Moving Beyond On-Premises PLM and Spreadsheets to Speed Innovation

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About the Company

Seas of Solutions designs, develops, and manufactures state-of-the-art maritime safety electronics, including Voyage Data Recorders (VDRs), Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs), and AIS Search and Rescue Transmitters (AIS SARTs).

The Seas of Solutions Netwave, McMurdo, and Kannad Marine product brands are globally recognized to have revolutionized marine safety. With the introduction of the first VDR in 2005, the company has continued to drive the adoption of lifesaving technology by launching the first AIS Man Overboard (MOB) device in 2012, AIS EPIRB in 2017, and Galileo Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) in 2018. More recent innovations include FastFind PLB, the world’s first distress beacon to include Return Link Service.

AT A GLANCE

Mission

Deliver solutions that support robust data capture and the highest levels of survivability in remote areas

Best Thing About Arena

Provides a single source of truth to efficiently manage BOMs and engineering changes for all product lines

Bottom-Line Impact

Maintains the complete history of product changes to help Seas of Solutions readily meet regulatory requirements

Key Benefits

  • Eliminates costly IT infrastructure and maintenance of legacy on-premises solution
  • Ensures seamless implementation with support from experienced team of solution consultants and success coaches
  • Simplifies compliance with various quality and safety regulations including ISO, EU MED, EU RED, U.S. FCC, and U.S. Coast Guard
  • Significantly reduces ECO cycle times
  • Enables real-time collaboration between cross-functional product teams and external supply chain partners
  • Protects sensitive IP with multilayered security infrastructure and access controls

BUSINESS CHALLENGES

Developing cutting-edge maritime safety solutions demands precision and attention to detail, not to mention adherence to strict regulations. Seas of Solutions must obtain product type approvals and product certifications for EU Marine Equipment Directive (MED) or EU Radio Equipment Directive (RED) and adhere to U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and U.S. Coast Guard protocols. To demonstrate compliance, Seas of Solutions documents and maintains all product changes throughout the entire lifecycle.

Early on, the company used an on-premises product lifecycle management (PLM) system to manage information related to their Beacons product line. It was built on an antiquated document-based platform. Furthermore, it was inflexible and difficult to use.

“Our legacy PLM solution made remote work challenging. Because it was hosted in our U.K. office, employees had to connect to a VPN whenever they were outside company walls. They often experienced connectivity and operational issues that required IT support,” stated John Anderson, Chief Technical Officer at Seas of Solutions.

Additionally, the company relied on Excel spreadsheets and SharePoint to manage engineering change orders (ECOs). Spreadsheets were also used to maintain the bills of materials (BOMs) for their Voyage Data Recorders. “It was challenging to have complete control of our product information and keep up with engineering changes with these manual processes and disparate systems,” added Anderson.

The company realized they needed a modern and turnkey cloud-based solution that could efficiently manage the entire product portfolio, accommodate their distributed workforce, and streamline engineering change management. Hence, John Anderson and his team set out to find an enterprise system that would best fit their needs.

THE SOLUTION

After evaluating different PLM solutions, the company chose Arena PLM based on positive feedback from a previous colleague who was heavily invested in the system. Over the course of eight weeks, Arena solution architects worked closely with Seas of Solutions to migrate all the product information from their legacy Infor PLM system and ensure a successful implementation.

Arena’s cloud-native platform allows Seas of Solutions to reap the full benefits of the system without having to invest in costly equipment, VPNs, or IT resources. Information for all product lines (designs, BOMs, drawings, specifications, etc.) is centralized in a single source of truth, enabling distributed teams and partners to collaborate in real time on pending projects.

Using Arena’s robust engineering change management system, Seas of Solutions can establish approval roles and routings for different types of changes. The organization can also configure Arena to send automatic engineering change order (ECO) notifications to key stakeholders and expedite the review and approval process. Since ECOs link directly to affected BOMs, parts, and items, everyone always has access to the latest product revisions. Arena also records and maintains a complete history of product changes to help Seas of Solutions meet regulatory requirements.

Blue quote mark

Since transitioning to Arena, we don’t need IT to maintain the system. It is easy to manage and configure according to our business requirements. We’re able to streamline our engineering change processes, and we no longer need biweekly meetings to manage approvals.”

—John Anderson, Chief Technical Officer, Seas of Solutions

KEY BENEFITS

Seas of Solutions leverages BOM management, engineering change management, 3D visualization, and other core capabilities within Arena to handle all aspects of their products including hardware, software, service, and accessories:

  • New parts are categorized by type and assigned unique item numbers using Arena’s intelligent part numbering system. This makes it easier to track components across the different product lines.
  • During the early design phase, changes that don’t impact the product BOM are routed solely to the R&D team for review and approval. Hence, they can quickly capture and document changes as part of their compliance evidence without having to involve other departments.
  • Hardware engineers use the Arena 3D CAD Viewer to disseminate CAD models to downstream product teams and suppliers for feedback. These non-technical users can review a “real-life” 3D representation of the product assembly and actual photos of parts to verify accuracy prior to production.
  • Printed circuit board (PCB) engineers leverage Arena’s integration with Silicon Expert to check for obsolete parts before releasing the bill of materials (BOM) to electronics manufacturing service (EMS) providers.

Moving forward, the company plans to leverage Arena’s cloud-native connection with the Onshape CAD solution to share new design concepts with end users and speed the prototyping and development process. Additionally, they will use Arena’s supplier collaboration to enable access for their EMS providers and keep them in the loop on the latest product changes and BOMs.

Now that their product and compliance information is managed and controlled within Arena, Seas of Solutions is well positioned to further expand their product portfolio and strengthen their market leadership position.

KEY BENEFITS

Seas of Solutions leverages BOM management, engineering change management, 3D visualization, and other core capabilities within Arena to handle all aspects of their products including hardware, software, service, and accessories:

  • New parts are categorized by type and assigned unique item numbers using Arena’s intelligent part numbering system. This makes it easier to track components across the different product lines.
  • During the early design phase, changes that don’t impact the product BOM are routed solely to the R&D team for review and approval. Hence, they can quickly capture and document changes as part of their compliance evidence without having to involve other departments.
  • Hardware engineers use the Arena 3D CAD Viewer to disseminate CAD models to downstream product teams and suppliers for feedback. These non-technical users can review a “real-life” 3D representation of the product assembly and actual photos of parts to verify accuracy prior to production.
  • Printed circuit board (PCB) engineers leverage Arena’s integration with Silicon Expert to check for obsolete parts before releasing the bill of materials (BOM) to electronics manufacturing service (EMS) providers.

Moving forward, the company plans to leverage Arena’s cloud-native connection with the Onshape CAD solution to share new design concepts with end users and speed the prototyping and development process. Additionally, they will use Arena’s supplier collaboration to enable access for their EMS providers and keep them in the loop on the latest product changes and BOMs.

Now that their product and compliance information is managed and controlled within Arena, Seas of Solutions is well positioned to further expand their product portfolio and strengthen their market leadership position.

Blue quote mark

Arena PLM is one of the best enterprise cloud solutions on the market. Our organization has fully embraced the system due to its reliability, ease of use, and collaborative workflow. We appreciate how everyone at PTC is supportive and committed to our continued success.”

—John Anderson, Chief Technical Officer, Seas of Solutions