In today’s fast-paced manufacturing landscape, the new norm is to constantly seek ways to optimize your operations, increase productivity, and reduce costs. The integration of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) systems is a proven strategy for achieving these goals. By aligning these two critical systems, you can unlock a world of opportunities to streamline processes, enhance collaboration, and drive success throughout the entire product lifecycle.
In this blog, you will uncover the benefits of integrating ERP and PLM systems. We’ll also provide you with a detailed breakdown of the ABCs of integration – which data should be integrated, where and how that data should be integrated, and when it’s best to start the integration process.
ERP vs PLM
Before diving into the integration process, it’s important to understand the functions and purposes of ERP and PLM systems.
Enterprise Resource Planning
ERP systems are designed to manage physical assets, encompassing activities such as financials, purchasing, HR, demand and order management, forecasting, production planning, inventory management, and logistics. These systems such as SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft Dynamics ensure that products are produced according to demand, within schedule, and controlling costs.
As many have come to understand, the key to achieving success within your production process lies in adequately planning for the use of enterprise resources to meet customer demand and report financial results.
That’s why an ERP suite is designed with this goal in mind. It empowers your business with the tools and capabilities to effectively manage traditionally back-office resources, ensuring that operations align seamlessly with customer demand.
By harnessing the power of an ERP suite, you can optimize your planning processes, enhance operational efficiency, and deliver superior financial results to your constituents.
Product Lifecycle Management
On the other hand, PLM systems such as Arena, Agile, Teamcenter, Windchill and Autodesk are focused on managing the digital product definition. They are purpose-built to manage the digital product definition, encompassing anything that defines the form, fit, and function of a part, system, or vehicle.
PLM systems deliver comprehensive and robust data management capabilities, standardize and automate your product development business processes, and enable flexible and efficient collaboration with global teams across multiple departments and organizations.
As you can see, both of these systems have important functions for a smooth running production process, but they can often be disparate within a company. Understanding how to integrate these systems is the key to advancing the way you do business.
Integrating PLM and ERP
When it comes to integrating your ERP and PLM systems, understanding how to do that can feel overwhelming. There are three different levels of integration: one-way file push, API call, and a third-party integration platform. Understanding which level fits the needs of your company is vital for a successful integration. Let’s explore some key advantages:
Integration allows you to experience seamless data flow and improved collaboration between departments, eliminating redundant data entry and ensuring data accuracy. This streamlined workflow minimizes errors and delays, optimizing your productivity and reducing cycle times throughout the product lifecycle. You no longer have to manually enter BoM data into an ERP system and ensure that the data is correct in both systems.
Enhanced Data Visibility
By integrating ERP and PLM systems, you gain a holistic view of your product information. This integrated approach eliminates data silos and provides real-time visibility into critical data points, enabling you to make informed decisions and eliminating guesswork from your operations.
Improved Product Quality
This process empowers capture and link quality-related data at every stage of your product lifecycle. This comprehensive view of product quality enables you to detect issues early on and streamline processes for corrective actions, ultimately leading to improved product quality and increased customer satisfaction.
Integrating ERP and PLM systems eliminates the need for you to duplicate data entry and automates data exchange between systems. This saves you time, reduces errors, and minimizes your operational costs. Additionally, with better inventory management and production planning capabilities, you can optimize your resource allocation, minimizing wastage, and improving your cost efficiency.
Accelerated Time to Market
When you connect your engineering, manufacturing, and supply chain processes, your teams can seamlessly collaborate in real-time, enabling efficient communication and shortening your product development cycles. This collaborative approach gives your business a distinct competitive edge in the market, helping you achieve success.
Levels of Integration
When it comes to integrating your ERP and PLM systems, understanding how to do that can feel overwhelming. In the case you don’t know what level of integration would be best for your company’s needs, let’s explore the different levels below:
One-Way File Push
The first level is a simple one-way push. This means that your PLM system has the ability to create a data distribution packet (ex. BoM in a CVS, part file or PDF file format) that is released to the ERP system and then the info is stored in both systems.
This type of push can be set up to be done either direction to maximize data sharing and a smooth process. This level of integration will log everything, but not provide error or checking feedback. This is a great level for companies looking to minimize issues of mismatched data.
The second level of integration is connecting your PLM system directly with other systems – Microstoft dynamics or other systems. This means that there is a rest service API call from the PLM system to release data directly into another system.
That being said, you will get error checking and logging from this level of integration, unlike the first level. A company might opt to do this level due to a need for logging and checking or because their ERP system doesn’t support importing data through files like the initial level would require.
Third Party Integration Platform
The third integration level piggy backs off of level two. Not only does it have logging and checking, but it performs a push and pull between the systems seamlessly. This level of integration works well for large companies with multiple systems to push and pull from. There are are third party integration tools like Tibco that integrate systems such as SAP and Oracle.
