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PDM extends beyond company walls

PDM extends beyond company walls

"We need to manage data for an entire product all the way from the conceptual design to the end of its 45-year life cycle," is how Mark Totten explains why Lockheed Martin's Naval Electronics & Surveillance Systems Div. (NE&SS) configured its new PDM (product data management) system to give subcontractors access to product data. As is the case with many companies coping with legacy PDM systems, NE&SS originally had no mechanism for sharing data with outside design partners.

Recognizing that subcontractors were producing up to 60% of its components, NE&SS realized that situation had to change. In fact, up to 30 outside companies have good reason to access data for a particular design-which raises important security issues because subcontractors both compete and cooperate, depending on the project. "Because the software organizes information by subsystems, we can allow access only to what each contractor needs for a specific job, masking proprietary parts of a design when necessary," says Totten, who is IDE (Integrated Data Environment) unit manager for the division.

The move to Windchill from PTC (Needham, MA) has also helped to in-crease productivity and cut cycle times by allowing engineers to perform analyses on multiple iterations of a design without going back to CAD each time to obtain the model. "Engineers simply select the configuration they want to analyze and are able to optimize a design based on cost, reliability, and performance data using an existing model," says Totten.

Facing a similar need to communicate product information to suppliers, as well as company locations outside the U.S., GM installed i-Man PDM software from UGS (Cypress, CA) two years ago. By year's end, GM expects to have 23,000 seats in use worldwide. "Soon, everyone involved in vehicle design throughout the supply chain will have access to product data," says Kirk Gutmann, global product develop information officer.

One of the key strengths of the software is that it makes configuration data available to everyone. "We can start with a two-wheel drive vehicle and change it to four-wheel drive, for example, by annotating the assemblies with instructions to the manufacturing engineers on what to do," Gutmann says. He adds that it once took four to six weeks just to stage data for repeatable digital validation, largely because engineers had to keep changing CAD models. "By using UGS' lightweight eVis math models instead, we've been able to lower that time to two hours."

Two paths to PDM
Lockheed Martin Naval Electronics & Surveillance Systems GM
PDM software PTC Windchill UGS i-Man
Number of seats N/A 14,000 current; 23,000 by 2002
Type of users Engineers, purchasing, product planners, manufacturing, finance, subcontractors Engineers, managers, purchasing, sales & service, key suppliers
Product lifecycle 45 years Average usage life: 13 years
Benefits Data sharing both inside/outside company walls; reduced cycle times; efficient management of vehicle configurations Data sharing both inside/outside company walls; management of data throughout entire lifecycle of product; savings in engineering time
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