A good read for Christmas ! Enjoy the last few days of 2014 !

Posted on December 24, 2014

I am pretty sure this will be our last blog post for 2014. The blog has been running since summer 2009 and in 2014 we have break the record of  the largest amount of readers during a week. This was mainly due to the last article I wrote about the ERP vs PLM “no debate needed“. I was recently discussing again with an association I’m in, the PLMLab and we were again brainstorming on how to make sure we keep the focus on very solid concepts when talking about PLM. For those of you, who already went to PLM conferences, this is the biggest challenge, making sure you leave the conference with some new knowledge. So we covered again the main topics we see in PLM and the ones that are still very challenging in the industry today. And without much doubt, I would say that the main topic is Configuration Management.

Configuration Management can be discussed from Requirement Management to Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul processes. This is a source of a large amount of data, mainly in terms of relationships between objects. And these relationships hold a lot of information, like effectivity for example. And they also have to be very contextual, as contextual data becomes more and more important. I found a good read for (at least after a few pages, it looks like a good book). I just started and already, I sense that it will provide me with some real knowledge. The book is called Configuration Management Metrics written by Frank B. Watts

configuration management metrics

It starts by enunciating the main principles of configuration management and the main items of configuration management. I particularly the explanation on why Engineering changes need to be executed fast.

“if a change is required to meet specification, should we ship more products without that change? If a change will accomplish a real cost reduction should we build more produucts at a higher cost? If a change can logically be processed slowly, it probably shouldn’t be done at all.”

And also for the humor, the mention of what he published in the Technology Review about the risk of thinking that just computer themselves will fix the complexity problem:

” A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history… with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila”

And that reminds me the latest few companies I went to. I’m often asked: “what happens if we realize we have made a mistake in our ECN?”. And I always say that the process is structured with review steps in order to make sure that everything is correct, just like when you ship your product. But I can tell that no ones want to hear this answer!

So I hope I’ll be back with some interesting knowledge about Configuration Management Metrics in 2015 and will do my best to share my thoughts.


I’ll leave you with our video about change management applied to the Electronic Industry. I hope you have a Marry Christmas and a Happy New Year !!!


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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MBOM is part of PLM and also ERP no question or debate needed about it

Posted on November 14, 2014

This debate of ERP and PLM is still existing and is annoying. I have just read the following article : “PLM should take over ownership of the manufacturing BOM too”, says Siemens PLM’s CEO, Chuck Grindstaff from Engineering.com. And the message was tweeted on the fact that PLM should own the MBOM.

First advice, when you read “Industry 4.0” in the first few lines of an article you should have an alarm ringing to tell you “be careful, this must be some hazardous marketing material”.

When they talk in these articles about ERP and PLM, they mainly talk about software solutions. But these solutions, they contain databases,  interfaces with specific components and a lot of licenced elements in order to answer the best the customer’s need. But what is the real added value of a PLM solution or an ERP? is it the color of an “open document” icon? is it the SQL database? no they both potentially use these elements. An ERP and a PLM are what they are because software developments companies have included specific business rules to manage specific data. Today, we believe that ERP can manage the MBOM and PLM should also do it. Then why do we fight about it? Mainly because we are not capable of having both working on it without complicated data synchronization. Each software vendor wants to own the data when sometimes part of the data you want to own, belongs to some other processes.

This reminds me of an old article I wrote about the fact that PLM and ERP are sharing the same objects, but they are working potentially on different attributes. So once again I’m providing my view of a real IT environnement where PLM is a discipline which describes how the information should be distributed and updated to manage the product lifecycle information in a knowledge management perspective. This schema, is then, not reserved for PLM. It is a general IT infrastructure containing:

  • A master Data Management layer, to handle every data and managing their storage in one or multiple databases to benefit from the pros of each database technology.
  • an Enterprise Service Bus in order to distribute webservices for other applications in order to impact the data.
  • the business layers where each block is a discipline : PLM, CRM, ERP,…
  • and finally interfaces which could rely on multiple business layers. When a sales person is interacting with its software, any action can be checked by PLM & CRM business rules for example.

IT software architecture



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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Easy to use and configure, doesn’t mean Mickey Mouse system !

Posted on September 17, 2014

Yesterday I was looking at the following video from Aras showing how different customers go in the same direction about Aras Implementations. Small increments bringing continuously business value to their users, typical Agile approach allowed by Aras Innovator. To me there are two main elements in this video. The first is about the Agile approach, the second is the reason of this blog post: Get trained.

I’ve got two types of situation where we need to push people to get training:

  • Companies where they believe we are the techies, so we are the ones to know how the system works and that’s it
  • Companies who think Aras is a very simplistic solution that can be run with almost no resource and with which we can do everything

For the first type of companies, in all our project we see the same thing. if you want your project to succeed please get trained on Aras Innovator. Even if you are not technical. Make sure for example to understand what means “in Aras Innovator, everything is an Item”.

For the second type of companies, yes Aras is simple in order to setup quick proof of concepts. But PLM is complex on its own. Even with a very simple solution you need to understand that if it has to manage complex problems the system can’t be simplistic. It’s a long journey to have a PLM with a very wide implementation scope. And you need to understand the software in order to control this process.


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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Aras Innovator & Resilience

Posted on September 10, 2014

I thought I’d have a lot more time to write article during the last Aras Community Event but this has once again been a very intense event with lots of discussions with other people interested in Aras Innovator. During the event you have one main presentation or sometimes there are three tracks : Basic, Technical and Business. I usually go to either Business or Technical presentations. Basic are usually more made for prospects or eve, people who have never heard of PLM. But I was interested in one basic conference where the speaker was Aras CEO, Peter Schroer: “Resilient PLM”

Here is the presentation text :

“For long life products such as aircraft, automobiles and plants you need a PLM system that can manage product changes, and control product traceability and compliance for the full lifecycle. Learn how the Aras approach to creating resilient systems can be used to manage very long life products while also preserving the IT investment you have made in customizing and integrating your PLM system. From upgrades to customizations, the Aras model ensures that you can always take advantage of the latest PLM features and newest technologies.”

