Revved-up innovation: PLM platform speeds development of aftermarket auto power boosters

For Edge Products, getting new designs to market quickly is a basic business requirement. Since its inception, this Salt Lake City-based company has been on the cutting edge when it comes to developing electronic modules that boost the performance of an average car or truck. The company is particularly known for its ability to boost the performance of diesel engines, and has further differentia...

03/01/2009


For Edge Products , getting new designs to market quickly is a basic business requirement. Since its inception, this Salt Lake City-based company has been on the cutting edge when it comes to developing electronic modules that boost the performance of an average car or truck.

The company is particularly known for its ability to boost the performance of diesel engines, and has further differentiated itself from the competition by creating dashboard-mounted modules that give the driver real-time readouts of the vehicle's performance parameters.

But just like the people who use its products, Edge's competitors move fast. Edge keeps its own engine running smoothly by adhering to a set of well-proven product development principles supported by a flexible product life-cycle management (PLM) software platform. Gerrit Kruitbosch, VP of engineering, says this disciplined approach to product development is essential given some of the challenges inherent to the company's business model.

"There is a unique aspect to our product engineering in that we get no cooperation from the vehicle manufacturers," Kruitbosch explains. "So much of our effort is actually in reverse engineering."

Picking apart another company's product to determine how it works is challenging enough, but it's even more difficult for Edge Products because it typically has to be done several times each year for multiple vehicles.

"Most people who are not in the industry don't realize the vehicle manufacturers continually modify their onboard computers," Kruitbosch says. "Even if you pick a single model year for a vehicle—like the 2008 Ford F-150—there can hundreds of variations of that model on the road. And every time the manufacturer makes a change to that model, we have to respond with more reverse engineering and more changes to our product."

The updates are handled through an engineering change order (ECO) process that Kruitbosch concedes was unruly before Edge adopted the Empower PLM platform from Omnify Software .

Processing ECOs requires detailed record keeping, a task that many companies assign to an entire document control process. Edge, which has a total of 100 employees, doesn't have that luxury, which is one reason Kruitbosch find the Omnify software platform invaluable.

Omnify gives Edge a central repository in which to store all of its product-related data, along with a workflow system that enforces rules for developing new products. One of those rules relates to the selection of components used in a product.

"One of the things I've tried to do since I got here [four years ago] is standardize the components we use in our product," Kruitbosch says. "We didn't have a parts database before, so an engineer designing a new circuit board had no way of knowing that we were using components that would work for him in a similar product."

In addition to adopting the Omnify system, with its parts database, Kruitbosch reorganized Edge's engineering department in a way that fosters more collaboration on product designs.

With the Omnify system, Edge engineers can enter a part number and run a "where used" query to determine if that part is performing a similar task in another product. That feature also is useful when contract manufacturers ask to use substitute parts in an Edge product. In addition, the ability to track products even after they are released allowed Edge to uncover the use of unauthorized substitute parts by contract manufacturers—all of which has improved Edge's product quality.

"Since we adopted the Omnify system, our return rates and return costs have gone down considerably," Kruitbosch says. "Some good old-fashion failure analysis has contributed to that, but Omnify certainly has helped."





No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Safer human-robot collaboration; 2017 Maintenance Survey; Digital Training; Converting your lighting system
IIoT grows up; Six ways to lower IIoT costs; Six mobile safety strategies; 2017 Salary Survey
2016 Top Plant; 2016 Best Practices on manufacturing progress, efficiency, safety
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
Future of oil and gas projects; Reservoir models; The importance of SCADA to oil and gas
Big Data and bigger solutions; Tablet technologies; SCADA developments
Automation modernization; Predictive analytics enable open connectivity; System integration success; Automation turns home brewer into brew house
Commissioning electrical systems; Designing emergency and standby generator systems; Paralleling switchgear generator systems
Natural gas for tomorrow's fleets; Colleges and universities moving to CHP; Power and steam and frozen foods

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Motion control advances and solutions can help with machine control, automated control on assembly lines, integration of robotics and automation, and machine safety.
Compressed air plays a vital role in most manufacturing plants, and availability of compressed air is crucial to a wide variety of operations.
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
click me