MasterGraphics Inc.: Catapulting the PLM Shift

Michael Wilkes, Owner & President, Mark Lackovic, COO The unpretentious entrance of Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) in 1970 from the warehouse of the popular automotive firm, American Motors Corporation (AMC) was a quantum leap in the way organization units managed their business processes. PLM has since then proliferated into a lucrative avenue, especially for manufacturing and aerospace giants, who explored the depth of product lifecycles within their organizations. Nevertheless, the small-and-mid-sized counterparts have always kept their distance and thought twice before incorporating a fully functional instance of PLM, due to the heavy IT spend, large costs of ownership, and prolonged implementation timelines.

This is when MasterGraphics—a company with decades of experience in aiding organizations with design data implementation and process optimization—rose to mitigate the various complications around PLM adoption through its continuous Autodesk process consulting service. “Today, MasterGraphics has evolved and is helping SMBs by propelling the move toward a game-changing PLM experience,” asserts Mark Lackovic, COO, MasterGraphics, Inc. The company has established a dedicated wing—DataWorks MGI—for offering PLM services to corporates.

A value-added reseller of Autodesk Fusion Lifecycle (previously known as Autodesk PLM 360) software, DataWorks MGI provides advisory recommendations for PLM adopters— especially SMBs—with process improvement, waste elimination, and redundancy reduction through cost-effective strategies. “PLM has become more flexible and practical today, making it possible to start with a single workflow implementation of Autodesk Fusion Lifecycle enveloping a small number of users,” explains Lackovic. Once the dry-run PLM environment proves its value for the organization, improvements can be implemented along the way. Based on the acceptance and success of the system, the solution roadmap is expanded based on prioritized needs. This practical approach allows customers to appreciate the true potential of the PLM tool before the actual implementation.

“The prevailing trend among most SMBs is that they don’t necessarily focus on their business process and its improvement. They manage the multiple business systems coupled with a battery of processes through archaic ways of communication—manual data re-entry, paper trails, and emails. These companies have a perception that PLM is a costly venture and involves a complex implementation procedure,” says Lackovic. At DataWorks MGI, there is a steadfast campaign, where the first and foremost task is to educate customers. “As a prelude, we provide them with value-based sessions, where we recommend them to start small and focus on their specific challenges; this makes DataWorks MGI an affordable option for Autodesk Fusion Lifecycle adopters— especially SMBs,” affirms Lackovic.

The technology has been purpose-built to meet the modern expectations of a PLM solution—affordability by providing it as a Solution as a Service (SolaaS)

On the next level of engagement, DataWorks MGI starts with a business process assessment to understand and learn the current workflows of the customer’s organization, assigns priorities, and also makes suggestions as to which process improvement strategy would help them in the long haul.

DataWorks MGI in Action

Lackovic observes a four-pronged significance of DataWorks MGI, which is a transformational high point for Autodesk Fusion Lifecycle deployment. Firstly, the cloud revolution, which has been a remarkable paradigm shift for enterprises, has diminished the cost, resource needs, risks, and the size of IT footprint. “DataWorks MGI’s decision to invest in Autodesk Fusion Lifecycle is corroborative to the fact that this technology has been purpose-built to meet the modern expectations of a PLM solution—affordability by providing it as a Solution as a Service (SolaaS),” evinces Lackovic. Secondly, the flexibility of the SolaaS model to scale as and when required, ensures a much faster Return on Investment (ROI), as it reduces the time and effort to implement the Autodesk Fusion Lifecycle solution.

Accessibility is the third and one of the most primary focal points for a PLM implementation and Product Data Management, which has the potential to change ‘how’ a business operates. “Instead of each department addressing its own needs, the focus becomes the products themselves,” adds Lackovic. Through Autodesk Fusion Lifecycle, DataWorks MGI lowers the departmental walls and each employee, despite his work stream—be it design, management, or customer support—can spend more time on product-focused activities such as innovating, developing, validating, and selling.

Finally, business system integration is considered as DataWorks MGI’s blue-chipper for their clients, who have dedicated point solutions like Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Product Data Management (PDM), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and Material Requirements Planning (MRP). Dubbing these as ‘systems of record,’ Lackovic emphasizes that although these legacy systems contain massive amounts of data, they are not always great at sharing and leveraging the data in an automated manner. “What companies really need is a ‘system of engagement.’ A single point of truth that can tie multiple data sources together,” points Lackovic. “This is precisely what we do at DataWorks MGI—delivering the value of PLM through connected data and standardized process.”
Imparting PLM Skills

On the subject of DataWorks MGI’s focus on proffering PLM value to SMBs, Lackovic recounts the experience of working with a small-scale consumer products company that had about 100 employees. The client had a new product innovation round the corner and wanted to streamline their new product introduction processes, without having to invest heavily in traditional on-premise infrastructure support. They sought DataWorks MGI to help them with the cloud-based Autodesk Fusion Lifecycle New Product Introduction (NPI) utility tool. “We started with just the product development group—a five-member team facilitated them with the tool integration,” implies Lackovic. “Though the client had started small, the project turned into a major success and we continued to expand and deliver upon the roadmap we outlined—one piece at a time— and provide value all along the way.”

"We deliver the value of PLM through connected data and standardized processes"

Apart from SMBs, DataWorks MGI serves some of the larger enterprises. Lackovic illustrates another example,where his firm assisted a rapidly growing conglomerate.With more than 13 companies through mergers and acquisitions and a huge workforce of over 2,000 employees, the client was dealing with more than five highly functioning ERP systems and multiple CAD platforms. “It did not make sense for us to disrupt the processes and workflows that were working within the smaller entities. So we installed Autodesk PLM that would only aggregate data and be flexible enough to adapt to the processes that were already in place,” extols Lackovic.

A Promising Horizon

Amalgamating large amount of data, the PLM space looks like it is ready forthe Internet of Things (IoT) wave that ushers a whole slew of refinements to managing product lifecycles. When coupled with data analytics and monitoring systems, the IoT-driven systems can relay live status information regarding product performance for future improvements and failure-alerts.

The stark reality is that there are many different technologies, pumping vast proportions of data in numerous formats, being used to solve today’s product lifecycle needs.In the years ahead, companies will be dealing with a completely new standard of challenges—IoT and other bigdata sources will only perpetuate the problem further.“There is only one logical course of direction for this, and with the burgeoning of technology, there might come a day, when plug-and-play integration methodologies may not be a pipe-dream anymore,” postulates Lackovic.

With innovators like Autodesk constantly enriching the PLM space in volume and quality, PLM enablers like DataWorks MGI will always be pushing the envelope through proficient engineering practices and in-depth industry knowledge to deliver on the promise of a flourished PLM domain.

DataWorks MGI, a Division of MasterGraphics, Inc

Madison, WI

Michael Wilkes, Owner & President, Mark Lackovic, COO

Provides consultation and implementation support for Autodesk PLM 360

DataWorks MGI, A Division Of MasterGraphics, Inc