Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)

Grass Valley Updates Legacy Systems with Product Lifecycle Management Solution

27 Feb, 2013 By: Alaine Portnoy

Broadcasting hardware manufacturer adopts Omnify Empower PLM in effort to automate and integrate its product development processes.

When you're watching news, sports, or entertainment programming — whether on a TV, the web, or a mobile device — you're watching Grass Valley at work in today's connected world.

The company provides a comprehensive portfolio that comprises cameras, converters, and other imaging, video, and media solutions. Grass Valley's customers include broadcasters, teleproduction facilities, and service providers, as well as independent video professionals who rely on their products to cover live events.

Grass Valley's portfolio of video production solutions includes this robotic camera.

Keeping Up with the Product Lifecycle

With an aging component database and a product data management (PDM) system that was at the end of its lifespan, Grass Valley had to find a new way to support its complex product lifecycle requirements. The company needed a next-generation solution to automate engineering changes and bill of material (BOM) management, as well as streamline its engineering and manufacturing processes. Grass Valley recognized this as a necessity to keep up with the fast pace of technology advancements, customer requirements, and a global workforce.

The Search for the Right PLM

A team composed of engineering and IT personnel set out to find the ideal product lifecycle management (PLM) solution. "We started with a benchmark of about eight to ten possible PLM solutions," stated Gerard Meijer, manager of Digital Hardware and Layout for Grass Valley. "Besides the functional requirements, our main goals were to find an off-the-shelf solution that did not require customizations, was easy to use, and offered a good price-to-performance ratio."

Additional PLM requirements included out-of-the-box integration with Grass Valley's existing CAD tools from Mentor Graphics, bidirectional integration with its manufacturing systems and an internally developed engineering database, and an easy-to-use and browser-independent interface for its manufacturing floor.

"All possible solutions were compared on a scorecard and Omnify Empower PLM was the best possible solution for us," added Meijer. According to Meijer, factors that stood out during the comparison with other systems included ease of use, configurability, licensing, availability of default reports, local support, controlled access for third parties, and the price-to-performance ratio.

Implementing Change

Even though Grass Valley had twenty years of legacy data to migrate into the new Empower PLM system, it was a smooth transition, thanks to all parties working closely together. "The total project was complete in only six months, mainly due to the development of migration scripts, which was performed in small iterative steps to ensure a correct full migration of all of the legacy data," stated Meijer. "During the project, the support from Omnify Software and the local integrator, InnoFour, was prompt and to the point."

Prior to implementing a PLM system, Grass Valley’s legacy systems did not provide the automation or integration that the company required. Data was maintained in separate databases and there was little to no collaboration among product design and manufacturing teams.

Grass Valley now has highly automated and integrated processes for engineering change requests (ECRs) and component qualifications (CQs). Empower PLM provides Grass Valley with the ability to easily search for information, view a complete hierarchical BOM list, and deliver automatic notifications on changes. The company is able to share pertinent development information (such as attribute values, BOMs, drawings, and repair sheets) across the entire enterprise by integrating design, manufacturing, and the factory floor via Empower PLM.

Secure Sharing

Grass Valley has also opened the Empower PLM system to its contract manufacturer (CM). The CM has full, yet controlled access to product documentation, BOMs, and engineering change orders (ECOs), and is included in the automated process flows.

"This collaborative environment has resulted in consistent and complete datasets for the various types of items through the integrated CQ process, an early and direct involvement of our CM during the ECR process, and shorter lead times for both the ECR and CQ process," said Meijer.

"Prior to Omnify," Meijer continued, "we already shared production data with third parties. In that case the sourcing representative downloaded the necessary information from our PDM system, put the files in different folders, moved these folders to an FTP site, and informed the third party that there is new information available. For unchanging information it is rather easy, but during development the production data changes frequently and in short cycles. Keeping the information on the FTP site up-to-date is time-consuming and there is always a risk that something [will go] wrong. With controlled access for third parties, we need to enter the production data only once. There is a significant reduction in time, effort, and errors.

"With controlled access we also included our CM in our workflows — e.g., the ECR and the CR (component request) workflows — and they fully participate, including approvals. In this way we enable an early involvement of our CM," Meijer said.

About the Author: Alaine Portnoy

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