AR and IoT are beginning to transform the way organizations are interacting in their industrial environments.
With the ability to integrate technology everywhere, products, processes, and people now have the ability to be connected like never before, allowing enterprises to drive product and service differentiation and promote operational effectiveness, workforce productivity, and unmatched quality.
Some might refer to this concept as the idea of digital transformation…but what does that really even mean? This article breaks it all down for you.
Digital Transformation with IoT and AR.
Today, innovative Augmented Reality tools have the ability to connect with powerful IoT data while working seamlessly in a service and training environment. With a mobile device or AR headset, technicians can easily learn to work in tandem drastically reducing training time and downtime simultaneously.
To better understand a concept of ‘digital transformation’, I’ll walk you through a real-life scenario involving one of our customers.
For this specific customer, the combination of AR and IoT has drastically improved the efficiency of their operations.
With the use of an AR application, our customer is able to provide their off-site workers with a digital model of one of their products immediately.
Placed alongside the digital model of their product, they are also able to see real-time data from the physical product that is off-site or working in the field.
This is possible because their AR experience also leverages a connection with their IoT platform, known as ThingWorx.
Their ThingWorx IoT platform connects to their disparate data systems, such as their ERP and CRM systems. It also connects to their PLM software, which provides them with the ability to pull a configuration from their PLM software, known as Windchill. This allows them to showcase unique product information, such as the VIN, model, customer and purchase information.
By having this data available and in context, remote technicians are better informed and empowered to make the best decisions possible.
As technicians launch their AR experience, they are able to see step by step instructions on how to repair or service the specific product.
They are also able to see warnings and replay steps that are integrated into the AR experience so they can be assured they are working in a safe environment without missing any procedures.
With the additional use of Vuforia Chalk, a remote video assistance app, employees are also able to instantly access remote subject matter experts or SMEs who can answer questions related to the experience and interact with the experience directly by drawing on the screen.
Finally, with time tracked throughout the experience, this service data can then be sent back to their ThingWorx IoT platform to assess performance, training, and to improve the CAD design leader.
By combining the use of AR and IoT, training and servicing is no longer hindered by traditional learning for our customer. Instead, their technicians are able learn from an experience that is enriched with data and context.
By leveraging ThingWorx, our customer is able to merge the digital and physical worlds of service providing their organization with an efficient and productive work environment.
This is the idea of digital transformation.
Curious how digital transformation might apply to your organization? We would love to have a conversation. Click the banner below to learn more.
If you have Windchill, a PLM (product life cycle management system from PTC), odds are it’s where your organization stores a lot of really great product data and information. It also means there’s a high likelihood many employees in your organization need access to that valuable product information.
But what happens when people within your organization need to access valuable product information, but they aren’t necessarily veteran Windchill (or PLM system) users? What happens when your ‘casual Windchill users’ only want to quickly get to the information but simply don’t want to be “Windchill users”? 90% of the time this scenario involves your experienced Windchill users being disrupted by requests to pull product information.
Right at this point – exactly when people in your enterprise need access to information in systems they don’t use on a daily basis – is when you lose efficiency, productivity, and revenue. This cross-departmental disruption leads to wasted time, and wasted time leads to wasted money. PTC realized these challenges and created a solution to combat complicated enterprise system interfaces, varying user needs, and disparate enterprise data sources – It’s called ThingWorx Navigate.
To make Windchill PLM, or any PLM information more accessible and solve disruption challenges, PTC designed ThingWorx Navigate role-based applications (apps) that allow users to easily access and consolidate information from secure systems like ERP, MRP, CRP, and PLM systems like Windchill. For instance, by using these applications, a tool designer could call up drawings without having to go through the whole interface of Windchill. The applications pull up windows to look directly into systems, without forcing a user login in and navigate complex product design or enterprise planning systems.
