Engineering Change Management in D365 – Why You Need it for PLM-ERP Integration?

This blog originally appeared here on To-Increase’s blog page. 

Integrating your PLM and ERP systems is a guaranteed recipe to enhance the productivity and efficiency of your manufacturing operations. At To-Increase, we help manufacturing companies gain this very benefit with a PLM-ERP integration solution that utilizes the Engineering Change Management module within Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations ERP.

This article will share the significance of Engineering Change Management, why we leverage it, and the role it plays in managing product versions during PLM-ERP integration.

What is our PLM-ERP integration solution?

PLM-ERP integration for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations (Finance and Supply Chain Management) is an intuitive, configurable integration solution that connects third-party PLM, PDM, and CAD systems with the Dynamics 365 F&O ERP system.

Using our solution, you can ensure a seamless data flow between your engineering and manufacturing systems and enable quicker time-to-market. With all your engineering and manufacturing information stored in one location, you always have the correct data at the right time to complete production efficiently.

Our solution works in combination with Engineering Change Management, a module within Dynamics 365 F&O. It leverages the specific capabilities of ECM to handle product data better; therefore, ECM is a prerequisite for the integration solution.

What is Engineering Change Management?

Engineering Change Management (ECM) makes products engineering-controlled; for example, managing product changes, product statuses, and tracking versions. With ECM, products in D365 can have specific versions with more engineering-related information, such as drawings, product status, route information, attributes, BOM structures based on the product versions, etc. Of course, you can still make use of regular non-engineering-controlled products as well.

Why do we specifically leverage Engineering Change Management?

As mentioned earlier, Engineering Change Management is a module within Dynamics 365 F&O that controls and manages product versions and releases. This makes it a convenient and standard solution to manage product versioning, as all you need to do is enable the module within D365. The version and release control with centralized data ownership make managing upgrades or changes in product data much more effortless.

ECM continues to be a proven solution for more than eight years now. We have seen the success many manufacturing companies experience after implementing ECM. It is a solution rich with features, built to be more adaptable around the engineers, allowing for greater usability.

Additionally, we are experts on the ECM component of D365 F&O, as ECM (previously Product Engineering) is a solution designed and developed by us at To-Increase. This has strengthened our long-standing relationship with Microsoft as a trusted ISV.

We can help you with the ECM implementation, or you can execute it with your implementation partner.

What are the key offerings of Engineering Change Management?

ECM offers a wide range of features, some of which are:

Centralized data management

It has centralized information with role-tailored access, version management capabilities, and a well-managed product release process. This ensures that people across different departments, divisions, and locations can work with relevant, accurate, and updated information.

Track product lifecycle

With the change management capabilities in ECM, you can use a workflow-driven change management control that outlines the proposed change, lists the product or part(s) that would be affected, and includes review and approval requests. Along with integrating parts data, you can synchronize the entire engineering change process by incorporating engineering change orders (ECOs) into the logistics environment. You can see all open transactions (production orders, sales orders, etc.) for that product version and can act accordingly. For instance, blocking the order until the new release is ready.

In a PLM Integration scenario, a business will typically create the ECO/ECN (engineering change notice) in the PLM System. In a multi-company scenario, you can maintain data ownership to manage the base products in the master company and allow local companies to execute local change orders.

Product status information

You can gain insight into the product status, based on which you can make critical business decisions. You can control the product status per company and allow or block product transactions, like sales order entry, purchase order entry, inventory, transport, etc. The product version and status across the supply chain provide greater control over operations.

Product version management

ECM offers complete product version management, including the option of version control in Supply Chain Management. The latter is not mandatory, but it allows the tracking of different versions of each product and its sub-parts. You could also carry out local change orders in Dynamics 365, such as adding packaging materials to the existing BOMs. When there are new releases, the local changes will also be transferred to the latest version. This ensures the product data always stays up to date, based on the current version of the product.

As a business, you have increased insight into version updates that take place during the numerous lifecycle stages of the product and gain better control of costs and schedules.

Product readiness control

ECM enriches the entire product data structure with relevant product readiness policies. You can use the readiness policy to set up readiness checks to populate data fields, check the price, verify the size specifications of the product, and so on. You can also use the readiness control policy to send an assignment to specific teams or persons to populate certain data.

The ECM checklists ensure all the relevant data is set up appropriately upon receiving a new or changed product in the organization. There can be different checklists per company if you operate with multiple companies.

Attributes search capabilities

Track an unlimited number of attributes for your products to find existing products that meet your criteria before creating a new one. The attributes can be added with a simple configuration to the PLM integration.

You can access the vital data of each product in your manufacturing system with these attributes and get information about the product specifications, such as weight, height, dimensions, and so on. Typically, our customers share 5-10 attributes per product with the PLM-ERP integration.

Release management

ECM efficiently manages product releases by deciding the amount of product data you want to release to companies.

There are prepopulated templates that will populate most product-related fields based on the engineering product category (or product type) during product creation and release. The flexible release policies allow you to carry out single, multiple, part, or full releases by setup. By specifying the release details, you can select the active product version and release the product structure you want.

Document control

You can view the latest version or revisions of documents related to your products, as all your products are engineering-controlled. Some examples of documents associated with the products are drawings, manuals, pictures, etc.

The ‘document control’ of ECM streamlines communication by providing complete visibility to all the teams into the product status and changes.

PLM-ERP integration with ECM for Dynamics 365 – a match made in heaven

Since our PLM-ERP integration solution is embedded in Dynamics 365 F&O, it leverages all the standard capabilities and extends the offerings of ECM to manage product versions and changes. The solution combination guarantees data quality through advanced mapping and an established data validation process.

To know more about how our PLM-ERP integration in combination with ECM, transports product data from PLM to D365, click here.

Here is a video demonstrating how our PLM-ERP integration for Dynamics 365, combined with ECM, manages data ownership, automatically imports data from PLM to Dynamics 365 ERP, and posts the data.

Want to get started with PLM-ERP integration for your business?

If an intuitive PLM-ERP integration solution with low coding effort and a quick implementation process is what you’re looking for, our solution might be the right choice. We provide out-of-the-box PLM integrations for Siemens Teamcenter and PTC Windchill. Additionally, we offer a PLM integration framework that can be easily configured for other PLM, PDM, or CAD systems.

You can learn more about our solution in this factsheet, which offers you insights into:

  • What the integration solution can do for your business
  • Benefits of PLM-ERP integration
  • Features of the PLM-ERP integration solution

Watch these recorded webinars with Encore and To-Increase discussing PLM systems with ERP:

If you have any questions about PLM-ERP integrations, please connect with us.

Read Case Study of a Manufacturer's Dynamics 365 Implementation with Encore

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