Model-Based Definition (MBD) is more than just a buzzword; it’s a paradigm shift that is reshaping the industry.
This article delves into the revolutionary nature of MBD, as it emerges as a true game changer unlocking endless opportunities for collaboration and innovation – which are truly transforming design and manufacturing processes in ways never seen before.
The Future is No Longer 2D
First, let’s dive into the power of breaking down barriers and embracing new, innovative approaches that are shaping the future of engineering.
Engineering has come a long way since its inception, and visionary designers have always pushed the boundaries of what’s possible by refining designs using traditional 2D formats.
However, even today, many companies continue to use 2D design because it is familiar, comfortable, and has a lower initial cost.
While traditional 2D design formats have been the norm for many years, it’s essential to recognize that relying solely on these methods can have its drawbacks. There is a higher likelihood of errors, miscommunication, and inconsistencies, leading to numerous design reworks and prolonged time-to-market.
The good news is that the field of engineering has witnessed remarkable developments in recent years, offering new solutions that go beyond traditional 2D formats. By embracing cutting-edge technologies like computer-aided design (CAD) and 3D printing, engineers now have the ability to visualize, iterate, and perfect designs in a digital realm before bringing them to life.
With these advancements, designers can significantly minimize errors and improve precision, making the design process more efficient.
By shattering the limits of traditional 2D formats, engineers can unlock endless possibilities and transform the way designs are brought to life.
So, while traditional 2D design may be familiar and comfortable, it’s time for companies to embrace these new solutions and stay ahead of the curve.
Gone are the days of relying solely on traditional 2D formats and passing papers from design to the shop floor, hoping for a seamless transition.
Model-Based Definition (MBD) empowers engineers to go beyond these limitations and embrace a digital realm where designs are visualized, iterated, and refined with unprecedented precision.
But that’s just the beginning. MBD opens up a world of possibilities for collaboration and innovation. It enables seamless integration with cutting-edge technologies like computer-aided design (CAD) and 3D printing, making ideas come to life faster and more accurately.
Join us on this exhilarating journey as we uncover the potential of Model-Based Definition and explore how it is transforming the engineering landscape.
How MBD is Changing the Game
In today’s fast-paced manufacturing industry, the need for increased efficiency, accuracy, and innovation is more significant than ever before.
Yet, for countless years, 2D drawings have been the go-to deliverables for product definition.
These drawings have been used by Engineering, Manufacturing, and other users to communicate design form and fit information required to drive manufacturing processes.
But as we know today, In the realm of engineering and manufacturing, efficiency is paramount.
With the rapid advancement of technology, and the need to shorten product development cycles, 2D drawings have proven to be insufficient in some respects.
The ability to seamlessly communicate design intent and product specifications plays a critical role in achieving customer satisfaction and reducing errors. This is where Model-Based Definition (MBD) comes into the picture.
Unlike 2D models, which can be difficult to interpret and visualize, MBD enables stakeholders to better understand the design intent and product specifications.
With MBD, design iterations become faster and more efficient. Modifying the 3D model allows engineers to evaluate different design possibilities without the need to manually update multiple 2D drawings
Likewise, inherent to 2D models is the potential for errors and misinterpretation during the translation process. MBD eliminates this risk by embedding all the necessary information directly into the 3D CAD model.
Furthermore, traditional 2D models tend to require multiple drawings for comprehensive documentation, which can be time-consuming to create and maintain. MBD eases these processes by consolidating all the relevant information into a single digital model, which in-turn, simplifies the documentation process and makes it easier to update when changes are made.
While the transition to Model-Based Definition may require some initial investment and adjustment, the benefits far outweigh the challenges. MBD not only streamlines engineering and manufacturing processes but also improves collaboration, reduces errors, and enhances overall product quality.
Model-based definition offers a new way of thinking about and creating products.
What is Model Based Definition?
So, what is MBD?
Model-Based Definition is a revolutionary approach to creating 3D models so that they effectively contain all the data needed to define a product.
MBD defines the source of Product and Manufacturing Information (PMI) as the 3D model (Model-Based) to dictate a product’s features, tolerances, and other critical information.
