CM the Product Structure: Single, Multi, Side by Side View

February 28, 2013

MarcL:  A flexible PLM solution should allow for individual instances of the same part in different levels of the product structure. It should also be able to present multiple levels of the product structure at the same time on the same window or screen. How is this accomplished in Aras?

Peter Schroer:  Aras Innovator supports Configuration Management (CM). Good CM practices support the same part appearing in different levels of the product structure. 

By default, the Aras Innovator framework will enforce that this part does not appear within its own hierarchy because this creates a loop in a configuration and results in indeterminate configurations.    This rule can be over-ridden if the customer is not following CMII best practices.   

The full hierarchy of the product structure, with variable levels exposed, can be displayed in a single window to facilitate end-user navigation.  As a useful comparison tool, 2 versions of the same product structure, or 2 different product structures can be compared side-by-side, multi-level, in the same window. This dialog also supports automated redlining to highlight differences in complex product structures that might be difficult to see quickly as displayed in the screenshot below.

Aras-Innovator-Part-structure-compare_96

Navigating the Product Structure with Ease – Structure Browser & Where Used

February 20, 2013

MarcL: Modern solutions must allow users of the PLM solution to browse both up and down product structures with ease.  How is this accomplished in Aras?

Peter Schroer: The configuration modeler in the core of Aras Innovator is an implementation of Directed Graphs, meaning the relationships all have an implied direction.  Business rules for edit, create and delete use the direction to enforce good configuration management practices. The user interface can easily walk the user up and down the configuration graphs. This is so common that there are 2 pre-defined navigation browsers called Structure Browser (down view) and Where-Used Browser (up view) to provide a quick look at two common views of the Product Structure.

See additional information in Structure Management for Complex Products in Aras, Complex PLM Structure Multi-Views in Aras, PLM Product Structure Management Functionality in Aras and Making PLM Product Structure Accessible.

 

PLM_Alpha_Structure_Browser_1

PLM_Alpha_Where_Used_1

How Part Structures and Roles-based User Interfaces Interact in Modern PLM

February 1, 2013

MarcL: PLM solutions should allow users to select and delete part structures, including the links to other parts and data objects.  The solution should allow the use of structure building facilities, including structure copy, copy with modifications, etc.  Modern PLM solutions must also allow users with appropriately granted authority to create and modify product structures for the product item types for which they are responsible. How does Aras address these requirements?

Peter Schroer: Editing of configurations is a standard Aras Innovator function.  The Aras terms configuration and relationship are the higher level abstractions supported by the model-based framework.   Part Structure or the Part-Document links are example instances of Relationships.

As an example of the flexibility of the Aras framework, the permissions model supports 2 access rights schemes for configurations such as product structure.   In one model, the user must have Update rights to the parent object, such as a Part, in order to modify links to items such as Documents.  In the other model, permissions can be assigned that allow manipulation of certain configuration items such as links, independent of the rights to Update the parent item. 

The standard Aras framework supports several structure building tools.  This includes copy as links where the sub-structure is shared, and copy as instances where the substructure is copied as new instances.  This allows for modification without changing the source configuration.  

In addition, access rights management in Aras Innovator resides on each business item for each end-user.  The rights controls for permissions include Read, Update, Delete, Create, Discover and Change.  If a user has the rights to Change product structure, which is the Update permission on the parent item, then the same user interface that is used for navigating and viewing product structure is also the interface for creating and modifying structure.  This is standard in Aras Innovator.

Aras recognizes that different classes of users; i.e. different roles in the organization, will have different use cases for seemingly the same transactions.  For example, adding a Specification to a product structure.   While some users might be Specification centric and would think of linking the Specification to all the Products it impacts, other users are product centric and will create a link to the one Specification that defines their product.  In this example, one view is top down while the other is bottom up.   The Aras best practice to accommodate both is to create “application specific user interfaces” which are analogous to roles-based special-purpose interfaces. This enables you to select the technology that best matches the use case scenarios of different roles in the organization. 

