Top Ten Questions to Ask PLM Solution Suppliers
Answers from SolidWorks Enterprise PDM
SolidWorks Enterprise PDM has been in Production Use across many Manufacturing Industries Worldwide on account of Three Significant Reasons, namely,
Unique Architecture of SOLIDWORKS Enterprise PDM (EPDM) enables File-Centric approach for New Product Development (CTO), Item-Centric approach for Engineerto-Order (ETO) and Web-Centric Interface for Collaborative Multi-function Department/ Supplier/Customer access. With an Easy-to-Configure Dynamic Workflow, Notification Management and Engineering Change Management, Enterprise PDM achieves PLM functions that has historically been in the realm of few PLM Service Providers.
Enterprise PDM has helped Manufacturing Industries to:
This Whitepaper provides answers to 'Top 10 Questions to PLM Suppliers' in reference to SolidWorks Enterprise PDM.
“Prior to using SOLIDWORKS PDM, we saved everything over the network file location. Implementing SOLIDWORKS PDM took care of version control and file management issues. Revision control used to be done manually and was very time consuming. Theta Industries has realized a definite time saving with SOLIDWORKS PDM.”
- Theta Industries Inc.
“We have experienced an increase in productivity in mechanical equipment design, reducing the engineering effort by as much as 30 percent, while simultaneously improving design quality and minimizing errors.”
- F L Smidth
(Cement Plant Manufacturer)
Q1. How do you support multi-Mechanical CAD design and change management across distributed environments?
A1 SolidWorks Enterprise PDM works with multi-CAD support across AutoCAD©, SolidEdge©, SolidWorks©, Autodesk Inventor©, PTC Pro/Engineer© (Creo©). Multi-Disciplinary integration with Mechanical and Electrical Designers has been proven for truly Collaborative Engineering with SolidWorks Enterprise PDM. Interaction with Suppliers, Engineering Service Providers, and Customers having varied Design formats, is intrinsically handled by Enterprise PDM in a structured manner, due to versatility of the File-Centric and Item-Centric Interfaces.
Change Management (ECN/ECO) forms the heart of EPDM, wherein files of different formats, as they move through the Life Cycle States, is captured dynamically. eDrawing Viewer is used to Preview 3D CAD data, with ability to mark-up and participate in the Business Processes of the Organization. Alternately, intrinsic ActiveX Viewers of Native Files, can be used in place of eDrawing for Preview as well.
Enterprise PDM leverages emerging technologies to enable users across the Supply Chain to participate in a truly collaborative manner for synchronous Product Development. EPDM is the natural choice for any Organization looking at Progressive implementation of Data Management, Work Flow Automation and Change Management, while protecting its investment in legacy systems already available.
“We are getting more and more efficient, and our development and production throughput have grown since we implemented EPDM. Our machines involve very large assemblies-some in the 10,000-part range-so finding ways to automate processes is important. Our ECN process is quite complex with a different series of tasks for various personnel. All these things have to be done before an engineering change is made, with several checks and balances built into the process. With EPDM, the entire process is controlled by the system, which guarantees all steps are followed and no steps are missed. The system even walks each user through the steps for which he or she is responsible. Automating this process has accelerated and improved ECN management.”
- Vermeer Corporation
Q2. How do you support integrated MCAD, ECAD, software design, and configuration management (i.e., how do you support mechatronics)?
A2 SolidWorks PDM establishes Simultaneous Engineering processes across multi-domain Design and Development Teams. With multi-location teams spread across many countries, unified approach in identifying and solving issues upfront mandates an enterprise-wide Data Management System that EPDM delivers.
Proven for mechatronic, electro-mechanical systems development and integration, EPDM has reduced considerable amount of time and effort in re-work, retooling and rejections. EPDM has become the mainstay of Engineering Industries on account of ease of use and rapid deployment.
Configuration Management empowers users to respond to customer requirements, changing product designs and management of large volumes of data. Complex structures become difficult to handle as the product variants increase and customer choices get to be more complex. Enterprise PDM is trusted by many Organizations, small and large, to help automate the RFQ process, Structure Product Definition and Categorization and respond to customers faster.
