System integration is much easier than you might think; here’s why.

The idea of linking business systems and consolidating data, also known as system and data integration, has become a major initiative for many companies – but most organizations have no idea where to start. Why? It’s an overwhelming topic! Organizations operate using any number of complex business systems. The idea of connecting everything seems hard. 

We live in world that is continually being transformed by data, yet much of the data we capture is held captive in disconnected enterprise systems that often include ERP, CRM, PLM, PDM, ALM, and QMS systems to name a few. This article explains why it is much easier to successfully integrate data and systems than you think.

What is system integration and how does it work?

System integration involves linking together component subsystems ensuring those separate, specialized business systems function as a coordinated whole. You might think of system integration a way to aggregate business subsystems so all systems within a business environment cooperate together as one.

The importance of system integration

When all enterprise systems work together as one, an organization is able to obtain new levels of role-based productivity and company-wide collaboration.

By combining disparate systems that operate with their own distinct data sets, an organization can improve product quality and performance, reduce operational costs, improve response times, and increase overall value to customers. We’ve watched our customers recognize exponential returns as more systems and users come together. It’s much easier to combine and integrate systems and data than you might think and let’s talk about why.

System integration solutions exist!

The problem with integrating systems/data is not a lack of technology – great system integration solutions exist! In fact, there are numerous connectivity tools and software applications available on the market today, that can simplify and speed up system integration. Many of these connectivity tools work in real-time, between data warehouses, software applications, IoT platforms and more!

Connectivity tools, such as applications and system plugins, enable organizations to easily create an environment of integrated data and information. These environments help manage the business itself and automate many tedious back-office functions related to technology, services, and human resources.

Take product lifecycle management applications (PLM apps) for example.

PLM applications connect all system data (from systems such as ERP, CRM, PLM, PDM, ALM, QMS, & more) and easily transform that data into a single interface with instant visualization. This allows someone from purchasing to instantly access materials, inventory and any other information they might need – without disrupting certain system operators. Furthermore, chances are that a partner from one of your current enterprise systems already is or has a system integration expert that can help you integrate your enterprise systems. (but in the case that you don’t, our company EAC Product Development solutions is capable and happy to help – it is one of many areas that we specialize)

Systems Integration tools are easy to implement

Today many enterprise system platforms can multiplex the reach of information and functionality that you already have on your business and make it reachable.

The steady shift of business systems into web-based connected architectures has made it easier than ever to connect enterprise systems! As a matter of fact, enterprise systems that you’re already using are likely to already have built-in application program interface (API) capabilities.

These built in API capabilities allow applications to talk to each other, while specifying how software components should interact. It boils down to this; get the right software to leverage your system’s API capabilities and you’re on your way to integrate business systems.

System data integration platforms can be affordable

Not only are there many integration applications and tools available on market today, but many of these connectivity solutions are becoming more and more affordable.

One of the greatest benefits of system integration solutions is that they oftentimes cost only a fraction of what it would cost to implement an entirely new enterprise system to do something! And the benefits quickly outweigh the costs when your productivity levels spike!

Integration applications are easy to use:

It’s now easier and less risky than ever to use data integration tools. In fact, many integration applications are designed with the user in mind.

Today many system data integration applications incorporate extremely easy-to-use, ready out-of-the-box features and capabilities! A great example is a tool like ThingWorx, PTC Navigate, or EAC Productivity Apps. These tools are designed to quickly provide integrated access to timely relevant information.

So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to make the most out of your enterprise system data by integrating your systems.

Need help getting started? That’s what EAC Product Development Solutions is here for. It’s our job to make your system integration smooth, easy, and effortless. Let’s talk about the next steps. We would love to help you find a system integration solution that fits your organizational needs. Fill out the form to have someone from EAC contact you about integrating all of your systems, once and for all!

Communicating product data across an organization is complex. Let’s talk about how to make it easier.

Different departments gather product data from a variety of systems including Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Systems, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Systems, Manufacturing Execution systems (MES), and Quality Management Systems (QMS) and more, how do we know our organizations are making the most out of all this information?

Just think about it for a second. Our systems speak different languages, AND our departments often aim for different goals. 

With an estimated 90% of the world’s data created in the last two years alone (Conner, n.d.), it’s no wonder that companies are having a hard time using it all.  The IDC estimates that just 0.5% of the data companies produce is ever used. It’s time to change that.

Here are 9 Ways Your Business Will Benefit From Connecting Your Data systems.

