Companies such as Karsten Manufacturing Co., maker of Ping golf clubs, and Jostens Inc., known for its high school class rings, are increasingly using the software to get new, innovative products to market faster. Karsten has ramped up its use of PTC's product-life-cycle-management software. The company has cut the time it takes to get a new product to market from 24 months in 2000 to about 9 months today. Also, Karsten has increased new product introductions five-fold--in 2000 it rolled out two major product lines; in 2003, it rolled out 10.
The goal of product-life-cycle-management software is to streamline design and production by helping companies manage and automate materials sourcing, design, engineering-change orders, and product documentation such as test results, product packaging, and post-sales data. "PLM to us is really taking the design and attaching all the various information related to that product--the market plan, design criteria, product specs, testing data, and other types of info--and connecting it all in a fashion that allows you understandable, logical, and intuitive access," says Dan Shoenhair, director of engineering at Karsten.
Product-life-cycle-management software has its roots in computer-aided design software, which still accounts for more than half of the market. But CAD software has gotten increasingly easy to use and more sophisticated, giving companies like Jostens more flexibility in product design. The jewelry maker, which also makes graduation announcements and has a printing business that specializes in yearbooks, is migrating several different CAD systems to UGS' PLM software.
The move will help Jostens cut the time it takes to produce the molds for high school rings. The company generally signs 5,000 to 10,000 new agreements with schools each year, and each school has a specific mascot and other features that have to be designed into the rings. Once that part of the rings are designed, the students pick the other aspects of the ring they want, such as an etching of an activity they participate in. "UGS' software is a very general-purpose tool and we can apply it to a lot of different design functions," says Tim Saarela, director of manufacturing systems at Jostens. "Also, it's very customizable."