ACE Europe 2013 – Day 1

Posted on October 30, 2013

The first day of ACE Europe is over and it was full of interesting discussions. A mix of technical discussion to start with followed by real life example of implementation in the afternoon. I’ll try to sum up.

Partner’s tech meeting

I won’t go into details regarding the tech meeting. It’s not a closed meeting as we could see some customers attending the meeting. It’s just that it is technical and you may need to be familiar already with the Aras technology to understand it. The interesting things is all the aspects of the actual developments. Many topics are on the table these days. Aras is hiring, and we encourage any good ressource to join Aras because there are really nice features or solution that needs to be developped and Aras is a good environnement to work at.

Here are some of my notes :

  • we started with a presentation roundtable (note: there is a good mix of customers and integrators)
  • an MRO module is planned for long term strategy (to answer multi-BOMs management)
  • 3 potential strategies to build an MBOM
    • manually
    • through the Process planner
    •  transactionnal
      • part of the manufacturing module
  • effectivity project (mid-term, will come after the manufacturing moodule)
  • issue of transporting languages between instances (nothing planned for now)
  • sequence for manuf & maintenance = Manufacturing -> Effectivity -> MRO
  • cannot use teams with workflows today
  • Report designer (2nd tab in reports) is taken out of the solution.

Welcome & Updates

The official conference started with some updates from the company by Martin Alleman.

Guest Keynote

An interesting presentation was made by Ton Zijlstra. Here are the slides.

Peter’s speech: The Future of PLM

Peter’s speech are always interesting. You can always get pretty much the same enthusiasm from his speech but at the same time you can see an evolution and I feel like now Aras has set a real position on the PLM market which they didn’t have 3 years ago when I attended my first ACE event. To me this speech is the best sells speech you can get from Aras. There’s no lie, no fake sales speech and it’s mainly based on experienced. Peter has been for 25 years in the PLM industry and by listening to him you can understand that Aras has benefited a lot from this experience.

Implementing successfull transformationnal change

The last presentation was made byDavid Sherburne from Carestream Health. David is used to come and present his PLM journey with Aras Innovator. The slides had quite a lot of content so I’ll wait for the slides to be published and I’ll update this post.

This presentation was followed by 3 different smaller presentations. I’ve chosen to attend the presentation of Alessi PLM Project to replace a legacy system containing PDM & CAD by Aras keeping the CAD.

Sorry I’ve been a little late to publish this post. I think the day2 report will be published tonight, once back in Paris !


Yoann Maingon

Yoann Maingon is an Entrepreneur and a PLM enthousiast. He is our main blogger at Minerva as he has been publishing articles about General PLM concepts and Aras Innovator for more than three years.

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ACE Europe 2013

Posted on October 28, 2013

I’m just getting ready to take a flight for Frankfurt in order to attend ACE Europe 2013 ! The last ACE (Aras Community Event) I attended was the one we organized in Copenhagen last year covering the northern Europe. This time the event has been organized by Aras Corporation. I wasn’t at ACE in Detroit last may as I had some other meetings in San Francisco at the same time so I’m quite excited to see the latest announcements regarding Aras and the new coming products or their updates.

The Agenda

First Day ACE2013 Europe

Second Day ACE2013 Europe

What Else than presentation

This is what I tell quite often to hour latest customers. Go talk to other customers. Don’t ask us to select our best customer, go talk to anyone of them, they may have some good experience but also some bad experiences from which you can take the best out of it. They’ve made some mistakes in an implementation? learn from it. Aras was not the convenient tool for some of their business needs, understand why and maybe this will we set a limit to your deployment. I don’t think any partner  has a purchase order in their hand at ACE. It really is a friendly meeting where we talk about real experiences.

I should be easy to access during the event. Feel free to get in touch and say hi! I like having comments on the blog but even prefer face to face feedback.

As usual, I’ll do a daily report and tweet the best information. See you there !



Yoann Maingon

Yoann Maingon is an Entrepreneur and a PLM enthousiast. He is our main blogger at Minerva as he has been publishing articles about General PLM concepts and Aras Innovator for more than three years.

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Four more years ?