For example, by using PTC’s ThingWorx solution, a tool designer could simply type in a drawing number he or she was looking for on the PTC ThingWorx Navigate application, and the drawing files would pop-up instantly on the screen. These simple product data navigation features also work with product information that purchasing, quality, or any other departments might need access.
PTC’s ThingWorx Navigate applications make it easy for anyone…ANYONE in an organization to obtain product information without having to be a Windchill system expert. One of the great things about these role-based applications is – depending on who you log in as – the apps can be set up to determine what type of information access someone has, as well as what types of product info an employee can access.
For instance, someone on a shop floor could access ThingWorx Navigate applications, and with a simple click in a window would display all the information they need about a drawing. Or perhaps someone only needs to see bills of materials, they could do that in one location by accessing a ThingWorx Navigate application. Just like PTC Windchill, PTC Navigate is a web-based application. This means all an organization really needs is a web browser and a login and instantly anyone can start working.
ThingWorx Navigate applications are also completely customizable. This allows your organization to control exactly what displays on the search screens, as well as, how that information would be delivered to your users. In fact, PTC even created a Thingworx Navigate Productivity calculator to demonstrate how much money enterprise collaboration can save a business. It even lets you estimate your exact company’s potential annual productivity savings!
Bottom line, there really are a lot of great benefits that come along with being able to easily deploy Windchill access throughout an enterprise in a unique and stress-free way. And remember, ThingWorx Navigate also integrates with other enterprise systems, not just Windchill.
But wait…there’s more!
You can make the user experience even better by implementing ThingWorx Navigate and extending functionality and configurability with EAC Productivity Apps. In case you are not familiar with us, our company (EAC Product Development Solutions) specializes in transforming the way companies design, manufacture, connect to and service their products.
One of the ways we do this is through implementing, maintaining, and helping customers with PTC Windchill product lifecycle management systems. Being the Windchill experts that we are, with extensive years of experience (over 23 years to be exact), we work with hundreds of organizations and their PLM systems. This is precisely how we know the need many manufacturing organizations have to extend enterprise system data and capabilities even further!
Working with our Windchill customers over the years, we recognized patterns of system requests and capabilities that just didn’t seem to be specifically addressed by existing solutions. We recognized and researched system challenges that many organizations tended to face with their PLM systems and realized the need to help organizations quickly deploy Windchill, increase user adoption, and capitalize on system functionality. After all, we live in a world obsessed with speed and efficiency. So, to quote the wisdom of Daft Punk, we needed to make complex PLM systems Better, Faster, and Stronger.
Furthermore, we realized valuable data our customers acquired from their other disparate enterprise systems never seemed to be tied together with product data from PLM systems. This was increasing our client’s risk of transferring obsolete inaccurate data. With that knowledge, we knew our solution needed to be able to connect multiple streams of data from different locations and enterprise systems, and even different databases.
All these reasons drove us to develop what we refer to as EAC Productivity Apps. They help organizations quickly advance and capitalize on Windchill PLM capabilities. Although EAC apps are different from Navigate applications in many ways, what I believe really sets them apart is how they use and leverage the concept of data mash-ups. Multiple sources of information brought together to simplify a role-specific workflow.
EAC productivity applications take product data and information from a variety of different systems and transform that data into an easily consumable visual dashboard for any user. Essentially, our apps create a way for organizations to easily connect data from multiple enterprise databases, bring it into one accessible location, and tailor it to the needs of a specific user. This allows any user to easily have all the information he or she could desire with a few simple clicks.
EAC apps also help users access product information, search for information, get bill of material reports, create and manage other related documents, and look at associated parts.
These days product data is everywhere. Everyone seems to collect it, have a lot of it, but the question remains; how exactly can you ensure your organization’s product data is being put to good use?
The current state of product data
Companies today have many different roles that require access to product data. This may include people outside of the typical roles of which you may be thinking.
Departments such as engineering, manufacturing, that’s a given, but expand your thinking to include operations, purchasing, and marketing. They all need data access in order to edit and consume information. Think about sourcing…I’ll stop there, but you get the idea.
