Sharing technical data around product development is complicated. Companies have struggled first with gathering the technical data from the engineering team, packaging the data for consumption by suppliers, and then communicating it clearly to the appropriate supplier.
Communicating technical product data has unique challenges such as managing versions, visualizing geometry through drawings and 3D models, and understanding bills of materials and hierarchical product structures of assemblies, sub-assemblies, and related parts. This miscommunication can cause slow supplier onboarding, missed delivery targets, and poor quality.
For over 20 years, Anark has been helping companies communicate product-related data and documentation into consumable and sharable formats. These solutions range from 3D PDF Technical Data Packages (TDPs) to cloud-based Technical Data Portals that host streaming, interactive visual content, and product information with embedded social collaboration tools. Under the leadership of Fred Waugh, the company has incorporated a strong customer focus and understanding of customer needs as it relates to cloud, which he believes to be the future of technical data collaboration with suppliers.
In a field of supply chain solution providers Anark is different. Rather than looking to replace incumbent ERP, PLM, and SCM solutions Anark integrates data from each and provides a mashup of data that is easily shared with and read by any supplier.
Product development information and product visualization is the weakest link in most supplier portals. It’s not only important to share documents with suppliers, but complex technical data as well, including Bill of Materials (BOM), visualization, and Product Manufacturing Information (PMI). Anark helps companies gather, publish, and securely share that information, and provide contextual collaboration tools to markup and collaborate on all data types. This extends the digital thread of product development information into the supply chain, connecting everyone to the information they need to improve their performance and the experts that can answer their questions should they arise. If suppliers are provided with details around product design it is often passed on as static two-dimensional drawings that may not be the latest version, are difficult to interpret, or contain incomplete information. Drawings need to be cross-referenced with ERP metadata and supplier-specific instructions often sent through non traceable communications such as email or phone conversations. This leads to manufacturing errors, delays, scrap, and rework.
Anark’s solutions provide a unique, comprehensive supplier package delivered through an interactive Technical Data Portal where internal and external teams can gather, publish, and securely share technical content across the supply chain. This modern data portal platform features lightweight streaming visualization, file storage, and secure contextual social collaboration in a hosted, traceable environment.
Gather, Publish, Securely Share, Collaborate
The company’s oldest technology is CAD and PLM data translation, which uses user-defined recipes to publish all relevant technical data into pre-defined templates for specific use cases. They have combined this with their cloud-hosted technical content collaboration platform to improve the way companies gather, publish, securely share, and collaborate on a wide array of product information. The resulting published content can be delivered via file-less web content or 3D PDF, depending on the use case need.
Anark’s secure portal for supplier collaboration and visualization provides collaboration in the context of rich product design data for the supply chain. This collaboration can be used to establish feedback for RFPs/RFQs, clarify questions around geometry and product manufacturing information, or discuss issues related to quality or process improvement in a centralized, traceable platform.
Anark is the industry gold standard for creating Technical Data Packages (TDPs) as well as preparing data for long-term data archival and retrieval.
The concept of a supplier TDP is not new, but Anark’s next-generation Technical Data Portal brings supplier collaboration to a new level. Traditionally, supplier collaboration has been achieved by transferring files. These files can be outdated, extremely large, require specialized software to open, and are not hosted in any context. Additionally, technical data packages rely on gathering data from various databases such as PLM, ERP, MES, or SCM systems. There is no single place for a supplier or internal teams to view it without significant manual, error-prone searching, and file sharing.
Anark’s Technical Data Portal is designed to automate and standardize the gathering and sharing of technical information from a variety of different sources. The automation of this data collection ensures that suppliers receive complete data that is consistent from one project to the next and eliminates the effort of manually collecting the information. The data portal features lightweight, web-based, interactive visualization that takes the guesswork out of interpreting product data and facilitates sharing of files with the guaranteed latest released data.
Collecting and hosting this information in a centralized web-based platform also enables secure, contextual collaboration. These hosted conversations replace the jumble of emails that are typically dissociated from the product information and are not traceable.
Working with Clients for Better Tomorrow
GE gas power was looking for a consistent, repeatable way to share technical product data across their supply chain. They had tried sharing computer aided design data straight out of their computer-aided design system, but the results were disappointing. Most of their suppliers didn’t have the capability to interpret the data without the necessary software or skill. They implemented a 3D PDF-based solution from Anark that solved many of these problems for a time.
GE gas power builds gas turbines, and the assemblies are complex. This led to large file sizes that were time consuming and difficult to open and interact with. Additionally, communication around these supplier interactions was disconnected and difficult to trace. This approach became unwieldy, and another solution was adopted. Anark became the portal for their supply base that hosted streaming visualizations that load quickly and easily on any computer or mobile device always showing the latest design data.
While straightforward and rapid visualization solved many of the problems, they were having with cumbersome file transmittal, the key to next level performance was provided by the platform’s social collaboration capabilities. Questions and supplier interactions that used to be managed in disconnected emails and meetings are archived around the product data inside of the platform.
While Anark has historically serviced primarily large companies and government entities, their cloud-based solution is advancing supplier collaboration in mid-market discrete manufacturers. Anark has built on its experience with industry leaders like GE and Boeing to develop its cloud-native solution. All the benefits with none of the IT overhead. Because it’s web-based it can easily link to a company’s existing IT eccosystem to add immediate value.