This article was first published in the Summer 2015 issue of OnWindows
Formed in 1969 in the US, Amplifier Research (AR) supplies radio frequency (RF) products and compliance testing solutions to operators in the automotive, medical, military, aerospace and telecommunication industries across the world. Today, the company comprises of three divisions including AR RF/Microwave Instrumentation, AR Modular RF and AR Receiver Systems.
To standardise operational processes, reduce data errors and automate workflows across the RF/Microwave Instrumentation division, AR wanted to integrate its separate product lifecycle management (PLM) and enterprise resource management (ERP) systems.
“Often our separate ERP and PLM systems did not contain the same information, because data was entered incorrectly, which made it difficult to gain an overview of all of the product information and collaborate across the company,” says Jeannie Suelke, vice president of IT and accounting at AR RF/Microwave Instrumentation.
AR implemented Bluestar PLM, a Dynamics AX-embedded PLM solution from PDM Technology, to provide its engineering, manufacturing and purchasing departments with a single set of version-controlled product data from one centralised system.
“One of the primary reasons for choosing Bluestar PLM was that it is fully embedded in Dynamics AX and that it allows our engineering and manufacturing teams to automatically exchange designs and 3D models using various CAD systems,” explains Suelke. “For example, engineers can use 3D modelling software to create assembly drawings and then use Bluestar PLM to automatically generate a bill of materials (BOM), while the purchasing department can access the BOM and related technical documentation to place orders with our external vendors.”
Deployed over six months, Bluestar PLM has standardised AR’s IT systems, boosted operational efficiency and eliminated redundant data entry across its CAD, PLM and ERP systems.
“As it is embedded in Dynamics AX, Bluestar PLM provides a full audit trail for each product, giving all teams an overview of the original technical drawings and specifications, any subsequent revisions, BOMs, purchase orders and more,” explains Troy Norgaard, business development manager at PDM Technology. “This increases visibility across the production process and ensures that employees always refer to the most recent data.”
Although AR now has the core product data management functionality it needs, the company plans to extend Bluestar PLM to improve its engineering change notification (ECN) processes. “Currently, AR manages engineering change notifications outside of the PLM systems, but Bluestar PLM will enable engineers to control any changes from within Dynamics AX via automated workflows,” explains Norgaard. “Not only will this help engineers to accurately predict the impact of future changes, it will also allow them to directly engage with others included in the ECN process.”
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