Category "Product Lifecycle Management"

With every release of Active Workspace, Siemens PLM keeps adding more enhanced capabilities for change management process execution, Active Workspace 3.4  is no exception.

The first enhancement is a simplified overview of change that includes most relevant information pertaining to the change.  The Consolidated change overview now includes; change description, details, participants, and originating changes.  There is a new visual status bar showing change maturity progress in overall maturity process. This progress chart helps users to understand and quickly determine the change maturity.  There is also an easily accessible change summary that shows adds, removes, and replaces. The Impacted/ Solution items added or Lineage set via Active Workspace UI  or the BOM changes done via rich client from structure manager in supersedure window are reflected in the new change summary. These easy to interpret change details help users to understand the full impact of change before they make decisions on it.

The Active Workspace 3.4 relationship browser is now improved to show all associated change objects and their relationships in the interactive relations browser.  This helps users to easily understand change objects and their hierarchical relations (Implements, Implemented by, dependencies) ,   find change objects and  other business objects  relations (Problem Items, Impacted Items, Solution Items) and also relation between items (Lineage).

These new capabilities makes Active Workspace an even more preferred user interface for change management adoption.

With every release of Active Workspace, Siemens PLM keeps adding more enhanced capabilities for Schedule Manager process execution, Active Workspace 3.4  is no exception.

The most exciting Schedule Manager process execution improvement in Active Workspace 3.4 is the ability to perform a “what-if analysis”.  What-if analysis mode enables project managers to experiment on a live schedule without impacting it . This is like working with the schedule in a “sandbox” environment to perform changes  to the tasks without committing them to the production database.  This helps project managers to determine how various schedule component changes may affect the outcome of the schedule, before actually committing the changes to the schedule. Once they are satisfied with the changes,  they can promote and commit the changes to the schedule. If they are not satisfied with the outcome of the changes, then they can choose to discard the analysis.

There are also enhancements to make the Schedule Manager tool usage easier .  Now users can change the Gantt timescale using the zoom in/out feature. They can add and remove schedule deliverables, assign multiple schedule tasks to one team member using multi-select mode, add multiple tasks quickly and easily by pinning the ‘Add schedule task’ panel and also manually launch workflow on a task. These advances in schedule authoring provide project managers and coordinators greater ease and flexibility in schedule definition and maintenance.

In this age of disruptions, product development companies need to reach across the evolving business ecosystem at a rapid pace than ever, at the same time protecting  their intellectual property . Teamcenter Active Workspace enables product development companies to

  1. Reach More people by connecting more people in more places with product data and processes; both internal and external. With a light-weight, web based user interface, they can harness the power of a changing workforce to get ahead of the competition.
  2. Reach across the business processes and leverage disruption to be a market leader. Using new tools for configuring Teamcenter, they can easily adapt to change now, and in the future.
  3. Reach greater returns by finding new ways to support the business. By reducing the burden of software support and maintenance, companies can focus on driving revenue.

User experience is the key factor when it comes to reaching more people in more places. The user experience focus for Active Workspace is to provide a clean, efficient, and simple user interface that works across multiple devices and use cases, from the basic, to the more sophisticated.  Active Workspace  UI guiding principles includes

  • Simple – A clean, efficient, and responsive layout that works in various form factors and conditions
  • Engaging – Embedded dashboard views and big picture reporting
  • Effective – Easy data and relationship visualization and creation
  • Active – Configure search results in relevance of best match, allow fast and efficient refining of the results

Active Workspace is focused on delivering content for the use cases people need to execute, making it effective to easily create, find, relate and work with data . This focus makes the experience more engaging and active for the users as opposed to a static non intelligent user interface.  Throughout the interface, companies are able to personalize the user experience to minimize training and encourage participation from key stakeholders throughout the enterprise.

The key business drivers for Active Workspace are

  • User productivity –  The expectation from today’s web users is that there should be no need for training.  Applications on the web should be easy to learn and be simple to use.  .  Active Workspace User experience design is simple enough for occasional use, yet productive and powerful enough for complex business problems making it consistent and efficient for all users and process
  • Reducing information overload  –  This is key to help make smarter and faster decisions.  Users should only see relevant and necessary information in context of what they are doing.  The UI actively guides user to what needs attention and it automates the mundane as well as provide contextually integrated tools. 
  • Reducing Cost of Ownership – Active Workspace can be easily configured, extended, and deployed with lower cost of ownership.