By incorporating everything into the product definition, MBD aims to replace traditional 2D drawings with comprehensive 3D models. This involves attaching all the necessary geometric, dimensional, and other manufacturing information directly to the 3D CAD model, eliminating the need for separate 2D drawings.
As the manufacturing industry moves towards a more digitally connected and efficient future, Model-Based Definition is at the forefront of this revolution, paving the way for more effective product development and manufacturing practices.
The Future of Engineering: Embracing Model-Based Definition
Let’s talk abut how MBD works.
With MBD, the 3D CAD model becomes the primary source of information, acting as a complete and accurate representation of the product. The embedded data not only includes the physical characteristics but also encompasses vital manufacturing instructions, such as tolerances, surface finishes, and materials specifications.
Through MBD, the design becomes the authority, encapsulating all the essential information, such as geometric dimensions, tolerances, surface finishes, and more. This eliminates the need for separate documents or drawings, streamlining communication and ensuring consistency throughout the entire product lifecycle.
MBD replaces traditional 2D drawings with 3D models that contain all the critical information needed for design, manufacturing, and inspection processes. By embracing MBD, engineers can communicate complex design concepts more effectively, eliminating confusion and reducing errors.
The benefits of Model-Based Definition
Implementing Model-Based Definition offers numerous benefits and advantages for both engineering and manufacturing processes. Some of the key benefits include:
Enhanced Communication and Collaboration
MBD enables effective communication and collaboration among stakeholders in the product development process by embedding all necessary information in the 3D model, eliminating misinterpretation and confusion that often arise from relying solely on written documents.
Reduced Errors and Rework
MBD reduces risks of errors, misinterpretation, and rework by providing an all-inclusive 3D model that enables early detection of design issues through a proactive digital approach.
MBD simplifies documentation by automatically generating accurate and up-to-date technical information, eliminating the need for multiple 2D drawings. This consolidation into a single digital model streamlines understanding of product requirements, facilitates easy updates, and ultimately accelerates decision-making and development cycles.
Improved Design Iterations
With MBD, engineers can quickly modify the 3D model to explore design iterations and evaluate different possibilities. Since all the associated information is directly linked to the model, modifications can be made efficiently, without the need to manually update multiple 2D drawings. This allows for faster design iterations and enhances the overall design process.
Simulation and Analysis
MBD allows for the virtual simulation and analysis of the product’s behavior under various conditions. This enables engineers to optimize designs, test different scenarios, and make informed decisions without the need for physical prototypes.
Better Supplier Integration
Model-Based Definition facilitates seamless integration between different suppliers involved in the manufacturing process. By sharing the 3D model, suppliers gain a comprehensive understanding of the design intent and can provide more accurate quotes, reducing the back-and-forth communication and improving collaboration.
All these benefits lead to less time spent on design and more time spent on making actual products, which ultimately means more time making money.
By digitally defining product characteristics and specifications, MBD eliminates ambiguity and ensures accuracy throughout the entire design and manufacturing process.
In addition, MBD eliminates errors that would otherwise be introduced at the physical stage, caused by manual processes or human error in translating data from one tool into another.
Customer Success Stories
The accomplishment of implementing MBD and achieving success is not an unattainable long-term objective, but a tangible reality that many have already experienced.
Take the case of the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD). They implemented MBD and saw several benefits, including an estimated $3M generated annually.
Another example is a case study from PTC, which describes how MBD was used to overcome delays in First Article Inspection (FAI). This case study found that MBD was the missing link to maximizing efficiency and reducing rework.
Additionally, a case study from Capvidia describes how MBD was used to improve process efficiency, reduce rework, create better products with faster time to market, and improve communication between departments.
Lastly, a case study from Springer describes how MBD was used to replace datasets of models and drawings, creating a “single source of truth”.
Numerous companies, among those mentioned and many others, have unveiled the advantages of MBD and have witnessed its profound impact on their manufacturing and engineering processes.
Implementing Model-Based Definition
Implementing model-based definition into your enterprise can be daunting if you’re not prepared for the change. Let’s talk about how to implement MBD despite some of the challenges that may come along the way.
