The Need for PLM in Downstream Processes

Managing the Product and the Process Record:

The Need for PLM in Downstream Processes

by Chuck Cimalore

 

It is well known that getting a product to market quickly is critical to a company's success. There are many steps involved in this process and manufacturers need to continuously find areas to improve upon in order to meet their product goals. One area that is often overlooked is product test and assembly. Even automated test and assembly processes can take considerable time and effort to prepare, document, and describe all of the required steps and procedures. Since many manufacturers rely on outsourced partners for test and assembly, inherent problems such as lack of access to product data, time zone/availability issues, and language barriers can often lead to delays in product release schedules.

 

Describing and documenting the procedures involved in a product's test and assembly process are often referred to as BOM Routing. BOM Routing allows the manufacturer to split a product Bill of Material (BOM) into a series of operations and sequences to describe how a particular assembly process/step is to be performed and which materials are consumed by each step. Some refer to such descriptions as recipes, since it draws many parallels to the culinary world.

 

For many manufacturers, routing information is created in Material Requirement Planning (MRP) systems while others will use custom applications or spreadsheets. Many of these legacy systems lack the ability to link the routing data to engineering information such as CAD drawings, behavioral parameters, and vendor specifications / datasheets. This information is typically stored in a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) system. Moreover, manufacturers have begun using graphical depictions (photos, images, and drawings) to further describe complex test and assembly procedures and assist with language barrier / translation issues. The ability to view a picture of a particular procedure along with (or in lieu of) written instructions - a capability not commonly available in MRP/ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems - can help eliminate mistakes and ensure a higher level of quality.

 

Tying BOM Routing to the Product Record with PLM

PLM systems have traditionally focused on engineering and product data management processes. As PLM has evolved, and its functionality has grown to encompass more information management across an organization, there is an obvious fit for PLM to support downstream processes such as BOM Routing. PLM provides a central location to manage all of the information associated to a product, automates processes, and provides tracking capabilities to easily capture and resolve issues. Because PLM manages information electronically, paper-based, error-prone processes can be eliminated.

Typically, the PLM system is where BOMs are created and revisions of the BOMs are managed. The natural evolution is to have the PLM system provide the BOM Routing functionality to define test and assembly operations and sequences in order to link these processes back to engineering data stored within the PLM system. This can provide test and assembly personnel with the ability to easily view documents, drawings, and pictures directly from the PLM vault. Using PLM as the source for BOM Routing also offers the ability to validate all Engineering Change Orders (ECOs) and new BOM revisions with the routings/work instructions.

 

Integrating with ERP/MRP

Integration between PLM and ERP/MRP is still important to effectively manage routings because cost and timeline information is driven from ERP/MRP systems. Most companies with both PLM and ERP/MRP systems in place have established an integration process which passes new and updated BOMs and revisions from PLM to ERP/MRP. Passing routing information is a simple extension of that integration and allows both systems to contain synchronized BOM and routing information.

 

Key Benefits of Managing BOM Routing with PLM Technology:

  1. Link routing information directly to engineering data/product record
  2. Provide graphical depictions for accurate assembly
  3. Revision-based routing to maintain revision history
  4. Automated Change/ECO process to verify/update routing information
  5. Electronic workflow approval process
  6. Dynamic BOM validation to identify inventory issues
  7. Create Corrective Actions dynamically from routing operations
  8. Eliminate paper print outs 

Chuck Cimalore, the CTO and Co-founder of Omnify Software, is an expert in business-ready PLM solutions for small to mid-size businesses and has helped original equipment manufacturers streamline development cycles, accelerate product innovation and improve bottom-line profitability.

 

14th November 2017 New Release FloTHERM XT V3.1
21st August 2017 BOM Connector 7.6 Released
20th July 2017 Release of FloTHERM v12
29th August 2016 PADS VX.2 Now Available
29th February 2016 Sherlock User Forum
1st February 2016 TLA Winner 2015
4th August 2015 New PADS Solutions!
29th June 2015 UVM Framework
23rd June 2015 PCB Sketch Router
21st April 2015 HDL Designer 2015.1 Release
19th February 2015 BOM Connector™
14th December 2014 Multi-board PCB Systems Design
9th September 2014 New course: Introduction to UVM
20th May 2014 Mentor PCB Forum
18th March 2014 Xpedition VX release
3rd February 2014 DfR Solutions - Best of 2013
22nd October 2012 Dongle discontinuations
19th October 2012 PADS 9.5 Now Available!
20th April 2011 Introducing Questa Core
1st February 2011 PADS 9.3 available
22nd November 2010 Why customers choose BluePrint
30th June 2010 PADS9.2 Available
8th June 2010 5 Reasons to Adopt PLM
18th March 2010 Mentor-Valor Acquisition
15th February 2010 InnoFour goes Scandinavia
18th January 2010 PADS v9.1 available
9th October 2009 CAM350 v10.1 available
26th May 2009 Introducing PADS v9.0
2nd February 2009 CAM350-150 Bundle Introduction