Global sourcing can be difficult for any small and mid-sized company that does not have a physical presence in prime sourcing areas such as China.
Integrated Technology Engineering (ITE) — a design and product development company based out of Cincinnati, Ohio — has found it a particular challenge to communicate between vendors in China, clients primarily located in North America, and its headquarters in Cincinnati. ITE has met this challenge by using Windchill ProjectLink to share engineering design information, track issues and design changes and manage vendor proposals.
Sourcing castings in China. Take, for example, an ITE client that makes seats for large over-the-road trucks. The client was interested in sourcing iron castings used as frames for their seats in China. It provided ITE with solid models of the castings in the form of UGS NX CAD files, but wanted to provide the design information to potential suppliers in the form of 2D and 3D visualizations without exposing its native CAD data.
Prior to implementing Windchill ProjectLink the normal approach would have begun with the identification of potential suppliers by ITE team members in China. Then that team would have made contact with ITE headquarters in Cincinnati to arrange for design information to be converted to 2D and 3D visualizations and sent via email.
In the mean time, the client might have made changes to the design, and new information would then need to be passed along to the suppliers so they could update their quote.
Time zone differences would have added a day to every communications cycle, and to compound this, mistakes would invariably have been made — like sending the wrong version of the design.
“For the seats project, using the traditional approach, I estimate that it would have taken about four weeks to identify potential vendors, provide them with the necessary design documents, deliver information on design changes, organize vendor quotes, then deliver this information to the client and come to a decision,” says David MacKenzie, director of business solutions for ITE.
Integration with all leading CAD tools. Instead, ITE used Windchill ProjectLink to help source the casting for the truck seat.
“One of the key reasons we selected Windchill ProjectLink is that our clients work with a number of different CAD software packages,” MacKenzie says. “Windchill ProjectLink integrates with all of the leading CAD tools and enables users to easily identify, view, and use production information without requiring the underlying authoring applications. Our clients can upload files from any of the major CAD systems.”
Since ITE allows all of its client’s access to Windchill Project link, the truck-seat manufacturer was able to post the latest version of the design directly in Windchill ProjectLink, and access to the native design data was only given to those authorized to view it. The software tool automatically sent a notification to everyone involved in the project when a file was changed.
“The information in Windchill ProjectLink was available twenty-four-seven to authorized users, saving several days that might have otherwise been lost due to time zone differences between Chinese and United States team members,” MacKenzie says.
ITE used Windchill ProjectLink to manage all documentation for this project, including requirements, requests for proposals, quotations, and issues, bill of materials, changes and meeting minutes. Windchill ProjectLink’s version control capabilities ensured that everyone was working with the latest version of each document, while previous versions were maintained for auditing purposes.
“The improved collaboration provided by Windchill ProjectLink made it possible to source the castings in only two weeks, half the time that would have been required using our previous methods,” MacKenzie says.
Saving time in product development. ITE also use Windchill ProjectLink to expedite collaboration on more traditional product development projects.
“For example, our engineers designed a plastic storage shed from initial concept to finished design,” MacKenzie says. “Industrial designers and mechanical engineers developed many design concepts and used Windchill ProjectLink to quickly communicate them to clients located at two sites in North America.
“Windchill ProjectLink enabled us to very quickly share, visualize and comment on design concepts,” MacKenzie says. “The client’s management teams were not CAD users but they were able to see and manipulate 3D concept models within Windchill ProjectLink.”