1. Increased Usability 

Data experts believe that if Fortune 1,000 companies increased the amount of data they used by just 10%, they could realize over $65 million in additional net income (Marr, 2015). Not only are these numbers huge, they also help make my case about the critical importance of data usability.

The truth is – any one specialized system is often too complex for many non-specialized roles to navigate, find, and transfer the right information. This often leaves separate departments accountable for storing and sharing uncontrolled, out of date versions of product data. It’s not because they don’t WANT to use the right information. It’s because system complexity and interdepartmental gates make it hard to consistently get the right information. 

So how do we make product data more usable?

A) Consolidating product data from disparate sources into one single system.
B) Give users a way to access the system using simplified role-specific dashboards.

2. Better Data Access

The most important reason your product data shouldn’t (internally anyway) be kept secret is because product data is your company’s most valuable asset.

Not everyone who needs access to specific product information hosted in your PLM system is from your engineering department, so don’t force them to go through the same vigorous Product Lifecycle system training. Don’t make them navigate an engineer’s world one click at a time.

In order to effectively use data, our departments must have ready access to it. We must make rich product information easy to accessible for a broad set of roles.

By creating an organized system that connects all of our product data, your organization will make information easily accessible to users beyond those who have created it.

Just think of the possibilities that come from connecting multiple systems and delivering information to all departments through a single window.

3. Complete Data

Imagine an entire enterprise with access to real data, at the right time, when it’s needed.

By connecting your product lifecycle management systems with your other enterprise systems, every stakeholder within your organization can impact the value flow of product data through your organization. It also equips team members to consistently drive critical decisions with the latest, most accurate information.

4. Better Insights

Better access to data = Better insights. 

Your business teams can and should demand a lot of your PLM processes and solution.

This is one of the reasons why your organization should consider integration technologies and custom front-end solutions – Such as PLM applications. 

A data-driven enterprise with insights into how current products and processes can be optimized can drastically improve productivity. Doing this requires teams to have access to up-to-date, accurate product data.

5. Better Decisions

Ready access to information is especially important to any company developing products.  

Users without access to the system of record resort to error-prone workarounds that can result in inaccuracies, quality problems, and waste.

Decisions made from out- of- date inaccurate data threaten product quality and delay time to market.

Providing everyone in your organization with broad visibility into the system of record will drive better, more accurate decisions. This will ultimately improve quality, reduce waste, scrap, rework, and help you meet your time to market goals.

The analytical possibilities that come with connecting your data will help users across your organization make accurate product decisions throughout the entire development process.

6. Better Products

Who doesn’t want to create better products faster?

Providing your organization with universal data access will allow your company to drastically accelerate product development.

How so?

By connecting disparate systems, you will have access to real-time data allowing you to make better product decisions.

Because your decisions and actions are now driven by up-to-date information, you will achieve a higher product quality.

7. Increased Productivity

Why waste time manually reading, entering and analyzing data? It could be automatically collected, filtered, and combined.

By collecting your product data in one system and providing a simplified role-based interface, any user within your organization can access contextual, up-to-date, real-time product information anytime they need. 

I guarantee your productivity will grow when your organization is able to plan earlier with manufacturing, order materials sooner with purchasing all while your engineering team is spending less time pulling reports.

8. Increased collaboration

Using a system that provides role-based data access to stakeholders throughout your organization provides every role with an ability to quickly understand the status of a part number and how the parts fit together in a design.

This will not only help mobilize and inform the work of teams throughout the organization, but it will also help maximize the success of your product development.

Giving your team the ability to extend and connect your PLM data into the rest of your enterprise will rapidly increase the overall effectiveness of your organization.

9.  Real Results

The ultimate benefit your organization will achieve by connecting your data systems stems from your ability to acquire real results. 

What does that mean?

Positive results have a tendency to snowball into more and more success. Results give your organization the confidence it needs to quickly deliver value. Providing access to the right information empowers a team, department, company to reach their true potential.

We want to help your company thrive. Our EAC Productivity Apps give your organization a way to connect disparate enterprise systems and easily deliver role-based dashboards to increase user confidence and productivity.

 

Let’s talk about ERP and PLM, the differences, the benefits and everything you need to know in order to be successful.

Our most popular blog throughout the years has been a defining article of what the differences are between ERP, MRP, and PLM. If you want a high and fast overview of the terms read our previous blog, “ERP/MRP/PLM” – or keep on reading below for a more in-depth look at ERP vs PLM.

