Constant Analysis: Fix Issues Before They Become Problems




Returning from a business trip, I experienced the all-too-common frustration of having my flight delayed. After sitting at the gate for almost an hour, the flight crew explained that, while preparing for takeoff, a part of the plane’s landing gear was discovered to be malfunctioning. A replacement was being shipped in from the manufacturer, but not having the spare part on site resulted in an additional two-hour flight delay. My fellow passengers and I weren’t happy and I’m sure the airline, in turn, wasn’t thrilled that they now had to deal with a bunch of unhappy travelers. 

Unfortunately, the issue of products failing in the field happens more often than we would like -- in all industries. Unplanned downtime due to a failing product can result in the loss of production, revenue, and unhappy customers. In order to keep customers happy, manufacturers need to be able to identify potential issues with products in the field before the customer begins to experience problems. 

Constant Analysis is the ability to continuously monitor, test, and analyze product in the field. Not only does this make it possible to automatically detect potential issues and deliver fixes to the field faster, but it enables you to use real usage data to improve customer satisfaction and identify new sales opportunities. One of the outcomes on PTC’s Digital Engineering Journey, Constant Analysis can help your organization outperform the competition by growing market share and profitability through continuous innovation on evergreen products.

One way that Constant Analysis can help outperform is by enabling a better understanding of service or quality issues. Says Brian Thompson, SVP of PTC’s CAD segment: “We see Constant Analysis being useful for enabling better information when you’re evaluating anomalous events from the field. If you’re constantly analyzing the product and have an unexpected service event or unexpected quality problems, you can go back, review the data that led up to that situation, and have better insight into addressing that problem if it shows up again in the field.”

But Constant Analysis doesn’t just benefit the service end of the product lifecycle. It can also be useful during the early stages of the product development process. By looking at similar products in the field, it’s possible to test out new concepts based on a new product coming down the pike. “The idea is to be able to include products that are already with customers – in whole or in part – in test scenarios as you think about introducing new options, new variants, and new products themselves,” explains Kevin Wrenn, Divisional GM of PTC’s PLM segment.

In fact, deploying Constant Analysis should be considered an extension of your organization’s testing process. “One use case that you can imagine is: you’re going to introduce a new product into the field. You’ve done all of your testing: your testbeds, test rigs, testing inside your corporation, and testing in the field. You release the product and start to sell it and, at this point, the products that have been sold aren’t being tested,” says Wrenn. “Oftentimes, in early runs of a new product being sold, unexpected failures or unexpected performance anomalies are discovered. It’s really useful to have the earliest runs of the product continue to be in the test suite so the team can identify problems early and fix them – instead of perpetuating the problem by selling more of the same product with the same problems that were left undiscovered in internal testing.”

While Constant Analysis is, at this point, just beginning to be explored as part of many organizations’ long-term strategy, there are steps that can be taken in the short term to bring you one step closer to achieving this outcome. By capturing and coordinating all data and processes on an integrated Digital Product Definition, allowing Universal Data Access throughout the enterprise, and replacing assumptions with real-world data with Performance Based Analysis, you can begin to better understand your products, processes and systems – a key first step to being able to continuously monitor your products in the field. 

Click here to discover how your organization can begin its Digital Engineering Journey.