- Phase 1: Document Control
- Phase 2: Your Choice (often this is Change Management or WT Parts, depending upon what is most important to your organization)
- Phase 3: Quality Management
As you’re onboarding with Windchill, it’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed by its wide array of functionality …assembly instructions, supplier management, classification searches… the list goes on and on.
Let’s face it – change can be intimidating, and ‘doing it all at once’ can seem like a lot.
In a perfect world, we’d always be implementing WT Parts and accounting for Change Management at the start of every single Windchill implementation, but the unfortunate truth is, that’s not always the case.
It’s natural to have the desire to implement a Windchill project in bite-sized pieces. This article aims to explain the advantages of phasing your Windchill implementation to do just that.
The Phased Approach
Our phased approach usually goes something like this:
First thing’s first – prioritize getting your data under control.
Start with your engineering data management. The check-in, check-out version control. Then when you’re comfortable with that, Change Management or WT Parts can be introduced as a viable next step.
Let’s not forget the costs associated with all these options. There are hard costs with respect to the implementation plan you decided on, along with any associated trainings or workshops you deemed necessary.
The end goal: a complete Product Lifecycle Management system that creates and enables a ‘digital thread’, ‘digital continuity’, ‘digital transformation’ (whatever you want to call it), throughout your entire organization.
Let’s talk about how you get there.
Phase 2: What is a WT Part? Why WT Parts?
The WT Part is misunderstood and why often, many shy away from it.
Sure, it’s a different concept, but that doesn’t mean its necessarily hard.
So, what do I mean by different? It’s different in the way that most organizations aren’t thinking about their engineering data.
But, as a matter of fact, that same engineering data is exactly what I would consider the ‘enabling piece’ which has the ability to facilitate the core functionality every organization should have within Windchill.
It’s a vital piece that lets you do all the ‘other stuff’.
Another way of describing the WT Part (or gear icon) is a central hub of all information that is related to a part. It has to do with your relevant CAD files, drawings, engineering change history, primary BoM structures that link to all your other parts.
I’ll use a hypothetical situation to explain.
There are all kinds of different parts that go into designing this bicycle. You have some assemblies that you have built up in Creo, along with a bunch of other different parts and sub-assemblies.
In this case your bicycle has a variety of different parts, that have many different versions – but the important part is – at this point, you have your data under control. You check out a part, make a change, check it back in. Soon enough, version A.1 becomes A.2, A.3, etc.
With WT Parts enabled, your system has the ability to create a paralleled data structure. This means you can have the same assembly structure in CAD that you do in Windchill.
WT Part acts almost as a placeholder (I like to think of it as a shoebox). Inside your shoebox, you can put all kinds of ‘other things’, and I’m not talking about just CAD files. For your organization this could mean PDF’s, published visualizations (allowing you to look at your bicycle in Creo view), word documents, links to other webpages, or just about anything else you want.
Let’s say (in this scenario) you outsource the break calibers, the tires, or the spokes.
WT Parts allows you to have images and direct links to your supplier webpages allowing you to document and specify the exact parts and versions you need. This creates a parallel data structure.
But even with your paralleled data structure (for your bicycle line), you know that how your products are modeled in CAD won’t mirror the way they need to be assembled in manufacturing.
Your manufacturing assembly process includes other things, such as tape, Loctite for the handlebars, cable shrouds, etc. In fact, there are all kinds of things you’re never going to model in CAD, but are still essential components within your manufacturing bill of material.
By using WT Parts, you can start off with an engineering bill of material, create a parallel data structure, then add to it, and even rearrange that part structure in your manufacturing bill of material.
This allows you to properly represent how things should be put together in the shop.
Furthermore, down the line when you create a service bill of material, you’ll no longer need to need use your entire CAD structure (as it was designed in Creo) because your product only needs new tires and inner tubes.
With WT Parts you can easily create a service bill of material that states exactly what’s needed to service your product.
It creates individual containers allowing you to put things in, shuffle them around, and re-arrange them, so you can easily create different bill of material structures. These structures can even be based on what you need to do, downstream from your CAD models.
It also allows you to quickly create a service document explaining how to properly change your tires.
Phase 2: Change Mangement
Perhaps you have heard of it as the ECN process or maybe even the ECR process. What these really consist of – is just one stop along the journey of your change management process.
You might be wondering why more organizations choose Change Management for phase 2 over WT Parts.
The answer is quite simple. It’s because most companies are already doing a change process today in one way, shape, or form.
