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!

Data Visualization and system integration tools are shaping the future of business and I am going to explain exactly why. 

First, it is essential that you understand the impacts of technology and data today. 

The impacts of big data 

Humans collectively produce approximately 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day and this number is only increasing with the acceleration of the Internet of Things (IoT). These already astonishing statistics are growing at an ever-increasing rate as our world becomes even more digitized and data-centric.

Due to this overwhelming growth, businesses have begun facing challenges with data capture, analysis, distribution, storage, and visualization. In fact, big data has started to become so large and so complex that businesses are even finding traditional data processing techniques to be inadequate. This is exactly why system integration and business intelligence software have become essential components for successful business data management strategies.

System integration and system integration tools

Enterprise application integration software combine components of sub-systems together into one centralized system. Essentially, system integration applications ensure all business systems function together as one.

For instance, integration applications (such as EAC Productivity Apps) connect existing systems and enable seamless data to flow from various systems into role-based dashboards or “mashups.” 

By using applications that integrate all of your business systems, your organization opens up a clear, efficient path, for information to travel from one application or system to another. The process of linking together different computing systems and software applications opens up an organization’s ability to easily collect, aggregate, and share data. 

Business intelligence

The trend towards business intelligence (BI) has driven many companies to evaluate technology-driven processes for analyzing data and presenting actionable information.

Common functions of business intelligence technologies include reportinganalyticsdata miningprocess mining, business performance managementbenchmarking, predictive analytics and prescriptive analytics.

BI technologies can handle large amounts of structured and sometimes unstructured data to help identify, develop, and otherwise create new strategic business opportunities. They aim to allow for the easy interpretation of big data. Identifying new opportunities and implementing an effective strategy based on insights can provide businesses with a competitive market advantage and long-term stability

System integration, Bi, and data visualization

Tools and applications that integrate business systems incorporate oftentimes incorporate data visualizations, also known as data dashboards

Data visualizations deliver graphical representations of data or information, often in the form of a chart, diagram, picture, or any other visual illustration. Visual representations of data and information help humans understand the significance of data by transforming it into information placing it in a visual context.

Human visual processing is efficient in detecting changes and making comparisons between quantities, sizes, shapes, and variations in lightness. When properties of symbolic data are mapped to visual properties, humans can browse through large amounts of data efficiently.

If considering the way the human brain processes information, using charts or graphs to visualize large amounts of complex data is much easier than attempting to analyze multiple different spreadsheets or reports. By using visual elements like charts, graphs, and maps, data visualization tools provide an accessible way to see and understand trendsoutliers, and patterns in data.

The impacts of data visualization

Data visualization enables executives, managers, and other corporate end users, to easily digest huge amounts of data by displaying visuals.

These data visuals encourage decision makers to compare sizeable amounts of information while data is being revealed beneath several levels of detail. This encourages the natural eye to compare and contrast different pieces of data, that may have otherwise been lost within reports. 

System integration tools that collect data from internal and external systems and aggregate it into data dashboards, enable organizations to reason quantitative information.  This helps executives, managers, and other corporate end users to better understand trends, patterns, and possible correlations.  Data visualizations can also allow decision makers to make better business decisions.  

Visual data representations of information assist decision makers in the absorption of information in new and more constructive ways. They encourage a user to think about the substance of the data rather than the methodology. 

With the ability to manipulate and interact directly with data, organizations visualize relationships and pattern between operational and business activities. This allows them to identify and act on emerging trends faster, as well as, identify areas that need attention or improvement. 

By using system integration business intelligence tools and applications, organizations can collect data from internal and external systems, prepare it for analysis, develop and run queries against that data, and create reports, dashboards and data visualizations to make the analytical results available to corporate decision-makers, as well as operational workers.

Think data visualization and system integration could be what your organization needs?

We offer EAC Productivity Apps as enhanced guidance to your specific organizational goals around data management and a way to your amplify your Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) investment. These applications, or PLM plugins, deliver role-based product data to stakeholders throughout your organization. We can combine information from ERP, MRP, PLM, and QMS (as well as others) to securely deliver accurate product data to those who need it.

EAC Productivity Apps: View the brochure

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)

Remember in 1977 when Ken Olson, the founder of Digital Equipment Corporation said, “there is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home”? Boy was he wrong. Not even a leader in the technology industry could predict how quickly our usage of technology would change.

If you don’t make an effort to keep up with the fast pace of technology; you will fall behind. It’s critical that you proactively embrace and move towards digital processes to ensure that future products better meet the needs of customers.  