Let’s focus on the engineering department for a moment.
People could be involved from the mechanical side, the electrical side, or even a quality standpoint. Beyond that, people need to either contribute or consume information that could include manufacturing, service, sales, and more.
Product data game-changers
When non-engineering colleagues need access to vital information, they typically interrupt an engineer or designer with a request. ThingWorx Navigate eliminates that distraction and “double-billing.” Through role or task-based self-service applications, data can be securely shared with a team. That way non-expert teams can use a simplified user interface to access the product data they need, right when they need it.
So what’s the difference between ThingWorx, ThingWorx Navigate and our EAC Productivity apps?
This is a great question- I am going to try and paint the picture for you.
First, it’s important that you understand what ThingWorx is and how it is different from ThingWorx Navigate.
ThingWorx is the proper name of PTC’s Internet of Things (IoT) platform comprised of 5 components; foundation, industrial connectivity, analytics, studio,
The foundation component is the heart of the ThingWorx loT platform used to make connections to ‘things’ which could be machines, products or software systems or pretty much anything with an IP address and a communications interface.
User interfaces to the data coming from these connections are displayed on websites called ‘mashups,’ created with ThingWorx foundation. You might know these perhaps as ‘data mashups’ or possibly as ‘data dashboards’. Simply put, Thingworx is the IoT platform that makes everything possible. (Here’s exactly what makes Thingworx the leading technology for industrial IoT)
ThingWorx Navigate is the proper name of PTC’s applications that
ThingWorx Navigate Apps use a Windchill (PLM) connector to extract product data for presentation to Windchill Product Lifecycle Management users.
Fundamentally, ThingWorx Navigate Apps are all simply data and product information mashups created with ThingWorx. With ThingWorx Navigate you receive out-of-the-box apps that are instantly ready to be used with your PLM system. The idea behind these product lifecycle management apps is to ensure users can capture the complete functionality of their PLM (product lifecycle management) investment.
ThingWorx Navigate PLM Apps include:
View Design Files – A design file would be a format of a file that isn’t the native CAD format. This could be a staph or Induce or perhaps a 3D PDF
View Drawing – Allows you to look at just drawings. This application pulls drawings from your Windchill PLM system.
View Part Properties – This feature allows you to look at part properties- as if you were hitting the ‘Information button’ next to a file.
View Parts List – Allows you to look at bills of Materials (BOMs)
View Part Structure– With the View Part Structure App, ThingWorx is actually going into PDMLink and showing different aspects of a specific part instead of different ways of going at it (such as having to open several different tabs to get information). Using this application, you can get all your information together on one page. This feature also includes capabilities that cross-highlight part structures within your product. For instance, you could select a component and it would highlight that part and create a hyperlink that allows you to directly look at that specific part. This feature essentially creates a mash-up that takes information from different places inside of Windchill PDMLink and brings them together putting them on one screen, allowing you to have all your information at your fingertips.
View Document & View Document Structure
If you would like to learn more about ThingWorx Navigate technology or if you have any questions, you can always request to talk with Thingworx Navigate specialists here.
PLM Applications created by EAC
Our EAC Productivity Apps (also known as product lifecycle applications)
They allow departments to access content and perform common tasks through a very simple interface, versus having to use a complex product lifecycle management system (PLM) or Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.
PTC Navigate Apps vs. EAC Productivity Apps
Our EAC Productivity Apps provide capabilities beyond that of the out of the box ThingWorx Navigate apps.
In short, ThingWorx Navigate applications allow you to securely access and present role-specific data from your Windchill system. They provide all of the power of a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) system to someone who is not familiar with its ins-and-outs of product data management.
EAC Productivity Apps take it a step further by taking the underlying technology of ThingWorx Navigate, and the ability to get at the information in the PLM system and create even more complete applications that really give individuals instantaneous access to the information and product data they need to do their job. EAC’s PLM applications are created using PTC’s ThingWorx IoT platform, however, they can run independently of ThingWorx Navigate.