You might be more familiar with the outdated process, or what I like to refer to as ‘the red folder’.
Many companies today still trudge around the office with that red manila folder when they need sign off on a change. They walk from station to station with documents, prints and more to whoever needs to sign off on that change to get it done.
The Windchill Change Management piece has the ability to replicate what your physical real-world processes can. This allows you to entrench the workflows you’ve already established digitally, inside Windchill.
This is also one of the many reasons why you should not be afraid of the Change Management capabilities inside of Windchill.
So how does change management inside of Windchill work exactly?
The out-of-the-box Windchill Change Management workflows include problem reports, change requests, and change notifications.
Built within the core capabilities of Windchill Change Management, there’s a process in place for problem reports.
Starting at the beginning, the typical entry level is what’s called, ‘the problem report’. You can think of this as your digital suggestion box. Anyone can create a problem report (PR).
With a widget, your problem report gets pushed forward to a change admin, who can then review that report.
Your change admin has the ability to either approve or reject the change request. They can even send it back to the person who originated it (if needed) to ask for further clarification.
This helps you easily keep track of your problem reports, know the length of time they have been opened, and be aware of how many reports are currently active. This enables you to see, as a company, how you’re doing with respect to your problem reports.
The next step along the way is a change request. In the instance that your problem report is moved forward, it gets sent to the next person in line who sees that as an engineering change request.
At this point, there may be some additional research to say, “well, wait, now what other part is used, or what other assembly part is done, and what they might impact?”
When deciding to make a change, its crucial to think downstream and about what the implications of that change might be.
This is what the engineering change request feature inside of Windchill is all about. It allows you to do the research.
Once you meet the set of criteria or you obtain a certain serial number, you can say – “yes, we are going to do that.”
This allows you to have a formalized process where you can either individually approve changes or run change requests through a more formalized review board.
That’s when the change notification task gets assigned back to your design engineer that can then go into Creo, open up the part, and make the change.
The best part? With Windchill Change Management you actually have a way to keep track of your changes, processes, and documentation.
You’ll no longer need to wonder what hasn’t been completed or what the status of a change request might be.
Although that’s the out of the box Windchill Change Management functionality, there’s a lot of subtleties and nuances that can be tailored and configured to your specific company needs. It doesn’t have to be a strict 1 to 1 mapping – there’s flexibility with respect to how you map and manage them.
Say, for example – you had three different problem reports on one specific part. You could now bundle those altogether and roll that into a single change request.
You could also take 2 or 3 different change requests and roll those forward into a single change notification.
Yes, this change process will be new and different – it’s designed to make your life easier.
The difference is – now you’re not cruising around the office with that red folder trying to catch up with all the information. Instead, everything you need is right in front of you. You can see which assemblies will be impacted, what you have on-hand, and what series you want to do the cutover on.
That concludes the first half of a closed loop change management process.
Phase 3: Windchill Quality
The second half of the closed loop change management process stems from things such as nonconformance, that actually come from the Windchill quality management piece.
Again, more Windchill functionality here is also tied together in WT Parts, but these are your corrective and preventive actions.
Looking at the nonconformance piece – where you actually build and manufacture something, but it isn’t measuring out right. Or perhaps your drilled holes that are in the wrong place…or your part is the wrong dimension…or something to that extent.
Windchill Quality enables corrective actions you can take against these incidents to make sure that you’re not building parts to the wrong specifications or dealing with nonconformance. This helps you to take preventive action.
In other words, what steps are you going to take to make sure that you don’t make the same mistakes again? What are you going to do with the parts that you’ve already built?
That’s the second half of the closed loop change management process.
To truly explain how all the Windchill functionalities can be intertwined to create a true ‘digital thread’ – this article would go on for days.
Sure, you can learn about all the different parts and pieces individually, but my organization has a real, tight, concise methodology for doing this.
That’s why EAC Product Development Solutions is here to help. We know and understand what it takes to get your system stood up and in place to truly transform your organization.
Don’t leave your Windchill system with untapped potential. It’s time to make the most out of your money.
1. Why do I need to do regular maintenance on my PTC Windchill system?
Critical systems, like Windchill PLM, must be available to users. This is why it is so important to do regular maintenance on your PTC Windchill system. Windchill system outages can be costly and impact system adoption and usage. Therefore, it is recommended that you complete regular, preventative maintenance to identify and resolve issues before they cause performance problems or service interruptions.