Many leading manufacturers pursue a global product development and manufacturing strategy. Although this allows manufacturers to achieve tremendous economy of scale and scope, this strategy has increased planning and collaboration complexities by order of magnitudes, especially in the following areas.

  • Planning global production
  • Optimizing and effectively leveraging capacity
  • Answering manufacturing feasibility questions with confidence
  • Mitigating scrap, rework and delays

When product design and manufacturing are dispersed on a global scale, how do they ensure that their teams can collaborate, perform analysis in a secured environment? Often there is a vacuum between product /process design and the actual manufacturing execution. These two teams don’t have the suitable tools to share and exchange information.

At the design stage engineers have to deal with design data, CAE models, embedded software designs, etc. At the execution stage ERP and MES systems are responsible for managing job orders, inventory, scheduling etc.  Manufacturing process management solutions allows manufacturers to  manage their enterprise product and production data on a global scale. They can integrate the product design and production execution processes in a single platform. Teamcenter Manufacturing Solutions provides an en d-to-end solution to collaboratively design, validate, optimize, and document manufacturing processes .  Key capabilities include:

  • Process design and planning

A single source of manufacturing knowledge can streamline collaborative processes and decision making across the product and manufacturing engineering departments. Teamcenter supports process design and planning by leveraging all of the product and process information for planning purposes, creating multiple plant views with process structure, scoping the process workflow and tracking BOM line items. This can reduce planning cycles and optimize production.

  • Change visibility

Teamcenter provides visibility to change. Late-stage changes can have the largest impact on a manufacturer’s bottom line as the cost of change raises exponentially throughout the product lifecycle. Teamcenter communicates change from engineering to production in controlled workflows that include bill of materials management. Teamcenter provides production updates and validates the impact to existing production processes.

  • Manufacturing work instructions

With Teamcenter, electronic work instructions are created and managed in one single source that spans the lifecycle, from Design to Manufacturing Planning to Process Instructions Planning to Execution. You can streamline workflow, and work instruction processes, including 3D visualization and simulation  to provide product context and demonstrate how to execute tasks

  • Interoperability and open architecture

Underpinning the entire manufacturing process is Teamcenter’s open PLM platform. Teamcenter brings together all engineering and manufacturing information, including bi-directional BOM-BOP integration. By using ISO-standard JT files, manufacturing workers have visibility to 3D product designs in a CAD-neutral visualization format.

In summary, the benefits of using Teamcenter for manufacturing process management are:

  • Concurrently develop product and process plans so you can make smarter decisions, earlier, and speed time to market.
  • Mitigate the risk of late-stage change, which has the largest single impact to profitability
  • Reuse proven global production capabilities to optimize quality and performance
  • Leverage Teamcenter PLM investment to streamline manufacturing planning and operations, as well as engineering

Product Excellence Program helps Siemens PLM Software to understand how customers use their products and assists them in improving the software in future releases .The Product Excellence Program is designed to protect the privacy of the user and the intellectual property created through the use of Siemens PLM Software products. It’s used to collect data about Siemens PLM Active Workspace product usage and associated Teamcenter platform installation. Data collection occurs in the background as software is used and does not affect performance or functionality,  collected data is sent to Siemens PLM Software for analysis. Per Siemens PLM no contact information is contained in the data collected not any information about data created or managed is collected. Data is solely for use by Siemens PLM Software and is never shared with third parties .

Participation in the Product Excellence Program is enabled by default during installation using either TEM or Deployment Center. System administrators can always opt out during install. Post install, participation can be controlled  with the TC_ProductExcellenceProgram site preference.  All data collection is anonymous and includes product usage; Teamcenter server platform (version, platform, architecture), client environment (browser type, version), client page visits and collected data is sent from the client browser.  

My last blog focused on the need for a Manufacturing BOM (mBOM). When organizations start to embrace the value of mBOM and  decide to invest on solutions to manage a mBOM, the first question is where to master it , PLM or ERP ?

The answer to that question varies depending on the maturity level of PLM and ERP adoption and penetration in the organization .  If both PLM & ERP are at the same or similar maturity level, then there are many good reasons to author & manage mBOM in a PLM system and to make ERP a consumer of the mBOM mastered in PLM.