While built using the same ThingWorx foundation, ADK and [Windchill connector], they have their own look, feel and functionality. These mashups are packaged and sold together as a collection. EAC Productivity Apps created for Windchill promote user adoption and amplify the return on the investment you’ve made in your Windchill system, as well as extending role-based visibility into relevant product data and the impact PLM has on your organization.
Take your product data further with EAC Productivity Apps
Every subscription of EAC Productivity Apps includes free access to EAC Productivity Home. EAC Productivity Home is a proprietary framework, or launcher, for ThingWorx Navigate applications.
It sits on top of Windchill and
The EAC Productivity App, Quick Search, provides a simple way for users to find content in Windchill. It removes the need for users to apply an understanding of how Windchill objects are related in order to find the information needed to do their job.
The Quick Search PLM application also allows users to search for components and retrieve information and file formats. For instance, if you were to grab a drive system and do a quick search, it’s going to find product information such as parts, EMP like documents, CAD files and more. See EAC Productivity Application Quick Search in action here.
The Quick Access EAC Productivity Application streamlines access to critical and select data sets. Simplifies downstream users feeding critical quality information back to engineering with minimal effort.
This EAC Productivity App allows downstream users to feed critical quality information back to engineering with minimal effort. The simplified interface and consolidated task workflows help users easily submit new problem reports, new change requests, and new variances.
For instance, you could select a component (such as a product), pick its name (the end item number), search for it, and you would get straight to assemblies. With the use of Quick Access users can easily submit new problem reports, change requests, variances and more.
The Part Associations EAC application provides a “shortcut” for non-CAD users to access critical files and documentation associated with designs like drawings, parts, assemblies, and other documents associated with CAD files and part data.
BoM Reports App provides a visual representation of cost
This EAC Productivity App allows users to quickly assess a Bill of Material and ensure projects stay on-time and on-track. The simplified view helps ensure products are built with the appropriate design iterations. With the use of BoM Reports users can easily see BoMs, lists of unreleased parts, parts that have been created or modified by specific users and more.
This app allows users to see the progress of a bill of materials, and apply filters to focus on parts that are not yet released. It is also useful for viewing all of the “make” parts or “buy” parts in a given BoM, or all parts created/modified by a particular user.
Get better access to your product data
By now, I’m sure you’ve heard the buzz about IoT (the Internet of Things).
‘Start improving the way you do business’, ‘connect with technology’, ‘responsive solutions’, ‘amazing results’.
It’s safe to say that the internet of things along with smart connected enterprises have easily become technology’s theme of the year.
Businesses everywhere have started to look at how they can make more money by inserting this “IoT” thing into their business processes.
The truth behind your success and IoT:
No matter where your journey begins with IoT, it’s essential to recognize good business models rely on technological processes, but technology on its own is not enough.
When it comes to IoT and connected business model innovations, if you don’t have a solid business case, you’re not going to have success.
A connected strategy is about business and business transformation. It’s not just about the technology, it’s about using technology as an enabler.
It’s important to realize there is no value in your IoT platform alone. The real value for you, the success of your business case, lies within your application.
The future is smart and connected.
Whether you choose to build connected solutions into existing products, enter new markets, change your business model, or connect your manufacturing floor; you need to be ready.
Transforming the way you connect with your products, organization, and customers all starts with smart connected design and the right Internet of Things (IoT) platform. The right platform allows you to connect and scale your business.
This is exactly what our company specializes in, in fact we have even created a dedicated connect services team to design and implement custom connected strategies for any organization.
Being able to monitor a product from design into manufacturing, throughout its complete lifecycle makes it possible to improve product quality, increase production, reduce costs, and even predict failures.
Building a smart connected strategy that works for you:
Integrating company initiatives with the Internet of Things needs a strategy, this is what we are here for.
We want to help you define a strategy that makes a connection between your products and operations that already exist within your company and the smart, connected world that we live in today.