Archive for April, 2012

Lifecycle, Workflow and Other Types of Process Management in Aras

April 23, 2012

MarcL: PLM solution Process Management Workflow functions should work in conjunction with the data Vault and Document Management functionality to provide the ability to define and implement various processes like Enterprise Engineering Change, Part Number Request, Supplier Approval, CAPA / SCAR, etc. based on business rules. Online workflows should be automated in terms of process step advancement, tracking, information distribution, and integrated with a company’s email for alerts and notifications.

Peter Schroer:

The Aras Innovator platform includes 3 primary process automation Web services:  Lifecycle, Workflow and Project.

All three services are integrated with your company’s email systems via SMTP like Microsoft Exchange or Lotus Notes and can send email notifications.  All three of these services are used for the distribution of information, notifications and alerts.

The 3 services differ in how work tasks are distributed to users, and how the scheduling of work is organized.

In Aras Innovator Lifecycle service is comparable to what most commercial PLM systems call “workflow”… it’s about State management,

while our/Aras Workflow service is comparable to an enterprise BPM system (business process manager) and can even be used as a stand-alone BPM system in a corporate SOA based enterprise architecture,  and…

Aras Project service is a stage-gate project scheduling and resource planning web service comparable to Oracle’s Primavera capabilities.

The out-of-the-box Aras solutions have a wide range of predefined processes using these 3 services together for things like change management, program management, etc.

All 3 of these services work with Aras document management and file vaulting capabilities, and our OOTB solutions use them as the basis for everything involving processes.

The Aras Innovator platform includes a graphical solution studio where you can customize and extend these capabilities as well as create entirely new process-based applications that use any combination of Lifecycle, Workflow and Project for your company’s needs.

These 3 process-oriented Web services are integrated hierarchically.   The architectural reason for three services is to simplify the administration of corporate PLM processes by eliminating the compromises and programming required to make a single purpose “workflow” engine fit real-world requirements.

We provide training on how to implement, customize, and optimize the use of these Aras Innovator process capabilities.

Information Release and Data Vault Management in Aras

April 20, 2012

MarcL: When a document or any other type of data is formally released through the PLM solution, the vault must then recognize the file as released as a result of the workflow completion, and provide appropriate control of the document. This should also set the release baseline, and do notification of the change to the designated access group.

Peter Schroer:

The Aras Innovator platform’s Lifecycle and Workflow services are normally used together to coordinate the Enterprise Change and Release processes.

Lifecycle ensures that baselines of configurations are created and frozen (against future changes), and Lifecycle drives the automatic changes in access control rights that your company will need for release processes.

Notifications are handled by Lifecycle (one-way distribution list) and Workflow (certified response required) as required.

The default process templates with the downloaded version of Aras Innovator are the CMII standard processes.

These can of course be modified by your company, and we provide training so you can customize these processes yourself.

For more info on this see posts like ‘Version & Revision Release Levels in Aras’ or check out the Posts Tagged ‘Revision & Version’.

Versioning of Items & Files in Aras

April 19, 2012

MarcL: PLM solutions at a minimum should provide Version tracking for the most recent released revision and previous revs with date/time stamps. A new version should be based on an update of the PLM database which should occur whenever an item is checked into the PLM solution, and also should occur when the user initiates an update, but typically does not need to coincide with the user saving changes on their local disk.

Peter Schroer:

Aras internally used the terms Major_Rev, Minor_Rev and Generation.

The “Version” and “Revision” are just labels that do not impact the underlying web services behaviors.  In our experience, everyone calls it something different;  it’s the defined behaviors that are important. 

CMII revision behaviors are supported by the standard out-of-the-box Aras configuration.

All edits, whether work-in-process or formal releases are tracked in Aras Innovator (these are the Generations), and your company decides which of the increments are exposed to which users.

Once a File is checked-out,   a Generation is reserved,    and that user can make multiple edits which are saved to disk without bumping the Generation.

This Generation behavior is configurable and for security intensive scenarios can be set-up to log every save, but the default settings allow local saves that are not recognized by the PLM system.

For more info on this see posts like ‘Version & Revision Release Levels in Aras’ and ‘Data Relationships and Fixed / Float Rules in Aras

Or check out the Posts Tagged ‘Revision & Version’.

