In 2002, Girtz made the transition from AutoCAD 2D-based development tools to the SOLIDWORKS 3D design platform. In 2007, company management sought to generate additional productivity gains by improving the management of design data and its downstream use by departments outside of engineering. According to IS/IT Manager Joseph Willis, “Girtz used to rely on paper drawings, spreadsheets, and network storage to support development. The company’s growth demanded greater efficiencies and increased throughput, and we believed that a product data management (PDM) system would enable us to better control processes, data, and costs.”
After evaluating various solutions, Girtz implemented the SOLIDWORKS Enterprise PDM system because of its easy configuration and administration, ease-of-use, and integration with SOLIDWORKS design software. “We believed that SOLIDWORKS Enterprise PDM software would help us to use product design data to improve our processes, enhance quality, and control costs—all of which were necessary for increasing throughput and achieving faster time-to-market,” Willis says.
By implementing SOLIDWORKS Enterprise PDM software, Girtz has formalized its development processes using automated workflow and document control to eliminate wasteful practices. “Before installing Enterprise PDM, we had a lot of duplicated effort. Revisions were very cumbersome because they were controlled by paper. This led to instances when we redesigned parts that already existed, out of concern that we might be using an out-of-sync revision,” Willis notes. “With no PDM system, we’d add unnecessary engineering project time because our designers couldn’t be sure that mating relations had been preserved and couldn’t rely on the accuracy of existing CAD data.
“With SOLIDWORKS Enterprise PDM software, we have eliminated these types of issues,” Willis adds. “We no longer have revision problems or mismatched prints, and our designers can more confidently reuse proven designs. Many projects, which used to require six weeks of engineering time, can now be completed in four weeks.”
Girtz is realizing faster time-to-market, increased revenue, and greater throughput—while tackling more complex projects—because PDM provides improved management of design data and development processes. “We’ve seen a 25 percent increase in throughput without experiencing the need for additional resources,” Willis stresses. “Because SOLIDWORKS Enterprise PDM enables us to manage not only data but also processes, we are able to work smarter, increase complexity, and handle more projects in the same amount of time.”
Willis attributes the jump in production partly to a reduction in engineering costs and the time it takes to develop documentation. “Before we had PDM, our design group had to spend a lot more time on communication and meetings just to keep their heads above water,” Willis points out. “Now, everyone in design engineering uses the PDM system to keep track of what’s going on. The system also provides information for other departments to use, making us more efficient across the board.”
The SOLIDWORKS Enterprise PDM system has also had a positive impact on Girtz departments outside of engineering. For example, the Sales department uses PDM data to manage its quoting activity, giving the sales manager the ability to quickly determine the total number of quotes outstanding, quotes that have been accepted, and projects that are awaiting additional engineering information. Willis says he configured a search dashboard for the sales manager, as well as other managers, to make it easy to find the information they need.
“Instead of pushing data out to different departments, we decided to make it easy for them to find the information they need by configuring custom search dashboards for accessing our system,” Willis says. “By capturing and making available the right product information to departments like sales and purchasing, they contribute to our increased throughput. This capability is really a testament to the power of the SOLIDWORKS Enterprise PDM search engine, which is helping us increase our productivity every day.”