If you’re wondering how to get effective and long-term PTC Windchill Support, look no further.
We partner with PTC and are a Top Solution Provider because our experts truly believe PTC products are the best in the industry for the Digital Thread and improving the complete product development process. Our company would like to address some of the pain points you may experience while using your Windchill PLM platform. As well as inform you about the steps we are taking to enhance your overall user experience and boost efficiency across your enterprise.
As with any complex software system, there can be a number of frustrations that users may experience when working with Windchill. Here are some common Windchill complaints that we hear in the industry:
- Complex User Interface especially for infrequent users
- Cumbersome Navigation
- Slow Performance & Speed
- Customization Limitations
- Limited Task Support & Access for departments outside of Engineering
- Lack of Workflow Synergy between multiple departments
Windchill Support: User Interface
We understand that the complexity of the PTC Windchill user interface can sometimes be overwhelming. Windchill’s user interface can often be cluttered and difficult to navigate. The system has a lot of options and features based on how complex an integrated product database must be. In response to this feedback, we created EAC Productivity Apps.
Our goal is to simplify and streamline the interface, making it more intuitive and user-friendly across teams and departments while keeping security high. By reducing clutter and improving navigation according to different job titles and roles, we aim to enhance your productivity and reduce the learning curve.
Quick Search App
For example, the Quick Search App provides a simplified way for users to enter a number or attribute into a single search bar to find the data results within the context of their job role. This removes the need for users to apply an understanding of how Windchill objects are related and eliminates unwanted, irrelevant data for the task at hand.
Report Viewer App
Our Report Viewer app gives individuals outside the engineering department the ability to view and run Windchill reports with ease. Within the Report Viewer app, you can easily:
- Run pre-configured reports and saved reports
- Save new reports
- Access pre-built report dashboards that utilize the Windchill search engine
Part Associations App
This app provides a “shortcut” for users (especially shop floor employees) to access critical CAD files and documentation, and it consolidates results onto a single screen. Quickly access drawings, parts, assemblies, and other documents associated with CAD and part data.
For users who are in Windchill every day, we strongly suggest seeking out adequate training and support as a first step towards solving some of these frustrations. Even the most seasoned users may find tips and tricks that can simplify their workflows on a day-to-day basis.
BoM Compare App
Pro Tip: Did you know that Windchill BoM comparisons exist in Windchill?
They do! Now with our BoM Compare App, this feature is easier to find and leverage. View a side-by-side comparison of two Windchill bills of materials and select which attributes to compare, all with the click of a button.
Streamline PTC Windchill Navigation
Easy navigation is a huge factor that plays into workflow productivity. Windchill has many menus, screens, and options, making it difficult for users to navigate the system and find the information they need. This can be especially frustrating for infrequent users who are not familiar with the system.
Our EAC Apps are purposefully designed with easier navigation in mind. Instead of constant mouse clicks and multiple new windows opening across your screens, our developers created an ideal workflow. And significantly reduces how long it takes for you to get the info you need based on your job role.
Another challenge we hear from Windchill users is how long it takes to search for and find the data they need. We acknowledge that searching and finding documentation in Windchill can take way too long and cause a lot of frustration. This is especially true for people who only need to go into Windchill once in a blue moon. EAC Apps gets users to the data or drawings they need in just a few mouse clicks.
Below is a timetable that compares the number of mouse clicks it takes in the standard Windchill interface (a user with Windchill experience and skill) versus how many it takes using our productivity apps with little to no training needed.
Support Windchill Performance and Speed
Windchill can be slow to load, especially when working with large amounts of data or performing complex operations. This can lead to delays and frustration for users who need to work quickly and efficiently.
Additionally, optimizing the platform’s performance with maintenance on the back end is critical to ensure smoother operation, faster response times, and improved overall stability.
As a start, we highly recommend checking out the infographic, “6 Ways to Check and Maintain Your Windchill System” to support a healthy Windchill environment.
If your Windchill system continuously crashes or freezes, there is a serious issue that needs attention. For additional help, our managed services team is dedicated to resolving these issues and providing you with a more efficient and seamless experience. Our managed services, EAC Alliance, takes the heavy lifting off of your system admins so they can focus on their core responsibilities.
