ProductCenter PLM Fuels Success at Goodrich Corporation
An Ideal Marriage of 3D CAD and PLM Enhances Goodrich’s Turbine Fuel Technologies Product Development Efficiency
Headquartered in West Des Moines, Iowa, Turbine Fuel Technologies, a division of Goodrich Corporation, is a leading producer of fuel injection nozzles – products that thrive in a variety of applications from home heating systems to some of the most advanced military fighter jet engines. Simply put, Goodrich products help fuels burn completely, cleanly and economically. However, in actuality, these nozzles are highly customized, sophisticated designs, encompassing many new technologies and manufacturing techniques for their production.
Through increased sales and aggressive acquisitions and consolidations, Goodrich has been thrust in the enviable position of managing double-digit annual growth in revenue and personnel. To continue to live up to its mission – to provide cost-effective products that meet or exceed customer requirements within the shortest development lead time, Goodrich relies on SofTech, Inc. to help its business flourish with minimal growing pains.
Throughout its history, operating flexibility and vision have been major components of Goodrich’s success. The company has been a product development forerunner, trimming costs and lead times with cross-functional teams long before the term “concurrent engineering” was ever coined. Because of this, it was important early on that the integration of their computer-aided design (CAD) and product lifecycle management (PLM) solutions support a collaborative product development environment.
Before implementing PLM, Goodrich had already come to the realization that by pooling their talent, product teams could take advantage of their combined expertise and innovation. Cohesive design teams, composed of engineering, manufacturing, and quality control, could shrink development cycle times and help to better foresee and overcome potential problems early in a program, where fast course corrections could have the most cost-effective impact.
Unfortunately, at that time, team members and product data were dispersed across many different Goodrich locations, stifling communications and making collaboration very difficult. The company also faced the daunting task of assimilating new organizations with differing enterprise systems. “Engineering, quality, manufacturing, other departments, as well as the new companies we were absorbing, existed as islands of information,” recalls Jason Grimes, Goodrich Turbine Fuel Technologies Technical Information Systems Manager. “Data couldn’t be easily shared. With our growth, geographically dispersed product teams, and scattered product data on multiple PCs, product data management became a necessity.”
“That’s when we began our evaluation of available PLM technologies and were first introduced to SofTech, Inc. back in the mid-1990’s,” recalls Grimes. “We looked at other solutions but found that SofTech’s ProductCenter™ PLM solution had all the tools and capabilities that we needed already built in. It gave us a quick-to-implement and easy-to-use document version control solution, with centralized data storage across our distributed environment.”
Grimes explains further, “We like doing things a certain way at Goodrich. Some systems we looked at required complete infrastructure system overhauls. SofTech’s solution offered us flexibility. It has strong out-of-the-box functionality. It implements fast for a quick ROI and it adapts easily to the way we want to work – not the other way around.”
“But what we like the most is how well SofTech’s ProductCenter integrates with SolidWorks®,” adds Grimes. “With ProductCenter functionality integrated directly into the SolidWorks application, we don’t even train new users on ProductCenter – it’s just a seamless part of their SolidWorks environment.”
“Now, instead of generating a design and passing it over the wall to the next group, we’ve torn down the walls. Users no longer spend minutes or even hours finding data or pushing paper to manage versions and revisions. These activities take place in seconds from within SolidWorks with ProductCenter. Everyone associated with the product knows where the data is. They’re confident that they’re working with the latest revision and can collaborate better as a team.”
Today, in addition to data vaulting and revision and release control, Goodrich is managing just about every form of product data online in ProductCenter, making convenient, viewable Adobe® Acrobat® PDF files of this data available across the company, including ISO 9000 data, specifications, and even the set-up sheets that drive Turbine Fuel Technologies’ 24 x 7 manufacturing operations.
ProductCenter has become such a fixture at Goodrich, it’s difficult for Grimes to estimate the savings derived through the product’s implementation. “We’ve implemented company-wide design standards. We’ve increased cost-effective design reuse and, in tune with our original goals, have elevated design team collaboration and innovation. ProductCenter has had a major impact. I wouldn’t hesitate to say that it has contributed to savings of millions of dollars.”
“Even on audits, we’ve had many customers compliment us on what we are doing with ProductCenter,” says Grimes. “They hear us say we’re innovative and have things well under control, but after the audit, they come away knowing it.”
About Goodrich’s plans for ProductCenter, Grimes comments, “Our goal is to reach a state where we’ll only enter product data into a single system once, and then through enterprise application integrations, transfer that data directly to our ERP system for complete product lifecycle management. This is where we see ourselves transitioning over the next twelve months. Once implemented, it will significantly reduce redundant, error prone re-keying of this data and maximize the value of product data across the entire company.”
“But, what’s great is that because of the capabilities of ProductCenter and SolidWorks, and the fact that these two products work in such great harmony together, this level of enterprise system integration and automation is fully and affordably realizable today.”