Enterprise Design Data Management
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How Enterprise Design Data Management is Changing the World

Ask anyone these days whether they’ve heard the terms IOT, Connected Products, AR, VR, or Digital Twin and for the most part, the reaction will be “yes”.

Ask them to explain the differences between the various acronyms and that is where many draw a blank. Aren’t they all essentially the same thing i.e.; video game-like things that provide entertainment-level experiences? It’s all related to data and when you take a deeper look, you’ll see how enterprise design data management is changing the world.

Let the acronym wars begin!

While these terms tend to conjure up visions of virtual experiences and simulations of other worlds, the roles they play in relation to our everyday lives is increasing almost daily. Overall, the various definitions are actually pretty simple to break down into something ‘understandable’. Let’s take a look:

  • Augmented Reality (AR): This is pretty much as it sounds i.e.; the ability to look at a physical object and ‘augment’ information and alternate views in relation to it, in order to provide assembly, repair and operating condition information (as an example).
  • Virtual Reality (VR): Unlike Augmented Reality, VR enables you to actually see a full, virtual representation of a digital model that does not physically exist. It is very useful for design team collaboration during product development and also during design reviews. VR enables team members who may not be physically present to also ‘see’ the virtual model of the physical item.
  • Internet of Things (IOT)/Connected Products: By enabling programs and products to virtually talk to each other and ultimately be controlled by you whether you are at work, home or lying on a beach somewhere, provides end-user convenience as its most tangible value. Under-the-covers however, it is simultaneously providing the ability for developers to gather the data needed for predictive analysis including how products are used, operating conditions they are used in and analyzing potential failures before they happen.

The ties that bind

Enter the ‘Digital Thread’, which is where product and data come together to provide both a full physical picture along with the virtual representation, for a true depiction of the product before, during and after it is manufactured.

By providing product design teams with the ability to define and manage the lifecycle of the cross-functional digital product definition (BOM: mechanical, electrical, software) and supporting data (CAD, visualization, sourcing, quality), organizations can now more easily manage and control the access to the digital product definition IP.

This also provides the ability to leverage real-world product data to predict, track and analyze the system and component reliability, availability and maintainability, and initiate corrective actions before something goes wrong in the field.

Managing all this information in a single enterprise environment enables better and more efficient control of product iterations by also leveraging a change management process to accurately capture design intent, connect project deliverables to product data and allow for an integrated BOM transformation process that flows from engineering to manufacturing and service.

Change is hard, but the rewards can be immeasurable

Transforming any one or all three of these individual areas i.e.; products, processes or people, is a substantial undertaking and will take significant planning and time to achieve. The long-term benefits, however, are substantial, including the ability to:

  • Drive critical product and service differentiation
  • Enable breakthroughs in operational effectiveness
  • Increase workforce productivity and quality

In order to achieve those business outcomes across the enterprise, each function has a different perspective and contribution. For example, engineering is focused on accelerating time to market, manufacturing on increasing throughput, and the CXO is thinking about how to increase revenue and find new areas of opportunity.

In the end, they all roll-up to the larger business issues of differentiated products, optimized resources, productivity, and quality.

This all sounds good, but where do I start?

Remember the saying, “The longest journey begins with a single step”? Well, the same is true here.

Once the business value prospects have been defined in terms of transforming products, processes, and people across the enterprise, you can now begin to think about how and where to start.

The illustration above provides a high-level view of how you can develop a phased approach to enterprise design data management and your own digital transformation journey.

  • At the bottom level is the infrastructure needed to deploy technology, including cloud, hardware, etc.
  • The middle level is the technology architecture that provides managed processes and integrated products and services including MCAD, ECAD, PLM, IIoT, and AR, to ensure a coordinated development effort.
  • At the top level, you can now employ unique combinations of the framework to enable enterprise-wide solutions to drive product and service differentiation, operational effectiveness, and workforce productivity.

Don’t be left behind!

Many companies have already started taking that first step down the path of either planning or beginning to deploy their physical and digital convergence strategy to achieve their business goals and ensure their technology will be differentiated in the market.

By incorporating CAD, PLM, IoT, VR and AR together, time-to-value, agility, and scale can be achieved.

Written by

PTC Segment Solution Director In her 35 years in the ECAD industry, Linda has had a varied career including PCB Designer, Application Engineer, Technical Account Manager and Product Manager for leading ECAD industry vendors. In 2012, Linda joined PTC as a Principal Technical Account Specialist supporting ECAD-MCAD Integration, Creo View ECAD, and Windchill Design Data Management products. Over the past year, she has taken on the role of Solutions Director for the PTC ECAD solutions and is working together with Zuken to define the next generation of Windchill integration products.

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