They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here’s a hypothetical situation to paint the story ‘how real-time information and predictive analytics unlock value.’

To start, imagine a fully functioning assembly line with a robot, pneumatic system, a series of conveyors, and a vision system.

Lets pretend the supply station in the back is bringing in our raw materials. The robot is assembling those materials with precision. The resulting assemblies are than passed on to the quality station, and the vision system inspects each of those assemblies to insure proper alignment of the parts.

This is a pretty generic operation, but it can show how unified real-time information and predictive analytics unlock value.

Now imagine yourself as a maintenance engineer, who wants to check the status of your asset pool.

Using a software, such as ThingWorx Navigate by PTC for example, you launch a role-based maintenance application. All of a sudden you see a complete list of your assets with real-time performance stats and relevant alerts or notifications. You also have a complete list of all your outstanding maintenance work orders.

From here, you have the ability to drill into any of your assets, but you start with the quality station. You immediately see the key characteristics of the station.  You see that speed vibration and temperature are all operating within their specified range. You could also see notifications of any warnings, malfunctions, or potential future problems. 

Next, you use your device to take a look at the pneumatic system.  The pneumatic system also looks fine. Both pressure and flow are operating within the specified range, and there are no outstanding maintenance tickets or work order notifications on your screen.

Now, let’s consider a situation where there was a leak in the pneumatic system.  Let’s say a loose fitting was releasing pressure, a fairly common problem in pneumatic systems. Now, rather than looking fine,  your device displays flow readings outside of the designated operating range. Furthermore, an alert has automatically been sent to notify you of a system has an error. The overall status indicator on your screen has now switched from green to orange – operational, but not optimal. 

Your software solution’s machine learning is now predicting that this air leak, if not repaired, will result in a pneumatic gate failure in approximately 10 day’s time. The good news for you is the system has already issued you a maintenance work order address the problem before asset failure and unplanned downtime.

This scenario is made possible by a system equipped with primary and secondary sensors, and a complete Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) solution that can turn raw machine data into valuable information.

For example, your pneumatic system has an air flow sensor, as well as a pressure sensor.  The conveyor systems are equipped with motor temperature sensors and vibration sensors.

In addition to the sensors, the rest of the assets on your line are controlled by typical PLCs, which are connected to a software such as ThingWorx and Kepware.

You have also used your software to integrate manufacturing floor systems with a real-time IT applications, asset maintenance tools, and ERP systems. This provides you with a real-time alignment of your IT and OT systems.

Now, all of your systems are throwing data out at a staggering 800 data points per second.

Your software’s machine learning then uses that real-time streaming data to establish a baseline of normal operating conditions. This way it can immediately connect and broadcast any anomalies that occur. It uses these anomalies, in conjunction with its prediction capabilities to notify you of future problems, just as in the case of the pneumatic failure.

Now that you have an understanding of what is happening under the hood, let’s take a look at how all this comes together to enable real-time operational intelligence.

Pretend you are a production manager. Using software like ThingWorx Navigate and Kepware you have complete visibility into all of your factory operations. You can see all of your work orders, lines, and all of their critical KPI’s.

On your device you notice an orange status indicator on line one (that was created from the air leak earlier). Once that air leak has been repaired, everything returns back to normal, just as you would expect.

Let’s explore one more hypothetical situation. Consider yourself to be an operator. In this case, you have just been assigned a new order for a thousand units that need to be delivered and expedited for an end of day delivery.

You’re notified of the order and in this smart connected scenario you, as an operator have a single portal from which you can see and execute all of your work. Through a single pane of glass you now have access to your business systems information and your operational data including the KPIs from your line.

On your device you also have up to the minute visibility of the OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness). You see real-time data measurements of your manufacturing operation’s availability, quality, and performance.

Let’s see how some of these metrics might change if we go ahead and speed up the line to accelerate the current order, in order to make room for that expedited order.

To do that you switch the line speed from level one to level two. What you see in seconds on your device is that line speed has increased, and your assemblies are still passing the quality check.

Within a couple minutes and a few additional cycles, on your device you see both your performance and OEE trending upwards.

As an operator you now are assured that you are going to meet your end of the day deadline.

Using these hypothetical situations, together we have painted a picture demonstrating how you can connect disparate assets from different vendors, to provide real-time information.

You’ve also seen how you can leverage role-based applications that combine business systems information and operational data to empower your workforce with real-time actionable intelligence.

By integrating machine-learning capabilities you brought a whole new level of predictive intelligence to your factory floor, identified problems, and resolved issues with minimal impact on operational performance.

This is exactly how real-time information and predictive analytics can unlock value for your organization.

Download the Ebook On PTC ThingWorx Navigate

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.

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.

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.

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.

PTC Windchill saves ALM Positioners 4 hours per project

 If you are trying to confidently make a smooth transition from paper files to digital files with a complete PLM solution, you should contact us to learn more about PTC Windchill. Read on to learn more about a business who succeeds in digital transformation to reduce time-to-market, decrease costs, and increase collaboration.