Posted on October 25, 2013

No this is not about politics! It’s just a small anniversary for me this week-end as I will close my fourth year of blogging about PLM. I started 4 years ago (for Prodeos at the time before it was acquired by Minerva). And I hope this will continue as long as it brings value to our readers. The target has not changed. I’m still trying to discuss general topics about PLM, to provide some technical hints, some stories of my experiences as a PLM consultant and finally since this is our preferred solution, I’m talking about Aras! It doesn’t really hurt to talk about a software you can freely download.

10 most read articles:

That stats I have from Google Analytics are based on a period starting when the articles were moved from Prodeos to Minerva (mid 2011). But it is still pretty relevant of articles bringing a nice content for all.



Yoann Maingon

Yoann Maingon is an Entrepreneur and a PLM enthousiast. He is our main blogger at Minerva as he has been publishing articles about General PLM concepts and Aras Innovator for more than three years.

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Yes you still have offline users in your PLM environnements ! Help them !

Posted on October 23, 2013

Following a discussion with a PLM manager at one of our largest french Defense & Security companies, I remembered discussions we had about the full-online or online/offline necessary sync that would lead the future of software and webapps a few years ago with friends. These friends were entrepreneurs working on a pretty cool iphone app called meetmytunes. Now one of them is working at Evernote and it’s clearly related to his position at the moment we had the discussion. It was the time (3 to 4 years ago) when the web was constantly growing in terms of coverage in France, 3G was already there and so the discussion was about. Are we going full-web or do we still need to care about the moments you may not be connected to the web?

Disconnection use-case

The use case can be multiple. One of the latest I’ve heard of was when people were sent on the field to test systems like automatic speed detector on roads. They check all data and enter these results in systems that are not necessarily connected to any web network. So most of the time the answer is Excel or Access. The problem is that these solutions are not controlled enough to avoid data retyping and cleaning once the person is back in the company. More recently we’ve been discussing with some companies maintaining systems on boats. I don’t think that the Wifi password is written when you get in your room on a military ship (I could be wrong though).

Sync apps or just delayed-import

This problem of being sometimes disconnected has been answered by some software with a synchronization strategy. Many solutions are available to synchronize files like dropbox, owncloud,… and some others are used to synchronize content like Evernote for example.

If not synchronized automatically the old method is just to import the data once back at the company. This doesn’t have to be a complicated task it can be just an import button to click which would be somehow pretty much the same process after all.

Problem of data-structure update

The problem there is: what happens if the data structure changes in the company. How do you make sure you still enter data in the right  format for the system they will get imported in? It might not be a big issue but you need to make sure that any evolution on the company hosted system should have an impact on these offline tools that are being developed. But the data modeling is an interesting topic in this case, we are willing to synchronize different type of information which can be composed of meta-data but also of files. And these elements may have different handling rules once back in PLM.

I’ve discussed this topic with various consultant working with some of the big editors and most of them told me “yeah we’ve done that for this customer, our software can do it”. But I haven’t had the same feedback from PLM consumers. So I’m not giving any direction to take for now. We know we work on it at Minerva to provide a standard solution still flexible to be used by any industry. How is your experience with Offline data management and its synchronization back to your PLM instance?



Yoann Maingon

Yoann Maingon is an Entrepreneur and a PLM enthousiast. He is our main blogger at Minerva as he has been publishing articles about General PLM concepts and Aras Innovator for more than three years.

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Quick Excel macro to rebuild an Excel Bill Of Materials

Posted on October 21, 2013

Let’s start this new week by sharing a small Excel macro which I have used for a while considering the use of a fairly constant format of BOM from our customers. This macro allows me to recreate BOM relationships from an Excel file in which we find a list of items with their BOM Level. It is quite easy to read for humans. We quickly understand that when a line level 3 and has the following level 4, there is a parent-child relationship between the two parts. However, for excel there is no relationship defined. Only our eyes and our understanding of the concept of BOM allows us to deduce the BOM structure. Here is an example of such BOM.


In order to migrate to a structured PLM solution, we need to recreate the relationships. It is necessary that we can indicate for each line which is the parent element.

First, I add a column after the “Level” Column to inform the Part Number of the parent element. I then apply the following macro (which needs to be configured for your file, initial constants to change. Hint: starting line is the first child, here it’s line 3).