Some challenges you may face include:
- Sharing the MBD model with manufacturers or downstream collaborators. Some manufacturers still use 2D prints and are not used to the concept yet.
- Currently, there’s no universal method to sharing the 3D models. Just like any time you use multiple software platforms, sharing 3D models can be difficult. Some CAD platforms use viewable tools (like Creo view) some use step files, and others use 3D PDFs.
- Lacking the ability to use the model throughout the whole enterprise for things like BOM, change management, quality, data management and revisions. However, Windchill is a great solution for helping with that!
To begin implementing MBD in a successful way, you must clearly define their objectives and identify the specific benefits they aim to achieve with MBD, such as improved communication, reduced errors, and streamlined workflows. It is important to engage key stakeholders from different departments, including design, engineering, and manufacturing, to ensure alignment and gather diverse perspectives.
The next step involves selecting the right software tools and technologies that support MBD, as well as providing comprehensive training and support to employees to enable smooth adoption. The company should establish clear standards and processes for creating and managing 3D models, including annotation, GD&T, and other product specifications.
Ongoing collaboration, regular reviews, and continuous improvement are crucial to refine and optimize the MBD implementation. By embracing MBD as a company-wide initiative and fostering a culture of innovation and collaboration, companies can successfully transition to a more efficient, accurate, and streamlined approach to product development.
While the transition to Model-Based Definition may require some initial investment and adjustment, the benefits far outweigh the challenges. It not only streamlines engineering and manufacturing processes but also improves collaboration, reduces errors, and enhances overall product quality.
Picture the future state of your company using Model-Based Definition with benefits such as:
- Creating reusable components instead of rewriting them
- Reducing errors during coding by using more precise specifications
- Getting feedback from stakeholders earlier in the process so changes can be made before they become expensive
- Improving team communication because everyone speaks “the same language.”
Model-Based Definition is undeniably an exciting advancement in the field of engineering. With its ability to enhance collaboration, unleash innovation, and redefine design and manufacturing processes, MBD is paving the way for a more efficient and effective engineering industry.
So buckle up and get ready to embrace this game-changing concept that will shape the future of engineering.
You can also talk to one of our experts to learn more about the benefits of MBD and what it would look like to implement it into your business.
If you’re wondering how to get effective and long-term PTC Windchill Support, look no further.
We partner with PTC and are a Top Solution Provider because our experts truly believe PTC products are the best in the industry for the Digital Thread and improving the complete product development process. Our company would like to address some of the pain points you may experience while using your Windchill PLM platform. As well as inform you about the steps we are taking to enhance your overall user experience and boost efficiency across your enterprise.
As with any complex software system, there can be a number of frustrations that users may experience when working with Windchill. Here are some common Windchill complaints that we hear in the industry:
- Complex User Interface especially for infrequent users
- Cumbersome Navigation
- Slow Performance & Speed
- Customization Limitations
- Limited Task Support & Access for departments outside of Engineering
- Lack of Workflow Synergy between multiple departments
Windchill Support: User Interface
We understand that the complexity of the PTC Windchill user interface can sometimes be overwhelming. Windchill’s user interface can often be cluttered and difficult to navigate. The system has a lot of options and features based on how complex an integrated product database must be. In response to this feedback, we created EAC Productivity Apps.
Our goal is to simplify and streamline the interface, making it more intuitive and user-friendly across teams and departments while keeping security high. By reducing clutter and improving navigation according to different job titles and roles, we aim to enhance your productivity and reduce the learning curve.
Quick Search App
For example, the Quick Search App provides a simplified way for users to enter a number or attribute into a single search bar to find the data results within the context of their job role. This removes the need for users to apply an understanding of how Windchill objects are related and eliminates unwanted, irrelevant data for the task at hand.
Report Viewer App
Our Report Viewer app gives individuals outside the engineering department the ability to view and run Windchill reports with ease. Within the Report Viewer app, you can easily:
- Run pre-configured reports and saved reports
- Save new reports
- Access pre-built report dashboards that utilize the Windchill search engine
Part Associations App
This app provides a “shortcut” for users (especially shop floor employees) to access critical CAD files and documentation, and it consolidates results onto a single screen. Quickly access drawings, parts, assemblies, and other documents associated with CAD and part data.