Released Data, Baselines and Single “View” of the Truth in Aras

April 18, 2012

MarcL: PLM solutions should ensure that all users receive the latest version of any item managed which requires the solution to track all changes to the item as well as formal releases of final changes.    PLM solutions should also be able to provide a snapshot of data states and associated object release levels for specific user-defined release levels of an Item.

Peter Schroer:

The underlying architecture of Aras Innovator preserves “baselines” of configurations automatically as data is changed;  both Work-In-Process (WIP) editing and the release events.

Your company can then define which of these Baselines you want to expose, by default in the CMII model, the ECN Workflow automatically creates the configuration baseline.

If you would like to create named snapshots, you can tailor the rules to allow exposing the underlying “baselines” as required, and applying a name to the selected configuration.  All WIP and Release changes are tracked by default, this is Aras’s out-of-the-box configuration.

User permissions and profiles determine whether the user sees    the latest version,    the latest released version,     the latest version released in his / her location (may not be the “latest” revision), etc.

At Aras we recognize that in a globally distributed company, the single version of the truth, may have different “viewpoints” (single view of the truth) depending on the user’s context.

All of these views are supported, in addition to the classic CMII-style of configuration management which is the out-of-the-box set up.

Version & Revision Release Levels in Aras

April 17, 2012

MarcL: PLM solutions must provide support for user-defined multiple release and revision levels, and should be able to assign default release levels based on object types or other attributes, as well as, be able to reset release levels for specific items at check-in by users with appropriate assigned authority.

Peter Schroer:

The out-of-the-box Aras Innovator data model has 3 levels of versioning control on all business items (Major, Minor, and Generation).

Your company can use the three levels to implement just Revisions, or      Revisions + Versions, or    Versions + Revisions + Baselines,    etc.

The exact terminology belongs to you / your company, and you can make it whatever you need. The underlying platform handles the 3 revision levels, and you can use the OOTB setup or configure them however you need.

Our out-of-the-box installation implements the standard CMII processes as defined by the Institute of Configuration Management.

Out-of-the-box Aras supports the ability to assign default release levels based on object types or other attributes as well as the ability to reset release levels for specific items at check-in, and this is easily extended or modified over time as needed.

Each ItemType is linked to a defined Revision sequence (and these can be different for different ItemTypes),  and the standard methodology would be to use the Lifecycle engine to trigger revision changes.  This behavior is driven by CMII standards in the OOTB Aras solutions, and can be easily tailored as needed or applied to add-on solutions or custom solutions that your company develops.

You can quickly enable special scenarios for manual revision changes, over-rides, executive decisions, and other behaviors which occur in the real world – or any combination of these.

Learning how to configure the revisioning rules is covered in the Aras introductory class “Configuring Solutions”, and we provide training on how to customize Aras Innovator for self-sufficient operation to satisfy your company’s on-going requirements.

Multiple Files for a Single Document and Referencing Hard Copy Documents in Aras

April 11, 2012

MarcL: PLM solutions should make it possible to link multiple files to various versions of a managed object so they may be managed, checked-in/out or reported on as unit including view versions (PDFs, docx, CAD, etc.) as appropriate with mark-ups.

And if a company continues to maintain some documents in paper formats or off-site on digital back up, then the indexing capabilities of the PLM solution should be able to reference that data.

Data collections or packages of managed files should be able to be created and referred by a common name or number, and should support folders containing or referencing other folders.

Please describe how this is supported.

Peter Schroer:

Multiple Files for 1 Document Item

One-to-Many relationships from business objects (Document, Part, Folder, etc) to File are standard out-of-the-box in Aras Innovator.

A common example of a use case for this data model rule is allowing a native CAD file and one or more viewable formats of that CAD file to be controlled as a single record.

This OOTB capability is extensible in Aras and can be easily customized to accommodate special circumstances at your company.

aras-plm-document-with-multiple-files

Screenshot Example of an Aras Document Item with Multiple Files Associated

Referencing Hard Copy Data

Often a company continues to maintain some documents and other related data in paper form or off-site in archive (like Iron Mountain) or in digital back-up format, and you need the PLM environment to account for these by indexing and referencing that data.