Learn more about the EAC Alliance program for Windchill. In regards to system crashing or freezing, that does NOT have to be your “normal”. In fact, 99.5% of our Alliance customers see a 100% in Windchill uptime and over 99% in availability. And 100% of our customers say they experience a significant improvement in speed and performance.
For most apps, you don’t even have to log into Windchill at all to get the info you need quickly and securely whether you’re a finance team member in your home office, or a builder on the manufacturing shop floor using your phone or tablet.
Quick Access App
More specifically, the Quick Access App eliminates the need to go into Windchill at all. Shop floor personnel can submit a problem report, a change request, or a new variance directly within the app. The Quick Access app improves user adoption and streamlines access to critical data sets.
The Quick Access app enables team members to quickly view a product’s structure, supporting information, and digital content. It also facilitates rapid issue capture to ensure quality and speed time to market.
Help with Effective Windchill Customizations
Another pain point that has been highlighted is the limited flexibility for customization within PTC Windchill. We understand that different organizations have unique requirements, and we are committed to empowering you with the ability to tailor the platform to your specific needs.
We are actively working on expanding the customization options and offering more flexibility to adapt PTC Windchill to your workflows and processes. Each EAC App allows for ample customization based on what your team or department wants or needs! We’ll set you up for success.
The best part is, even if you upgrade your Windchill version, you don’t have to start over with custom code like you do with ThingWorx! Our apps help administrators maintain the user portal after ThingWorx Navigate upgrade releases.
Windchill Security and Task Support
Need to give Purchasers access to only specific assets? Our EAC Apps allow you to share critical data securely with those who need it based on particular permissions and settings.
Give your shop floor access to the latest drawings, and design changes with easy-to-find and digestible data without having to email busy engineering teams. By expanding access to users in multiple departments with just a few clicks supports your Windchill investment.
Task Management App
Meet the Task Management App. Task Management helps users complete multiple tasks within one window! Streamline your workflows, filter by team assignment, and finish your to-do list. This app will fuel your efficiency, user adoption, and time management.
The Task Management App was designed to enable stakeholders to review and act on assigned Windchill change tasks. It provides visibility into important open tasks and their status.
Additionally, we have a robust knowledge base, user mentoring, and tutorials to assist you in leveraging the full potential of PTC Windchill. Our training and mentoring team is always available to address your queries and provide timely assistance.
Support for Windchill Collaboration and Integration
Is your engineering team the only department accessing Windchill data? If so, your company is not maximizing your technology investment. Our experts stress the value of collaboration and integration with other tools and systems for seamless workflows and processes surrounding your current tools and technology environment.
Our intuitive role-based apps make it easy for stakeholders in other departments to get the data they need from Windchill in a matter of seconds – instead of constantly having to ask the engineering team for answers!
Each app can be tailored to a specific role in your organization. Plus our PLM Apps integrate with any 3rd party system and expand Windchill’s integration capabilities, allowing you to connect with a broader range of applications and enabling smoother collaboration across different teams and departments.
Windchill Support for BoM Reports
For example, a healthy manufacturing BoM report requires input from multiple departments including design, procurement, manufacturing, and sales, and even more stakeholders need access.
The BoM Reports App allows all departments across the enterprise to accurately see the BoM data they need in real-time in the context of their job role. Within the app, you can view lists of unreleased products, created or modified parts in real-time (Cheers to supporting the digital thread strategy!)
Windchill Support for Change Management
Furthermore, Change Management is a core operational asset that can make or break processes across the enterprise. Our Change Management App aims to automate the critical flow and hand-off of information between teams and departments.
Enable excellent project management with an app that provides graphical views of problem reports, change requests, change reports, change variances, promotion requests, and more. This app is highly customizable based on the department and role of each user for maximum efficiency.
Bonus PTC Windchill Support: Implementation & Upgrades
Without experts who have the adequate time and capacity to do so (it’s seriously a full-time job), Windchill may not always be implemented properly in a timely fashion. This leads to data inconsistencies and errors. Errors that almost all manufacturers just can’t afford to be making.