End-user acceptance of a corporate PLM system is absolutely critical to ensure accurate and timely data.   Application-specific interfaces are the best method of ensuring that real end-users can interact with the PLM efficiently.   Tools and training for creating role-based interfaces and maintaining those interfaces over time are available.   

Making PLM Product Structure Accessible

January 9, 2013

MarcL:

Companies today attach much importance to the advantages a good PLM solution can offer in creating, manipulating and referring to Product Structures. When properly executed, PLM enables users to read and understand the Product Structure from with the PLM environment without additional tools or advanced technical skills. Please explain how Aras accomplishes this.

Peter Schroer:

Product structure within Aras Innovator is visualized in familiar grid layouts that look like Excel or in structured tree diagrams that look like a Visio diagram.  These user interface metaphors are 100% standard Aras Innovator, available to all users, and should be comfortable to anyone who uses the MS-Office suite.  No special tools are required for users to navigate complex product data configurations within Aras Innovator.

What’s more, Aras provides training on how to use, administer and customize Aras Innovator’s structure management capabilities, including creation and manipulation of product structures.

For more see previous post ‘Complex PLM Structure Multi-Views in Aras and for additional information see Posts Tagged ‘Configuration Management and ‘Product Structure.

Aras PLM Software Product Structure 1Aras PLM Software Product Structure 2Aras PLM Software Product Structure 3

PLM Product Structure Management Functionality in Aras

October 30, 2012

MarcL: PLM should provide product structure functions including:

• Assign specific part numbers to parts & assemblies

• Modify structures by adding phantom assemblies

• Modify structures by adding part numbers from raw materials, suppliers, customers and other sources

• Add revision level part numbers to control configurations

• Modifying coordinates and orientation of components

• Making mass component replacements

Peter Schroer:

All of the PLM functionality in the bulleted list is available in the standard Aras Innovator solution Out-Of-The-Box (OOTB).

Depending on the configuration management methodology and rules implemented (CMII or other) some companies require an automatic Engineering Change generated for all parent assemblies affected by a mass change, while others allow changes without formal approval processes.

If the “components” in the your company’s use case are purchased components, then Aras Innovator has an included best practice that allows mass change of a purchased component, without use of an Engineering Change.

In this case you would use the Aras default OOTB data model which separates your company’s internal part object from the purchased components using the Approved Manufacturers List (AML) relationship model. This is straightforward for your end users.

If your company needs a different use case for making mass change, then the Aras structure management functionality can be adapted to your specific requirements.

We provide training on how to use, administer and customize Aras Innovator’s structure management capabilities including part / item numbering.

For more see previous post ‘Item Number Generation and Cross Referencing in Aras’ and for additional information see Posts Tagged ‘Configuration Management’ and ‘Product Structure’.

Complex PLM Structure Multi-Views in Aras

October 18, 2012

MarcL: Multiple views of structure are the holy grail of PLM. Companies want alternate views to PLM data (e.g. functional view in the early concept and feasibility phase, engineering/design view, production views, purchasing view, service view, and others). Everyone thinks PLM systems should be able to provide multiple integrated views of the structure, but few if any have achieved this capability effectively. People want to be able to compare, display, and/or report the differences between various views of a single or multiple structures and between versions of a structure or structures.

Peter Schroer:

In my experience when you get to the detail level of what people actually want to see in structure multi-view requirements it is unique for each company.  That’s why it’s difficult to predefine the “right” set of views and why so many PLM companies have struggled trying to do this.

At Aras we recognized this and therefore have approached structure multi-views from a modeling perspective. The Aras modeling engine supports the creation of multiple views of structure including BOMs, requirements, manufacturing process, suppliers, quality, etc.

For example, there’s a multi-view of Manufacturing process structures (routing view, quality inspection & test view, risk analysis view) in the Aras solution for Quality Planning.  The views are integrated at the data model level, but different users view the structure via different tabs on the forms.  Any process steps changed in one view, are automatically synchronized with all other views because they are all pulling data from the same source.

Any structure in Aras can be modeled as multiple different views. These views can be displayed, compared and reported as well. When structure views are modeled they flow thru the security model so they are restricted by the data access controls.

