There’s been a lot of buzz about modular enterprise applications in general, and especially about new, flexible solutions consisting of PLM modules designed to work together seamlessly. Great buzzwords,

but what exactly does that mean to the companies who need to deploy and use these PLM modules? Here’s what you need to know.

What Do We Mean by a Modular PLM Solution?

Enterprise business systems have claimed to be modular for years, but in most cases, the claim made little difference to companies. For example, many ERP solutions offered modules, but most modules were required to make the system operational. The occasional optional module—usually something like fixed assets—sat outside the day-to-day operations, so whether it was a module of the primary system or a third-party add-on made little difference to cost or user training.

Other times companies claimed switches or parameters controlled modules, but again, these modules were not truly modular because the code was on the system, hogging resources, regardless of whether the switch was on or off. And often, once set, the switches couldn’t be changed.

To truly claim to be modular, software must consist of building blocks that can be mixed and matched, added, or removed as needed. The company shouldn’t have to do anything more than installing the module and turn on the linkage to make the module operational.

PTC Windchill is an excellent example of a solution that consists of multiple PLM modules. The core of Windchill handles all the traditional PLM functions, and additional PLM modules, whether from PTC or a third party, can be added as needed. Examples of PLM modules from PTC include products like Creo or ThingWorx and new modules such as the regulatory hub.

Windchill is an excellent example of a modular PLM solution

What Are Some Other Examples of PLM Modules?

Windchill 12.2 includes several new and highly desirable, and valuable PLM modules.

Redline functionality

This capability allows companies to approve ECNs on a product out-of-date order so that critical changes can be implemented quickly. The system updates the item’s revision and rolls forward any outstanding ECNs for later approval. This enables companies to avoid unnecessary rework caused by delaying critical ECNs implementations and can help limit the scope of potential recalls. Customers are happier because they get higher quality products faster, and teams can bring new features or corrections to market quicker and more cost-effectively. This PLM module is invaluable to companies in industries where ECNs and product changes are common, such as medical devices or high-tech products, but maybe of no use to more traditional manufacturing where ECNs are rare.

Regulatory Hub

Regulated and semi-regulated industries such as aerospace, automotive, and medical devices understand the mountains of paperwork necessary to file with regulatory bodies worldwide. Windchill’s regulatory hub PLM module is invaluable to such companies because it uses a single set of data and manages all the required compliance reports and applications for a product across multiple regions. This simplifies filing management, helps prevent fines due to late or missed filings, and ensures data is consistent from one report to the next. The result is faster, less expensive, and more timely compliance. While the value is clear to companies in regulated industries, companies in non-regulated sectors do not need this module. However, again, this is one of the benefits of PLM modules. A company can choose to add the regulatory hub PLM module or not, depending on its particular needs.

Customer Complaint Management

Managing customer complaints is a crucial component of CAPA systems, but customer complaints are usually handled in a CRM, support, or field service solution. Windchill’s customer complaint PLM module allows users in any role—customers, suppliers, or operations—to add a complaint, which then feeds directly into the CAPA system. This ensures that customer complaints are resolved promptly and that complaints are not overlooked. This improvement helps to ensure happier customers who can keep up with the progress of complaints and may help prevent expensive recalls, adverse events, or extensive rework.

PLM Modules Integration

PTC has always understood the need for companies to have an easy method to integrate engineering and manufacturing applications to precisely mirror their best in-house processes. To facilitate that need, PTC equipped its products with either APIs or product-specific interfaces for specific products in wide use. With release 12.2, the preferred integration method is OSLC (Open Services for Lifecycle Collaboration).

PLM modules can be integrated using existing APIs, new or existing product-specific interfaces, or OSLC.

All PTC Solutions

Not only is Windchill 12.2 OSLC enabled, but all PTC products are OSLC enabled, too, effectively making them PLM modules. If a company wants to use ThingWorx for its IIoT initiatives, connecting it to Windchill through OSLC is simple, giving a speed boost to the IIoT project.

The same holds true for Creo. If the company wants to incorporate 3D CAD simulations into its PLM process, this is easily accomplished.

Key Benefits of Modular PLM

PLM modules improve design through integration, collaboration, and visibility. They can help companies increase their ROI from existing investment in third-party applications rather than force a replacement of the application because of integration costs or concerns. Whether the company chooses to use an existing direct interface, an API, or OSLC, the integration with Windchill will be solid and reliable.

PLM modules save money, improve time to market, and result in happier customers and higher quality.

As a result, the company enjoys streamlined computer processes that are matched to its real-world process, helping to eliminate errors and missed transactions. Companies can also enjoy enhanced flexibility of staying with existing applications if the app meets their needs, upgrading to a different or more modern app at any time, or eliminating unneeded functionality. This way, users don’t have to deal with extra steps or superfluous data entry that results from unneeded capabilities built into monolithic systems.

PLM modules proved enhanced flexibility, which results in faster user training, less training, and lower integration costs with better, more seamless integration.

Does Your Company Need PLM Modules?

Only you can answer that question, but we’re happy to discuss your options or show you a no-obligation demo to help you make the right decision. Contact us today for more information.