The right approach matters, especially with PLM. To mitigate risk and save your IT team from a heavy burden, check out our service offerings for advanced Windchill support including Windchill implementations, upgrades, installs, and migrations.
Why Windchill is Still Critical for Success
Your feedback and input have been invaluable in shaping the direction of our efforts to improve your experiences with the complex yet powerhouse that is Windchill. We want to assure you that we are committed to continuously enhancing the platform with EAC Apps to serve your needs better and exceed your expectations.
The amount of power and robust capabilities of Windchill is the best investment a company can make on its digital transformation journey and implementing the digital thread. Connecting your data is critical. Finding and accessing your data with user-friendly PLM apps expands Windchill usage and amplifies your Windchill investment.
EAC Apps is the practical solution for PTC Windchill support by increasing Windchill usage and user satisfaction across the enterprise.
If you have any further pain points or suggestions, we would love to hear from you. Your insights are vital in driving our ongoing improvements.
P.S. Did you hear? We released the latest version of EAC Apps 3.3.0! Check out the Compatibility Matrix and Release Notes here.
I’m sure at least once in your life you’ve heard the saying, ‘Work smarter, not harder.’ But what a cliche, right?! Well, for those of you managing your Bill of Materials (BOMs) in Excel, it’s time to step away from the cell block prison (pun intended).
In this article, we’re going to break down what it actually means to revitalize your BOM strategy with the Digital Thread to start seeing the results you want.
What Is The Digital Thread?
First of all, let’s start with the basics. The Digital Thread is a term used to describe the seamless flow of information throughout the manufacturing process. From design and engineering to production and after-sales support. It provides a way to connect all the data and information generated at different stages and from systems of the product lifecycle.
Generally, the Digital Thread provides value by enabling better visibility and control of any processes that require or produce product data. It enables manufacturers to collaborate more effectively, automate and optimize workflows, and quickly respond to changes. All while adjusting quickly to customer needs.
Bill of Materials (BOM)
Next, let’s break down the concept of a Bill of Materials. A complete Bill of Materials (BoM) list usually contains all of the parts and components needed to create or manufacture an end product. You might think of a BoM as a recipe ingredient list. The information about each part can include details such as part names, part numbers, quantity required, and cost per unit. Not to mention, BoMs contain other relevant part details such as material type, color, or size if applicable; supplier information; serial numbers, etc.
By consolidating and organizing all the pertinent information product information, the BoM becomes a centralized resource. A critical resource that facilitates the manufacturing processes of specified products.
Ultimately, the goal of the BoM is to help track inventory and verify missing parts during assembly. Equally as important, BoMs are critical to support a healthy supply chain, as well as help with purchasing decisions and more.
The Digital Thread and Bill of Materials Working Together
Balancing a plethora of product information – it’s no surprise, the best BoM management strategy used within the industry does not leverage solely Microsoft Excel. Nor does it rely upon one Enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. Instead it works to unite data from multiple systems into a single source of truth.
Sounds great doesn’t it? But, if you’re like most – your product data lives all over the place in different systems from different departments. This situation tends to create data siloes resulting in time-consuming manual tasks using outdated operational processes. Generally, these are some of the biggest problems that inhibit manufacturers from achieving their business initiatives.
Oftentimes, during our EAC Assessments, we hear multiple teams across the enterprise and different management levels are frustrated by broken processes. In short, there is a lack of key information employees need to do their jobs right, at the time they need it most.
Meanwhile, the digital thread uses advanced technology (such as product lifecycle management systems as well as the Internet of Things) to connect critical disparate processes. This, in turn, helps minimize manual tasks, and breaks down data siloes. Implementing the digital thread to your BoM strategy creates a major impact for all stakeholders involved. For instance, design teams, engineers, manufacturing, assembly, operations, finance, purchasing, and even marketing.
How The Digital Thread Supports Engineering
Furthermore, the Digital Thread plays a crucial role in supporting engineering and bill of materials (BOM) management by providing seamless connectivity and accessibility to relevant data throughout the product lifecycle. Here’s how the digital thread benefits these areas:
1. Engineering Collaboration
Firstly, the digital thread allows engineers to collaborate effectively by providing a centralized platform for sharing and accessing engineering data. This facilitates cross-functional collaboration, enables real-time communication, and reduces errors or miscommunications during the design and development process.