Ultimately, understanding the basics of ERP and PLM integration levels and the influencing factors such as cost, error checking, number of systems, company size and many more, is vital to understanding which level fits the needs of your company.
So, what are the next steps to finding that right integration and beginning your journey?
Next Steps of Integration
Integrating your ERP and PLM systems is a game-changer for your manufacturing business. By streamlining workflows, enhancing data visibility, improving product quality, optimizing costs, and accelerating time to market, this integration unlocks a world of opportunities for success.
While you may be hesitant to begin an integration like this because of data clean up still needed, EAC is here to provide services to clean up data to make sure the integration runs smoothly.
Finding a trustworthy partner to help with implementation can be difficult and daunting. Lucky for you, EAC has years of deep expertise in manufacturing processes to ensure a smooth integration journey. We work collaboratively with you to assess your requirements, design a tailored integration strategy, and seamlessly implement the solution that meets your specific business goals.
With EAC by your side, you can confidently embark on this transformative journey, knowing that our collaborative and solution-oriented approach will help you navigate the complexities and achieve your future state. Get in touch with EAC today and let us drive your success through integrated ERP and PLM systems.
In today’s world, it’s not uncommon for companies to be rich in data but poor in insights. Despite having access to a wealth of information, organizations struggle to properly analyze performance and drive transformational improvements. This is where ThingWorx Digital Performance Management (DPM) steps in to bridge the gap.
This week in your factory, you’ve applied maximum effort, pouring countless hours into perfecting your product. As the work week ends, a feeling of slight disappointment remains.
Could you have accomplished more? Where did it go awry? You may not be able to find the answers on your own, leaving your factory inefficient and operating below its full potential.
If this is you, look no further. With the capabilities of Thingworx Digital Performance Management, you will unleash an untapped potential of data and boost your manufacturing processes.
What is Digital Performance Management?
ThingWorx Digital Performance Management (DPM) is a cutting-edge solution designed to help organizations identify, prioritize, and improve production issues.
By capturing lost production hours and their causes, DPM indicates where to focus for the most critical impact. Also, it optimizes the finite time available, allowing organizations to reclaim lost hours and increase effective time by 20% or more. Thus, directly impacting the bottom line.
How Does DPM Work?
Consider a manufacturing facility that can produce one unit per hour. In a week with 88 hours worked, the facility manages to manufacture only 44 units. Let’s say 12 hours are lost through planned downtime and 14 hours are lost due to changeovers.
That leaves about 18 hours unaccounted for. Where did those come from? With ThingWorx DPM, you can quickly identify issues, and why they happened, and then take appropriate actions to fix them.
Moreover, DPM calculates and analyzes discrepancies, providing valuable insights to improve productivity. DPM is a comprehensive toolset that propels organizations towards peak performance by tracking performance, conducting in-depth analysis, planning, and validating improvements.
The Production Dashboard
One feature included with DPM is the Production Dashboard. The visual dashboard is a crucial tool for supervising shift performance and gathering vital data to inform reporting and analysis. It is designed for supervisors and line managers to track productivity across various production lines.
Some key features of the Production Dashboard include:
Provides insights into shift progress at the production block level
Allows for automated and manual data entry, including reason codes to capture all losses
And offers a simplified interface to minimize disruption
The Bottleneck Analysis tool is designed to automatically detect and monitor the most significant bottlenecks in your factory, providing valuable analysis and insights into OEE and OLE.
One of the challenges that customers face is a lack of visibility into bottlenecks, which leads to a disconnect between continuous improvement efforts and their impact on the business. However, bottlenecks are often dynamic and complex.
To address these challenges, DPM offers key capabilities to help identify and resolve:
Automatically identifying and tracking bottlenecks.
Systematic identification of the top constraints, which can significantly increase factory efficiency by 5-20%.
Management of the dynamic nature of competing bottlenecks.
Overall, DPM works relentlessly, making up for lost time by tracing the root cause of issues and providing precise remedies to ensure smooth and efficient functionality. Consider DPM an invaluable employee, working tirelessly around the clock without additional overtime costs!
Accelerate Problem Solving with DPM
DPM’s capabilities extend beyond surface-level analysis. By combining Pareto analysis and time loss analytics, DPM users can uncover and address a significant percentage of production problems.
For instance, a DPM user noticed quality losses between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. Thanks to DPM’s automated analysis, the manufacturing team quickly determined that the issue was caused by a glare from the sunset, making the inspection camera unreliable.
All in all, DPM helped accelerate the problem-solving process saving valuable time and resources.
