PTC’s vision for branching beyond its product development roots to a concept it’s been calling Service Lifecycle Management (SLM) got a recent boost with Eurocopter, one of its major customers, announcing plans to leverage PTC technology to make its service operations a more significant contributor to corporate profits.
Eurocopter is a subsidiary of EADS, which is already heavily invested in PTC’s traditional products–most notably, the Windchill Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solution serving as the backbone of EADS’ PHENIX (PLM Harmonization Enhanced Integration and Excellence) Master Product Definition platform. PHENIX is an effort to standardize enterprise PLM methods, processes, tools and data models between the different EADS business units with the end goal to make product information more readily accessible on a global basis and to foster deeper integration and greater transparency across previously siloed mechanical, electrical, and software engineering functions.
In this latest development in the pair’s on-going relationship, Eurocopter and PTC are collaborating on a new Spares Configuration Data Management (SCDM) system designed to facilitate more efficient management of spare parts across Eurocopter’s global service network in much the same manner. The system, based on technology from Servigistics, which PTC acquired last October, will help the helicopter manufacturer orchestrate spare parts data management at a platform level, in turn, enabling it to service customers more quickly and efficiently.
“The whole customer service goal is to turn the equipment around as quickly as possible and make sure there are spare parts on hand for doing whatever work needs to be done,” notes Kevin Wrenn, general manager for PTC’s SLM business.
Eurocopter, like a growing number of discrete manufacturers, is recognizing that service is an overlooked and often under-utilized resource, particularly in the current economic climate where product innovation and operational efficiencies are not proving to be sufficient for establishing a long-term competitive advantage. By overhauling service processes and creating systems that cross-pollinate information between the various service functions and between service and engineering, companies like Eurocopter are embarking on a transformation of the service group from a cost center to becoming a strong generator of revenues and profits.
Parent company EADS has been very aggressive around its vision for service, outlining a plan to boost service revenue to 25% of total sales by 2020. Eurocopter officials also say successful execution of a customer service strategy is critical to achieving overall growth and profitability goals. “To contribute to this objective, Eurocopter will use SCDM to improve its spare parts data management processes by 50%, focusing on high-value services initially related to platforms,” said Pascal Gaudry, vice president, Material and Logistics Service Center, Eurocopter, in a press release announcing the PTC partnership.
Better managing its spare parts is just the first step in Eurocopter’s strategy to transform service through SLM technology. Working with PTC, the company will pursue programs around Integrated Logistics Support (ILS), which allows for concurrent design of product and services, Wrenn says. “This is all about planning for service around the product—planning parts inventory, scheduling maintenance, putting [helicopters] in depots,” he explains. From there, Eurocopter will push forward to In Service Support (ISS), which delivers accurate customer support information to field technicians at the point of service and also closes the loop, capturing data from operations and feeding it back to engineering, which can leverage it for future product enhancements.
“This is fully aligned with the PTC SLM strategic value proposition—to be able to support the helicopter when it’s in service rather than having to tie it up somewhere” and take it out of commission, Wrenn says.
PTC has been refining its SLM strategy for the last few years, bulking up its family of offerings in this area via a spate of acquisitions. While its 2005 purchase of technical publishing company Arbortext delivered the first set of goods around SLM, it’s been the more recent acquisitions of companies like 4CS, for warranty management software, and the blockbuster deal—the $220 million of Servigistics—where PTC has really started to flex its muscle. Servigistics has amassed one of the broadest portfolios around SLM, including modules for service parts planning, management and pricing, field service management, returns and repair management, and service knowledge management.
Unlike earlier PTC efforts to address service as part of the broader PLM platform, the company’s efforts around SLM don’t necessarily appear to be aimed specifically at its PLM audience, although there are obvious synergies between the technologies. Rather, it seems PTC sees SLM as being fertile ground for future growth for those companies like Eurocopter, which see product-centric service as a springboard for the next round of competitive edge.
Watch the video below to see PTC officials discuss their vision for SLM.