2. Design Consistency
Secondly, the digital thread ensures design consistency by maintaining a single source of truth for engineering data. Changes made in the design phase are automatically propagated throughout the digital thread, ensuring that all related documents, models, and specifications remain synchronized.
3. BOM Accuracy and Visibility
The digital thread integrates BOM management, configuration management, and BoM transformation capabilities. This enables accurate and up-to-date BOMs, as the data will automatically reflect changes. Additionally, it provides real-time visibility into the BoM status, including component availability, sourcing information, and cost implications.
4. Change Management
Next, the digital thread streamlines change management processes. By automating change notifications, approvals, and tracking. Essentially, it ensures that engineering changes are effectively communicated, documented, and implemented across the relevant stages of the product lifecycle, minimizing errors and delays.
5. Manufacturing Process Optimization
By connecting engineering data with manufacturing process management, the digital thread enables better coordination and optimization of production processes. By in large, system and data integration allows for improved manufacturing planning, efficient resource allocation, and reduced lead times.
6. Enhanced Visualization and Analysis
Another example includes leveraging augmented reality (AR) design sharing to provide visual representations of designs. In detail, enabling stakeholders to view and analyze products in a virtual environment. It’s recommended to use AR to enhance design reviews, simplify communication, and facilitate better decision-making.
Overall, the digital thread improves engineering and BoM management. Markedly, by streamlining processes, enhancing collaboration, ensuring data consistency, and providing visibility across the product lifecycle. It promotes efficiency, accuracy, and agility in engineering and BoM-related activities. Leading to improved product quality and faster time to market in the long run.
How A Digital Thread BoM Strategy Streamlines Manufacturing
Simultaneously, the digital thread plays a significant role in enhancing the bill of materials (BoM) management for manufacturing, assembly, and quality control processes. In sum, here’s how the digital thread benefits these areas:
1. Manufacturing and Assembly Planning
The digital thread enables seamless integration between the BoM and manufacturing planning systems. It provides real-time visibility into the BoM, ensuring accurate and up-to-date information for manufacturing and assembly operations. This allows for efficient production planning, optimized resource allocation, and improved scheduling in all.
2. Supply Chain Integration
By connecting the BoM with supply chain management systems, the digital thread enhances supply chain visibility and collaboration. It enables better coordination with suppliers, accurate tracking of component availability, and improved procurement processes. As a result, it minimizes the risk of production delays and ensures timely delivery of materials.
3. Work Instructions and Assembly Guidance
Thirdly, the digital thread facilitates the creation and dissemination of detailed work instructions and assembly guidance based on the BoM data. This ensures that assembly operators have access to accurate and step-by-step instructions, reducing errors and improving productivity on the shop floor.
4. Quality Control and Traceability
The digital thread enables better quality control and traceability throughout the manufacturing process. By integrating the BoM with quality management systems, it ensures that quality requirements and specifications are adhered to during production. It also enables traceability of components and materials, making it easier to identify and address any quality issues or recalls.
5. Continuous Improvement and Feedback Loop
Additionally, the digital thread supports continuous improvement initiatives by capturing data and feedback from manufacturing and quality control processes. It enables the analysis of production data, identifies areas for improvement, and facilitates data-driven decision-making to enhance manufacturing efficiency and product quality.
6. Post-Market Monitoring
Finally, the digital thread extends beyond the manufacturing phase to support post-market monitoring and quality assurance. Integrating BoM data with field service management systems and customer feedback enables organizations to identify and address product issues, initiate product improvements, and provide timely support and maintenance.
All in all, the digital thread enhances BoM management for manufacturing and assembly processes by ensuring accurate and up-to-date information, facilitating supply chain integration, enabling effective work instructions, improving quality control, supporting continuous improvement efforts, and enabling post-market monitoring. Concurrently, it streamlines operations, improves product quality, and enhances customer satisfaction.
