Doug Bartholomew, Samuel Greengard, Glenn Hasek, John Jesitus, Scott Leibs, Kristin Ohlson, Robert Patton, Barb Schmitz, Tim Stevens, and John Teresko contributed to this article. With companies becoming more globally dispersed, effective communication and data management become crucial parts of doing business. Harnessing informational assets and making sure that everyone involved in a product's design -- whether they be component suppliers, toolmakers, marketing personnel, or design-team members -- is "on the same page" with a project is becoming increasingly important. However, making all this information readily accessible is an arduous task, because it requires the integration of many disparate, underlying technologies. With this problem in mind, Computervision developed EPD.Connect software, a Web-based package that connects team members with one another and to the information and applications relevant to their work. What makes this software unique is its ability to display product-structure information, process information, and the user's application (a CAD system, for example) simultaneously and on the same screen, via a highly visual user interface. EPD.Connect enables the user to point and click on a component in the product-structure tree and get detailed information -- either text or graphics -- about that component. The software dynamically links a product to its structure and associates it with the processes and applications used to create or modify it. The software's graphical user interface enables users to see graphical representations of their products, understand the relationships to the product structure, view all of the processes in which it is involved, and share this information with others. Users can also access and use legacy data and be linked to company or supplier information via the Internet, intranets, or FTP sites. "Many groups want to utilize single-point and consistent user interfaces to provide more effective access to product-related information and processes throughout their organization," says Ed Miller, president of CIMdata Inc. and one of the industry's leading experts on PDM technology. "Computervision's EDP.Connect is a good example of the new generation of solutions being offered to address this need, and demonstrates CV's commitment to broadening the value of its tools within its customers' implementations." To increase accessibility of data, EPD.Connect views can be customized for each user. For a design engineer, a click on a product-structure component might yield the CAD solid model that was used for the original design; for a product manager, a click on the same component would produce a summary of "actual vs planned" details for the component's weight, cost, and other attributes. Another key benefit of the software is its tight integration with CAD applications within a highly visual environment, so users not familiar with CAD can still obtain and understand the information needed to do their jobs. For example, a product manager could click on an assembly and call up a fully three-dimensional, rotating image, regardless of the CAD system on which it was created. That image could be viewed and manipulated by that manager even if he or she does not have the CAD system with which it was created residing on his or her workstation. "EPD.Connect works on many levels -- it tracks and organizes the product-structure information, it automates various processes, and it integrates different CAD systems," says Computervision President and CEO Kathleen A. Cote. "EPD.Connect adds the magic of making all of the EPD machinery transparent, giving the user a visual, intuitive, and custom-tailored work environment. The result is enhanced productivity at every layer of the organization, from design engineer to project director, from financial analyst to executive management."
Computervision Corp.Bedford, Mass.