Success in the automotive industry is determined more than anything by quick business decisions. Now, PLM specialist PITERION has introduced the web-based user interface Active Workspace Client (AWC) at TI Automotive, the world’s leading manufacturer of fluid systems. The move will give management at TI Automotive user-friendly access to information in the Teamcenter Product Lifecycle Management system – at any time and from anywhere in the world using a mobile device. The main challenge for the systems house during this mammoth undertaking was migrating and indexing millions of legacy data items.
Today, companies not only have in-house storage capacities of terabytes and petabytes at their disposal, but also a wide variety of devices like PCs, tablets, or smartphones for accessing data. This means that retrieving information about the lifecycle of a company’s entire product line, its technologies, development, manufacturing, and sales processes, along with industry and market-relevant know-how, isn’t actually an issue. On the contrary. We live in times of information overload where we have almost limitless access to data. And this is where the challenge begins: sorting through millions of PLM data items in Teamcenter and obtaining precisely the information required, before presenting it in a user-friendly way, at a specific time within the context of a particular task, and, possibly, in a business-critical situation. One example here is in the development of a new liquefied petroleum gas tank that is subject to a defined approval workflow.
Initial situation: Overly complex processes
Previously, engineers would send their 3D drawings to decision makers, who then accessed Teamcenter on their PCs to look at significant data such as material analyses and dimensions regarding liquid tanks. They would then use this information to decide whether the development made strategic sense. However, it’s not easy to use the Teamcenter Rich Client on a PC, and it requires more than just a few clicks to navigate – especially if you’re a manager who doesn’t use it on a daily basis. What’s more, there are no plans to provide Rich Client with mobile access.
Goal: More efficient collaboration
That’s why TI Automotive chose to introduce the Active Workspace Client as a web-based, intuitive user interface based on a powerful, high-performance search engine. The AWC not only provides an inbox where recipients can retrieve all the relevant information for processes in one place. Using a fast and simple search tool similar to Google, users can also carry out other searches on a certain topic from within Teamcenter itself. The results are then displayed in a clear and easy to understand format on their tablets and smartphones. This can be done at any time, from anywhere in the world – whether it’s from Germany, India or remotely from an offshore team,” explains PITERION.
The challenge: Three million data sets
Still, what sounds so ingeniously simple was nevertheless a considerable technical challenge during the implementation phase. In order to retrieve the correct information from around three million data sets using specific search terms, it was necessary to index each item of data – a complex and time-consuming task. Much of the data was in a variety of different formats, ranging from simple Excel and Word documents, forms, and data sheets to emails and complex NX CAD drawings of various components or assemblies.
“PITERION achieved this by tailoring data model templates to customer requirements and automating the indexing process. With TI Automotive users located in several countries, the indexing process had to take account of different languages and their characteristics – for example the display of characters such as umlauts and various fonts,” PITERION explained, referring to the introduction of the new solution.
ven incompatibility issues between the versions of Teamcenter, AWC, and NX CAD software were overcome thanks to individually customized data models. In order to provide a comfortable working environment for users around the world, three databases with identical structures were set up in three groups according to country. Several hundred style sheets were then developed to create the pleasant look and feel of the system.
The intelligent solution is built on a central metadatabase containing only the links to each data item. This allows it to immediately filter out objects such as a component or assembly drawing based on search terms like name, customer, and design engineer.
The result: Relevant information in milliseconds
Today, around 50 percent of Teamcenter users work with AWC. The fact that several users can view an item on their screens at the same time – for example while discussing something for approval – is a major benefit, as is the option to open product development documentation at the touch of a button. Presenting data in this way saves time and makes working together easier, leading to a more effective decision-making process. Seeing that TI Automotive has 120 sites in 29 countries, Active Workspace Client is particularly beneficial for collaboration between international teams – not only in development and production, but also in support.
IT administration also profits from the new tool: installation takes place centrally on the web server with no client installation required on the end device, which makes managing the system very straightforward.
PITERION is an international PLM service provider headquartered in Germany with branches in the USA, India, Tunisia, Sweden, Switzerland and Poland. Our highly qualified staff offers solutions and services independent of system manufacturers. We always follow the provisions of the EN 9100 (aerospace), ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 quality management standards. We have set up internal standards and processes that enable us to maintain a consistently high quality of service across our sites throughout the world.
We constitute a competent and independent partner of our customers providing tailor-made solutions and services. Jointly with our technology providers we may therefore support the PLM strategy of our customers in the best way possible.