First, in PLM mBOM is integrated with the eBOM and design process . eBOM integration and reuse enables front loading, and helps manufacturing team to lower cost of mBOM authoring and management and shorten time to market.  Manufacturing users can also leverage the 3D visualization data in mBOM for better decisions and  better quality. With the master model approach being adopted by leading organizations, there is lot of Product Manufacturing Information (PMI) on the 3D Master Model, which can be leveraged in both mBOM and downstream process planning.  mBOM can also act as the starting point for detailed process planning to create the Bill of Process (BOP) inside PLM . BOP or Routing can also leverage the 3D visualization data to produce visual work instructions , which will always remain updated with the upstream design changes. The process plans can  also be simulated and validated (feasibility, human ergo, collision etc) before actual execution.  The validated Routing then get sent to Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) along with the visual work instructions. That way there  is full traceabilty from CAD to eBOM to mBOM to BOP and eventually to MES.

The traceability enables users to run where used queries among all products and plants during a change process. This ensures all product changes are evaluated for impacts in both engineering and manufacturing contexts.

 

Embracing a true PLM platform and solution is not an easy endeavor for many companies, even with the reckoning of the potential value and ROI offered by a rightly architected PLM solution.  Success in any Enterprise software implementation like PLM often requires careful planning, dedicated resources , right technical expertise, executive sponsorship, and a receptive culture, among other things.  When done the right way the results of such efforts are transformational, producing significant business benefit which can be measured and validated.

One of the biggest challenges to adopting PLM is organizational change management given the breadth and scale of a true PLM solution . Many companies approaches it in phases and rightly so; but the key is how the phases are architected, tracked and measured.  PLM involves managing and linking Data, Processes  and People together as the product goes through it’s lifecycle from inception to design to manufacturing to support and eventually end of life.   The first step of this is often managing Data; specifically Engineering CAD data.  Most solutions start with a way to vault the CAD data along with some basic part numbering schemes and revision rules . Sometimes engineering documents are also vaulted along with the CAD data.   Yes data  vaulted in a central repository brings  lot of benefits like elimination of duplicates , basic check-in-checkout / access controls and  added search capabilities as opposed to it scattered across multiple locations.  But the measured value of this alone may not substantiate the heavy PLM IT investment companies needs to make for a true scalable PLM platform.   Sometimes there is an expectation misalignment on the full PLM value and just the data vaulting value . This at times sends companies to a long and lull “PLM assessment” period  after data vaulting.  Sometimes cultural resistance or organizational change overturns any momentum.  Maybe a technical glitch or integration shortfall previously overlooked becomes a deal breaker . Over-scoped and under supported initiative can also run out of money or time.

Companies make a considerable amount of IT investment on the PLM platform upfront, so that they have a scalable solution for all phases and not just CAD vaulting.  Most of the time they can add more capabilities and processes on the PLM platform without additional IT investments .  So it’s very important to get past the initial data vaulting phase and move to the next phases to maximize the utilization of existing IT investments.  Now the question is where do we go after CAD vaulting. This is where upfront PLM Roadmap definition is so important in terms of  how the phases are architected, tracked and measured.  For companies who have successfully completed data vaulting but do not have a formal PLM Roadmap defined yet, some of the next focus areas to consider can be Engineering process management, BOM Management,  Change management , Requirements management , Project and Program management , in no specific order.

Does your organization struggle to produce CAD and digital definitions of product? Is the CAD development of product a bottleneck in your process? If the answer is yes, you could benefit from a Digital Engineering Benchmark.

The Digital Engineering Benchmark assessment captures the opinions of senior and knowledgeable personnel in your organization on the current state and future Digital Engineering requirements for your business. In addition, a priority for improvement and an assessment of current effectiveness is recorded. It centers on 17 key Digital Engineering “Pillars” ranging from 3D CAD Standards, through to CAD Extensions. The pillars are listed below:

  1. 3D CAD Standards
  2. Drawing Standards
  3. CAD Templates
  4. 3D Standard Features
  5. Standard Parts Library
  6. Materials Library
  7. Automated Drawing Generation
  8. 3D Master
  9. Automated Designs
  10. Automation Scripts
  11. Digital Mockup
  12. Spatial Analysis
  13. Special CAD Extensions
  14. Design for Manufacturing
  15. CAD Checking Tools
  16. Intellectual Property Protection
  17. Publications

After the 17 pillars have been covered, senior and knowledgeable personnel are also invited to “spend” an assumed benefit in value areas within your business. The areas identified are improving time to market, increasing the portfolio of the company and improving product quality.

Finally, the tool produces a comprehensive report showing the customer’s current state of maturity and a benchmark comparison with the industry.

Participants have found this process to be very useful as it allows them to prioritize their initiatives, gives a high level view of their roadmap to success and provides them with industry benchmark information

Anyone who has dealt with Bill of Materials (BOM) knows about the challenges and complexities involved with it. Sometimes we get asked, managing a single BOM itself is cumbersome, then why do we even need another one in the form of a Manufacturing Bill of Material (mBOM)..?

