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In addition, technician instruction manuals and documentation designed to be used in field service are often out-of-date.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

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.