The web is replacing traditional catalogue business and online commerce is gaining significantly. An interactive website that lets customers configure components online, download models for inclusion in their designs, and purchase components, is the need of the hour. With Enterprise PDM driving the customer selection process, Configuration Management delivers on the right product to the right customer at the right time.
EPDM is a proven household tool for numerous Innovative Engineering Corporations for handling extremely large data sets, available using powerful search, in a secure manner.
“Because SolidWorks data is reusable and our processes are automated, we've seen a big reduction in the amount of rework that we need to do and the volume of scrapped material that we produce.”
- SMC Corporation
“It once took us 10 - 15 minutes to locate the correct file version. Now, it takes us just 2 - 3 minutes. Our plan is for every department to use Enterprise.”
- Manufacturing Engineer
(Currently Engineering, Production, Machining, Purchasing and Inspection departments are online with plans to activate Administration, Sales and IT )
“All design information could be categorized and stored, including customer specifications, marketing documents, design review documents, etc. This allows for a complete package within the system. Our purchasing department now has much better buying power due to the fact that we are ordering common components in larger quantities.”
- Engineer Manager
B. E. Meyers & Co. Inc. (Electro-Optics)
Q3. How can your solution enable the standardization of our business processes, as well as the replacement and/or consolidation of our business and IT applications?
A3. Every Company is continuously looking at ways and means to improve their bottom line profitability. This is essentially driven by three parameters, namely, Cost, Time and Quality
An Organization typically has three major areas of activity, namely, Engineering, Operations and Manufacturing. Statistical Process Control enables Manufacturing to maintain at least levels of excellence. Operations, similarly, use transaction-oriented Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) tools to achieve minimum levels. Engineering, forming the nucleus of any organization, in product design and development needs to achieve similar levels in terms of process and procedures. Any PLM system needs to enable the Engineering team achieve this objective by co-existing with ERP and Manufacturing and seamlessly transferring data, information and control by complementing the strengths of each system.
SolidWorks Enterprise PDM provides for powerful Workflow Automation, in complete alignment with the Business Objectives and Process of the Organization. Project Management (PM) tools such as Microsoft Project or Primavera are integrated for Bi-directional Updates, Tracking and Control.
SolidWorks PDM co-exists seamlessly with ERP and PM, enabling effective Business Process Management while protecting existing investment in these systems.
“While the number-one benefit of a PDM system is the ability to search for and find data, SolidWorks Enterprise PDM has also helped us to eliminate or shorten many of the manual steps associated with our workflow. When an approval is needed, an email is generated requesting approval. Once approval is indicated, the approved signature is added to the title block and updated at each revision. Using SolidWorks Enterprise PDM, we have established one master workflow as well as sub-workflows to meet the needs of specific customers with different approval processes - all of which helps us to reduce development cycles.”
- Taylor-Deal Aviation, LLC
“We are, by the nature of our business, multitaskers. We move from project to project very quickly and often need to juggle more than one project at a time. Using SolidWorks Enterprise PDM, we can manage different projects and data more effectively. In addition to tightening revision control, the software is also helping us to facilitate compliance and cut down on paper use.”
- WestWind Technologies, Inc.
Q4. How can your solution grow with our business from a basic PLM implementation to enable more advanced PLM capabilities?
A4. Key to the success of any implementation are Time-to-go-Live, Run-time Maintenance Costs and Scalability in terms of Function and Usage footprint. SolidWorks Enterprise PDM scores on all these vital parameters in ensuring reduced Overall Cost of Ownership while enabling progressive deployment based on Scalable Architecture. Ease-of-Use is the DNA of SolidWorks Enterprise PDM that enthuses User community to participate, collaborate and strengthen existing processes towards higher productivity, accountability and traceability.
While a typical PLM system takes over a Year to implement all requirements in order to go-live, Enterprise PDM accelerates deployment and usage in a fraction of the time that can include migration of legacy data for re-use. Starting with engineering functions, Enterprise PDM has been scaled up to enable Sales, Manufacturing, Quality, Testing among other Departments, to manage data, establish work-flow processes and enable search and reuse.
