Teamcenter and SAP are two powerful tools whose data is used in different fields – on the one hand for Product Lifecycle Management and on the other for ERP. Furthermore, they typically speak different languages and operate in two separate data worlds. At a big customer with medical technology activities, one of the things this affected was parts-list management, for example for computer tomography or MRI equipment. In order to connect or automatically synchronize these two different data worlds, a company tasked PLM specialists PITERION with the “BOM Management” project.
Anyone who has ever needed a detailed view of a part of their body is familiar with the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) “tube.” The client is a leading international provider of this medical imaging equipment. For product lifecycle management – from development and manufacture through to sales, maintenance, and service – the company uses Teamcenter, a PLM software solution. The company uses SAP as an ERP program for all commercial matters.
BOM management: two data worlds in Teamcenter and SAP
One of the supporting pillars of PLM is managing the bill of materials, in other words the parts lists. These are split into eBOM, which contain all Teamcenter data from the development history known as eParts and include CAD drawings; and mBOM, with individual production data (mParts), which are saved in SAP – for example to create stock-level transparency.
Since no interface existed between the Teamcenter and SAP “BOM worlds,” but all 80 users operating the programs had to access the same consistent set of data, the data synchronization at the client was carried out manually. “To give a specific example, Teamcenter had CAD parts lists whose information was transferred step-by-step into SAP using Excel lists with several levels. This required a lot of time and wasn’t reliable in terms of quality, because copying over this amount of information was always prone to error. After all, we’re talking about MRI equipment with thousands of parts,” explains the responsible project manager at PITERION.
Goal: automated data synchronization
In order to improve this process and guarantee complete data consistency, the customer contracted PLM specialists PITERION to further develop the central data backbone and synchronize the two data worlds, which until that time had been separated. In addition, they wanted release processes to be managed from within the software. From the beginning, the principle system was SAP; the program allocates a unique ID to every part, and this ID remains the same throughout the entire process.
In the introductory project, data synchronization was initially achieved for three magnets with 7,000 parts.
“Part” as principle bill of materials
To achieve this, PLM specialists PITERION set up the new Teamcenter object “Part” and an automatic workflow. This read out the parts, their IDs, and the BOM structure in SAP and created the same structure in Teamcenter before transferring the data. A further important task was creating rules and workflows for the release process. Most parts have a related construction drawing to which they are linked, so to ensure that only correctly linked parts can be released by a user, the release processes for the drawings had to be adjusted so that these processes could only be started if the relationship between the part and the linked CAD data had been established.
“As is so often the case with IT projects dealing with different data worlds, here the major challenge was to first create the structure in Teamcenter with all the necessary object subdivisions right up to material descriptions like weight or size, and then to configure the interfaces to automatically trigger and carry out the migration of all data into the new system,” explains the project manager from PITERION.
Time savings and optimum data quality
However, the mammoth project was well worth it, and will continue to be so in the long-term: it used to take up to two minutes to create a product description with references to the relevant drawings from the Excel list in SAP. Now, this takes place automatically and all parts lists in both systems are immediately synchronized. “For components made up of 7,000 parts, this equates to time savings of around 230 hours. And that’s not taking into account the time spent on amending incorrect entries,” reports PITERION.
Thanks to the success of the project, the client and PITERION are planning further projects together. For example, change management should be displayed in Teamcenter and detailed assembly instructions derived from the parts lists. A further step may see production control being connected to Teamcenter.
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.