Business Overview
ALM Positioners, Inc. is a manufacturing and assembling facility for state-of-the-art positioner lifts located in Rock Island, Illinois. Myron Pundt, VP of Engineering at ALM said, “We build positioners that lift, rotate, and turn machinery in the manufacturing industry. The positioners allow our customers to put their parts at the right elevation and rotation for their operators to build things efficiently.” Their business eliminates the need for straps, chains, and slings and instead allows the operator to raise and position weldments and assemblies to the necessary height and working position. 

ALM specializes in custom designs and manufacturing solutions for their customers who need positioners to meet specific requirements. Their unique selling proposition in the Industrial Automation Industry allows them to offer significant cost savings for equipment, improved safety for welders and operators, and increased manufacturing and assembly production efficiency to their customers.

Business Challenges
ALM was challenged by an increasing number of custom design requests. These requests increased product design cycle times. Inaccurate and inefficient information was finding its way to engineers and technicians because product data was stored in paper documents throughout the manufacturing facility.  

Pundt reported, “We would have a lot of problems with not having the right prints, so something would end up being built wrong – requiring rework or just extra time to disassemble or reassemble it.” Modifications were being made to designs that weren’t communicated to other departments. This created a bottleneck in operations causing stalls in production and higher costs due to rework. “We’re looking to streamline our processes and get rid of the paper on our shop floor.” 

To keep up with the demand of their customers, ALM knew they had to be able to securely store and access product information, Bill of Materials (BOMs), and design requirements all in one place to eliminate the bottleneck and to operate at maximum speed and efficiency on the shop floor. Kevin Toft, President at ALM, proclaimed, “Our company is growing at a fast rate. Last year we saw a forty-six percent growth in our sales revenue and we expect that we are going to double sales by the end of 2019. We need to have systems that work for us so we can continue to see that kind of growth. We have to be as efficient as possible.” 

Solution
ALM Positioners turned to EAC Product Development Solutions to help solve their bottleneck problem. EAC helps companies optimize their product development systems so they can succeed in the market place. EAC is a PTC value-added network partner, offering the latest advancements in technology utilized by companies around the world, including PTC Windchill. EAC’s Solution Architects proposed PTC Windchill, a product life cycle management (PLM) tool that allows organizations to consolidate and manage product information into digital form. 

Implementation
With the help of EAC’s implementation team, ALM incorporated Windchill throughout their organization so they could view, operate, and manage up-to-date CAD designs on computers throughout the shop floor. “Before we implemented Windchill we were running paper copies. Our ERP implementation was through exported BoMs in Microsoft Excel and we would import them back into the ERP system. It was very time consuming and inefficient,” Pundt explained. Windchill eliminated the obligation to use multiple systems to view product information, associated BoMs, and CAD designs. 

Overall employee morale was up because there was less redundancy throughout the early design stages. Brydon Sanders, Product Design Engineer at ALM, reports, “Before Windchill we had an archive of data that was not necessarily 100% accurate. So, when we were sorting data that we thought was right, we’d find out there was a problem after we made changes to it. EAC helped us customize a life cycle specifically for how small of a company we are to help facilitate changes and make the correct revisions. Everything is much faster when designing and validating the product.” 

EAC helped customize Windchill to optimize operational efficiencies specifically for ALM’s needs. Colten Brunenn, Product Manager at ALM, reported, “EAC’s implementation specialist was on site for several days at a time throughout the implementation process to help us customize the application to our needs. The specialist was giving us examples, walking us through the processes, showing us how it would work if we did it a certain way, and showed us how to make things easier. It opened our eyes to the capacity and abilities of what we could do with Windchill for our specific needs.” 

Results
Compared to previous processes, ALM is able to more quickly and accurately meet their customer’s needs because of their Windchill implementation. “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,” Pundt explained. “Customers tend to want what they want and a lot of times we can get their order over our competition because we’re willing to customize it for them. Windchill and our new ERP system make it very easy to manage those customizations and helps us to make sure that we have materials in-stock and on-time to meet those needs.” 

“With the implementation of Windchill, our manufacturing efficiency is greatly improved. Everything is live on the shop floor now, there are no more paper copies, no more prints getting lost, and nobody building something off the wrong or unrevised print. It has really improved our efficiency through the manufacturing process,” Pundt said. Transitioning into a digital workflow with Windchill allows ALM to reduce time-to-market, decrease costs, and increase collaboration throughout the organization.

Watch the video.

You can reduce time to market and cut costs by advancing your digital thread with PTC Windchill, the industry-leading Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solution. Windchill consolidates data so that your team can work faster and more accurately so you can focus on product innovation.

See how Virnig Manufacturing uses PTC Windchill to change the way their data is delivered within their organization.

