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Concurrent Engineering Blog

How to Expand Easy Access to Engineering Data

Posted by Emma Rudeck on 04-Oct-2017 14:00:00


Today, more and more job roles, both inside and outside the company, need access to specific parts of your ever-growing pool of data. These roles often require information contained in multiple systems and across different departments, to enable them to complete a task or to make more informed decisions.

However, traditional enterprise interfaces, such as Windchill, are not ideally suited for this scenario. While systems like Windchill work well for engineers and designs, who need sophisticated tools to manage complex product information, they are often too complicated for other roles that do not require the same depth of information.

Even with training, infrequent users often forget how to access the data they need. Instead, they fall back on making requests to expert users instead. This leads to the situations where a purchasing agent must request a drawing from a designer and wait until their request is fulfilled before they can continue with their role. Extra time is required from both the designer and the purchasing roles to complete the task - not ideal for any organisation striving for efficiency. It can also lead to errors, through miscommunication of requirements.

Therefore, enabling easy access to product information for a broad set of those roles (such as manufacturing, purchasing and quality) is increasingly important to meet deadlines.

Relying on application experts to provide product information is no longer viable

As product information continues to grow, and to become more complex, it is not longer realistic for designers and engineers to be the primary provider of product information to other roles inside and outside the company.

One organisation has told us that in a survey of their product deveopments, up to 60% of their time is consumed providing and identifying the latest product information to other areas of the business. This is valuable time that they are not able to spend designing or developing new products.

The number of roles that need to access product data will continue to expand. This means that application experts will find themselves consumed with the volume of requests for product information, leaving them less time to focus on their primary product development responsibilities.

Common challenges to enabling easy access to product data

Your product data is one of your most valuable assets. Decisions that impact product safety, quality, and profitability all rely on the accuracy and timeliness of the product information used by different, dispirit roles. But enabling the necessary access to product data can be hindered by these challenges:

  1. Most product information is required by roles in purchasing, manufacturing and quality, but it’s the engineers and designer who author it
  2. Most enterprise software tools are inaccessible to a broad range of users, due to costly licensing, intensive training requirements and the time is takes to integrate and customise these tools.
  3. Stakeholder, who are often not expert users, access and exchange information in these systems using disconnected processes and tools. These workarounds create a new instance of the data that is no longer under change control. So subsequent updates to the system of record make the workaround and any decisions made with it at best irrelevant and at worst inaccurate.
  4. Expert users become overwhelmed with requests to access product information from other roles

What would good look like? Or, how to enable easy access to engineering data

The solution is an enterprise business system that provides customers with a collection of apps, which are capable of being tailor built on an integration framework. This would bring together information from Windchill and other enterprise systems, through a collection of role-based applications and make it easy for each role to obtain, self-serve and access the product information they need.

Role-based, self-serving access will address the challenges outlined above, by providing roles access to the specific product information. This also removes the bottleneck and burden on application experts, who no longer need to deal with requests for product information.

This approach also allows any stakeholder in the product lifecycle to access the latest, most-accurate product information, to drive better product decisions. With the user experience that is tailored to their needs and skills, so that no training is required.  

To find out more, watch our On Demand webinar PTC Navigate: Expanding the Easy Access to Engineering Data Through Role-Based Applications