If a new material or part is confidential IP and a specific user is not allowed to see it, then the view will automatically restrict this item from that user’s view, but allow them to see a placeholder block so they know there’s something there.    Views are not separate copies of the structure, they are filters of the existing data which prevents synchronization and reconciliation issues.

As with all solution customizations in the Aras modeling environment, we assure that your customizations will work in all future releases of Aras Innovator, and we back this up by doing the upgrades for you when you’re on subscription (upgrade services included no matter how much you customize).

We provide training on how to use, administer and customize Aras Innovator’s structure management capabilities, items and views, as well as, security permissions, classification capabilities and more to achieve self-sufficiency.

For additional information see ‘Structure Management for Complex Products in Aras’ or check out the Posts Tagged ‘Product Structure’ and ‘Customize’.

PLM Solutions, Openness and the Aras Business Model

September 12, 2012

MarcL: Aside from the Aras technology, maybe you can explain a bit more about the Aras business model and the Aras solution suite?

Peter Schroer:

Peter Schroer Aras CEO

Peter Schroer, Aras CEO & Founder

In 2007, Aras took a unique position in the PLM market by adopting an open source business model.   What we’re doing is bringing a Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) business format to the PLM market: get rid of the license costs and just offer enterprise subscriptions. It’s a big advantage for your company for a number of reasons:

Subscription-only gets rid of the big up-front PLM license cost (capex),

It reduces your Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) which means you get a greater ROI and achieve it faster, and

It’s a more balanced relationship where you’re not forced to take on disproportionate risk before you even start implementing.

How we make money

Aras distributes its software without license fees, and earns revenues from optional subscription packages that are similar to the maintenance contracts required by other enterprise software products except with significantly more benefits such as free upgrade services no matter how much you customize – I don’t know any other enterprise software companies that are doing this… it’s a major benefit for customers and commitment on our part.

The Aras subscription gets rid of PLM user and module license fees reducing the risk of acquiring an enterprise PLM system,       and it provides us/Aras with a profitable recurring revenue model.

What we provide OOTB

We have developed a number of solutions ourselves which are included in the initial download of Aras Innovator. These make up our out-of-the-box PLM solution suite.   Our OOTB solutions are similar in scope, scale and depth to the OOTB solutions that come with a Windchill or MatrixOne.  However, our PLM solutions are aligned tightly with industry standards such as ISO, PMI, and CMII. If these standards fit your company’s way of doing business, then the Aras is an “install this morning and start using this afternoon” PLM system.

How we offer more

The corporate community of companies that run Aras, users and partners, what we call the Aras community, has also developed dozens of other solutions on the same Aras Innovator platform framework, and your company is able to take advantage of these solutions for new PLM innovations, best practices and value added enhancements. These are available on the Aras project site if they are open source or from an Aras ISV partner if they are commercial solutions (meaning apps you have to pay for).

Why this all matters to you

The purpose of the Aras project site is to provide an online area where user-driven innovation can occur. We are creating an environment where companies like yours can post ideas, share best practices and take action to transform your business.

We are encouraging secure, self-sufficient collaborative development on PLM solutions because we believe that the next generation of innovation in PLM will come from people like you at the millions of companies around the world that use PLM software every day.

We also believe that your corporate processes are unique and changing constantly thru continuous improvement. And it’s those special practices that make your company competitive. Your company has to be in control of your own destiny and that’s what we are offering.

At the end of the day, what we’re doing is providing your business with a whole series of OOTB PLM solutions on an advanced PLM platform and we use a subscription-only format that’s more cost effective. And we’ve made it highly scalable, flexible and extensible so your company can innovate for new advantages over your competition… we think that just makes sense. In fact, we believe it’s a fundamental necessity and the future of global business.

For more info on this see Open PLM – The Future of Enterprise Product Lifecycle Management (free logon needed) and here’s some more about our commitment to an open business model and how Aras is Different or these videos from my presentation at the Aras ACE International conference.

Federation with ERP, PDM, Legacy Systems and Cloud-based data using Aras

June 20, 2012

MarcL: PLM solution must be capable of integrating with the ERP system so that data is available in PLM such as material costing, inventory on-hand, etc. Please describe how this is possible.

