Exotic Metals Forming Company are a company of innovators and specialists in aerospace sheet metal fabrication & design. Exotic Metals contracted Sherpa Design and our affiliate company, Applied CAx, to provide streamlining and maintenance for their Teamcenter PLM installation.
We reached out to Exotic to give us some insights into how the process went, how it benefited them, and where they are today with their PLM environment.
What was the situation for Exotic Metals before you brought on Sherpa Design/Applied CAx to help with the PLM challenges you were facing?
"Prior to partnering with Sherpa Design/Applied CAx for our PLM needs there were many challenges our company was facing. For the infrastructure implemented with the outside consulting contracted, the experience of our company with Teamcenter was a system that crashed frequently, included slow response times (with a negative moniker being uttered by our users), and there was limited consulting expertise to identify the fundamental flaws in the infrastructure and the associated settings within Teamcenter. In conjunction with new personnel brought in to our IT department, Sherpa Design/Applied CAx leveraged their expertise and guided our company in establishing a robust platform that stabilized the Teamcenter installation and got our company on the right path for developing Teamcenter as more of a fundamental building block for our future business processes."
The system was going down multiple times a day?
"Our users were typically experiencing crashes once every couple of days at random times during the working day. These crashes could include individual sessions where connections to the server were lost or a system-wide crash would occur and the server would need to be rebooted."
Did the Teamcenter system come along during a company growth period?
"Our company introduced Teamcenter (initially Teamcenter Express) at a point in our history where we recognized the need for improved configuration control based on the increasing complexity of parts we were managing. We also recognized that the previous configuration control for the management of data using Windows servers, folders, and permissions was not robust enough to support anticipated future growth."
How has it been since our Teamcenter team has been working with you?
"After our partnering with Sherpa Design/Applied CAx, the stability of our Teamcenter platform has increased to the high level our company would expect in which users want to use the software and momentum has been gained going after business process improvements with ideas and resources and how Teamcenter can be further leveraged. Sherpa Design/Applied CAx was critical in transforming what Teamcenter means to our company."
How did your team envision working with us?
"Our company expectation of working with Applied CAx was to establish a relationship in which Sherpa Design/Applied CAx was an extension of our office in the way that Sherpa Design/Applied CAx was immersed in our business processes, appreciated our vision, and had the technical experience so we could mutually develop solutions. Based on our previous consulting experience prior to Sherpa Design/Applied CAx, our company knew that we did not want to continue with an experience in which we would submit a request to our consultant(s) and wait for the consultant to get back to Exotic after reviewing what was available on the internet (ex. reviewing GTAC information)."
And what was the working experience?
"The working experience has overall been a success in which both our company and Sherpa Design/Applied CAx have been able to foster long term relationships.
Sherpa Design/Applied CAx expertise and guidance was critical to our success when we upgraded our platforms for both NX (NX8 to NX9) and Teamcenter (TC 8.3 to TC 10.1.2). Sherpa Design/Applied CAx has been a partner that has proven to be dependable and reactive."
Has Applied and Sherpa helped you achieve value in your investment?
"What Sherpa Design/Applied CAx has provided to our company is the assurance that our PLM platform is stable and can be further used for introduction of new business processes. Our company recognizes the value of our investment and looks to further leverage that value in the future with the support of Sherpa Design/Applied CAx."
Has it helped improve your business processes?
"With the guidance that Sherpa Design/Applied CAx has provided to our IT department with developing new solutions, our company has seen the improvement of certain business processes in regards to the elimination of paper and errors inherent to data entry of data in multiple business systems."
Has Applied and Teamcenter helped mitigate the pressure from your customers and partners?
"By using the perspective of the customer as represented by our end users, the level of stability that Sherpa Design/Applied CAx has aided our company in reaching with our Teamcenter installation has helped mitigate any pressure from user frustration and avoidance of using the system."
Is Teamcenter now helping you hit your targets?
"The confidence of our company that Teamcenter will help hit our future targets is very high."
Has a properly organized PLM system played a role in any recent successes?
"Teamcenter has become a source for easily finding related company CAD data. Where prior data could have been spread across multiple servers, Teamcenter has become the one true vault for future programs. Only with the system stability that Sherpa Design/Applied CAx has provided have we been able to establish a repository that users trust."
How has your and your management’s view of PLM in the Enterprise changed?
"Our company has always recognized the role that PLM can play for the organization in terms of reducing redundancies, eliminating waste, and providing configuration control over our data. What has changed in the company view of PLM is that PLM can be a tool by which users do not need to know every step of a process but can follow standard workflows which guide the user through the process and the output from that process yields a product which meets the expectations of the organization. Sherpa Design/Applied CAx has provided guidance and coaching that have aided us in realizing the expansive potential of PLM."
What are some of the new initiatives you are working towards now?
"Current initiatives for our company include:
- Eliminating duplicate manual entry of data into multiple systems
- Includes current efforts to complete installation of T4EA connector to enable cross communication between Teamcenter and our ERP business system (Infor XA)
- Replacing paper-based processes (with inherent tribal knowledge) with electronic processes (with workflow guidance)
- Providing increased visibility of upcoming work to affected organizations
- Passing of engineering bill-of-materials to our ERP system to support creation of manufacturing bill-of-materials"