I am a PLM sales person…and the title of this blog entry may imply that I am whining about my job. While I am not immune to the occasional emotional episode / mild tantrum, the title of this blog entry has a purpose. I assure you that this purpose has nothing to do with my emotional state.
Companies that contact InFlow are generally not looking to buy a PLM solution. Rather, they are looking to solve complex issues in their organization. Often times, the connection between the issue and the definition of PLM is somewhat cloudy. Therefore, my goal in this series is to discuss some of these challenges that InFlow has addressed with PLM and some of the measurable success that our customers have achieved.
"Can we attribute this to Yogi Berra and call it a day?"
I read an article last year that discussed the application of lean principles to the product development process. In the article, the author called for rigorous standardization in order to create strategic flexibility.
If any of you have ever seen me present PLM solutions to your company, you may have heard me remark that I am not a smart man. Reading the author’s statement further confirmed this sentiment.
As I read the sentence, then wrote it on a scratch pad seven times like an engaged 20-something with a new married last name, reality became very clear: I needed to speak to an engineer. His first response, a tribute to the former Yankee catcher: “If you ask me anything I don't know, I'm not going to answer.”
On a serious note, my smarter cohort set me straight: The author was referring to the creation of strict design standards in order to predictably alter existing designs and the process by which these designs are priced, ordered, and manufactured.
If you are a CAD guy, you may believe that you can accomplish this with configurations, such as those created in SolidWorks. If you are on the operations side of the business, you may believe that a Knowledge-Based Engineering solution linked to your ERP and PLM systems may provide this capability. If you are in a position of power to buy one of these solutions, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of our customers recently implemented an interesting combination of solutions: The customer chose a key aspect of their design which is a part of every project but varies in every instance. For the sake of anonymity, let’s say the customer manufacturers hydraulic cylinders and they are constantly re-designing brackets.
Up until recently, the customer found itself re-designing brackets for every new project. The engineer would then have to search their ERP system for brackets that they had previously built that were close to the newly designed bracket, then alter the design or create manufacturing instructions for the new design.
With the implementation of DriveWorks‘ design automation solution, the engineering leader has created a series of master brackets and has written the rules for all feasible configurations for new brackets. By offering these designs through a simple-to-use interface, a non-CAD user can specify design standards and allow DriveWorks to access SolidWorks to create all associated models and drawings. The benefit: Out customer has cut bracket design time by 70% and reduced overall product development cycles by 5%.
The moral of this story is that that the answer isn’t always clear…more employees, more hours, more sales people, it doesn’t always translate in to more efficiency. Sometimes, it takes a creative, fresh approach to solve complex issues and improve on operational efficiencies. As Yogi so graciously one said: “If you come to a fork in the road, take it.”