Oftentimes organizations wonder: Do you really need both a PLM and an ERP system? Should you, or can you, use just one enterprise system to manage all of your product information? Which system is best? An ERP (enterprise resource planning) system or a PLM (product lifecycle management) system?

We hear these questions all the time.

This article breaks down the similarities as well as the differences between ERP and PLM so you can make the best and most informed decision for your specific situation.

As an organization, it is in your best interest to use technology as a competitive advantage – therefore it’s important to understand the ins and outs of both systems.

With everyone needing to get products to market faster and more efficiently, it’s good to understand that building and sustaining brand equity is just as important as speed to market.

As your company searches for technology that will give you a competitive edge, it’s crucial that you choose the right technology to serve as the foundation for your digital transformation initiatives.

This means choosing technology that will boost your innovation efforts, fulfill your operational and strategic business goals, and help you get closer to your end customers.

While your company continuously faces tough decisions when it comes to technology investments, you may be wondering if it is better to go all-in on an ERP system or invest in a PLM solution.

After all, both ERP and PLM vendors ‘claim’ they can manage both Bill of Materials (BoMs), costs, changes, and other information related to products.

My goal is to help you learn what system or systems are best for your organization.  

What is ERP and how does it work?

First, let’s breakdown what ERP is and its benefits.

ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning systems, software, and solutions.

One of the biggest driving factors for an enterprise-class ERP system revolves around finance and accounting. ERP systems are important because they ensure your quality products are manufactured in a timely, cost controlled manner once they have been engineered and approved.

This could be why approximately 97 percent of mid-sized companies already use an ERP application.

It’s important to also take into account that ERP solutions are considered to be one of the first software solutions to be categorized as an essential business tool. This could also be why so many organizations are already familiar with ERP.

Although there are many ERP software solutions on the market today, systems you may be familiar with might include Oracle ERP, SAP, Epicor ERP, Microsoft Dynamics AX, and a variety of others.

The fact is, ERP systems are generally built to satisfy the needs of business operations.

This means they are often used for manufacturing (such as manufacturing resource planning), human resources (HR), finance, accounting, purchasing, inventory management, order management, distribution, labor, customer service, and more.

An ERP system can take a product to market and is known for handling operational concerns such as logistics, warehousing, and inventory management.

These systems also provide vast amounts of transactional data which can be used to gauge your financial position and make informed choices about future business decisions.

What is PLM and how does it work?

PLM stands for Product Lifecycle Management software, systems, and solutions.

While ERP systems take transactional units to market, the data and information these systems use should originate in PLM.

PLM is all about the management of the process behind the product, as well as the history and collaboration that goes along with it.

Some PLM systems you may be familiar with include SAP PLM, PTC Windchill, Area PLM, Teamcenter, Siemens PLM, and more.

By adopting PLM software you can reap many rewards.

PLM solutions allow anyone involved in design, development, and manufacturing to work collaboratively with one set of comprehensive, accurate, up-to-date information.

PLM software works by supporting processes that define your brand, engage your customers, and differentiate your company’s products in the marketplace.

The unique value of PLM provides is that the software delivers a “single source of truth” about your product to anyone and everyone who has anything to do with product development.

The difference between ERP and PLM

A simple way to think about the differences between ERP and PLM is to focus on what each system was intended for, especially because both of these systems originate from very different foundations. 

Product lifecycle management systems focus on planning.

Enterprise resource management systems focus on execution.

To take a deeper dive, the focus for each system influences the key and unique features that the system provides.

PLM is a collaborative planning tool for your products.

The typical users of a PLM system tend to be product designers and engineers who need to work together to figure out what a product looks like and what it should be made of.

Since PLM is about planning everything about your product, it provides capabilities around managing designs, related services, collaboration with red-lining, task management and more.

Most PLM systems even have a PDM (product documents management) system inside of them. This how they often control the history of the intellectual documentation needed to design and manufacture a product.

These systems control and manage everything from CAD (computer aided drafting) files to program, project and change management processes. A PLM system combines all this functionality and integrates it into an overall product lifecycle management process.

This is why PLM solutions have a higher impact on revenue and brand image.

ERP on the other hand is a system focused on making and executing a product. The primary user of an ERP system tends to be people who deal with manufacturing operations.

Since ERP is about execution and fulfillment, it focuses on capturing information around things such as inventory, purchases and more.

While ERP systems focus only on traditional entities such as item masters, bill of materials and dates, PLM solutions encompass all of the iterative, collaborative, and creative processes that make up the vital elements of your product’s lifecycle.