Sub rebuild()

' initialize constant for your excel file '
Dim StartingLine As Integer
StartingLine = 3
Dim Column_Level As Integer
Column_Level = 1
Dim Column_ParentRef As Integer
Column_ParentRef = 2
Dim Column_PartRef As Integer
Column_PartRef = 3

' other technical variables '
Dim j As Integer
Dim StoreParents(40) As String

'initialize first parent Part Number '
initParent = Cells(StartingLine, 5)

' Start rebuilding BOM '
j = StartingLine
While Cells(j, Column_Level) <> ""

    If (CInt(Cells(j, Column_Level)) > CInt(Cells(j - 1, Column_Level))) Then

        ' level has increased so parentref is previous line part ref '
        StoreParents(Cells(j - 1, Column_Level)) = Cells(j - 1, Column_PartRef)
        Cells(j, Column_ParentRef) = Cells(j - 1, Column_PartRef)

    ElseIf (CInt(Cells(j, Column_Level)) < CInt(Cells(j - 1, Column_Level))) Then

        ' level has decreased so parentref is the stored partRef of new level - 1 '
        Cells(j, Column_ParentRef) = StoreParents(Cells(j, Column_Level) - 1)


        ' no level change, we keep the same ParentRef '
        Cells(j, Column_ParentRef) = Cells(j - 1, Column_ParentRef)

    End If

    ' move to next line '
    j = j + 1

End Sub

You should get a file with the parent references added. I purposely list an item level 3 followed by a level 1 to show that we can move up multiple levels at once without problem.


And Voilà ! This is an easy piece of code but as many customer use this format. It can be quite handy to find that code quickly and apply it for a migration.


Yoann Maingon

Yoann Maingon is an Entrepreneur and a PLM enthousiast. He is our main blogger at Minerva as he has been publishing articles about General PLM concepts and Aras Innovator for more than three years.

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Some thoughts about being a PLM Manager…

Posted on October 16, 2013

This is going to be a small but quite arrogant article as I have never “officially” been a PLM manager in a company. I feel like I have covered some of the product lifecycle during my first job as a Process Manager for Rakon and through my experiences in some IT companies and in the PLM environment at Minerva, I constantly think about the role of a good and productive PLM Manager.

The Target

I am not going to make a demonstration, I will just propose a target which can be discussed and commented as It’s mainly an opinion as of today. For me one of the PLM manager’s target is to enhance the productivity of managing the right information at the right moment. Some may say that the aim is to be faster on handling or producing some information, let’s just assume that time is money and resume it as: a PLM manager’s role is to enhance the productivity to manage the right data at the right moment. I initially wrote cost and then I replaced it by productivity as you may increase your investment if the ROI is validated.

Who needs which information

This is something you should constantly think about as a PLM manager. Why does this person produces such information. And this is something you can notice in every process in the company. Sometimes to be more performant, you need to take some risk, let’ talk about documentation. How much documentation produced everyday will never be read in your company? We produce tons of information which might never be reused. Each data as a probability of being used. The PLM manager will have to determine the ROI of each kind of documentation and may discourage someones to produce such information. This is completely related to the Lean concepts already discussed in this blog which should be taken into account as a PLM Manager.

Selecting the technology

And on this one I’m not saying selecting a software. Understanding and selecting the technology is key and this should be really understood by both the PLM manager and the buyer working with him to acquire IT solutions. Some technology solutions will be key for the success of his job and you can’t blame the IT supplier or the software editor. You are the responsible of these decisions in the company (unless, someone tells you to select one solution, but in this case you cannot claim that you are the PLM manager).

What’s the difference with another IT manager

And that’s a good question. Because I think there are some overlaps if the IT manager was close to the business. But I think the difference is in the first or main interest the PLM manager has. He should look at every person, every department in the company and wonder what is the value added by each person and work on reducing the non-productive time spent by these people.

These are just some thoughts, what do you think should be added to this job description???



Yoann Maingon

Yoann Maingon is an Entrepreneur and a PLM enthousiast. He is our main blogger at Minerva as he has been publishing articles about General PLM concepts and Aras Innovator for more than three years.

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PLM customization is scary for a lot of people !

