China’s Largest Maker of Motorcycles Uses a Host of PTC Solutions for R&D, Manufacturing, Data and Project Management, MPM and Documentation
The Challenge: Respond Quickly with New, High-Quality Products
With demand for its products growing rapidly, Grand River needed to ramp up scalable production capacity and respond to market requirements quickly by launching new and innovative high-quality products. At the same time, the company needed to ensure compliance with environmental regulations, ensure quality assurance and strive to lower overall product costs.
Although Grand River had established an information management system based on ERP, the company lacked an efficient product Manufacturing Process Management (MPM) system. It’s MPM challenges included:
- Manual management of many operations: These included process procedures and regulations, working instruction guides, check cards, BOM distribution lists, tooling and accessories process documentation. These operations needed to directly reference a broad range of product information, including the EBOM, MBOM, 2D, 3D and real images. The company lacked a proper system to share this information, making the collection, exchange and transformation of related data difficult to manage. The time required to compile processes became longer, and data accuracy began to suffer.
- No associativity between design data and process data: When a design changed, the related process document did not reflect the change in a timely manner. A great deal of manual adjustment was required. This approach not only limited the MBOM’s guidance for the production site, but also jeopardized the accuracy of process data and the new product launch cycle.
- Each department had its own process management method, and consequently there was no standard specification: When a design changed, each department had to make changes separately. This approach was error-prone and resulted in inconsistencies between process data. There was no standardization among different departments, resulting in confusion for both the business and management, including a negative knock-on effect of maintaining the same information in process documents.
- Poor reusability of process documents: When compiling process documents (e.g., work instructions) for variant products, employees needed to manually identify the differences between standard products and their variants one by one, causing significant repetitive work.
The Solution: PTC Windchill MPMLink
To resolve these issues, Grand River decided to implement PTC Windchill MPMLink, a powerful product lifecycle management (PLM) solution that manages process data and product design data in a single, integral system, and enables closed-loop management from design change to process change. With the implementation of PTC Windchill MPMLink, Grand River also focused on:
- Using existing product data to more efficiently create the manufacturing process of the products
- Automatically identifying product differences
- Quickly creating variant product processes
- Outputting process documents, resulting in faster, more cost-effective implementation of changes
Grand River had successfully used other PTC software products and services, so the newer MPMLink module was a natural extension of its PTC Windchill-based PLM environment. Through its seamless integration with other PTC Windchill modules already installed, PTC Windchill MPMLink helped Grand River achieve the goal of managing process data and product design data in one integral system. The implementation – one of the earliest successes of PTC Windchill MPMLink – helped Grand River achieve the following objectives related to Manufacturing Process Management:
- Automate the creation of process documents, resulting in significant improvements in accuracy.
- Manage process data and product design data in a single system;standardize the related processes from design change to process change; realize closed-loop management from design change to process change; and improve the consistency of design data and process data.
- Improve the reusability of process documents. Users can effectively utilize existing product data to more efficiently create the manufacturing processes for a product. In particular, the system can automatically identify product differences, quickly create a variant product process, and then output packed-process documents.
- Add process information to the MBOM, thus improving its guidance for the production site.
- Standardize the process management specification and processes of different departments and improve the overall maintenance of process documents.
The Result: The Entire Company Uses One Version of Product Data
Through the implementation of PTC Windchill MPMLink, Grand River has significantly improved the management and maintenance of its product process documents:
- Achieved seamless integration. The entire company is now accessing the same product data source, and the product data that process documents use all comes from the same source, thus ensuring improved consistency and standardization of product data.
- Improved the efficiency of compiling and changing process documents, freeing process engineers from repetitive, manual inputting of data.
- Significantly improved process data reusability; variant product process-compiling efficiency improved from seven persons/per day/per product to one person/per day/per product.
Overall, Grand River transformed its PLM system and consequently was highly commended by its partner, Suzuki. The joint venture between Grand River and Suzuki can now scale production to two million vehicles per year, and is now the largest motorcycle factory in the world. It has introduced the complete PLM system that Grand River implemented. As a result, Grand River and PTC have established a strategic partnership relationship and will continue to work together to improve and deepen the application of PLM throughout Grand River.
Grand River’s Partnership with PTC
As early as 2004, Grand River Group started implementing its PDM system. As a large manufacturer, the Group wished to establish an advanced, high-level product management system, that would facilitate better, more streamlined communication between departments to ensure the required standard of product quality.
Grand River’s processes, from marketing survey, product development, manufacturing, and supply of components to services, all had to be tracked. Besides tracking, the precise data needed to be published to SAP to ensure consistency, correctness and easy traceability of all data in the product lifecycle. PTC Windchill PDMLink (product data management), PTC Windchill ProjectLink (project management) and PTC Windchill ESI for SAP were the ideal solutions to meet all of these requirements. After implementation and deployment, the PDM system fulfilled Grand River’s requirements for its business operations and development, and inspired a more strategic approach to overall corporate governance.
As its business volume increased, Grand River Group expanded its integrated solution footprint by adding PTC Arbortext, which provides a dynamic product publishing system for motorcycles and related components. The company is now able to provide Chinese and English-language product catalogs via the web, while shortening the lifecycle of producing product catalogs by more than 50% from 22 days to 10 days.
Today, PTC’s solutions are widely used across R&D, Manufacturing, Purchasing and Supply Departments in Grand River, serving as the backbone of its IT architecture for product design and development processes that now successfully connect engineering with manufacturing.