“For Consultec, the initial investment has already been paid off as we are realizing a close to 40 percent speed efficiency gain, which translates into not only higher profitability in engineering, but improves the overall efficiency of project execution and construction, which has potentially a much larger cost-savings impact. After adopting the Integrated Plant Design (IPD) process using SolidWorks, we've realized a 40 percent reduction in man-hours as well. There is little doubt that an IPD approach to project delivery will become the norm in minerals processing engineering. Because our multi-disciplinary team works on a single model for the project, not only are there fewer surprises and miscommunications, there's also more collaboration, resulting in innovative ideas and approaches.”
- Consultec Ltd.
“Our previous product data management (PDM) solution provided data management and revision control, but did not give us the ability to administer the system internally or to customize functionality to match our specific needs. We needed a PDM system that was more affordable and capable, giving us the ability to administer user access in-house, configure workflows between various departments, and provide access to users in other departments. From our previous system, we converted more than 70,000 files, which represented a mix of legacy AutoCAD® files and SolidWorks files, to SolidWorks Enterprise PDM while retaining all of the SolidWorks links. We worked up until the end of the day on Friday on the previous system, installed Enterprise PDM software over the weekend, and were up and running on Monday morning. The transition went smoothly. Because SolidWorks Enterprise PDM is so easy to use, we were able to execute the switch with minimal downtime. SolidWorks Enterprise PDM enables us to manage not just SolidWorks files, but also all associated design data, including Microsoft® Word, Excel, Adobe® Illustrator®, graphics, and PDF files. Purchasing can access designs and generate PDFs for quoting, manufacturing can use designs to prepare order lists of necessary components, and our graphic designers can manage the artistic elements alongside our designs. Communications that required paper in the past are now electronic, making it easier for everyone to search for and find whatever data they need.”
Q5. What best practices are supported within your outof-the-box solution that helps meet our specific business needs?
A5. SolidWorks PDM is primarily driven by Out-of-the-box capabilities for most of the Engineering functions. This ensures faster Implementation and Return-on-Investment in comparison to contemporary PLM Solutions.
For example, Administration of SolidWorks PDM requires only a fraction of IT Department Personnel Time to Deploy and Maintain. Graphical Workflow Editor helps setup Business Processes with high level of complexities in a swift manner. With users spread across many industrial vertical segments, SolidWorks PDM has evolved into a userfriendly, easily configurable Life Cycle Management framework.
Item Structure for a Product can be automatically obtained from the File-centric product design without any customization. BOM Management is very exhaustive, enabling Product Cost Management to evaluate alternate product configurations for meeting target costs.
Some of the Best-in-Class Practices that have empowered Customers of SolidWorks PDM include:
“We were using a server-based system of folders, which slowed down production. The old system lacked security and also had inadequate search capabilities, which limited our ability to leverage standard designs. Without a PDM system, we had instances when a designer would redesign an already existing part or create a part that didn't function as well as one that someone else had already designed. With a PDM system, we hoped to minimize the potential for errors and automate workflows. The ultimate goal was to address the causes of production delays, namely design errors, which require additional engineering, time, and rework, so we could increase throughput and save time and money in manufacturing. We wanted something that we could configure ourselves. If we needed to make a change, we could do so without having to hire a consultant. SolidWorks Enterprise PDM has a graphical administrative tool and an open applications programming interface (API), which makes it easy to customize and adapt to our particular needs. SolidWorks Enterprise PDM plays a key role in our quality control system and helps us to continually develop ongoing improvements because the system manages all of our development data. Not only does this enhance product quality, but it also ensures that required inspections and approvals take place.”
- Anderson Dahlen Inc.
“Every job we do is custom. We needed a means for managing multiple types of design data per job, so our engineers could locate, reuse, and modify existing designs. Then, because all of the data is in a common location, other personnel at any of our five locations or in the field could access all of the job data. Other PDM solutions we evaluated required an army of consultants to get the system in place, install upgrades, and implement changes. Ease of implementation and maintenance is what sets SolidWorks Enterprise PDM apart from the other PDM systems out there.”