Posted on October 9, 2013

I was recently in a meeting for an introduction of Minerva and Aras Innovator to a new lead from a warship manufacturer. I was the pre-sales guy and our account manager was here to. We talked about Aras, our lead told how easily he could install the solution without our help (that’s where we know we will have a good tech interaction if any Aras project starts with them. During the discussion he was asking many times if such solution already existed either made by Aras or by a partner. Some of his requirement already existed and I could see that some others where very simple to implement with a few methods. But he stopped me pretty quickly to say that they were not willing to customize the solution. It has to be only configuration on their side. And it brings me back to RFP answers where companies were wondering why I’d put an intermediate level between “development” and “configuration”. And you need to work with Aras to understand that some customizing are very light and here is why you shouldn’t be scared.


One of the first reasons companies are afraid of customizing is because of the upgrade. How much effort and what will be the cost of upgrading my customization which only my integrator knows how to upgrade? This is definitely not an easy position mainly for the buyer. With Aras, that’s a problem that has been taken into account in the subscription model which covers the upgrades. If you want more information about the upgrade process, you have it all here.

It is simple !

That’s the one first argument I always provide. Put Aras Innovator in some tech guys’ hand in your company and without much training he will be able to do a lot of customizing himself. And every time I visited Aras corp in Andover, I met with companies telling me what they customized and it’s pretty amazing how much they can do before calling for specialist.


Look at these old videos I’ve made a while ago showing quick developments, sometimes it does not have a real use but it shows you how easy and flexible the solution is.

I saw this video today and what is said is very true. Sometimes very small amount of customizing can create real and important value for the company. And Aras allows you to make this customizing.


Yoann Maingon

Yoann Maingon is an Entrepreneur and a PLM enthousiast. He is our main blogger at Minerva as he has been publishing articles about General PLM concepts and Aras Innovator for more than three years.

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Building solutions for Aras Innovator

Posted on October 7, 2013

This is a strong trend at Minerva. We invest more and more time developing solutions adapted to specific industries or specific business processes. This comes from multiple reasons. The first is the fact that Aras focuses on its core solution and on the framework more than industry specific solutions which is a work left to partners and integrator. Then the Aras Innovator framework provides a sustainable environment for us to develop cost effective solutions and it is clearly helped by the subscription concept handling the Upgrades by Aras.

The Aras upgrade process makes our solutions cheaper to maintain

If you have already make an upgrade of Aras for your enterprise production instance within your subscription, you understand how much time and money you are saving at each upgrade. Included in the subscription, Aras takes most of the upgrade activities. This is something we had to take into account when starting to develop solutions. Every day in our projects (customers or products) we ask ourselves how sustainable our work will be. So developing these solutions takes into account the fact that these solutions will support the upgrades and we ensure through the subscriptions that these solutions will work after each new release of Aras Innovator

From Industries solutions to Business processes

The solutions at Minerva started mainly with the EHT template followed pretty quickly with the Medical template. One of the main reason of starting with these two industries is that we, at Minerva, have a strong experience in these industry. It was at a time we were delivering other PLM softwares. It made then sense to take the best things we’ve seen in the past, learn about the industries we used to talk to, in order to invest in developing solutions for these industry, based on Aras Innovator. We sometimes see that some elements of these solutions are not industry specific. We also realized that some business processes were not easily covered by other PLM solutions. We then, following customer’s request, focus on much smaller scopes to provide targeted solutions to cover specific business processes.

Gathering workgroups for new solutions

So far, we developed our products in a quite lean way, with a Minimum Viable product which we were able to sell and improve based on our customer’s experience and feedback. Now we can see that for existing customers we have similar requests. In order for us to reduce the cost for everyone and make sure to lower the cost of maintenance we took the initiative to create workgroups for specific topics. The first one has been for advanced external access features. It’s a different way of working which is more suited for existing customers. They know how Aras is to be implemented and how flexible the solution is. It then makes sense to have a different approach then for new customers.

If you are an existing customer and are interested in joining our workgroups let us know. You can submit topics and If we find a significant number of similar request, we may start to gather companies to work on it.


Yoann Maingon

Yoann Maingon is an Entrepreneur and a PLM enthousiast. He is our main blogger at Minerva as he has been publishing articles about General PLM concepts and Aras Innovator for more than three years.

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