PLM and ERP: Enriched and Redefined
In the year 2000, a team of determined engineers embarked on a mission to revolutionize the collaboration between engineering and manufacturing. Using their expertise in ERP, CAD and engineering product data management, they sought to add the missing link between engineering and manufacturing by integrating product design, engineering, and ERP that at that time were siloed into one common solution. While industry experts were and still are skeptical about this endeavor, the team remained resolute and found a force in Microsoft Dynamics platform, which they leveraged to develop Bluestar PLM—a comprehensive product life cycle management (PLM) solution. The ground-breaking venture marked the inception of PDM technology—an independent software enterprise and a technology partner of Microsoft founded in the beginning of the 00’s—which effected a paradigm shift in the manufacturing ERP domain.
Bluestar PLM is seamlessly embedded in Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations and the Dynamics AX and offers end-to-end integration of 3D CAD, ERP, and PLM systems, which is unique. “Bluestar PLM represents a missing link that enables companies to seamlessly share ERP, PLM, and CAD data to all parties involved in product data, within a single system” says Jorgen Larsen, CEO, PDM technology–the company behind Bluestar PLM. Integrating product configuration tools with Bluestar PLM, the system generates 3D models based on defined configuration rules—besides providing visibility into the inventory levels or quality of component parts produced from a CAD workstation, without having to check the ERP modules. Bluestar PLM’s ability to reduce the number of systems to be supported has garnered immense appreciation from clients’ IT infrastructure support and management teams.
“Bluestar PLM represents a missing link that enables companies to seamlessly share ERP, PLM, and CAD data within a single system that can be used multiple times.”
The all-inclusive Bluestar PLM inside Dynamics 365 can be deployed faster than a multitude of separate solutions. Dan Fite, Business Development Director for North America, mentions that the company’s modus operandi is to understand clients’ ERP requirements and measure the performance that PLM can deliver. Clients’ ecosystems are “embedded” into the Microsoft Dynamics 365 environment, following which Bluestar PLM is integrated into the ERP system. “Our consultants work with clients to bring the data such as CAD drawing models into the Bluestar PLM system and secure it in a client’s environment,” states Fite. “With a single environment users of Bluestar are seeing great improvements. Rayloc’s Supply Chain Director has seen a 15 percent increase in efficiency and a reduction in BOM errors from 60 percent to below 10 percent.” The company extends the integration package to some of the earliest versions of Microsoft Dynamics to ensure that clients using older versions do not miss out on the benefits. A significant outcome of deploying Bluestar PLM is a drastic drop in the number of product detail errors as well as the hastening of engineering change order (ECO) process.
The impact of Bluestar PLM on ECO process proved to be a game-changer for Mobile Technologies Inc. (MTI)—a pioneer in mobile display technologies. Prior to deploying Bluestar PLM, MTI had to deal with numerous design iterations and the company’s ECO logs were performed manually in a spreadsheet, which was both time-consuming and cost-intensive. The manual operations resulted in erroneous entries and therefore seldom reflected all the part numbers under revision, which impacted the documentation process. To counter the problem, MTI engaged with PDM technology to unleash the power of Bluestar PLM. Along with features to optimize the workflow, Bluestar PLM enabled multi-site engineering collaboration by creating a central repository to store and manage engineering data. The loss of product information reduced significantly, improving the ECO time by nearly 80 percent, which impressed Microsoft as well.
Moving forward, PDM technology is expanding its support capabilities across Nashville, Atlanta, and Pilsen in the Czech Republic. Larsen mentions that the company is also working to automate the product design process using artificial intelligence and machine learning. “We will add new functions and features to our product with a focus on providing value to our customers’ business,” mentions Larsen.
CIOReview, Microsoft Special, December 07, 2017, page 16.
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