The Polaris Story
Polaris utilized PTC Windchill, an advanced product lifecycle management system, to transform their Bill of Materials into a reliable new business model backbone. As a result, it allowed them to create a connected enterprise.
Windchill PLM combines the digital thread framework with a maximized BoM and change management strategy. This powerful product lifecycle management platform organizes all information associated with the development of its products, allowing every stakeholder to access the latest up-to-date information in a dynamic format.
Once it was clear to Polaris that they had outgrown certain tools and processes, they coordinated and synchronized a digital thread of data throughout the enterprise by leveraging PTC Windchill.
As of today, Polaris’ Windchill PLM system enables them to manage and organize the bill of materials (BoM) and implemented configuration management practices. This helped transform their BoMs as needed, effectively managing changes, overseeing manufacturing processes, and utilizing augmented reality (AR) design-sharing capabilities.
By orchestrating these elements, the digital thread ensured seamless connectivity and flow of information across different stages and departments within Polaris. This enabled improved collaboration, streamlined workflows, effective change control, and enhanced manufacturing processes. On top of giving the ability to share and visualize designs using AR technology.
To sum it up, it’s time to put Excel away and start working smarter, not harder. Successful BoM management derives from a single source of truth throughout the enterprise in regard to all the data contained in the Bill of Materials. The Digital Thread allows for the seamless automated flow of the BoM information to create a truly connected enterprise, working in sync along every step of the manufacturing process.
Digital transformation has become a buzzword in recent years, and for good reason. Companies that embrace digital technologies are more likely to stay ahead of the curve, differentiate themselves in the marketplace, and meet the evolving needs of their customers.
The benefits of digital transformation can be far-reaching, from improved customer experience to cost savings and increased efficiency.
In this blog, we will explore the various benefits of digital transformation, and why it is essential for companies to embrace this trend in order to remain competitive in the digital age.
What is Digital Transformation?
Digital transformation is a term used to describe the process of transforming an organization’s business model and operations through the use of digital technologies. It’s important because it can help you stay ahead of your competition, improve customer experience and attract new customers.
The benefits of digital transformation include:
- Improved customer experience: Digital transformation can help you better understand and meet the needs of your customers. With the use of data analytics and other digital tools, you can gather insights into customer behavior and preferences, and tailor your products and services accordingly.
- Increased efficiency and productivity: Digital transformation can automate many processes, reducing manual labor and freeing up staff to focus on higher-value tasks. This can lead to increased efficiency and productivity across your organization.
- Competitive advantage: By embracing digital technologies, you can stay ahead of your competitors and differentiate yourself in the marketplace. This can help you attract new customers and retain existing ones.
- Cost savings: Digital transformation can help you reduce costs by streamlining processes and eliminating unnecessary steps. This can lead to significant savings over time.
- Innovation: Digital transformation can open up new opportunities for innovation and growth. By embracing new technologies and ways of working, you can develop new products and services that better meet the needs of your customers.
See how JR Automation saved seven figures with embarking on their digital transformation journey:
Creating a Digital Transformation Roadmap
The first step to creating a digital transformation roadmap is to identify the scope of your transformation. What are you trying to achieve? What are the goals and objectives of your business? How will you measure success?
Once this has been determined, it’s time to set up a timeline for achieving those goals.
Once these steps have been completed, it’s time for action! You should now have a clear idea of what needs changing within your organization and how long it will take before those changes become visible.
Building a Digital Transformation Team
When you’re building your digital transformation team, it’s important to define roles and responsibilities. You’ll want to make sure that everyone understands their role in the process and what they are expected to do. For example, if someone is responsible for monitoring the performance of shop floor machines, they should know what the ideal OEE is of each machine, how they are going to collect that data, and how they are going to distribute it to enterprise decision makers.
It’s also important that you select team members who have complementary skillsets and experience levels. If one person has extensive knowledge of augmented reality while another knows nothing about it at all, this could lead to problems down the line when it comes time for them both to collaborate on projects together – and no one wants that!
Finally, creating a culture where collaboration happens naturally between team members will help ensure successful outcomes throughout your digital transformation project(s).
