One to One: Burner Systems Improving Collaboration with PDM

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I had the chance to talk with … Tim Frost of Burner Systems International (BSI) about their adoption of Product Data Management (PDM) to improve engineering and new product development performance. Tim explained to me that one of the primary goals for their adoption of PLM was getting a handle on their product data. But BSI also wanted to expand collaboration outside of Engineering and improve their time to market. The case study, Tech-Clarity Business in Focus: Burner Systems International – Improving Collaboration with Product Data Management, describes BSI’s experience from recognizing the need for action due to increased complexity in their business all the way through today’s benefits and plans for the future.

What do they Do?

BSI is a supplier to the OEMs that manufacture gas appliances. Like most suppliers, they compete very aggressively with their competition. They compete based on innovation, but most importantly on agility. They need to be able to react quickly to customer needs and bring the right component to market. Due to increased competition, growth by acquisition, and globalization BSI faced a huge challenge. As Tim tells me “We ended up with plants all over the globe, and we had to integrate engineering functions and data.”

What did they Do?

Recognizing the increased complexity, BSI took action. “You can use folders and you might get away with it for a while, but with multiple revisions you can’t manage it,” Tim explains. The solution was to implement a Product Data Management (PDM) system.  Just as importantly, they wanted to improve collaboration across departments. Tim describes how they implemented a PLM system (which includes PDM) that can be used by engineers and non-engineers alike. We discussed how departments like Quality, Manufacturing, Purchasing, and Sales get involved in the product design and development process.

What are the Results?

The new PDM system has shrunk cycle times and helped them make fewer manufacturing errors. According to Tim, those errors can cost up to $100,000 each. BSI is pleased with the results. “We know that we are faster in developing new products, I would estimate 25% faster,” Tim says. “We know that we are better prepared for launching production due to better input and collaboration from Manufacturing, and we know that we are less likely to make bad parts due to out of date drawing revisions.” The project is a success, and BSI is looking to further their gains by continuing to go beyond PDM to a more full PLM solution, leveraging the infrastructure they have in place.

 Implications for Manufacturers

 Burner Systems is a great example of a smaller company that desperately needed to get product data under control. At the same time, they have managed to achieve even more strategic benefits through collaboration and improved time to market. PDM is often the first step in a broader PLM Program.

So that’s what I hear from BSI, I hope you found it useful. What do you think? What else should I have asked them? A summary of the report is available from the Tech-Clarity site, and the full report is available for free from Siemens PLM, the provider of the Teamcenter Express software that BSI uses (and the sponsor of the report). Please feel free to review more free research and white papers about PLM and other enterprise software for manufacturers from Tech-Clarity.