What better way to keep up with the future than making highly accurate product performance and behavior predictions with the right design tools? 

PTC developed a Creo extension called Creo Product Insight. It lets designers and engineers incorporate the latest sensor technology into their designs.

What is Creo Product Insight?

Creo Product Insight captures and analyzes product data from live sensors on prototypes and products directly within your CAD model. This tool produces a digital twin, an exact replica of a physical prototype in a virtual CAD model, to mirror the performance of a product under real-world conditions.  

How does it work? You add digital sensors from a library directly into your CAD models in Creo. Then you connect them to the data streams from physical products. Whether you’re looking to get more value out of your prototypes, design smart connected products, or use data to improve the quality of existing products, the Creo Product Insight Extension allows you to design smarter. 

So how are organizations keeping up with the digital transformation with the Creo Product Insight Extension?

Improving New Product Design

When you’re improving new product design you’re most likely basing your design decision on assumptions and historical data. This puts you in a difficult spot because you may not have up-to-date-information which may cause inaccurate solutions and error-prone results. 

Creo Product Insight Extension | EAC Product Development Solutions
Sensor data from CAD model shown in picture above

Creo Product Insight allows you to validate design assumptions using real-world data from the field directly in Creo’s simulation and analysis tools. Using this extension also decreases your reliance on building prototypes because it gives you live product performance and behavior. 

Improving Existing and Next-Generation Product Designs 

The absence of real-world product data stunts the optimization of current and future products. If you had access to real-world data, you would be able to validate design criteria against customer usage data and mitigate risk of product failure, warranty, repair, and liability. 

With Creo Product Insight and ThingWorx you can analyze field data and provide meaningful information back to engineering. Using real-world data allows you to identify opportunities for new products in the market and understand over and under engineered designs to reduce product life cycle costs. 

Improving Smart Connected Product Design 

The lack of specialized tools that support smart connected products puts you at risk of falling behind the digital transformation process. When sensors and a strategy to capture real-live data are disconnected from your design process there is no way to deliver the value that your customers deserve out of their products.  

Creo Product Insight gives you the ability to optimize sensor replacements, choose a sensor type, and validate data capture requirement during the design process. The extension creates an integrated design process that delivers optimal value from smart connected products.  

Creo Product Insight Digital Twin | EAC Product Development Solutions
Digital Twins bring value to design engineers by showing one twin’s real-world data synced into its other twin’s CAD model datatracking product performance along the way

Creo Product Insight Capabilities and Benefits

Capabilities:

  • Reuse and instrument released designs
  • Embed sensors into new designs
  • Connect CAD models via digital twins to real-world data
  • Use real-world sensor data in CAD design
  • Integration with ThingWorx, the world’s leading industrial IoT platform
  • Prepare for Product as a Service

Benefits

  • Eliminate manual workflows to use real-world sensor data in design
  • Optimize products to real-world conditions
  • Ensure that future products better meet the needs of customers
  • Creo analyses outside of the design office
  • Decrease reliance on physical prototyping

Creo Product Insight Licensing and Creo Version Capabilities

The Creo Product Insight is an add-on extension that is available for subscription licensing only. You do not need ThingWorx to use this extension – although using ThingWorx with it will fully optimize your results.

“Physical” Sensors – Creo 4 (M020):

  • Easily define and place ‘measure’ sensors by adding physical sensors to Creo Assemblies
  • New Instrumented sub-type to protect reused/released design data
  • Associated parameter and input definitions and associated calculations
  • Define (physical) calculating sensors (M020) to report analysis results (center of gravity, mass, area, etc.)

UX Sensors – Creo 4 (M030 & M040):

  • Connection to ThingWorx to support reporting analyses results (M040)
  • Run Creo analysis using Behavioral Modeling, Simulation, and Mechanism Dynamics (M040)
  • Read real-world data from ThingWorx (or CSV data file) and use input variables to run analyses and report results back to data tables

“Virtual” Sensors – Creo 4 (M050):

  • Specialized Virtual sensor handling – (excluded from BOM, meshing, and graphics)
  • Directly connect and read sensor data from file or ThingWorx
  • Use real-world sensor data to drive simulations
  • Creo as a Service from ThingWorx (M050)
  • Save/Export analysis results together with input values back to data file

Get live data from CAD models

Download the Creo Product Insight datasheet or watch this webinar replay to learn more and see if your organization could benefit from collecting live data directly within your CAD models. I’m willing to bet it can.