Reap the Benefits
Digital Performance Management is as remarkable as it sounds. DPM holds the secret to your production improvements and is ready to share them with you. Discover the plethora of benefits that are tied to DPM:
Standardized Measurement: DPM provides a consistent and standardized approach to measure losses, ensuring accurate evaluation of bottlenecks, and their impact on performance.
Efficient Root Cause Analysis: Leveraging AI technology, DPM identifies the root causes of bottlenecks and facilitates their permanent resolution, eliminating recurring issues.
Automated Problem Identification: DPM’s powerful AI algorithms automate the process of surfacing common issues, exponentially reducing the time spent on problem-solving.
Real-time Insights: What once took months to identify critical insights now becomes easily accessible through DPM’s intuitive interface, providing teams with immediate access to actionable insights.
Get Started with DPM Today!
In conclusion, if you want to revolutionize your performance management and take your organization to new heights, it’s time to embrace Digital Performance Management.
Remember, in today’s fast-paced world, those who leverage technology to gain insights and make data-driven decisions are the ones who thrive.
Are you ready to unlock the true potential of your organization with Digital Performance Management? Talk with an expert now to take your first steps toward success.
I’m sure at least once in your life you’ve heard the saying, ‘Work smarter, not harder.’ But what a cliche, right?! Well, for those of you managing your Bill of Materials (BOMs) in Excel, it’s time to step away from the cell block prison (pun intended).
In this article, we’re going to break down what it actually means to revitalize your BOM strategy with the Digital Thread to start seeing the results you want.
What Is The Digital Thread?
First of all, let’s start with the basics. The Digital Thread is a term used to describe the seamless flow of information throughout the manufacturing process. From design and engineering to production and after-sales support. It provides a way to connect all the data and information generated at different stages and from systems of the product lifecycle.
Generally, the Digital Thread provides value by enabling better visibility and control of any processes that require or produce product data. It enables manufacturers to collaborate more effectively, automate and optimize workflows, and quickly respond to changes. All while adjusting quickly to customer needs.
Bill of Materials (BOM)
Next, let’s break down the concept of a Bill of Materials. A complete Bill of Materials (BoM) list usually contains all of the parts and components needed to create or manufacture an end product. You might think of a BoM as a recipe ingredient list. The information about each part can include details such as part names, part numbers, quantity required, and cost per unit. Not to mention, BoMs contain other relevant part details such as material type, color, or size if applicable; supplier information; serial numbers, etc.
By consolidating and organizing all the pertinent information product information, the BoM becomes a centralized resource. A critical resource that facilitates the manufacturing processes of specified products.
Ultimately, the goal of the BoM is to help track inventory and verify missing parts during assembly. Equally as important, BoMs are critical to support a healthy supply chain, as well as help with purchasing decisions and more.
The Digital Thread and Bill of Materials Working Together
Balancing a plethora of product information – it’s no surprise, the best BoM management strategy used within the industry does not leverage solely Microsoft Excel. Nor does it rely upon one Enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. Instead it works to unite data from multiple systems into a single source of truth.
Sounds great doesn’t it? But, if you’re like most – your product data lives all over the place in different systems from different departments. This situation tends to create data siloes resulting in time-consuming manual tasks using outdated operational processes. Generally, these are some of the biggest problems that inhibit manufacturers from achieving their business initiatives.
Oftentimes, during our EAC Assessments, we hear multiple teams across the enterprise and different management levels are frustrated by broken processes. In short, there is a lack of key information employees need to do their jobs right, at the time they need it most.
Meanwhile, the digital thread uses advanced technology (such as product lifecycle management systems as well as the Internet of Things) to connect critical disparate processes. This, in turn, helps minimize manual tasks, and breaks down data siloes. Implementing the digital thread to your BoM strategy creates a major impact for all stakeholders involved. For instance, design teams, engineers, manufacturing, assembly, operations, finance, purchasing, and even marketing.
How The Digital Thread Supports Engineering
Furthermore, the Digital Thread plays a crucial role in supporting engineering and bill of materials (BOM) management by providing seamless connectivity and accessibility to relevant data throughout the product lifecycle. Here’s how the digital thread benefits these areas:
1. Engineering Collaboration
Firstly, the digital thread allows engineers to collaborate effectively by providing a centralized platform for sharing and accessing engineering data. This facilitates cross-functional collaboration, enables real-time communication, and reduces errors or miscommunications during the design and development process.
2. Design Consistency
Secondly, the digital thread ensures design consistency by maintaining a single source of truth for engineering data. Changes made in the design phase are automatically propagated throughout the digital thread, ensuring that all related documents, models, and specifications remain synchronized.
3. BOM Accuracy and Visibility
The digital thread integrates BOM management, configuration management, and BoM transformation capabilities. This enables accurate and up-to-date BOMs, as the data will automatically reflect changes. Additionally, it provides real-time visibility into the BoM status, including component availability, sourcing information, and cost implications.