“At times, we work with outside design contractors and suppliers. Instead of dealing with FTP file transfers and verifying different versions, we can give a partner access to only the part of the database (vault) that is necessary for completing the task, which is much more secure and efficient.” - Automatic Systems, Inc.
“We rolled out SolidWorks Enterprise PDM to facilitate design reuse. The search tool lets our designers quickly find and reuse parts. We then set up workflows and incorporated other functions, like material control, document control, CNC machining, and other processes that can leverage design data. The automated workflows improved efficiency and shortened release times. With SolidWorks Enterprise PDM, our Engineering Department has become 100 percent paperless. We implemented our workflow, had a couple meetings, and decided to use eDrawings® in lieu of paper drawings for review, redlining, and approval, which generates additional savings.”
- CP Manufacturing, Inc.
Q6. How do you support secure collaboration within our enterprise and across our supply chain?
A6. SolidWorks PDM is a truly collaborative framework for ensuring latest information pertaining to products are disseminated to suppliers and customers. Re-work due to usage of wrong drawings/ data is completely avoided or eliminated, resulting in higher efficiency and cost control. Data access is provided on a need-to-know basis based on Roles & Responsibilities reflecting Organizational Hierarchy.
ISO 27000 GAP Analysis - SolidWorks PDM Compliance
E-mail based notification to Customers/ Suppliers ensures that all Concurrent engineering team members work with the same revision to avoid Re-Works and Rejection. The product development cycle time gets compressed on account of Simultaneous Secure access to relevant data at the right time.
SolidWorks PDM Secure Scalable Architecture
Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) are protected intrinsically with the SolidWorks PDM framework. Employing Print Control, drawing prints are regulated, based on approval process in SolidWorks PDM, with watermarking and obsolescence time limits.
Q7. Are all of your PLM applications on the same architecture, data model, and standards (and which are they)?
A7. SolidWorks PDM exploits the Microsoft .Net Framework with Microsoft SQL for Data Management. Easy availability of resources to configure/ customize PDM in a unified environment has been one of the main drivers for the success of SolidWorks Enterprise PDM leading to very large deployments and usage across the world. Webcentric interface exploits the Internet Explorer Browser across devices including Desktop, Laptop, Mobile platforms with access under a secure environment to participate in the work flow process, even while on the move.
No specialized skill sets are required to deploy and maintain the SolidWorks PDM, making it easy for IT teams. Rolebased User Interface ensures compliance to work-flow processes. SolidWorks PDM API is used by many organization world-wide to configure/ customize specific requirements without the need for any third-party software. This reduces the overall cost of ownership. Additionally, upgrades of PDM to later versions is easy and hence the requirement for specialized consultants and added associated costs are avoided.
Since SolidWorks PDM is All-in-the-box configured for rapid deployment, hidden costs associated with conventional PLM systems are avoided. Add-ins, if required, can be developed inside the File Explorer Interface of Enterprise PDM by exploiting the Microsoft .Net Framework.
SolidWorks PDM uses eDrawings for Preview of CAD formats such as SolidWorks, Solid Edge, Autodesk Inventor, AutoCAD, Creo/Pro-Engineer and STL formats. Third-party ActiveX viewers, such as can also be used in place of eDrawings, as desired by the User. This flexibility is possible on account of native Microsoft Windows Explorer interface.
3D CAD Integration: Solid Edge
2D CAD Integration: AutoCAD
SolidWorks PDM: Work-Flow
“We made the decision to standardize on SolidWorks Enterprise PDM, corporation wide, two years ago. One of the obvious benefits of the system is that we can now collaborate with other groups across OYSTAR. However, SolidWorks Enterprise PDM also helps us work more efficiently within our group. If we need a quick snapshot of a part that we might want to use on a new design, we can find latest revision in a matter of seconds and then decide whether to use the part or scrap it in favour of a better design.”
- OYSTAR North America.
