Archive for February, 2013

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.



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.




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.   

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