In short, both solutions are vital for a company to develop and make products as efficiently as possible.

How PLM and ERP work together

Despite sometimes being viewed as competing solutions, ERP and PLM systems work very well together.

In fact, these enterprise systems complement each other, and it is in your benefit to have both! We can help you work through a Return on Investment (ROI) analysis if you’d like. Just contact us.

So how do enterprise resource planning and product lifecycle management systems work together?

PLM software provides the single point of product truth used by ERP to manage product resources and financials.

For example, by using eBoMs (engineering bill of materials) data from your product lifecycle management system, ERP can accurately generate purchasing and inventory management records, creating a unified management of both your resources and production.

Essentially, ERP systems pick up from PLM solutions and take finalized products forward.

This means that design, development, sampling, fitting, approval, assortment planning and all other activities essential to creating great products have already been signed off by the time your products reach the ERP system.

PLM systems help define, design, and plan your product. PLM integrated to ERP allows the systems to feed relevant BoMs and file components, so your manufacturing teams can efficiently order, make, and ship your products.

In fact, combining these two software solutions has only improved end-to end business performance and has already proven to be necessary. This is why so many ERP providers have started to acquire and develop their own PLM platforms!

By using ERP and PLM together, your organization can create a powerful source of data, information, processes and workflows. It can make it easier to create and deliver products from idea generation through design to manufacturing and distribution.

Now that you have a better understanding about how PLM and ERP solutions can positively affect the profitability of your entire company, you are in a better position to understand why it is best to invest and integrate both solutions.

PLM ERP integration benefits

Oftentimes, PLM only gets associated with engineering. In fact, many people don’t even realize that the full product lifecycle management system can integrate with ERP.

Rather than considering whether or not a PLM system could complement an ERP system, you should focus on the benefits your organization will gain by integrating the two.

When used together, your organization will have unified control over your manufacturing process and here’s why.

Today, in order to stay ahead of competition it is essential to deliver the right product, on time, and under budget.

To meet these requirements your organization must shorten design time and product engineering cycles.

By using PLM and ERP systems together, you will increase collaboration throughout your entire organization. ERP and PLM work best together as they collaborate and facilitate movement throughout your organization.

Without PLM, your ERP system is likely to consume and manage inaccurate data from design and engineering. This in turn is likely to deliver minimal (if any) improvements to your business.

Only using an ERP system without a complementary PLM system puts your organization at risk of mismanagement of product changes – which could lead to instances of inaccurate financial planning.

Together, PLM and ERP enhance collaboration between engineers, operations, and suppliers as they provide a single source of product truth. This will help you to seamlessly deliver products from design concept through manufacturing and distribution.

Because these two solutions both focus on products, they help create one single version of your product truth. This helps reduce errors and guarantees that your product documents and product versions are under control.

Seamless PLM to ERP integration will enable your organization to be more agile and reactive in all business activities including traceability, cost, delivery, quality, innovation and more. It helps ease your manufacturing process and creates a more cohesive environment.

By integrating both PLM and ERP, your organization will accelerate innovation, increase productivity, improve quality, and boost your overall performance.

Our Solution: Windchill PLM System

PTC Windchill is our PLM solution that we offer to our customers – so for the 97% of you that already have an ERP system, you should consider complementing it with Windchill. A popular blog called, “What is Windchill?” distinguishes all the ins and outs of this system.

 

What is Windchill? | Read the article

Customer Testimonial:

“Windchill and our new ERP system make it very easy to manage customizations and helps us to make sure that we have materials in-stock and on-time to meet those needs. We save about four hours per job with just the front-end BoM load and getting the information into the ERP system – which has been huge for us.” – Myron Pundt, VP of Engineering, ALM Positioners

Watch our video to learn more about ALM Positioners’ success with PTC Windchill 

Let’s talk about how technical documentation impacts field service procedures, high costs of inaccurate technical information, the root causes of service failures, and how to achieve high field service productivity and effectiveness.

Many of the fundamental issues in service occur due to inaccurate service information and technical documentation that is difficult to understand.

We have all been in a situation, at least once, that involved failure to deliver a service as promised. Why? It’s because all brands and businesses make promises! But the truth is… service issues happen

When service fails to deliver on promises, or a buyer experiences poor customer service, the result almost always ends with lost customers, canceled subscriptions, and tarnished brand reputation.