Adopting the Right Technology
The first step in digital transformation is choosing the right technology. You’ll want to consider:
Software: What are your current needs and how will they change over time? Will you need additional features or functionality?
Hardware: Do you have enough computing power and storage space for all of your data, or does it need to be scaled up or down depending on usage patterns at different times of day/year/etc.? Do you have sensors to track data that you need for production insight?
Tools: What tools do developers use to build applications on top of this platform (e.g., Creo vs. Solidworks)? How easy is it for them to integrate their code with existing systems like databases and messaging queues? Are there any security issues with using these tools – and if so, how can they be mitigated by using another tool instead (e.g., switching from MySQL database server software to Microsoft Azure).
Developing a Digital Transformation Strategy
The first step to developing a digital transformation strategy is to define the scope of the project. What are you trying to accomplish? What are your objectives, and how will you measure success?
These questions can help guide your organization through its transformation journey by setting realistic goals for both short-term wins and long-term gains.
Once you’ve defined what needs changing, it’s time for step two: defining how those changes will happen. This involves creating an action plan that includes timelines for each phase of implementation as well as resources required for each stage (e.g., time from IT staff).
Some companies may choose to tackle multiple projects simultaneously; others might choose only one area at a time depending on their resources available in terms of money/manpower/etcetera).
Implementing the Digital Transformation Plan
Develop a timeline. The first step in implementing your digital transformation plan is to develop a timeline with milestones that will help you track progress.
Set goals and objectives for each milestone. Once you’ve established your milestones, it’s time to set goals and objectives for each one of them so that everyone involved knows exactly what needs to be done at any given time during the project.
Track progress regularly by reviewing dashboards or reports generated from data collected during testing phases of development projects (if applicable). It’s important not only for managers but also employees on lower levels within organizations who may not have access
Monitoring and Evaluating Performance
Monitoring and measuring performance is an important part of the digital transformation process. It allows you to identify areas where you are successful, and areas that need improvement.
Monitoring can be done using a variety of tools, including:
Data Analytics Dashboards (e.g., Thingworx Analytics)
Digital Twin Performance (e.g., Augmented Reality)
Adapting and Adjusting the Plan
As you progress through your digital transformation, there will be changes in the market that you need to respond to.
If a competitor introduces a new product or service, or if something happens in the industry at large, it may change how you approach your own strategy.
You might also find that your goals and objectives have changed since they were first set out; perhaps there’s been an increase in customer demand for something specific that wasn’t previously considered important enough for inclusion on the list.
The best way to handle these situations is by reviewing them regularly with other members of your team – and making sure everyone has input into decisions about how best to adjust course as needed.
Communicating the Benefits of Digital Transformation
In order to communicate the benefits of digital transformation, it’s important to understand who your stakeholders are and what they want.
If you’re working in an organization with a large number of stakeholders (such as a government agency), then there may be multiple groups that need convincing. For example:
The board wants to see results from their investment in IT infrastructure. They’ll likely be interested in metrics such as ROI and cost savings.
Executives want quick wins that will help them achieve their goals, but they also need proof that this new approach will work before they can commit time and resources to implementing it throughout the organization.
Employees want something tangible they can hold onto when explaining why this change is important for them personally (and why it matters).
Digital transformation is a powerful tool that can help you achieve your business goals. It’s important to remember that digital transformation is not just about implementing new technologies, but also about changing how you work and think as an organization.
Digital transformation requires commitment from everyone involved in the process – from the C-suite down through every level of your organization.
To be successful, it must be an ongoing effort rather than a one-time project or initiative. You will need to continuously innovate and improve what you’re doing if you want to stay ahead of competitors who are also pursuing digital transformation strategies.
In conclusion, digital transformation is becoming increasingly essential for companies to stay competitive and meet the needs of their customers in the digital age. However, the process of digital transformation can be complex and challenging, which is why EAC assessments can be extremely helpful.
By conducting an assessment of your organization’s current digital capabilities and identifying areas for improvement, you can develop a roadmap for digital transformation that is tailored to your specific needs and goals.
EAC assessments can help you identify gaps in your digital capabilities, streamline your processes, and develop new products and services that better meet the needs of your customers. By embracing digital transformation and leveraging the expertise of EAC assessors, you can position your company for success in the digital age.
