PLM's Golf Connection

PING's product-lifecycle-management implementation started with a strategy emphasizing enterprise competitiveness via serving the customer better.

Mention PING and instead of PLM, people on the putting green will make a golf connection. The best informed will recount the story of how, in 1959, a GE mechanical engineer by the name of Karsten Solheim, fed up with his putting game, set out to create a better golf club. After spending countless hours tinkering in his Redwood City, Calif., garage, Solheim invented the world's first heel-to-toe balanced, perimeter-weighted putter. Solheim's stroke of genius and his passion for making things better laid the groundwork for a company he called PING, a name derived from the sound of a putter hitting a ball. If your informant is also up to date on product development, you'll discover how PLM is the latest step being implemented to maintain the company's reputation for delivering innovative, high-performance, customized golf clubs and accessories. PING's PLM solution is Windchill from PTC, Needham, Mass. If you thought that PLM was only for large automotive and aerospace companies, consider the results thus far -- and the system is still being implemented at the 1,300-employee firm:

  • Reduced the time to design an entire family of wedges by 84%.
  • Reduced time from design to prototype by 80%
  • Reduced putter design time by 66%.
  • Reduced iron design time by 75%.
  • Reduced driver design by 66%.
PING's PLM implementation started with a strategy emphasizing enterprise competitiveness via serving the customer better, says Phoenix, Ariz.-based John Solheim, vice president engineering (and grandson of the founder). That's obviously working. About 80% of the current product line was introduced in the last two years! The overall objectives: increase product performance, reduced cycle times and faster time-to-market, says Dan Shoenhair, director of engineering. PLM Tips from PING -- Lessons Learned Here's how to improve your PLM game as told by PING's Dan Shoenhair and John K. Solheim: Minimize Bureaucracy, Maximize Knowledge -- Avoid the pitfall of making the product development process and the PLM initiative a means to an end. It is the knowledge gained during the product development process that allows a company to better provide meaningful product value to its customers. Create Structure and Flexibility -- Sounds like an oxymoron, but it isn't. Information capture requires structure in order to be easily accessible, but a product development process must remain flexible to maximize ones ability to react to new input during the process. Keep the Big Picture in Focus -- Concentrate on key product development milestones, not a minutia of details. Track only those product development activities that comprise the "backbone" of the process, tracking all the details is false advertising (to do so gives management a false sense of control). A Case for Change -- Management must convey a compelling justification for change. To achieve the intended outcome, the organization must understand why a change in the product development paradigm is critical. People Are Central -- Trust your people. Educate and train your people. Expose them to new ideas. Employee feedback and input must be central to the PLM initiative. Monitor Your Company's Change Threshold -- Properly gage speed with which the organization can successfully accept change. This is the primary reason for management in a PLM initiative. The Wheel Already Exists -- Use existing PLM software technology. PLM solutions already exist that are scalable, flexible, powerful and offered at various price points. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Make Your Digital Data Happy -- Make sure all your digital data can be handled in the same system. PLM system users need to access MCAD (and ECAD where applicable), drawings, specifications, etc. Having all this data integrated into one system is critical.
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