Peter Schroer:

Aras Innovator includes a standard service called Federation. This Web service can be used for integrations with legacy applications (called Federations) that expose attributes from the legacy system, such as Cost attributes in SAP, with the materials data stored in PLM.

For the end-users, they will see a single form, with data in the correct context that has all the information they need to perform a task (or workflow or report) without knowing the actual data storage location of those data.

This data does not need to be view-only, but can be editable as well. It is managed by the same need-to-know security permissions in Aras so the users have access to only the data they are authorized to see, add, update, etc.

Secure Federation capabilities in Aras are not limited to on-premise systems, and can include Cloud-based data sets as well like component databases, compliance validation and other data sets of authority in the Cloud.

The flexibility of the Aras Innovator PLM system even allows federation configurations in which all Part, Material and BOM data are authored in ERP, and PLM is just a viewing portal.

However, most companies prefer to develop parts, materials, cost models and other product data within the PLM solution, and after workflow review & approval, drive this cost data to the ERP once it becomes “Released”.

The same type of system Federation can be performed with legacy PDM / PLM systems in use in your company as well. This can be useful if existing PDM systems are in place at various sites for CAD management, although more robust PLM capabilities are needed for complicated processes like NPDI, enterprise change, supply chain, quality or outsourced manufacturing.

The “right” configuration depends on your organization, business practices, and the level of complexity of your products and development process.

Aras architects and certified partners can help you evaluate your company’s requirements during the initial phase of your deployment and recommend a configuration that is optimized for your company’s specific competitive practices.

We provide training on how to do federated integrations with other systems like ERP as well as how to administer these capabilities.

For more info on these capabilities see ‘Integration and Federation in the Enterprise with Aras’ and ‘ERP, Item Masters and Data Attribute Federation Between ERP-PLM in Aras‘ or check out the Posts Tagged ‘Integration’.

Integration and Federation in the Enterprise with Aras

June 19, 2012

MarcL: How is integration with other business systems in the enterprise supported? What tools are provided to accomplish this? Are any additional software packages / costs associated?

Peter Schroer:

Aras Innovator is a 100% pure Web services architecture.  All data and all processes are accessed at the Web services layer in Aras.

Many systems such as CAD applications and ERP systems have Out-of-the-Box packaged integration connectors available from 3rd parties that implement a direct point-to-point integration between Aras Innovator and the other system. For example, integration (in-session) from CATIA to Aras and Cadence Alegro to Aras.

Use of an integration bus such as Oracle Fusion or Netweaver is supported, as well as, custom point-to-point integrations with legacy applications using Web services.  You can interface to the Aras Innovator server directly using XML / SOAP, or you can create a WSDL (Web Services Description Language) for the specific business objects you want to interface with.

An important capability that should also be highlighted here is Federation.

One of the core services in the Aras Innovator platform is a Federation service.

With Federation, the administrator uses the Aras Innovator Solution Studio (our graphical drag-and-drop interface) to define the business objects and properties that are stored in a legacy application / database.

The Federated items are then linked to a .NET method to exchange data, this is normally Web services, but all .NET integration capabilities are available such as API binding, ODBC, flat file handling, etc.

At that point the remote data is treated like internal PLM data in Aras Innovator, and can be displayed in forms, used in workflows, added to versioned configurations, acted on / edited by any of the Aras functionality and can be controlled by the Aras Innovator security model.

With all these integration approaches you can add data transforms, business rules and other techniques to address complex scenarios.

We provide training on how to integrate and federate as well as administer these capabilities.

We’ve used a transparent data model with open industry standards and modern platform capabilities to make Aras Innovator the easiest enterprise PLM solution to integrate with. This is because PLM is never a stand-alone system in the enterprise.

For more info on these capabilities see ‘ERP, Item Masters and Data Attribute Federation Between ERP-PLM in Aras‘ and ‘BPM Workflow Serial & Parallel Paths and Modeling to Customize and Extend PLM in Aras’ or check out the Posts Tagged ‘Integration’.

Aras PLM Integration

Aras Innovator Integrates to Systems Across the Enterprise


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