2. What is included in the Alliance program?
We start by assessing your department and company’s needs. We combine the assessment results with our understanding of successful Windchill implementations and deliver recommendations and a plan for a stable, high-performance Windchill instance. The flexibility of the Alliance program allows us to configure an engagement as needed. This gives us the ability to tailor the program specifically to your company.
3. Can my staff complete the Windchill maintenance activities?
Certainly! Keep in mind that preventative Windchill maintenance tasks are commonly an afterthought, and other projects are likely to take precedence. As the staff becomes busier, their dependence on a functioning Windchill system increases. These would be times when a system outage during a critical project could prove to be disastrous.
4. Can you train my staff to complete Windchill maintenance tasks?
Yes, in fact we would love to help train your staff how to complete Windchill maintenance tasks. EAC has PTC certified instructors that are available to deliver all of the Windchill Business and System Admin training courses offered by PTC. After attending these classes your staff will be ready to take on their new Windchill responsibilities. Additionally, we can provide mentoring with our Windchill experts to answer all of your Windchill maintenance questions.
5. What are some benefits of using the EAC Alliance program?
One of the core benefits of the EAC Alliance Program is the ability to take a proactive approach to maintaining your Windchill system – ensuring high availability and performance. By completing regular system maintenance and software updates you are able to better leverage your PTC investment. You can also eliminate the need to maintain a staff of Windchill Administration experts by assigning these system and business admin tasks to our EAC’s expert consultants. Our Windchill consultants have years of experience and complete these same activities on a daily, weekly and monthly basis for many Alliance Program customers.
6. Are Windchill system updates and upgrades included in the Alliance Program?
Yes, the EAC Alliance Program can be structured to include Windchill system updates and upgrades. When you include this in your Alliance Program you can easily budget a fixed cost over the upcoming months and years.
7. Can you support my Global company?
Yes. While EAC is based in the United States, we are part of the PTC Strategic Partner network giving us access to many additional resources overseas. We call on these partners to help with implementation, training, and support services local to international facilities.
8. Are you able to provide 24/7 Windchill support?
Yes. We can provide your company access to our support case submission system, which will allow your Windchill users to log cases at any time of day. If emergency Windchill support is required (noted by the priority level assigned to your case), our team will be notified immediately and begin support. If you require overseas support, and international support is included in your Alliance Program agreement, we will coordinate with a local PTC partner to address the issue.
9. Doesn’t my PTC Maintenance agreement include similar Windchill services?
No. Your PTC maintenance agreement covers all Windchill updates to software that you have purchased as well as technical support should you have a problem that requires resolution. It does not include the services necessary to update, upgrade and maintain your Windchill system.
10. How much does the EAC Alliance Program cost?
This varies based on the complexity of your Windchill environment and the level of support you would like to include in your service level agreement (SLA). This can be determined by having a quick conversation with your team and proposing a solution that correctly addresses your needs. Contact us today for further information!
Windchill is a mission-critical enterprise system with multiple components and touch points across an entire enterprise. Because of this complexity, you might recognize the need for Windchill Managed Services.
EAC has created a managed services program for your Windchill system – The EAC Alliance Program. The Alliance Program provides PTC Windchill managed services such as Windchill administration and support.
Our team of expert system administrators help improve system performance, optimize server and license configurations, and maintain a stable PLM environment for your organization.
Here’s what customer’s see with our Windchill Managed Services and what you can expect.
Windchill Managed Services Percent of Uptime
95.1% of our EAC Alliance Program customers achieve 100% Windchill uptime. Our customers that do not have 100% Windchill uptime still maintain over 99% availability. This is an overall average of 99.95% or more uptime.
Windchill Managed Services Predictive Maintenance
Our Alliance program executes planned (weekly, monthly, etc) Windchill maintenance. Predictive maintenance is more efficient and the preferred approach to system maintenance. Roughly 1/4 of Alliance customers choose to implement PTC System Monitor (PSM) as a way to bolster EAC’s already rigorous proactive maintenance.
Speed/Performance of Windchill with Managed Services
100% of EAC’s Alliance Program customers see an improvement in the speed and performance of their Windchill system. Out of the box, Windchill leaves a lot of room for performance tuning and server optimization. Our EAC Alliance Program Team are skilled in analyzing and optimizing system resources to suit your individual needs
Windchill Managed Services Security/Patches
100% of our EAC Alliance customers receive (or are notified) of patches. This way you can be assured that your system is running with maximum security at all times.
