BigLever Software, the long-standing leader in the Product Line Engineering (PLE) field, today announced that the company has partnered with PTC to deliver a new bridge solution that integrates PTC’s Windchill Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solution with BigLever’s industry-standard Gears PLE Lifecycle Framework: the PTC Windchill/BigLever Software Gears Bridge.
“Organizations are struggling to manage the increasing demand for product sophistication and diversity, and the exponential complexity that this creates,” said Dr. Charles Krueger, BigLever Software CEO. “It’s critical that enterprises reduce this complexity by breaking down organizational barriers and operational silos. Feature-based PLE addresses this by providing an enterprise-wide solution — one unified variation and complexity management approach across engineering and operations disciplines and software, electrical and mechanical domains. This partnership with PTC is a significant step forward for BigLever and the continued expansion of the PLE Ecosystem of integrated tools, which is a vital part of our holistic onePLE solution.
PLM focuses on the engineering and management of mechanically-intensive systems, as well as business operations such as ERP, manufacturing, sales and beyond. Feature-based PLE enables a unified approach for managing product family variation across the full enterprise lifecycle of a product line portfolio. The new bridge solution combines the synergistic benefits of PLE and PLM by allowing Windchill to work seamlessly with BigLever’s Gears PLE Lifecycle Framework as part of the PLE Ecosystem — a community of world-class tool providers established for organizations seeking consistent, compatible, unified PLE solutions. With the integration of PLE and PLM, organizations can increase the interoperability of tools, improve cross-functional alignment, and achieve new levels of efficiency in the production, delivery, maintenance and evolution of a product line.
“Increasing complexities of products, their configurations and manufacturing processes are immense challenges to many in industry,” said Allan Behrens, Principal Analyst and Founder, Taxal. “The partnership between BigLever Software and PTC offers a powerful approach to solving these problems by embracing the additive proposition of Feature-based PLE coupled with PLM. In doing this, they’re aiming to leverage the best of both, in methodologies and technologies.”
How Feature-based Product Line Engineering Works
Feature-based PLE allows organizations to establish a “single source of feature truth” for an entire product family, which dramatically reduces engineering and operational complexity by eliminating the need for multiple feature management mechanisms across multiple tools and functions. With Feature-based PLE, companies create a “Feature Catalog” for the product line, and a superset of digital assets (from all of the tools across the engineering and operations lifecycle) that is shared across the product line. Assets are assembled and configured, based on the features selected, to automatically produce all the products in the product line. When PLE and PLM are integrated, companies use a “Bill-of-Features” to determine materials — including mechanical, electrical, wiring, software, calibrations and more — rather than use a Bill-of-Materials (BOMs) to determine features. The Bill-of-Features becomes the specification for defining feature content and producing a product in the product line, rendered in terms of the specific features from the Feature Catalog that are selected to be included in that product.
The result is dramatically simplified and improved communication and alignment across the organization from portfolio planning to engineering, manufacturing, sales and service. This unified enterprise-wide approach has become even more essential with the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT), which significantly increases the complexity of managing product variation across the interconnected engineering and operations lifecycle.