Thriving in the dynamic original design manufacturer environment
Teamcenter and Tecnomatix PLM solutions support a high-speed, customer-centric business
Configuration to order shows need for PLM
Wistron Corp., established in 2001, was formerly the design, manufacturing and after-sales service arm of Acer Inc. Today Wistron is a leading original design manufacturer (ODM), providing a wide range of product development services. Its focus is information and communication technology. Some of the products it has developed include notebook and desktop computers, servers, storage systems, information appliances and networking equipment. Wistron’s customer base consists primarily of global, branded IT companies.
Wistron is among the top 20 manufacturers in Taiwan (by revenue) and the seventh-largest ODM in the world (also by revenue). In addition to its Taiwanese facility, the company has operations in other locations in Asia as well as in North America and Europe. Wistron employs 30,000 people.
In 1997, Acer noticed the trend in the PC market toward “config to order” and started planning an IT infrastructure to support this practice. The company initiated a process of business reengineering that started from marketing and extended through product development, order fulfillment and manufacturing automation. Management realized that the execution quality of product development was critical to the success of the config to order approach. The company decided to invest in product lifecycle management (PLM) technology from Siemens PLM Software. The solution included Teamcenter® digital lifecycle management software and Tecnomatix® digital manufacturing software for the purpose of establishing product configuration management and change management processes capable of functioning globally.
Good software fit
From a business process perspective, the PLM solution would create an enhanced model of product development that would support all engineering operations, focusing on product development processes, engineering change and release management processes, and product lifecycle information. A key consideration was the ability to integrate the PLM system with the company’s ERP system and other IT projects. From a business information viewpoint, the company wanted to develop and integrate PLM applications into an enterprise product information system. Here the focus was on component information management, product configuration management, engineering document management, engineering change control, and CAD and ERP integration. Key considerations included: information sharing and integrity maintenance, information lifecycle management, functional requirements and system integration.
Teamcenter turned out to be very well suited to the needs of this ODM business. “Part of the PLM implementation involved setting up different kinds of working models,” says YH Sung, CIO, Wistron Corp. “Teamcenter is flexible and it was easy to tailor it to our way of doing business.” Similarly, Tecnomatix, is well suited to a config to order approach, particularly in its support for new product introductions.
PLM as a guide for success
Acer’s PLM implementation went live in July of 1999. In 2001, Wistron spun off from Acer, keeping the existing PLM system. In fact, Teamcenter’s ease of maintenance, migration and scalability allow it to easily adapt to changes in the business environment.
Today Wistron has more than 1,000 licenses of Teamcenter. The company has a single source of product information (the Teamcenter vault), which has improved accuracy. Also, the accountability that comes with having workflows managed by Teamcenter has improved quality management. Since installing the software, BOM creation time has been reduced from two weeks to a few minutes. The engineering change review cycle is down from one month to one week. Paper documents are no longer used and people find the information they need within minutes. Most importantly, the items in the ERP system are synchronized with bills of material. Design and manufacturing now work more closely together, reducing costs through reduced parts proliferation and inventory.
The role of PLM at Wistron has evolved over time. Initially it served to enforce Wistron’s processes by automating and managing many product development tasks. It has since become the foundation of the business infrastructure, fulfilling the needs of a company with a long supply chain, a short product lifecycle and a need for fast delivery times. For Wistron, the product lifecycle management solution from Siemens PLM Software represents far more than a very good technology application. It provides a best-practice model for employees on how to do business in a high-speed, customer-centric industry.