“Maintaining product data in one system has improved communication across functions and across physical locations.” —John Bayless, PLM practice director, Mercury Marine
Single source of data streamlines product development
The idea of doing more with less resonates with virtually every manufacturing executive, and makes weeding out inefficiencies more imperative than ever.
In 2003, Mercury Marine set out to do just that by rolling out a central repository, or “single source of truth,” for critical company information and embarked on a product lifecycle management (PLM) project. The company, maker of marine propulsion systems and a unit of Brunswick Corp., called the project Mercury PLM Enabled by People, Processes, and Systems.
Broadly, the PLM project was designed to manage product lifecycle data related to design, configuration, and specifications. The project was divided into three steps: establishing a PLM roadmap, defining cross-functional business processes, and configuring technology.
To date, Mercury Marine has invested more than $5 million in the project. The company has consolidated more than 25 product data repositories into one, merged three change management systems into one, reduced change review and sign-off time from 56 days to 22 days, achieved enterprise-wide product data visibility, established a large-assembly management methodology, reduced rework and costs, improved productivity, and reassigned one full-time-equivalent employee per product development program.
As a result, Mercury Marine consistently meets cost targets when bringing a product to market. In fact, the PLM project is credited with having improved product development team efficiency, reduced time-to-market, and enhanced Mercury’s ability to maintain an aggressive schedule of new product releases throughout the economic downturn. The project also has supported Mercury’s shift from two-stroke to four-stroke engine technology.
The PLM model supports product development, tool design, manufacturing, quality, cost engineering, and procurement. Critical technology components include Teamcenter Unified Architecture from Siemens, which went live in 2005 and was upgraded during 2009 and 2010. It manages product configuration data including engineering design, specifications, hard/soft tooling, product structure, and change management. It also handles part-number assignment and integrates to Mercury Marine’s ERP.
“Maintaining product data in one system has improved communication across functions and physical locations,” says John Bayless, PLM practice director. “Improved collaboration has enabled the team to deliver complex products to market faster with fewer resources.”