“To take the next step forward, we wanted to leverage PDM technology and SolidWorks software's open Application Programming Interface (API) to ramp up automation and integration. Because we have a software engineer on staff, we have the ability to fully exploit SolidWorks API. SolidWorks Enterprise PDM gave us greatest potential for adapting the solution to meet our needs. It gives us better control through workflow automation, improved search speed and reporting via our SQL database, and greater integration with our core business systems. Following SolidWorks Enterprise PDM implementation, company is realizing an additional 25 to 30% reduction in the time it takes to complete design reviews and approvals. These time savings mean more to our business than you might think. In addition to the internal benefits, these efficiency improvements allow us to better respond to our customers. By automating configurations instead of doing them manually, we have cut configuration time from 4 hours to 30 minutes, allowing us to respond quickly to specific requests and enhance customer satisfaction.”
- ECCO (Electronic Controls Co.)
Q8. What tools are available and/or needed to configure and extend your solutions' data model, user interface, capabilities, workflow, etc.?
A8. Three different approaches are possible while deploying any PLM, namely, Out-of-the-box, Configurable and Customizable. While Out-of-the-box and Configurable Options, help in rapid deployment of the PLM, powerful capabilities and organization-specific functionalities, especially in automation of tasks, require customisation. Customisation involves using the Application Programming Interface (API) native to the PLM to get the work done.
While Customisation helps organization leverage on advanced functionalities to help improve productivity, avoid errors and reduce costs, maintaining the customisation routines becomes an added task, when migrating across versions of PLM during upgrades and new releases. More complex the API functionality, more arduous is the task of maintaining the same, when newer versions of PLM/ Upgrades are implemented.
SolidWorks PDM takes the complexity out of Customization with Open API Architecture that can be leveraged with ubiquitous .Net Programming Framework. This helps reduce the efforts required to re-configure the Add-ins in SolidWorks PDM since native Windows functionality is exploited. Even when Operating Systems undergo upgrades/ new versions, on account of being a Windowsbased architecture, the migration of customized codes becomes easier. This Ease-of-Customisation has helped many organization realize higher levels of functionality, faster, at an overall reduced cost of ownership.
Windows Explorer Interface showing Add-ins & Life Cycle States
SolidWorks PDM Work-flow Creation uses intuitive Graphical User Interface that obviates the requirement for programming, even for complex workflows involving dynamic transition, polling, milestone mapping among other functionalities.
“We're an engineered-to-order business with over a dozen mechanical engineers, all working on overlapping projects. The structure and control provided by SOLIDWORKS EPDM workflows enable us to work more accurately and productively, using virtual documents to develop, manufacture, and assemble machines, instead of pushing paper. Using the SOLIDWORKS API, we've leveraged EPDM to combine SOLIDWORKS eDrawings® files with manufacturing and production information instructions through computer terminals in the shop, completely eliminating paper drawings, traveller, etc. In the past, an engineer could spend a day or two just printing off engineering drawings. Now, the release process is instantaneous, and production personnel receive the information that they need via 30 computers with 50-inch monitors on the shop floor. The process is not only faster and more accurate, leading to improved quality, but also eliminates printing, paper, and administrative costs.”
- Automatic Handling Int'l, Inc.
Q9. How can the proposed PLM solution be integrated within our current business systems and processes?
A9. SolidWorks PDM provides Unified Architecture that works with Microsoft Windows compliant applications and file structures. For example, SolidWorks PDM has add-ins inside of Microsoft Office Products such as Word, Excel and Powerpoint for Document management with Revision Control & Version Control.
Similarly, Acrobat PDF conversion of Drawings during Life Cycle transition states is automated as a part of Work Flow Integration. Microsoft Project can be bi-directionally linked to Workflow, Transitions, and Deliverables with imposed conditionality to ensure compliance. Automatic updates of progress, delays are performed on the Microsoft Project tasks to reflect current status at all times.
Since SolidWorks PDM is provided along with Microsoft SQL Standard Edition, single vendor implementation is assured. Concurrent user licenses eliminates the need for license compliance monitoring and reduces the overall cost of ownership.
Multi-Department functional requirements are met by SolidWorks PDM with Ease-of-Use as the common denominator for ensuring effective participation by collaborating team members. Be they products or projects, SolidWorks PDM delivers on performance, traceability and security for a truly cross-functional experience that increases productivity, reduces re-work and eliminates errors that cost the Organization Money and Delays.
