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"With ProductCenter we gain visibility and control over our product information and schedules throughout our organization. Having insight into our processes allows us to identify issues early on in the product development phase, providing a great benefit to our business."
- Emily Colomes, Director of Engineering, Zodiac Pool Systems, Inc.
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Zodiac Pool Systems Dives in with ProductCenter PLM

ProductCenter PLM Streamlines Management of Engineering Data and Facilitates Collaboration Among Global Operations

The Company

Zodiac Pool Systems, Inc. is a global leader in swimming pool and spa products and services. The company's comprehensive product lines are marketed under the brand names of Jandy® Pro Series by Zodiac®, Nature2®, Polaris®, Zodiac® and Cover-Pools®. Headquartered in Vista, California, Zodiac is committed to designing and producing the most energy efficient, earth-friendly pool and spa products and systems available.

The Situation - Swimming in Files

With many consumer products comes a vast pool of product information. Zodiac was faced with a problem common to many manufacturers; it had outgrown its product data management process that consisted of managing their SolidWorks® CAD files on network folders. Zodiac quickly learned the limitations and drawbacks of controlling and organizing its product information in this manner, such as locating the right files quickly, the releasing of drawings, globally collaborating on designs and the lack of data security.

Zodiac realized it needed to improve its business processes by implementing a system that provided an efficient and controlled method for retrieving product information as well as version and revision control capabilities to manage and track changes through a product's entire lifecycle. A secure repository for documents such as drawings, parts and assemblies that could be accessed to facilitate global product development, 24 x 7 was essential.

The Solution

Zodiac compiled a list of required features for a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solution:
  • Ability to accurately control, retrieve and share SolidWorks design data
  • Fast, reliable connections among global operations
  • Management and tracking of engineering change processes
  • Configuration management capabilities with the ability to automatically populate the bill of materials (BOM) from multiple sources
SofTech's ProductCenter®solution was chosen for several reasons including its direct integration to SolidWorks, process automation through workflow and its support of a globally distributed engineering and manufacturing environment. In addition, ProductCenter's configuration management capabilities, its ability to manage the bill of information as the complete product definition and SofTech's Customer Support organization contributed to Zodiac's selection.

"ProductCenter significantly improved the management of our product information beginning with our SolidWorks design data. With accurate access to our product designs we have increased productivity and improved the reliability of our engineering data," states Emily Colomes, director of engineering at Zodiac Pool Systems, Inc.

Initially, ProductCenter was deployed as an engineering solution managing various types of Zodiac's product information including CAD files and documentation for products such as instructions, labels and packaging. ProductCenter Workflow was configured to automate Zodiac's engineering test data processes for its CAD models and laboratory management in terms of resources. After the initial deployment in engineering, the ProductCenter implementation expanded to other departments within Zodiac such as quality and marketing as well as the legal department, which stores patent information.

Supporting Global Operations

"Since the initial implementation, ProductCenter's expansion to our global operations in France, Australia and China allows us to work collaboratively in different time zones 24 x 7. There is a great deal of overlap between product lines in our industry that use common components. Through our collaborative efforts we are able to improve our product development timeline," states Emily Colomes. "ProductCenter has also allowed for communication with our suppliers located in other regions of the globe by providing access to PDF and native files of product designs through ProductCenter replication. We anticipate expanding access to suppliers of our other locations to improve efficiency."

The Future

Zodiac has achieved significant benefits from ProductCenter and plans to continually evolve the implementation to support its business initiatives. "ProductCenter has significantly streamlined our processes, aiding us in reducing product development time. With ProductCenter we gain visibility and control over our product information and schedules throughout our organization," adds Emily Colomes. "Having insight into our processes allows us to identify issues early on in the product development phase, providing a great benefit to our business."

The next steps for ProductCenter at Zodiac include:
  • Zodiac currently utilizes ProductCenter Workflow to automate its engineering test data processes. Future plans include simplifying and managing the engineering change order (ECO) process with ProductCenter.
  • Expanding and improving the management of graphics images of Zodiac's products to global marketing departments.
  • Integrating ProductCenter with Zodiac's Oracle ERP system. ProductCenter will push BOM data managed in ProductCenter to the Oracle ERP database implemented in California. In addition, Zodiac will consider integrating ProductCenter with its Movex ERP database implemented in Australia. Zodiac expects that both ERP integrations will have significant impact on time to production.

ProductCenter Benefits:

  • Global deployment facilitating 24 x 7 product development among Zodiac's operations located in the United States, France, Australia and China
  • Increased productivity and improved reliability of engineering data through accurate access to SolidWorks� product designs
  • Improved product development timeline through collaborative efforts.
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ProductCenter @ Zodiac