The impact of a service failure can be devastating. Let’s talk about the root causes impacting service issues and failures

The impacts of service issues

The greatest influence on service almost always has to do with one thing; technical documentation. By technical documentation I am referring to tech pubs, standard operating procedure documents, service instructions, maintenance manuals, guides, work instructions, procedures, bulletins, etc.

I’m talking about anything and everything that is provided to help assist and guide service technicians. Many of the fundamental issues in service occur due to technical documentation, let’s talk about why.

Technical Documentation and Field Service

Today many field service and manufacturing organizations rely on traditional time-intensive methods to develop and deploy technical documentation such as service procedures, work instructions, guides, manuals, etc.

But the fact is – oftentimes the tech pubs, guides, and manuals that are created, aren’t even read (or in some cases even used) by field service representatives for which they were designed!

In addition, technician instruction manuals and documentation designed to be used in field service are often out-of-date. This is due to the high maintenance and distribution costs to create, maintain and produce continually up-to-date field service documentation.

This issue compounds as products become more and more complex in response to ever increasing customer demands for innovation and customization.

This rise in complex products has resulted in complex service and maintenance procedures, affecting and influencing inaccuracies in technical writing and documentation. As the demand for complex maintenance and service procedures increase, technician efficiency decreases due to more time being spent searching for the correct service information in a format that can be used on the field. This often results in repair and maintenance delays.

When service technicians encounter unfamiliar problems and don’t have reliable service information to solve a problem, the need for repeat service visits increases. There are many major negative consequences from these situations.

For example, a customer might experience equipment downtime. This downtime impacts both the service provider, as it inflates the cost of service, as well as the customer, as they lose productivity.

The high costs of inefficient field service

For you, as a service provider, the consequences of poor service information, complex products, and poor technician efficiency can drastically impact your costs of service in a number of ways.

For starters, let’s assume you work with service contracts. Service contracts often contain elements such as equipment up-time clauses. In the case you were to unintentionally breach one of these ‘set clauses’, it’s fair to assume the organization would face undesirable penalties and costs.

Take a deep breath. All is not lost. The added costs from inefficient service strategies are completely avoidable!

Repeat field service visits also drastically increase business costs. Multiple repeat visits to service products quickly increase costs and become very expensive. This is why many organizations seek to avoid repeat service visits at all cost.

A rarely considered cost-driver for service stems from difficulties comprehending poorly written, inaccessible, and out-of-date technical documentation.

When service technicians are unable to easily identify which spare parts are required, they often order multiple parts in hope that one will be correct. This results in high part returns, and handling costs. Not to mention, the need to hold more parts in stock from inflated orders (the bull whip effect), also affects parts inventory.

The skills gap is also increasing the cost of inefficient service.

“Faced with continuing economic expansion and retirement of baby boomers, the US manufacturing industry is looking at a potential shortage of 2.4 million workers in the next decade.”2018 Deloitte & The Manufacturing Institute skills gap study

To put it in perspective, a large portion of our workforce is approaching retirement soon. This is causing the skills gap to widen. With the loss of tribal knowledge, access to consumable expert knowledge becomes increasingly necessary.

New and inexperienced technicians have repeat service visits which cause an organization to face higher training costs, while overburdened experienced staff members are forced to train and pick up the slack for newer employees.

All of these things impact customer satisfaction. These conditions damage service reputations for both an organizations product, as well as, service contracts. Most importantly, all of these scenarios impact an organizations ability to retain customers and garner repeat business.

How to gain high service productivity and effectiveness

In order to obtain high technician productivity and effectiveness you must re-evaluate your service methods and procedures

Increase technician comprehension with accurate AR work instructions

To increase technician comprehension, look into concepts to create accurate, in-context augmented reality (AR) work instructions that overlay digital information onto a physical product.

Establish accurate part identification

Consider implementing accurate AR experiences so part identification, replacement and ordering are easy and accurate.

Enable remote real-time work instructions

Enable expert technicians to give remote, real-time guidance on physical objects using assisted reality tools like Vuforia Chalk.

All of these help service organizations create a more flexible, agile, workforce. These changes result in increased equipment uptime and productivity. They result in happier customers and more empowered workers.

Most importantly – you can start implementing these benefits today. All the technology currently exists. We would love to work with you and your organization to understand your service operations goals and map a path forward.

An easy way to create digital work instructions for service

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.

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

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

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

The benefit of bill of materials management in PLM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There many impacts on these fundamental differences.

When to use PLM for BoM Management

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

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

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

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

Integrating ERP and PLM

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

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

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

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

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

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