SolidWorks EPDM has proven integration with ERP such as Oracle, Baan, SAP, INFOR among others. Workflow integration with ERP has been easily accomplished.
“The implementation of SolidWorks Enterprise PDM software helped us to quickly transition from a small, family-run company to an agile, high technology company with hundreds of users. The organization that PDM establishes has enabled us to more efficiently manage our work from start to finish, from providing estimates to managing production.”
- Clover Industries, Inc.
“Moving from one PDM system to another is no easy task, but because of the improved performance of the SolidWorks Enterprise PDM system. Converting more than 100,000 files in the existing system to SolidWorks Enterprise PDM was definitely worth it. We chose Enterprise PDM for its intuitive user interface, efficient performance, favourable price-performance ratio, and full integration with SolidWorks which allows for continuous system updates.”
- FKI Logistex, Denmark
Q10. How does your architecture scale to meet changing business needs?
A10. Scalability is the strength of SolidWorks PDM. Starting with a few users under 10, companies have deployed across multiple locations with 100s of users, across the world.
Salient features of Enterprise PDM include:
Customers having over 4000 Users distributed globally, access SolidWorks PDM for their day-to-day functions achieving higher levels of Productivity.
“We needed to implement a PDM system that our employees would actually use in order to save time and money. In addition to connecting DTS engineering locations in the United States, Canada, Brazil, Norway, Scotland, India, and Singapore, we wanted to extend access design data to other departments as well as integrate it with our PeopleSoft ERP system. We believed that by providing everyone connected with the business with managed access to design data, we would realize substantial improvements in efficiency. The way SolidWorks Enterprise PDM is set up is phenomenal. It does not require teams of people to manage or implement. I can sit in my office in Houston and implement vaults anywhere in the world. DS SolidWorks has made this software so easy to implement and use, that our team became proficient and began using it after only three hours of training, compared to weeks of training with other PDM applications. By installing SolidWorks EPDM, we keep the work flowing, which is how we make money. We are able to find designs more quickly, use what others have already made more frequently, and move quality product out the door more consistently. We have saved money by going paperless, using PDM system to drive workflows, and giving manufacturing personnel access to the latest model revisions. PDM has enabled us to reduce our development costs by 30 percent and completely eliminate ECOs. Instead of issuing an ECR, we roll to a new revision. With PDM, there are no longer questions about correct revision or unauthorized part modifications, which results in far less rework. PDM makes design data available to whoever needs it in appropriate form. Everything is available to engineers, and other business functions can access data in format that meets their needs. This degree of integration results in improved communication and feedback, helps every aspect of our business run more efficiently.”
- Oceaneering Int'l, Inc.
SolidWorks PDM addresses the requirements of a Product Life-Cycle Management (PLM) System by leveraging on emerging technologies with singular focus on Ease of Use. By using a very small footprint of IT and Engineering Team, large implementation of SolidWorks PDM continues to deliver on challenges faced by customers in terms of Cost, Time and Quality.
About EGS India
EGS India has been implementing SolidWorks PDM since 2008. With large installations and deployment across India, EGS has been drawing upon rich experiences to deliver Best-in-Class Processes and Implementations for customers seeking next-level growth and profitability. Our mission is to try and exceed customer expectations by helping them achieve their business goals faster by putting technologies to work.
Authorized SolidWorks PDM Implementation Partner in India:
EGS Computers India Pvt. Ltd.
Locations: Chennai, Coimbatore, Trichy, India
(Product Design & Development Engineering Consultants since 1993)
“We would like to take this opportunity to express our appreciation of the efforts of Team EGS in successfully implementing SolidWorks Enterprise PDM at Shanthi Gears. The legacy data from Hummingbird was migrated to Enterprise PDM without any hitch and this has helped us to have a seamless transition from the old system to EPDM Framework including MultiCAD environment (SolidWorks, AutoCAD & Pro/Engineer).
We record our satisfaction in the way EGS handled the implementation with sincerity, dedication and expertise.”
- Head (Information Technology)
Shanthi Gears, Coimbatore