Business Initiatives 

Located in Rice, Minnesota, Virnig Manufacturing has been designing and producing skid steer attachments for over 27 years. This family owned one-stop shop does all steps of the manufacturing process in-house: engineering, cutting raw materials, machining, welding, and painting the finished product. Virnig dominates the industry by offering high-quality skid steer attachments and continually innovates to maintain a strong competitive advantage in a challenging and competitive market.  

Business Challenges 

Virnig has grown exponentially in the last decade, prompting the on-boarding of more employees 
to keep up with the growth. The expanding workforce introduced a new challenge of organizing critical work documents. The process of finding documents every day began to inhibit productivity. The need for a file management system became obvious and critical.  

Finding a solution became a top priority as Darin Virnig, Engineering and Production Manager, and his team found themselves taking on projects that required “more time in a day” to complete. Darin stated, “When there were just a few of us looking at files we weren’t quite as concerned about file management and having things get overwritten. But as we had more and more people working we all looked at each other and decided it was time to implement a file management system so that we didn’t start losing data or have
 it changed accidentally.” Prior to implementing a system, Darin and his team kept product content and design data in large red binders throughout the manufacturing facility. Engineers would leave their workstations to access folders in designated areas – sometimes on the other side of the manufacturing floor. Virnig was losing precious time to their paper-based processes. Darin needed to find a quicker way for his team to access data if he wanted to achieve maximum productivity on the shop floor. 

Solutions 

EAC Product Development Solutions (EAC) is an engineering and technology services company headquartered in Burnsville, MN. They provide product development solutions that transform the way small to medium sized companies design, manufacture, connect, and service their products. Virnig had partnered with EAC to implement PTC’s simulation software and trusted them with this new file management challenge. PTC is 
a global technology provider and the maker of tools such as Creo Parametric CAD software and the Windchill line of product lifecycle management solutions. “It was only logical to go with PTC products since we have been doing all of our modeling with their products,” says Darin.  

The benefits of going paperless exceeded Virnig’s accuracy and collaboration goals, and provide an ancillary benefit of reducing the cost
 of paper and printing. The decision was made to implement Windchill, PTC’s product lifecycle management software to streamline operations and control files. 

The Paperless Movement 

Windchill PDM Essentials, PTC’s Product Data Management tool empowers companies to organize and manage their product content to improve access to accurate, timely product data. Darin and his team have implemented Windchill across their engineering and manufacturing facility with 10 different access points for each department on the shop floor. Darin chuckles as he talks about removing the now-unnecessary red binders, “we took away their file cabinets.” The new process didn’t require any paper documents
 on the floor – everything was now digitally stored in their workstation computers throughout the facility. The implementation prevented wasted time that was previously used to sort through red binders, and avoided the use of old, irrelevant information.  

Darin talks about the success of the new data management system, “Paperless provides access on the floor which has increased accuracy and quality that will give us the competitive advantage we were looking for.” He describes how his team members used to take over 30 minutes a day searching for the data needed to complete a specific task. “It was a company initiative to go paperless in all areas to increase accuracy – the accuracy is where the cost savings would come in for us.” Going paperless has allowed Virnig to take advantage of that 30 minutes a day to add over 325 productive hours to their operation each year. 

Learn more about PTC Windchill, contact usdownload the case study, or watch the video.

Virnig Manufacturing PTC Windchill | EAC Product Development Solutions

Modernized service strategies combine enterprise IT, ‘smart’ technology, and information.

Manufactures are expected to be more demand oriented, data driven, and technologically focused. This means focusing on the customer, using the data collected from many different areas, and digitally executing strategies using platform technologies.

Many companies today are focusing on the current stage of achieving field service excellence. This tends to be an easier, stand-alone area to focus on as it incorporates vast amounts of technology available to help and support them.

The next stage deals with moving towards connected service platforms which oftentimes involve an integration of smart, connected products. This is when companies will start to deal with how to capture data, leverage the insights, and turn it into actionable results for various stakeholders throughout the organization.

The last stage deals with achieving servitization optimization. Servitization is an important concept because it holds the potential to transform how products are delivered and monetized. This is really the movement towards product service systems and products-in-use value.

Ultimately, providing access to product and parts information is a crucial step in on the path to successful profitable growth.

Technology is fueling service transformation for many organizations.

For instance, here’s how ‘service’ has begun to transform with the help of new technologies:

  • Cloud technologies have enabled greater access to service parts visibility and information.
  • Mobile technology has put information in the hands of service technicians, at the right time.
  • Big data analytics now capture asset and product information, enabling enhanced service quality with better first-time fix rates.
  • And social technology has allowed engineers, service, and customer support to collaborate.

These cloud, mobile, social, and big data analytics technologies have enabled manufacturers to transition from systems to service, from information to innovation.

Our team is prepared to help you achieve field service excellence. Our Product Development Information Services team is experienced in the architecture, implementation and support of a technology portfolio making service excellence a reality for many of our customers.