example), with a saleable end item service kit, as well as components for service or manufacturing BoMs. It also shows Changes, these can also be created, edited, routed, approved or rejected, and even include the SBoM if need be. 

Evolving Your BOM Strategy, Tools, and Abilities | EAC Product Development Solutions

Please connect with EAC to learn more, to discover your company’s transformation opportunities with an assessment, maybe see a demo, or attend a webinar. The goal is to help your company transform how you design, manufacture, connect to and service your products.