Machine Design

Teamcenter PLM software helps build better boat engines


Siemens PLM,

Mercury Marine,

Teamcenter software from Siemens PLM Software, Plano, Tex., helps make product development more flexible at Mercury Marine, Fond du Lac, Wis., a large manufacturer of recreational boats and marine engines.

Says Balakrishna Shetty, technical lead for CAD, CAM, and PLM at Mercury, “Before our business-process transformation, design and project data was stored and managed in several places, which led to longer lead times in product development. Now, with Teamcenter to capture development and milestone-specific design builds, all stakeholders in product development use the same information to make decisions.”

All Mercury product information now resides in a single repository. It includes everything from CAD data to BOMs, supplier info, and material specifications, as well as 600,000 pieces of legacy data. Where teamwork is important, employees use Teamcenter’s collaboration capabilities, which are based on a Microsoft SharePoint server. This gives non-CAD users in quality, costing, procurement, and manufacturing access to design data.

The implementation lets everyone from management to rank-and-file have a say. “When organizations get new software, they tend to jump straight into the technology without first aligning around cross-functional goals and processes,” says Lenny Grosh, the Mercury project manager in charge of the Teamcenter implementation. “That typically results in either a much longer, more-expensive deployment due to mismanaged expectations and misunderstood processes, or software deemed unusable by the rank and file.”

Mercury’s approach involved capturing their executives’ know-how, getting customer feedback, and establishing metrics for success. Next came honing the user interface for the application. “These steps helped manage the executives’ expectations going forward,” says Grosh. “Over the course of five months, we rolled out identical Teamcenter implementations in Mexico, Wisconsin, and Stillwater and Tulsa, Okla.; adding a fifth site in China within a year.” Currently more than 800 Mercury employees around the world use the program.

In addition, Teamcenter and ERP work tightly together, which helps support efficient workflows. For example, PLM software pushes released drawings in a PDF format to the company intranet. Also, a single, automated change-management process is now in place.

The system lets Mercury turn out innovative products in shorter time frames using the same number of or even fewer engineers. The software lets engineers quickly identify appropriate parts and designs in the database, which supports design reuse, reduces errors, and cuts costs. Also, engineers don’t waste time creating duplicate parts. In addition, design modifications are now captured through an automated approval process. “Since implementing Teamcenter, the average time for an engineering change has dropped from 56 days to 22,” says Grosh.

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