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Product Lifecycle Management System Aligns Manufacturer's Design and Development

An aerospace equipment manufacturer uses PLM to improve collaboration among design and development systems worldwide.

Smiths Aerospace, a leading trans-Atlantic aerospace equipment manufacturer, has grown dramatically in recent years through a combination of strategic acquisitions and major program wins. To maintain its key position in the supply chains of all major military and civil aircraft and engine manufacturers, the company needed to align its heterogeneous design and development systems around the world. In addition to aligning these systems,the company also wanted to integrate new divisions into its Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) system.

As part of their evaluation process, Smiths Aerospace produced a number of principal requirements for the new PLM system.In addition to scalability and performance, the company placed high importance on implementing a system with an open and modular architecture. The architecture requirements stemmed from the need to be compatible with other design and enterprise systems for program planning,manufacturing resource planning,and business development.

ImageUltimately, Smiths Aerospace selected PTC Windchill for its new PLM system to support their challenging enterprise data management system requirements, and allow the company to quickly assemble virtual corporate teams of product experts and compete more effectively on new programs.

The objective for Smiths Aerospace was to leverage the full force of the global expertise, regardless of where it resides, and to increase the company's product innovation while driving greater efficiencies in the business.

To reach this objective,the company replaced a host of legacy systems with a PLM solution providing the following capabilities:

  • Data Vault and Document Management. Electronic document management and information security/access controls.
  • Workflow and Process Management - Process and workflow definition and methodology.
  • Product Structure Management - Product structure relationships and linkages.
  • Classification and Retrieval - Search engine capability.
  • Communication and Notification - Information awareness via communication protocol.
  • Data Transport - Mechanisms to move data among users, applications, and systems.
  • Data Translation - Tools that translate data among applications.
  • Image and Visualization Services - Electronic mark-up.
  • Administration - HTML/XML customization to organically create forms and reports.

Additionally,the company required design collaboration strategies and processes that would enable joint development activities. This would allow collaboration among prime contractors on major commercial aircraft programs and Smiths Aerospace globally distributed business units.To accomplish this,Smiths Aerospace implemented Windchill products into multiple areas such as:

  • Business development and contracts management to re-engineer their processes for optimization and automation in terms of workflow and electronic document management capability.
  • Engineering project management to optimize processes through automation and electronic document management capability.
  • Change management to realize "paperless" change process using electronic signatures and electronic mark-up, eliminating the need and cost for microfilm-based processes.A virtual change control board enables real- time,electronic interaction for change approvals.
  • Manufacturing to optimize a "paperless" shop floor initiative and implement as-designed/as-built data traceability.
  • New design data visualization capability to extend the enterprise into the customer chain. The customer "connects" to the Windchill home page using security/access controls to view design data as created to incorporate concerns in the development process. The mark-up capability allows customers to convey change requests via electronic mark-up as input to Smiths 'change process without regeneration.

Smiths Aerospace can now quickly assemble virtual corporate teams of product experts to compete more effectively on new programs. To date, Smiths Aerospace has successfully deployed Windchill solutions to 1,200 employees.

This work was done by Smiths Aerospace, using software developed by PTC. For more information, contact Amanda Keane for PTC at 617-520-7260.