Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Automated bill of material changes with PLM leads to 100% improvement in tracking and data accuracy

May 25, 2012
By Omnify Software

For almost three decades, CVG, Inc. and CVG-Avtec Systems, Inc. has offered systems engineering services to the aerospace and defense industries, providing custom hardware, software, algorithms, simulations and analyses to solve its customers’ toughest real-world engineering problems.

 Growing beyond its service origins, CVG-Avtec has grown into a communications systems provider, supplying advanced data communications products to aerospace, telecommunications and defense organizations worldwide.

As a provider of advanced communications systems, CVG-Avtec generates a large volume of complex engineering products. This environment inevitably results in a high quantity of engineering changes. CVG-Avtec needed a way to accurately track all of the bill of material (BOM) changes and have the ability to view previous revisions with a clear history of the product’s lifecycle.

The company initially tried to track and manage their engineering change/revision process with Excel spreadsheets. Managing detailed change information with Excel spreadsheets did not provide the security or history tracking that CVG-Avtec needed to effectively manage product revisions and the manual entry of information was highly susceptible to data inaccuracies. The company also tried using their existing ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system to manage revisions. Tracking different revisions of the same BOM in their ERP system proved to be time-consuming and tedious, requiring the creation of a different BOM part number for each revision that did not have any relation to each other.


CVG-Avtec knew that it needed a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) system to meet its goals. Designed to manage detailed engineering information, a PLM system would allow CVG-Avtec to clearly see and understand what the actual changes are from one product revision to the next, as well as implement staged workflows for review and approval on all changes to ensure accuracy, accountability and create structured processes.

Prior to selecting a solution, the company evaluated several PLM vendors. It chose the Empower PLM solution from Omnify.

“We selected the Empower PLM solution because it offered many of the features we were looking for such as robust search capability, flexible workflow processing, easy import and export of data, and report generation,” says Quang Le, configuration management for CVG-Avtec. “In addition, the tool allows us to create different groups such as Users, Engineers, and Administrators, to control access to certain information.”

All of CVG-Avtec’s product data is now centralized and managed within Empower PLM. The company met its primary goal of eliminating the tedious task of managing BOM information within their ERP system that required multiple BOM part numbers for all BOM revisions. With features such as complete BOM revision control, audit trails, BOM comparisons and full BOM hierarchy views, Empower PLM makes CVG-Avtec’s BOM management process much easier and more efficient.

All BOM revisions now exist solely in the Empower PLM system with only the current released BOM residing in ERP. Managing revisions in Empower PLM has not only resulted in about 70 per cent time savings compared to managing this process in their ERP system, it also ensures that manufacturing is building to the correct BOM every time.

“By keeping all revisions in Empower PLM, I no longer need to worry about changing effective dates on individual BOM parts in our ERP system in order to maintain current and prior revisions,” says Le.  “This not only keeps the BOM in ERP visually clear and simple to read, it has helped us to improve revision tracking and accuracy by an outstanding 100 per cent.”

The Empower PLM workflow engine, which provides both parallel and serial processing, has streamlined CVG-Avtec’s engineering change and release process. Using stage-based workflows helps CVG-Avtec to assure appropriate personnel have verified and approved all product changes, permitting only necessary users to view, change, accept, and/or reject changes at any particular point. This guarantees that the change information is accurate and ready for the next phase and creates better resource efficiencies by only including appropriate team members on their specific stage(s).

Revision history, markups/redlines, and full audit trail functionality provide CVG-Avtec with visibility into who, what, where, when and why on all changes made to any item in the Empower PLM system. The company has implemented formal release processes for new part requests and BOMs, and is now able to formally document the changes to existing parts and BOMs. This provides CVG-Avtec with the structured processes, history tracking, and accountability they were looking for to meet their product development goals.

“Empower PLM has helped improve our configuration management processes tremendously,” says Le. “Having the ability to easily bring up past product revisions, retrieve all information and associated documentation, such as datasheets and vendor quotes, and see all redlines has helped to reduce the time spent searching for information by at least 95 per cent which allows me to do my job much more efficiently and effectively.”  

Omnify Software is a provider of business-ready, product lifecycle and change management solutions designed to meet the needs of manufacturers in the electronics, mechanical, medical and defense industries.

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