Making and extending access to product data (also known as data accessibility) is exactly what can put you ahead, especially if your organization has anything to do with product development.

This article explains how to make product data accessible, as well as why product data access is a trend that many organizations are beginning to pursue.

Product data is vital to organizational success

In business and engineering, product development refers to bringing new and existing products to market. During this process, your product data is everything.

Your organization’s product data likely includes computer-aided design (CAD) data, 3D models, parts information, standardized work instructions, product requirements, notes, documents, and more.

This is why your organization’s product development success starts with… you know it… product data.

The reality is, the product data that may only be visible to engineering or management teams is exactly what your entire organization could leverage to make better-informed decisions.

Product data is vital to organizational success because it helps identify business opportunities, predict future trends, and most importantly it is exactly what allows you to generate more revenue.

Why is data accessibility important?

Data-driven business decisions make or break companies. This is exactly why your product data should be accessible to anyone within your organization who needs it.

People across multiple departments often need to input data into business systems, especially in larger organizations.

If different employees throughout your organization input slightly different information, use non-compatible formats or simply don’t have access to each other’s data – confusion and miscommunication can occur.

These situations lead to mistakes, unnecessary costs, and lost revenue. All of which (I’m going to assume) your business is trying to avoid.

There are many reasons why access to data is important, but let’s address data access methods and tools your organization can use to help extend and make your product data accessible.

The first step to making product data accessible: System integration. System integration  is an ever-popular topic among the IT savvy.

Integrated systems streamline processes, increase efficiency and productivity, reduce costs, and reduce manual entry errors. This is why organizations take steps to integrate business and enterprise systems used throughout their operations.

Integrating your business systems helps keep everyone on the same page by ensuring all staff has access to the same data.

This is especially important when tracking product changes, and I’ll explain exactly why.

Let’s assume an engineer needs to make a last-minute one design adjustment to a product. This is a situation when it is crucial to inform affected departments and stakeholders of product changes as soon as possible.

When system integrations and PLM/ERP tools are in place, everyone throughout your organization (who would need access to specific product data) can access up-to-date information!

Not only does this keep people up-to-date and informed, but it also allows people throughout an organization to compare and contrast the evolution of your products.

Why is that so important?

A cross-functional team’s ability to evaluate the history of product changes through the lens of each individual’s respective discipline will provide a better idea of the impact of product and process changes over time.

By encouraging information-sharing and communication between departments, system integration can inspire collaboration between departments and lead to unexpected business improvements.

When one department gains access to information they didn’t have before, it can help them understand the role in the company better as well as the overall operation of the business.

This knowledge can help them improve performance and productivity, as well as, allow them to make better, more informed decisions.

Recognizing & responding to multiple data user’s product information needs

Although product data management tools (such as PTC Windchill) help organization’s collect and manage data, many enterprise solutions (such as product lifecycle management systems) fail to build user interfaces that non-technical staff can actually understand.

PLM systems can quickly become too complex for many roles across an organization. This can make it hard for users to navigate the system, find information, and ensure they’re getting the right information.

Oftentimes the sole users of PLM enterprise systems tend to be engineers and product designers who create the information. This means other roles are requesting information from the authors, whether they are designers or engineers. 

When this happens, users lose time waiting for the person who created the information, and they take time from the designers and engineers that should be focused on designing and developing products.

The solution: System integration that is focused on data visibility and data accessibility

By integrating your enterprise systems with a focus on data visibility and data accessibility, your organization ultimately supports communication and collaboration across the entire enterprise and value chain.

For instance, product data management tools (such as PLM applications or plugins) can collect and transform your product data. These same product data access tools can also provide a data output with meaningful content, assisting any role (such as accounting, purchasing marketing, etc.) to make smarter and faster decisions which can directly impact your bottom line.

An easy solution to extend product data access

Our company, EAC Product Development Solutions, designed an easy solution to help organizations (like yours) easily extend access to accurate product data.

Our solution is our EAC Productivity Apps.

Our PLM EAC Productivity Applications deliver role-based data mash-ups, that provide just the type of product information that is needed by a particular role.

Our PLM plugin technology works in the back-end to bring together product information stored in multiple enterprise systems (such as ERP, ALM, PLM, QMS, etc) to deliver product data to users in a way that can be easily consumed.

This enables an entire enterprise to get valuable product data and information in just the way that they want it when they need it.

Our Productivity Applications also eliminate time wasted waiting for authors to collect and redistribute product information.