The Factory of the Future is a connected world of everything.
We will explore the benefits of IoT in manufacturing, including asset monitoring and utilization, quality control, predictive analytics, automation, safety and compliance, OEE visibility and productivity, and more.
With IoT solutions, companies can achieve their Industry 4.0 goals and increase their bottom line.
What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects, people and other assets that are connected to the internet. IoT allows you to collect data from devices and analyze it in real time.
The goal is to make processes more efficient by optimizing performance and reducing costs.
IoT can be used to monitor machines in factories, track inventory at warehouses or even monitor traffic conditions on roads. It’s also used for home automation tasks like turning off lights when you leave a room or adjusting your thermostat based on your location inside (or outside) the house.
An IoT ecosystem refers to the network of devices, sensors, software, and services that are interconnected and work together to collect, analyze, and act on data.
They are often utilized to gather data on connected assets, and tools in order to gain real-time insights into their condition for predictive maintenance purposes.
The goal of predictive maintenance is to detect and address problems before they cause equipment failure, downtime, or safety issues.
By predicting maintenance needs in advance, organizations can schedule maintenance during planned downtime, minimize the impact of maintenance on operations, and extend the lifespan of equipment.
A smart, connected product (also known as a smart object or SCoT) is a product, asset, or other object embedded with processors, sensors, software, and connectivity that allows data to be exchanged between the product and its environment, manufacturer, operator/user, and other products and systems.
Smart, connected products enable the comprehensive monitoring of a product’s condition, operation, and external environment through sensors and external data sources.
This technology stack provides a gateway for data exchange between the product and the user and integrates with other systems to enable a new level of customer experience.
Similar to connected products, a smart, connected factory is a digitized manufacturing facility that uses connected devices, machinery, and production systems to continuously collect and share data.
This data is then used to inform and improve processes and proactively address any issues that may arise.
It is an interconnected network of machines, communication mechanisms, and computing power, which uses advanced technologies to analyze data, drive automated processes and learn as it goes. It uses the sensors and software of the connected products to bring together the factory floor.
A connected factory is implemented to track the overall equipment efficiency or effectiveness (OEE) of the factory.
A smart connected factory is the telltale sign of a manufacturing floor that is functioning at its most optimal ability.
Having access to data insights regarding production health helps companies optimize earnings and minimize production downtime.
Integrating augmented reality (AR) with IoT involves using sensors and other IoT devices to collect data from the physical world, which is then used to augment the user’s experience in the digital world.
For example, AR can be used to display real-time data from IoT sensors, such as temperature or humidity, on a user’s mobile device. When a cell phone or tablet uses Augmented Reality (AR) to display data, it overlays virtual information on top of the real-world view seen through the device’s camera.
This can be particularly useful in industrial settings, where workers can use AR to monitor the performance of machines, detect any issues immediately, and take corrective action. This kind of data can be turned into a Digital Twin.
With a Digital Twin, you create an exact replica of a working product, process, or service as a simulated model in a virtual space that performs under real-world conditions.
A Digital Twin in manufacturing helps companies find performance issues, schedule predictive maintenance, reduce downtime, and minimize warranty expenses.
This allows anyone to take a digital version of your factory with you anywhere in the world and know the exact, real-time data of how it is functioning. This is extremely helpful for decision-makers who often travel and need to know how their factories are doing.
Additionally, a digital twin of your factory helps maintenance teams find precisely where an issue may have occurred by giving them visual prompts of where the problem is originating from.
The Benefits of IoT in Manufacturing
IoT has a plethora of benefits for manufacturers that overall saves companies time and money, and solves frustrations with outdated processes and siloed data.
Bellow are different ways the IoT solutions could benefit your production process:
Asset Monitoring & Utilization (AMU) & Real-Time Production Performance Monitoring
Make more informed decisions faster
Increasing flexibility and agility
Monitoring the status of inventory in real-time
Monitoring Distributed and Outsourced Processes
Spare parts management
IoT sensors allow organizations to gauge the specific use and deploy practices for more effective usage of resources.