Want to learn more about what our EAC Alliance Program has to offer? Download our Alliance Program Brochure and check out the top 10 questions we get about our Windchill Managed Services.
Managing a new enterprise system can be a daunting task. It can test your staff’s knowledge bases and affect the top and bottom line of your business. That being said, many companies have invested in some sort of PLM or PDM tool (learn more about what ERP, MRP, PLM, and PDM are in this post). This post is for everyone that has invested in a PLM/PDM tool and wants to make sure they’re getting the most out of the investment.
Here are five signs it is time to invest in PLM consulting.
1. You use your PLM /PDM system solely for data management
Many people purchase PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) systems and struggle to use them to their full potential.
They relegate these amazing systems to simple file vaults.
But, they paid for so much more.
If you’re implementing a PLM tool and use it as a data vault, you’ve essentially taken on 100% of the investment to recognize 20% of the benefit.
Without full understanding and utilization of your PLM system, you’re missing the opportunity to capture the main benefits of these investments.
When fully implemented and adopted, these systems integrate people, data, processes and much more.
2. You don’t fully understand your PLM system
I hope none of you that relate to this point think I’m calling you dumb.
PLM is just…a lot.
A good analogy is a car.
We all understand the basics; four wheels, seats, steering wheel, engine.
It is obvious why I want a car, the benefits are clear to me.
That doesn’t mean I know how to troubleshoot, install, and maintain an ignition system.
It is not uncommon to have the wrong idea of PLM system complexity.
They do a lot: data management, process management, lifecycle change, and much more.
This could be why 70 percent of PLM investments are failing to meet manager expectations.
When PLM systems are implemented correctly, they allow your company to further maximize productivity.
3. You Find Yourself Re-Inventing the Wheel
Product lifecycle management solutions are enterprise level systems.
When you attempt to utilize optional configurations, they become complex quickly.
Due to this, many companies find themselves reinventing the wheel around correct PLM configurations.
When this happens, you are only taking more steps backward.
This can easily be avoided with the help of a knowledgeable PLM consultant who is familiar with your situation and has the ability to direct you down the right path.
4. You have multiple issues with PLM system stability
With so many companies investing large amounts of money into PLM enterprise systems, it is important for them to be working correctly.
If your PLM system is continually going down or needs to be restarted, this is another sign you should look into PLM consulting.
A product lifecycle management consultant with experience could locate and diagnose the root cause of your PLM system’s problems, allowing your company to avoid them in the future.
5. Your users complain about general PLM system usability
If your team is constantly complaining about the general performance and interaction on of your PLM interface, odds are that your system hasn’t been properly configured.
Complaints are one thing, but an inability to address the cause and improve user’s situation— that can have a dramatic impact on employee satisfaction and productivity.
User complaints are typically symptoms of larger PLM issues.
An experienced PLM admin can typically decode user feedback and develop a plan to dramatically improve productivity and UX.
The need for ongoing product lifecycle management system administration and maintenance is often overlooked by many companies.
For PLM systems to properly evolve, it is important to partner with system experts who can help your business succeed.
Enterprise systems require administration and management that can be time-consuming and foreign territory for many companies. This is why we created The EAC Alliance Program.
The Alliance Program provides PTC Windchill system administration and support services.
Our team of expert technicians improve system performance, optimize server and license configurations, and maintain a stable PLM environment for your organization. The Alliance Program is transforming the way companies service their Windchill and Intralink PLM & PDM systems.
Alliance Program customers save an average of 50% over other options for dedicated administration and support.
Our team of certified and experienced technicians proactively monitors system events and diagnostics that typically go unnoticed.
Their attention to detail and deep understanding of the technology allows them to increase system stability and reduce downtime by up to 95%.
At EAC, we want to partner with you to you create a better, more productive workspace. The Alliance Program is helping customers increase user satisfaction and ensure a return on their Windchill investment. We accomplish this by providing:
- On-going technical support
- Business process consulting
- System Monitoring
- System Maintenance
- Upgrade Planning
- Performance Tuning
- Windchill Server Optimization
- Monthly Mentoring for Admins & Users
- Discounts on all EAC Training Services
If you’re looking for a way to improve sluggish or slow Windchill system performance, increase system uptime up to 99%, and even reduce operational risk, the Alliance Program can help. To learn more about the Alliance Program, download our brochure here.
Curious about the current state of your system? For a limited time the EAC Alliance Program team will perform a FREE Windchill System Analysis. You can claim your free Windchill System Analysis here.