Our EAC Productivity Applications help deliver on the promise of Product Lifecycle Management.

Want to learn more? Let’s have a conversation.

Here’s why every manufacturing company should be considering product lifecycle management applications.

Expand PLM software usage throughout your enterprise with PLM apps

Let’s face it, no company uses a single product data management system (PDM) or a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) system for ALL of its organization’s needs.

Your organization likely uses an abundance of different technology software to collect and store data. These technologies can include customer relationship management (CRM) systems, quality management system (QMS) software, enterprise relationship planning (ERP) systems, application lifecycle management (ALM) systems, and so many more.

If your organization currently uses a PLM system, odds are you most likely paid a pretty penny for it. So why not make the most of that product lifecycle system investment and use your system’s complete functionality?!

Product lifecycle applications support, enable, and enhance the value and footprint of PLM software. PLM Apps go a long away to assist and ensure consistent access to up-to-date product data. They can help expand controlled access to valuable content and give functional groups a single simplified view of files, data, and content all within a single browser-accessible screen.

You’re going to want to invest in these kinds of advanced technology solutions that simplify data gathering processes and expand the value of your PLM investment. PLM apps are meant to help you find data easier which reduces user frustration and helps take productivity to new levels within your organization.

PLM applications, also referred to as PLM system plugins, deliver on the dreams of many organizations. They are a simple solution that drastically increases enterprise PLM usage.

PLM apps integrate siloed data from disparate systems

With the use of multiple complex enterprise systems, your organization’s data is most likely held captive in siloed systems. Many PLM applications help connect these disjointed enterprise systems using common application programming interface (API) connection abilities.

PLM apps simply pull data from other enterprise systems into a new user-interface through API integrations. They don’t rely on interface features from other enterprise platforms or systems (besides the data and information they extract), therefore, they are less likely to be affected by a new release of the underlying enterprise systems!

PLM apps simplify searches for the occasional PLM software user

PLM apps change the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) of your PLM system so that it’s easier to use. This can be useful for occasional or novice users who can feel overwhelmed by the complexity of their PLM system compared to those that use their PLM system on a daily basis.

PLM applications offer user-friendly interfaces that simplify the complexity of PLM systems and make it easier to search, find, locate, and understand product information. In fact, many of these tools even allow organizations to adjust settings for specific users (such as purchasing, marketing, accounting, etc.) so they can access the direct information they need.

PLM apps Many customers we work with use complex product lifecycle management systems such as PTC Windchill or Siemens Teamcenter. Due to the robust capabilities of these enterprise systems (and other PLM systems), many users find product data hard to navigate – especially if they aren’t daily users within these systems.

PLM apps speed up product development processes by providing users with complete access to real-time complex enterprise data.

Product lifecycle applications really do make PLM easier – see it for yourself by watching this short PLM applications video.

Customize PLM apps without disrupting your PLM software

PLM applications and system plugins offer simple and easy ways to customize enterprise product data systems. A PLM Administrator can customize the apps to conform to their company’s goals and prioritization of tasks without disrupting the PLM software itself.

Time after time, we see organizations add PLM customizations to their mainframe PLM software, only to wind up facing dozens of challenges as new system software versions get released. Because PLM apps are an extension of PLM software systems, they are minimally affected by upgraded software versions and updates (if at all).

PLM apps provide organizations with the ability to easily custom tailor simplified product lifecycle management interfaces or mashups. This functionality provides additional value and integration capabilities with other enterprise systems.

PLM Applications offer a brand-new UI for your intricate product data management system; enabling a fresh and simple user experience. They also have started to help organizations solve problems easier and faster with direct, accessible, and instantaneous insights from data.

Your systems are only as good as how you use them. If employees struggle to navigate your product lifecycle system interface, PLM apps are definitely something you should be looking into!

How PLM apps drive flexibility within your organization

PLM applications provide access to PLM information to employees outside of engineering such as marketing, sales, finances, and procurement.

Access to PLM system data provides another way for teams to identify the broad scale of their day to day activities and information. This can help teams understand and prioritize tasks to be more efficient and productive.

This flexibility allows teams to work the way they want. By enhancing a complex system and tailoring each end-user experience, it’s easy to see how these PLM system plug-ins can drastically improve productivity and drive value across an organization.

What is better than providing every department with product information that they want and need to do their job?!

Want to learn more about PLM Applications and how they could pair up with your current enterprise systems? Let’s have the conversation!

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.