Product-analytics software boosts advanced manufacturing

June 23, 2011
Windchill Product Analytics software gives engineers visibility into product during the complete development cycle.

Edited by Leslie Gordon,
[email protected]

Busy design engineers can’t always stop in the middle of their work to provide those sorely needed job metrics or status updates. But today’s manufacturers must have real-time answers for such questions as: How much will this design cost to produce? Will it satisfy environmental requirements? How reliable will the product be? How much will it weigh? How do product factors such as cost and environmental impact affect each other?

Unfortunately, many manufacturers typically complete the product design before figuring out such things as cost or environmental impact. That’s because companies try to avoid the difficulties of incorporating frequent changes. However, this strategy results in costly rework and less-competitive products. Initial design decisions about components, parts, and materials are important because they can lock-in most of the product’s performance attributes.

Fortunately, a suite of software modules that together form Windchill Product Analytics from PTC, Needham, Mass., lets engineers find answers to such questions throughout a product’s life cycle. This helps engineers identify and resolve costly problems before they happen. The modules work with a company’s existing design, data-management, and supply-chain-management software to make product-performance analytics an integral part of product development.
Overall, features of Windchill Product Analytics include detailed breakdown studies, what-if scenarios, Pareto analyses, and graphical displays of part and assembly performance. The software provides early and ongoing visibility into a product’s performance, letting users see how each individual part ultimately affects the product’s cost, compliance, and sustainability. The software also assesses the risks associated with design decisions. In addition, users can immediately share this information with stakeholders.

In particular, Windchill Compliance, one of the modules of Windchill Product Analytics, targets manufacturers that must provide regulators with detailed reports to demonstrate compliance to standards such as REACH, RoHS, ELV, CPSIA, and WEEE.

Another module, Windchill Materials and Substances, works with existing PLM and ERP systems to provide a transparent view into the materials and substances in a company’s products and those of its supply chain, based on real-time BOM and product data. Windchill Cost provides enterprise visibility into product cost and automates the process of recalculating costs in light of product changes. Lastly, Windchill LCA lets users assess the environmental impact, including carbon footprint, and energy and water use, of products or components and compare results to design alternatives.

Accurate and insightful product analyses can help manufacturers deal with evolving supply-chain complexities, fluctuating product designs, volatile commodity prices, and ever-shifting government regulations and customer requirements. The price of ignorance might include blocked shipments, missed forecasts, recalls, brand damage, and scrap. Stakes are high and lost revenues and related costs could potentially reach millions of dollars.

© 2011 Penton Media, Inc.

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