For users who are in Windchill every day, we strongly suggest seeking out adequate training and support as a first step towards solving some of these frustrations. Even the most seasoned users may find tips and tricks that can simplify their workflows on a day-to-day basis.
BoM Compare App
Pro Tip: Did you know that Windchill BoM comparisons exist in Windchill?
They do! Now with our BoM Compare App, this feature is easier to find and leverage. View a side-by-side comparison of two Windchill bills of materials and select which attributes to compare, all with the click of a button.
Streamline PTC Windchill Navigation
Easy navigation is a huge factor that plays into workflow productivity. Windchill has many menus, screens, and options, making it difficult for users to navigate the system and find the information they need. This can be especially frustrating for infrequent users who are not familiar with the system.
Our EAC Apps are purposefully designed with easier navigation in mind. Instead of constant mouse clicks and multiple new windows opening across your screens, our developers created an ideal workflow. And significantly reduces how long it takes for you to get the info you need based on your job role.
Another challenge we hear from Windchill users is how long it takes to search for and find the data they need. We acknowledge that searching and finding documentation in Windchill can take way too long and cause a lot of frustration. This is especially true for people who only need to go into Windchill once in a blue moon. EAC Apps gets users to the data or drawings they need in just a few mouse clicks.
Below is a timetable that compares the number of mouse clicks it takes in the standard Windchill interface (a user with Windchill experience and skill) versus how many it takes using our productivity apps with little to no training needed.
Support Windchill Performance and Speed
Windchill can be slow to load, especially when working with large amounts of data or performing complex operations. This can lead to delays and frustration for users who need to work quickly and efficiently.
Additionally, optimizing the platform’s performance with maintenance on the back end is critical to ensure smoother operation, faster response times, and improved overall stability.
As a start, we highly recommend checking out the infographic, “6 Ways to Check and Maintain Your Windchill System” to support a healthy Windchill environment.
If your Windchill system continuously crashes or freezes, there is a serious issue that needs attention. For additional help, our managed services team is dedicated to resolving these issues and providing you with a more efficient and seamless experience. Our managed services, EAC Alliance, takes the heavy lifting off of your system admins so they can focus on their core responsibilities.
Learn more about the EAC Alliance program for Windchill. In regards to system crashing or freezing, that does NOT have to be your “normal”. In fact, 99.5% of our Alliance customers see a 100% in Windchill uptime and over 99% in availability. And 100% of our customers say they experience a significant improvement in speed and performance.
For most apps, you don’t even have to log into Windchill at all to get the info you need quickly and securely whether you’re a finance team member in your home office, or a builder on the manufacturing shop floor using your phone or tablet.
Quick Access App
More specifically, the Quick Access App eliminates the need to go into Windchill at all. Shop floor personnel can submit a problem report, a change request, or a new variance directly within the app. The Quick Access app improves user adoption and streamlines access to critical data sets.
The Quick Access app enables team members to quickly view a product’s structure, supporting information, and digital content. It also facilitates rapid issue capture to ensure quality and speed time to market.
Help with Effective Windchill Customizations
Another pain point that has been highlighted is the limited flexibility for customization within PTC Windchill. We understand that different organizations have unique requirements, and we are committed to empowering you with the ability to tailor the platform to your specific needs.
We are actively working on expanding the customization options and offering more flexibility to adapt PTC Windchill to your workflows and processes. Each EAC App allows for ample customization based on what your team or department wants or needs! We’ll set you up for success.
The best part is, even if you upgrade your Windchill version, you don’t have to start over with custom code like you do with ThingWorx! Our apps help administrators maintain the user portal after ThingWorx Navigate upgrade releases.
Windchill Security and Task Support
Need to give Purchasers access to only specific assets? Our EAC Apps allow you to share critical data securely with those who need it based on particular permissions and settings.
Give your shop floor access to the latest drawings, and design changes with easy-to-find and digestible data without having to email busy engineering teams. By expanding access to users in multiple departments with just a few clicks supports your Windchill investment.