What we have seen with our customers  is that, when there is only one BOM then it is usually owned by the engineering department (CAD BOM/ eBOM) and will be available for  the Manufacturing Department as  a “read only”. This is not good enough for the manufacturing teams as they need to author and add data specific to manufacturing , for example  manufacturing specific consumable parts like glue, oil or Tool Fixtures and such. Another key factor is how the BOM is structured; typically eBOM is structured around organization systems and functions and represent the product architecture, but for manufacturing team a mBOM needs to be  organized according to the manufacturing assembly order.

When customers need to work towards the industry 4.0 goal, they need to have  smarter manufacturing  solutions and systems that provide more ways to capture the manufacturing business intelligence and then suggest solutions based on the previous patterns. With this in mind they need to invest in  manufacturing BOM authoring and management area. During a mBOM adoption, the key is not to recreate the data that’s already in eBOM, but to reuse the eBOM and add additional information specific to manufacturing. That way there is both reuse and traceability of the data.

At a high level mBOM creation automation solutions exist in multiple flavors

  1.  Recipe based mBOM:  In a recipe based mBOM, customers can initiate the mBOM creation via pre-configured  templates pointing to eBOM. Based on the recipe stored with the template it will automatically fetch the engineering parts into mBOM. This kind of solution helps customers who have heavy standardization in their product offerings.
  2. Reusable Manufacturing Assembly: In such a solution, customers can leverage the same manufacturing assembly across multiple product lines to reduce the design, development and procurement costs
  3. New Offline Processing Solutions: This approach is to tailor the mBOM creation process and application to the customer need using customization. This standardizes and automates the process to capture the business intelligence and its reuse via customization.
  4. Smarter Validations: Such solutions suggests what’s next to the business users, that way users spends less time discovering the problem and more time solving it.

Over all value of such solutions is not just the flexibility it offers the manufacturing team, it also reduces manufacturing process planning and execution lead time with improved structure accuracy and significant reduction in change reconciliation processing time.

More often PLM starts as a CAD/Design data vault for many companies, later evolving to a design data exchange platform .  Most successful companies are taking PLM beyond just a design data exchange and access control platform; to a knowledge driven decision support system.  This means PLM not only needs to manage the multitude of information generated at various stages of the product lifecycle , but also capture the product development knowledge and feed it back to the product lifecyccle. For example, the requirements and design for a newer version of a product  needs to be also driven by the knowledge elements captured from the previous version’s lefecycle, from inception to design to manufacturing and service.

When PLM stays just in the Design Engineering world, it’s constrained to exchange information and capture knowledge from downstream stages managed by disconnected, silo based systems. This results in engineers spending huge amount of time in data acquisition tasks. Industry studies shows that information workers spend 30-40% of their time only for information gathering and analysis, thus wasting time in searching for nonexistent information, failing to find existing information, validating the information or recreating information that can’t be found.

Quality escapes is another challenge with such disconnected systems when product doesn’t confirm with the engineering definition. Non-conformances found on the shop floor  are costly to review and dispose and even more severe when the product is already on service. Reconciling change is also extremely challenging, especially its downstream propagation, resulting in significant productivity losses. Slow change processing along with quality escapes cause delays in new product introduction affecting the overall ability of the companies to compete.

The first step towards transforming PLM to a true knowledge driven decision support system is to extend it to the CAD/CAM/CNC process chain, thus taking it to the shopfloors. Such a solution helps to establish a  continuous loop from Engineering into the shop floor for operations management and manufacturing execution systems (MES). Such a continuous loop system provide more ways to capture the business intelligence and then suggest solutions based on the previous patterns. Then it’s much easier to capture information and use analytics to synthesize valuable knowledge elements compared to the fragmented solutions many companies have today.  It’s also a foundational element for establishing a Digital Twin per Industry 4.0 vision

 

Other key benefits of extending PLM to manufacturing include

Reducing the time to market

  • Enhanced collaboration between Product and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Enhanced Traceability and Faster Change Management

Enhancing Flexibility

  • Manufacturing plans comprehend product variability/complexity
  • “What if” scenarios for optimized decision making

Increasing Quality

  • Manufacturing Simulation and validation integrated in PLM
  • Up-to-date 3D work instructions delivered to the shop floor

Increasing Efficiency

  • Ongoing process optimization based on Closed loop feedback of utilization data
  • Reuse of common methods/tooling

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