In order to be successful today, companies use best-in-class systems to digitalize their processes. While the ERP system is used to manage finances, logistics and sales, the engineering data is kept and processed in PDM/PLM systems. As IoT plays an increasingly important role, a third system is needed that receives the data from products that are already being used by customers. It may be used to improve services or to study product behavior in the real world.
This data needs to be aggregated, analyzed and displayed in relation to the virtual data in the PDM and ERP systems. Thus, the connectivity between the PDM system, the ERP system and the IoT system is essential for this requirement.
With Windchill PDMLink, PTC offers a powerful PDM system. The ThingWorx platform is well integrated with Windchill and fulfills the requirements for IoT. In order to keep the Windchill data and the ERP data continually synchronized, you need an interface.
But not all interfaces are created equal. The most simple interfaces are file-based. The transfer is usually unidirectional and the costs are comparatively low. However, they transfer data asynchronously and have to be monitored continuously.
Interfaces that use a co-called middleware are superior to file-based interfaces. The data is transferred directly to a middleware and the middleware transfers the data to the ERP system. Some of the disadvantages of file-based interfaces do not exist with a middleware. For instance, the data can be transferred by function calls. The middleware usually also allows to monitor the process. However, the data is still transferred asynchronously and with a delay. In case of errors, the jobs need to be re-started. There is no direct feedback from the ERP system. Also, the current state of the objects that need to be changed in the ERP system cannot be taken into account beforehand.
This is why Innoface chooses whenever it is necessary to link the two systems directly. For example, functions of the ERP system are called directly in Windchill. Thus, the result can directly be shown to the user. When new article masters are created in the ERP system, the article number can be registered directly in the Windchill part – or the Windchill part can directly be renamed after the article number. As the Windchill queues are used for calling the interface functions, using a middleware becomes obsolete. No further software needs to be installed. This principle has proven itself in our interfaces. We already offer interfaces between Windchill and the ERP systems SAP, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, AX (D365) and Sage X3. In the future, the Innoface technology will also be used in apps in the ThingWorx environment.