Task Management App
Meet the Task Management App. Task Management helps users complete multiple tasks within one window! Streamline your workflows, filter by team assignment, and finish your to-do list. This app will fuel your efficiency, user adoption, and time management.
The Task Management App was designed to enable stakeholders to review and act on assigned Windchill change tasks. It provides visibility into important open tasks and their status.
Additionally, we have a robust knowledge base, user mentoring, and tutorials to assist you in leveraging the full potential of PTC Windchill. Our training and mentoring team is always available to address your queries and provide timely assistance.
Support for Windchill Collaboration and Integration
Is your engineering team the only department accessing Windchill data? If so, your company is not maximizing your technology investment. Our experts stress the value of collaboration and integration with other tools and systems for seamless workflows and processes surrounding your current tools and technology environment.
Our intuitive role-based apps make it easy for stakeholders in other departments to get the data they need from Windchill in a matter of seconds – instead of constantly having to ask the engineering team for answers!
Each app can be tailored to a specific role in your organization. Plus our PLM Apps integrate with any 3rd party system and expand Windchill’s integration capabilities, allowing you to connect with a broader range of applications and enabling smoother collaboration across different teams and departments.
Windchill Support for BoM Reports
For example, a healthy manufacturing BoM report requires input from multiple departments including design, procurement, manufacturing, and sales, and even more stakeholders need access.
The BoM Reports App allows all departments across the enterprise to accurately see the BoM data they need in real-time in the context of their job role. Within the app, you can view lists of unreleased products, created or modified parts in real-time (Cheers to supporting the digital thread strategy!)
Windchill Support for Change Management
Furthermore, Change Management is a core operational asset that can make or break processes across the enterprise. Our Change Management App aims to automate the critical flow and hand-off of information between teams and departments.
Enable excellent project management with an app that provides graphical views of problem reports, change requests, change reports, change variances, promotion requests, and more. This app is highly customizable based on the department and role of each user for maximum efficiency.
Bonus PTC Windchill Support: Implementation & Upgrades
Without experts who have the adequate time and capacity to do so (it’s seriously a full-time job), Windchill may not always be implemented properly in a timely fashion. This leads to data inconsistencies and errors. Errors that almost all manufacturers just can’t afford to be making.
The right approach matters, especially with PLM. To mitigate risk and save your IT team from a heavy burden, check out our service offerings for advanced Windchill support including Windchill implementations, upgrades, installs, and migrations.
Why Windchill is Still Critical for Success
Your feedback and input have been invaluable in shaping the direction of our efforts to improve your experiences with the complex yet powerhouse that is Windchill. We want to assure you that we are committed to continuously enhancing the platform with EAC Apps to serve your needs better and exceed your expectations.
The amount of power and robust capabilities of Windchill is the best investment a company can make on its digital transformation journey and implementing the digital thread. Connecting your data is critical. Finding and accessing your data with user-friendly PLM apps expands Windchill usage and amplifies your Windchill investment.
EAC Apps is the practical solution for PTC Windchill support by increasing Windchill usage and user satisfaction across the enterprise.
If you have any further pain points or suggestions, we would love to hear from you. Your insights are vital in driving our ongoing improvements.
P.S. Did you hear? We released the latest version of EAC Apps 3.3.0! Check out the Compatibility Matrix and Release Notes here.
JR Automation, a Hitachi Group Company, leveraged EAC Productivity Apps to solve Windchill PLM frustrations, scale their business operations and improve the shop floor experiences of their engineers. Discover how JR Automation implemented PLM Apps to gain ROI, bring efficiency and clarity for builders on the manufacturing floor, and achieved scalable digital transformation.
JR Automation knew the company needed to update operational processes in order to meet and exceed customer expectations. Their goal was to reduce the time it was taking builders and engineers to manage print packages by 80%.
Additionally, they wanted to increase efficiency by 5% or more during the assembly phase. Including enhanced communication on the shop floor. As well as saving time on machine assembly and tactical coordination. As such, was estimated to be taking up 30% of a builder’s day.