4. Change Management
Next, the digital thread streamlines change management processes. By automating change notifications, approvals, and tracking. Essentially, it ensures that engineering changes are effectively communicated, documented, and implemented across the relevant stages of the product lifecycle, minimizing errors and delays.
5. Manufacturing Process Optimization
By connecting engineering data with manufacturing process management, the digital thread enables better coordination and optimization of production processes. By in large, system and data integration allows for improved manufacturing planning, efficient resource allocation, and reduced lead times.
6. Enhanced Visualization and Analysis
Another example includes leveraging augmented reality (AR) design sharing to provide visual representations of designs. In detail, enabling stakeholders to view and analyze products in a virtual environment. It’s recommended to use AR to enhance design reviews, simplify communication, and facilitate better decision-making.
Overall, the digital thread improves engineering and BoM management. Markedly, by streamlining processes, enhancing collaboration, ensuring data consistency, and providing visibility across the product lifecycle. It promotes efficiency, accuracy, and agility in engineering and BoM-related activities. Leading to improved product quality and faster time to market in the long run.
How A Digital Thread BoM Strategy Streamlines Manufacturing
Simultaneously, the digital thread plays a significant role in enhancing the bill of materials (BoM) management for manufacturing, assembly, and quality control processes. In sum, here’s how the digital thread benefits these areas:
1. Manufacturing and Assembly Planning
The digital thread enables seamless integration between the BoM and manufacturing planning systems. It provides real-time visibility into the BoM, ensuring accurate and up-to-date information for manufacturing and assembly operations. This allows for efficient production planning, optimized resource allocation, and improved scheduling in all.
2. Supply Chain Integration
By connecting the BoM with supply chain management systems, the digital thread enhances supply chain visibility and collaboration. It enables better coordination with suppliers, accurate tracking of component availability, and improved procurement processes. As a result, it minimizes the risk of production delays and ensures timely delivery of materials.
3. Work Instructions and Assembly Guidance
Thirdly, the digital thread facilitates the creation and dissemination of detailed work instructions and assembly guidance based on the BoM data. This ensures that assembly operators have access to accurate and step-by-step instructions, reducing errors and improving productivity on the shop floor.
4. Quality Control and Traceability
The digital thread enables better quality control and traceability throughout the manufacturing process. By integrating the BoM with quality management systems, it ensures that quality requirements and specifications are adhered to during production. It also enables traceability of components and materials, making it easier to identify and address any quality issues or recalls.
5. Continuous Improvement and Feedback Loop
Additionally, the digital thread supports continuous improvement initiatives by capturing data and feedback from manufacturing and quality control processes. It enables the analysis of production data, identifies areas for improvement, and facilitates data-driven decision-making to enhance manufacturing efficiency and product quality.
6. Post-Market Monitoring
Finally, the digital thread extends beyond the manufacturing phase to support post-market monitoring and quality assurance. Integrating BoM data with field service management systems and customer feedback enables organizations to identify and address product issues, initiate product improvements, and provide timely support and maintenance.
All in all, the digital thread enhances BoM management for manufacturing and assembly processes by ensuring accurate and up-to-date information, facilitating supply chain integration, enabling effective work instructions, improving quality control, supporting continuous improvement efforts, and enabling post-market monitoring. Concurrently, it streamlines operations, improves product quality, and enhances customer satisfaction.
The Polaris Story
Polaris utilized PTC Windchill, an advanced product lifecycle management system, to transform their Bill of Materials into a reliable new business model backbone. As a result, it allowed them to create a connected enterprise.
Windchill PLM combines the digital thread framework with a maximized BoM and change management strategy. This powerful product lifecycle management platform organizes all information associated with the development of its products, allowing every stakeholder to access the latest up-to-date information in a dynamic format.
Once it was clear to Polaris that they had outgrown certain tools and processes, they coordinated and synchronized a digital thread of data throughout the enterprise by leveraging PTC Windchill.
As of today, Polaris’ Windchill PLM system enables them to manage and organize the bill of materials (BoM) and implemented configuration management practices. This helped transform their BoMs as needed, effectively managing changes, overseeing manufacturing processes, and utilizing augmented reality (AR) design-sharing capabilities.
By orchestrating these elements, the digital thread ensured seamless connectivity and flow of information across different stages and departments within Polaris. This enabled improved collaboration, streamlined workflows, effective change control, and enhanced manufacturing processes. On top of giving the ability to share and visualize designs using AR technology.
To sum it up, it’s time to put Excel away and start working smarter, not harder. Successful BoM management derives from a single source of truth throughout the enterprise in regard to all the data contained in the Bill of Materials. The Digital Thread allows for the seamless automated flow of the BoM information to create a truly connected enterprise, working in sync along every step of the manufacturing process.