Software is both an essential and accessible tool for manufacturers, with many types to choose from. The most common include those for product development processes (PDP), product data management (PDM), enterprise resource planning (ERP) and product lifecycle management (PLM), along with software for computer-aided design (CAD), manufacturing (CAM) or engineering (CAE).

Like many aircraft component manufacturers, Irvine, CA-based Elite Aerospace Group (EAG) relies on several types of software to help its staff design and produce the best metal parts and aviation interiors possible. For interiors, the company’s logistics and integration group provides large-scale assembly capabilities similar to a tier one manufacturer. EAG’s 360 technologies group specializes in integrating next-generation USB hubs in commercial aircraft.

A few years ago, EAG experienced quick growth due to a series of acquisitions. However, this growth caused some problems with how EAG managed its data. So the company invested in Windchill PLM software from PTC Inc. to address the problem.

Initially, EAG was happy with Windchill. It provided users across EAG’s various locations with access to the most up-to-date product data, from a variety of sources, in a consolidated form. The software also greatly simplified the process of managing data.

Over time, though, company management realized that workers downstream of designing and engineering were still having some difficulty accessing the information they needed. On top of that, the PLM’s complexity and extensive array of capabilities required users to attend several one-hour training sessions to properly use the software.

EAG met with PTC to discuss a better PLM option. PTC recommended ThingWorx Navigate, a set of role- and task-based apps that provides direct access to product data stored in Windchill.

This data is related to work orders, tool paths, engineering and customer purchases.

A clean and simple user interface makes ThingWorx Navigate work like an Internet search engine. When users search the database, it gives results from all the connected locations for the data.

All fields and icons are placed in consistent positions so users know, at a glance, what to click and where to input data. EAG management especially likes that data access is strictly based on a person’s role or task, thereby ensuring that information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

The ThingWorx app that EAG uses enables downstream workers, such as machinists, to easily search a part number or work order and find the data they need. It is seamlessly installed and upgraded, and can be understood through simple training videos rather than hour-long training sessions.

Thus far, the company has only connected ThingWorx to Windchill. However, EAG is looking to customize its app and connect it to other data sources, such as ERP, for complete integration. Deployment options for ThingWorx include the PTC cloud or on site. For added flexibility, the app provides detailed information beyond PLM data sources, such as part requirements, analytics results, drawings and 3D models.

Engineers can also view and compare part drawings to quickly identify differences. When viewing 3D models, the user can utilize playback controls to see animations and sequences.

Another benefit is being able to obtain product information in multiple formats, including augmented reality. ThingWorx can even be set up to support the local language.

For more information on PLM apps, call 630-827-4900 or visit