With an increase of workers on the shop floor, builders had no choice but to walk back and forth to shared kiosks in order to visualize and assemble designs. These complications only intensified as products became more complex. With manual error-prone operations, redline quality, and accuracy were at stake.
Similar to many other manufacturing organizations, challenges arose when it came to searching for the correct prints, managing paper booklets, and updating print designs.
Rework stemming from incorrect designs, and file management complications were growing. Also, misplaced product information (needed for closed-loop change processes) had never been greater. JR Automation was seeking a simple way for low-tech machine builders to get last-minute design changes to engineering. Ross Walters, Director of Engineering, knew that builders required a solution that was highly intuitive.
The Solution: EAC Apps
JR Automation looked at PTC ThingWorx Navigate. ThingWorx Navigate does offer a single view to multiple enterprise systems like ALM, MRP, ERP, SLM, CRM, Accounting, and PLM (Windchill). It also gives users universal access to the latest most accurate product information when they need it.
However, it was clear to JR Automation that what they really needed was a customized app that made things easier. EAC’s experts knew the solution and streamlined processes that allow builders to get drawings, CAD files, and other related documents in a single portal. With EAC Apps they could also see role-based reports and make redlines.
By providing all the information needed on a single screen, with user-friendly workflows and easy-to-submit redlines, EAC apps improved operational efficiency as well as customer satisfaction.
A Custom Solution with Major Impact
After evaluating cost, functionality, implementation time, training, and other considerations, JR Automation unveiled they would gain an ROI of $1.4 million from EAC Productivity Apps.
EAC Apps benefited JR Automation with:
- 80% efficiency increase in print management for mechanical engineers
- 60% efficiency increase in builder print management
- 60% increase in digital efficiency gains
In conclusion, JR Automation’s builders no longer need to share a kiosk. Working with EAC enabled efficiencies for more than 200 workers who use Redline Apps today. They have eliminated the need for paper, print supplies, and additional booklets saving them additional costs. EAC Apps have continued to provide benefits such as improved accuracy with customer shipment orders, product designs, onboarding, and training efficiencies.
Learn more about EAC Productivity Apps here.
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.
How, he asked, do I know where my PLM and ERP system should begin and where should they end? How do they work together? How should I structure my data be stored and accessed?
This question was coming at a moment of extreme digital change for him. His company was in the midst of a 2–year battle to evaluate ERP solutions and upgrade their obsolete system, and their prodigious growth had also forced them into expanding their investment in their product data management system. These parallel digital initiatives were critical to their continued growth – but it was not immediately clear to him on how to reconcile these two seemingly disparate systems.
Understanding the difference is a challenge for many companies, especially given how PLM & ERP systems have changed and developed since their inceptions decades ago. Both systems of record have matured and advanced far beyond their original conceits. Many ERP systems will offer modules which purportedly function like PLM and some PLM systems will allow you to interact with vendors in ways which are reminiscent of ERP. There are overlapping capabilities, but the central roles of ERP and PLM are distinct and optimizing a harmonious PLM-ERP connection delivers real value to the entire enterprise.
PLM is to your Intellectual Property what ERP is to your physical property
Both systems manage data but the distinction can be seen at the moment of financial impact. Once you physically buy parts or service and that transaction belongs on a P&L, then that transaction should be owned by ERP. Everything up to that point, however, is part of the product development process and we believe that PLM has many more impactful tools and processes when it comes to product development.
Think about building a house. Would you start by buying some amount of lumber and pouring concrete around a lot? No. You’d start by planning and drawing out schematics, calculating loads, and simulating the house in CAD before you ever buy anything. That’s the power of PLM – PLM is the planning tool that allows you to design and iterate a product before you ever purchase physical assets to build it with. It saves you time and money by planning smart and being precise.
One need not take precedence over the other, I explained to the CEO. The goal for any intellectual product is to one day become reality, and thus PLM needs to talk with ERP and ERP needs to be in step with PLM. Companies that want to understand true cost to produce and supply chain will need both tools working together. The key is to use the best tool for the job and not pour any concrete before the foundation is planned.