Out-of-the-box Document Management in Aras allows document control records to exist and be managed through lifecycles without physical files attached.

As a convenience to your end users, you could even add an attribute to the data model to specify the location of the paper drawings (Level effort to add this field is < 1 hour).

Using Folders for Files

The Aras Innovator platform has a Folder item out-of-the-box which is used to group documents, specifications, parts, tooling, etc. that are affected by a single enterprise change order.

If your company wants a more general Folder-style management of documents, then a “Folder” Item can easily be added and used for a wide variety of purposes.

Your Folder item naturally inherits all of the Aras Innovator core platform services and can have security permissions, business rules, lifecycles, workflow routings, etc. applied to them.

Document & File Management Check-in / Check-out, Lifecycle and Security in Aras

April 10, 2012

MarcL: PLM solutions must be able to store, manage, archive, and retrieve digital data at the file level. PLM should enable check-in / check-out which are authorized by the security schemes, and should also allow checkouts to be cancelled if needed. Please describe how this is supported.

Peter Schroer:

Check-in / Check-out and Security

Any digital data in file form can be vaulted and managed by the Aras Innovator vault server, and out-of-the-box Aras supports Check-in and Check-out according to established / authorized security permissions.

All actions and data are controlled by platform-level rights management infrastructure in Aras Innovator for document & file management.

Check-outs can be cancelled by the end-user or an Administrator can override a check-out by clearing the reservation flag.  Additional capabilities can be easily added if needed.

Also, the Aras Innovator security model enforces update and delete actions (CRUD) by user by business object providing the ability for approved users with appropriate security credentials to make changes / delete any incorrect data in the vault as required which further simplifies administration while ensuring that security is enforced.

Lifecycles and Security

The Aras Innovator Lifecycle web service is often used to implement access controls that are based on Status.

Lifecycle status security is a default behavior of Aras solutions.

As business items / objects move through a lifecycle,  the access rights are modified automatically to patterns (sets of permissions for users/roles/groups) appropriate for that state in the lifecycle.

The permission structures and user access can be configured to support multiple, simultaneous company-specific security control structures for work-in-process business items and files.

You can set-up, administer and modify/customize these capabilities yourself and we’ll train you how.

Item Number Generation and Cross Referencing in Aras

April 6, 2012

MarcL: PLM solutions must support the assignment of new numbers, and it should be possible to have the system assign automatically the next available number based on rules. Many companies also need multiple numbering of the same information such as part #s, doc #s, spec #s, equipment #s and other identifying numbers, as well as, provide cross-references and allow data to be retrieved by any number that is applicable to it. For example, users should be able to enter a supplier part number and find the internal id number and access the record/document itself.

Peter Schroer:

PLM Software Item Numbering

Item Numbering in PLM

You are able to modify the business object definitions to create multiple searchable identifiers (internal part number, supplier part number, SKU, old legacy number, etc) and all of these numbers are available for searching and cross reference.

The Aras Innovator platform includes a rules-based identifier creation service (we call Sequences).   Sequences are used for unique identifiers on any object such as part numbers, document numbers, supplier IDs, corrective action IDs, ECR #s, etc.

You can combine the automatic Sequence generator with business object-specific attributes such as classification, part family, lifecycle state, etc. to create intelligent numbering schemes.

A typical example would be a prefix based on classification followed by 6 digits from a sequence, followed by a Suffix based on part family.

You can also pull numbers from other systems, such as getting new part numbers from the ERP environment like SAP or generating document numbers from an existing PDM system like Teamcenter or Windchill.

And of course you can do manual entry of numbering as well.

With Aras Innovator you can combine all of these approaches for different aspects of the system and different processes.

You might have Part numbers come from different sources depending on the Part’s classification, organization, etc.

Mechanical part numbers at the Aerospace division come from Teamcenter, whereas mech part #s in the Oil & Gas division are pulled from Windchill and the Industrial group uses the Aras Sequences services with specific dash (-) designations. And then maybe all Supplier IDs are generated in SAP.

Or you could just use our OOTB numbering for all of these different Items.    It’s up to you and it’s not hard.  We provide training on how to set-up, administer and modify these capabilities yourself.

Image from Banner


%d bloggers like this: