ProductCenter PLM Helps Kollsman Gain Time-to-Market Advantage
Faster Review and Approval and Improved Design Accessibility and Reuse with ProductCenter PLM Enhances Kollsman’s Competitiveness
Trimming costs, enhancing product reliability, and maximizing component commonality between product designs avionics and defense contractor Kollsman is winning business. Kollsman wins new business on its ability to deliver the most cost effective, reliable, and state-of-the-art defense and avionic solutions. So, how does Kollsman do it? A key lies in the company’s commitment to continually refine its product data and processes to develop new and more innovative product with increasing speed and accuracy.
Like many companies in the mid-1990s, Kollsman managed engineering design data manually with paper and microfiche. The company was using a homegrown data management system, but the solution became unworkable with an upgrade to the Oracle® Manufacturing enterprise resource planning (ERP) system and Y2K system updates.
“At that point, we were stuck with no vaulting system for our CAD models,” recalls Gregg Wilder, Kollsman manager of Design Engineering. “We couldn’t be 100% sure that our data was accurate. We had opportunities for new applications of existing technologies and could lose weeks searching for data for proposal submissions. Plus, the reprographics center, where we stored all of our drawing prints, had high overhead costs, reflecting on the bottom line.”
“We needed a new product lifecycle management solution that would plug-and-play with our design tool of choice, Pro/Engineer®,” explains Wilder. “We chose ProductCenter for its ability to manage the more complex Pro/E model hierarchy. Comprehensive out-of-the-box capabilities were important to us. Instead of initiating a long, costly consulting agreement, we were up and running with ProductCenter vaulting, revision/release control, and the ProductCenter™ PLM Pro/Engineer Integrator in just three weeks.”
ProductCenter quickly allowed Kollsman to centralize, track, link, and more cost effectively reuse not just computer-aided design (CAD) files, but all related product data, including proposals, test procedures, manufacturing method sheets, and ISO procedures.
Wilder adds, “Since recently being deployed enterprise-wide at Kollsman, ProductCenter has already delivered time-to-market advantages on a number of recent Kollsman programs, including programs for our state-of-the-art Enhanced Vision Systems, Digital Air Data Test Sets, and Digital Altimetry systems, all of which use Pro/Engineer and the ProductCenter Pro/Engineer Integrator.”
Kollsman has also implemented an easy-to-use find/view/print application using ProductCenter™ PLM GenView™ to facilitate creation of viewable Adobe® PDF files of product data. This allows data to be accessed or printed from any computer platform, not just from the authoring application. Now, over 120 people throughout Kollsman have secure, instant access to data through ProductCenter. “People are able to retrieve convenient PDF viewables of what they need, when they need it, and be guaranteed it’s the latest, correct revision.”
Another cost and time saver has been Kollsman’s use of ProductCenter™ PLM Workflow. Collating and copying supporting materials, hand delivering ECOs, and following up to make sure documents kept moving could take weeks or more. Now, an engineer simply fills out an electronic ECO online in ProductCenter or if they prefer, they can even fill one out manually and scan it to create an e-copy. Once in ProductCenter, supporting data is easily attached to the ECO, which is automatically routed to a specific person, role, or group of people, often in parallel to save time.
Through ProductCenter Workflow, the ECO is routed via email and appears in the reviewer’s in-box for them to claim. Reviewers can comment on the form, return it for additional detail or refinement, or approve and pass it along. The ECO’s progress is tracked in ProductCenter, with bottlenecks immediately identified. The process now takes just days or less. It’s foolproof and repeatable ECO after ECO.
“On one older program, we were still utilizing a configuration review board, where ten or so people met in a room to hash out ECOs. It takes a lot of time,” explains Wilder. “In real life, you’re probably not going to eliminate every meeting. Occasionally a face-to-face meeting is necessary for a critical or especially challenging ECO, but for a majority of our ECOs we use ProductCenter Workflow to streamline the process. Plus, it’s easy for new engineers to find information and come up to speed on our procedures.”
On the results achieved to date with ProductCenter Wilder comments, “ProductCenter has been in use at Kollsman since 1996 so, it’s hard to quantify the exact savings derived through its use. It’s just part of our normal operation. However, on our recent expansion of ProductCenter as the corporate-wide product lifecycle management standard, MIS calculated that we recouped our investment in under one year.”
Next on the agenda for Kollsman is the integration of ProductCenter generated bills-of-material (BOM) to the company’s Oracle Manufacturing ERP system. The goal: to use ProductCenter to automatically populate a BOM from Pro/Engineer and transfer BOM item master data directly to the ERP system. This will not only save time, eliminating keying and re-keying of BOM data between systems, but also improve data accuracy between the systems, streamlining release to manufacturing and preventing costly errors downstream.
In closing Wilder comments, “One thing I can say for sure is that we’ve turned things around 180 degrees with ProductCenter. A major benefit I see is that we can now very quickly generate new business proposals and new concepts based on existing models that we’re confident have design integrity. This has definitely improved our competitive advantage.”