Posts Tagged ‘configuration management’

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.   

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.

BPM Workflow Voting, Conditional Process Steps and Dynamic Assignments in Aras

June 5, 2012

MarcL: PLM solutions should support conditional process steps, time out, alternate approvers, delegate to, and majority rules voting and other sophisticated scenarios in the workflows.

Peter Schroer:

The Aras Workflow service is a full-featured enterprise class business process management (BPM) engine that is highly scalable and secure.

Alternates, delegates, pooled resources, dynamic assignments, voting schemes (linear, weighted, majority, veto), escalation upon timeout and other capabilities are all standard features in the Aras Innovator platform.

The default Out-of-the-Box processes that come with the downloaded version of Aras Innovator are the ISO, PMI and CMII standard processes.

Your PLM administrator has secure access to customize any of the out-of-the-box workflows or create all new BPM workflows without complex programming using the drag-and-drop Solution Studio.

For more info on these capabilities see ‘BPM Workflow Serial & Parallel Paths and Modeling to Customize and Extend PLM in Aras‘ and ‘Change Process Definition, SOA Workflow Service and Integration in Aras’ or check out the Posts Tagged ‘Workflow’.

Electronic Signatures, Workflows, Lifecycles and Security in Aras

May 24, 2012

MarcL: PLM solutions should provide a secure way for electronic sign-off of controlled Parts, CAD documents, specifications and other objects. Please describe how access controls and permissions are combined with meta-data attributes, prevention of modification of released data objects, and other measures, to provide electronic sign-off.

Peter Schroer:

All business objects (Items) within the Aras Innovator platform are controlled by an access rights management service, that complies with the security requirements of our US Gov’t and defense industry customers for “need-to-know” level security.

The security model can be used at the object instance paired with individual user level (only Bob can see Spec#001),  or for simpler administration,  hierarchical groups and roles can be defined which are expressed as patterns that are applied to sets of business objects  (anyone on the Electronics team can see the design files created for the EX-001 new product). Digital rights management (DRM) on the actual files can also be included.

Once the Lifecycle of an Item has advanced to the designated state, the access rights to the Item automatically switch to a Read-only level (normally at Release, but can be anything you specify), that object is completely protected against modifications.

The out-of-the-box CMII compliant processes use the Aras Workflow services with electronic signatures to capture the authorization and approvals.

Once the Workflow has secured the correct votes with signatures,  it automatically promotes the Lifecycle status of the Item to Released (which in turns locks down the access rights).

Approval mechanisms, electronic signatures (passwords and 2nd level passwords or e-signatures), audit trails, and notifications are all standard out-of-the-box capabilities within Aras Innovator.

Aras has built-in capabilities to satisfy regulatory compliance requirements for e-signature such as 21 CFR Part 11 in the Medical Device industry (these settings can be turned on/off of course).

We provide training on how to set-up, administer and customize these capabilities as well.

For additional information on these capabilities see ‘Security Permissions & Access Controls in Aras’ or check out the Posts Tagged ‘Lifecycle’ and ‘Security’.

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’.


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