Machine Learning & Predictive Analytics
By integrating machine-learning capabilities there is a whole new level of predictive intelligence brought to the factory floor – identified problems and resolved issues with minimal impact on operational performance. Other benefits include:
Detect problems before they occur
This helps to maximize factory production utilize data analytics to perform predictive maintenance
Optimizing Maintenance Schedules
Automation & Connected Work Cells (CWC)
In manufacturing, many processes are streamlined with IoT technology. For example, one IoT strategy is to use Automation. With IoT, using sensors allows you to automate certain tasks such as temperature monitoring or product tracking.
This means less time spent on manual labor and paper-based processes while increasing productivity simultaneously!
Safety & Compliance
Making sure that machines are running at a safe capacity and within the compliance standards creates a well maintained work area that brings employee satisfaction and confidence in a safe workspace.
All these things can be tracked through IoT technology, along with others:
Increasing energy efficiency of machines
Reduce human errors
Ensuring Products Comply with Set Standards
Increased employee and customer satisfaction
OEE Visibility & Productivity
A factory enhanced by IoT solutions offer complete visibility into all of your factory operations. You can see all of your work orders, lines, and all critical KPIs through dashboards that pull together
IoT sensors allow organizations to gauge the specific use and deploy practices for more effective usage of resources.
Increase bottom line
Decreased Machine Downtime
Optimizing Factory Production
Reduced lead time
Improvement of Operational Performance
The first step in implementing IoT in manufacturing is to identify your goals. Are you looking to improve efficiency, reduce waste or increase profitability?
Do you want to improve customer satisfaction by delivering products on time, or do you want to create new revenue streams with data collected from connected devices?
Once you’ve determined what kind of impact IoT can have on your business, it’s time to evaluate the current technology that’s not only available but that easily integrates with your current systems and shop floor.
Finally, develop an action plan for implementing these strategies broken down into digestible phases. It’s critical to understand what solutions fit best and most align with your unique business and prioritized initiatives.
We hear from companies all the time regarding what challenges they feel stops them from implementing IoT in manufacturing.
The first is cost. However, with any good investment, the benefits of using IoT solutions offset the cost. While IoT ROI doesn’t happen overnight, the full impact IoT has on manufacturing organizations is tenfold.
NORMA Group met with EAC experts to understand what sort of impact an IoT initiative would have on their business growth and determined the challenges were well worth the wait – something we find other companies can relate to. Another early adopter, JR Automation was able to save $1.4 million by investing in IoT.
The second common challenge that comes with implementing IoT is security. This includes both physical and data security issues that need to be evaluated and addressed before implementing any type of data management change.
Finding a solution with integrated automated tools and detailed monitoring is key to preventing attacks. Check out this article that talks further about data security and how PTC’s Kepware supports cybersecurity.
Another challenge we see is considering how well your organization will be able to manage the new information coming from all over your facilities. It’s key you create a plan to integrate the new data flow into your existing systems.
With user-friendly IoT-connected solutions like PTC Thingworx, data is captured, consolidated into a dashboard, and presented in a consumable visual format for real-time insights.
Another consideration is requirements: What sort of hardware do you have to support that software change? Replacing or updating existing systems and hardware to increase efficiency may be necessary to keep up with the fast pace environment of shop floors.
There is no doubt that these are important things to consider when making enterprise-wide changes. While implementing IoT can feel difficult and intimidating, it does not have to be.
EAC has a number of business assessments that can help you evaluate your current state and create a highly strategic roadmap to successfully scale your digital transformation initiatives.
Ultimately, Digital Transformation is a game changer for manufacturing companies who are unsatisfied with the “status quo” – and IoT will open up major opportunities for long-term success and sustainable growth that would not have been possible without making changes.
Empower your organization with enhanced connectivity to your products, systems, and customers.
IoT can provide significant advantages for manufacturers across the enterprise, but it is important to properly evaluate, plan and implement the right technology and the right solution at the right time in order to maximize the potential benefits.
Our IoT consulting and connect services provide comprehensive support from extracting valuable insights, and developing strategic plans to executing and implementing efficient IoT solutions that accelerate your digital transformation.