I honestly wasn’t sure about the definition of Resilience when I came into this presentation. Here are the wikipedia definition:

General : “Resilience is the ability of a material to absorb energy when it is deformed elastically, and release that energy upon unloading”

Applied to IT : “Resiliency is the ability to provide and maintain an acceptable level of service in the face of faults and challenges to normal operation

I sometimes organize a webmeeting called “do more with PLM” which explains what a PLM system requires to easily customize a solution to do more than simple PLM.

Here is the presentation made by Peter Schroer explaining Resilience and how it has always been taken into account when building Aras Innovator.


Update on the Februray 26th of 2015:

Here is the video of Peter Schroer talking about PLM Resilience

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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One week before ACE 2014 in Chicago !

Posted on April 21, 2014

Almost three month without writing an Article. That’s a lot, and that reflects how much work we have these days. Minerva is significantly growing in terms of Aras Innovator related activities which is a very good sign for the future. Our actual customers are helping us to convince other that Aras Innovator is more than PLM. Next week I’ll be at the Aras Community Event 2014 which comes back to Chicago after 3 years being held in Detroit. Chicago was in 2010 my first Aras Community Event. I received there the Aras Collaborate & Contribute Award in recognition of some Open Source projects that I was running at that time. Since then, we have received another award the next year and also one of our customer got one. So, once again, Aras need your votes to select the winners. Please vote for your favorite projects!


This year’s nominees:

  • Honda of America – Material usage sheet
  • Aitech – Express ECO process looping option
  • Sandia National Laboratories – Smart file extension handling for file check-ins
  • MAN Diesel & Turbo – HTML5 client beta feedback and enhancements
  • Carestream Health – Electronic component engineering solution use cases and prototype definition
  • Young & Franklin – Item released view for effectivity in main grid
  • Nissan – Apache 2.0 reverse proxy support
  • Dongfeng Motor Parts – Express DCO version management
  • GE Aviation – CA SiteMinder security timeout and administration
  • Orio/Saab – Dynamic updates to technical publications
  • Elysium – 64-bit HOOPS converter integration with MultiCAD Gateway
  • The Woodbridge Group – Product costing and pricing solution
  • Minerva – New form layout for advanced search on PolyItem
  • Carnaud Metalbox Engineering – PDF conversion of complex Creo file structures
  • Sikorsky – PLM to ERP data federation test harness
  • Esterline Aerospace & Defense – Mass part configuration release process simplification
  • Spartan Motors – BOM configuration loading simplified for deep hierarchy structures
  • Lear Corporation – Impact Matrix add instance and substitute markup functionality
  • Tohatsu – Double-byte database collation performance enhancement
  • Hitachi, Ltd. / Power Systems Company – Japanese enterprise search with recommendation engine
  • GETRAG – Item versioning with single item instance from user desktop
  • Maxion Wheels – Form and grid browser rendering improvements
  • SRCTech – Classification driven Lifecycle promotion
  • Laird Technologies – Classification-based Lifecycle extension for programatic execution
  • Hitachi Metals – Relationship grid sorting across results pages
  • Pentair – Permission-based classification dialog display
  • EURO-PRO – Check-in Manager extension for preliminary CAD documents without CAD models
  • GE Aviation – New ERP integration platform foundation
  • Soplar SA – Multi-Item ECO lock and unlock during workflow
  • PCC Structurals – Internet Explorer 64-bit support


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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Setting up firefox client for Aras Innovator v10 takes 2 confirmation clicks !

Posted on January 30, 2014

On some of our projects, we explain to our customers that communication on the project is key and has an important impact on company’s change management for their users. And I feel like we could say that to Aras also. If you’ve ever installed Aras Innovator and configured the Internet Explorer client on your computer, you may have noticed that there are settings of Internet explorer to change, a URL to add to friendly websites and the sdns.exe utility program to run in order to setup the .net framework security.  With the latest version of Aras Innovator, V10, based on Aras communication (or maybe my misunderstanding) I thought that there would be pretty much the same things to run. But no! There’s almost nothing to do. You just need to accept the install of an add-on when you start Aras 10 from firefox for the first time. It’s an enormous improvement.


That was a small post just to say thank you Aras for the good work on that one !

The 2 clicks are the one to accept the add-on and another one to restart firefox ! (you may have more if you, like me, have tried it with an unsupported version of firefox !)


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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Aras Innovator 10 preview by Minerva

Posted on January 28, 2014

Hi everyone and happy new year !! Yes I know it’s quite late to wish you the best for 2014 but that’s how I hoped to start 2014 on this blog. And as Aras Corp just got us a present to kick-off the year. I made a super quick and short presentation of the new interface which you can use with either Internet Explorer or Firefox. And guess what! the first on-site meeting I’ve had with a customer, I had two people in front of me using Aras Innovator on Firefox + os X! Pretty nice.

I hope this quick video will push you to the download page ! It’s free to download and it doesn’t bite !


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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Tutorial Aras Innovator : Foreign Properties

Posted on December 23, 2013

Last week I was working on Aras Innovator to build a presentation adapting the solution to our customer’s need. And I came to use Foreign properties and thought that it would be nice to show in a tutorial as it was very easy and quick to do. The aim of foreign properties is to show in a form properties that are belonging to another itemtypes connected through the itemtype property relationships. As shown in the following drawing, The project is pointing on a customer (relationship n to 1) using a property based relationship. On the project form, usually, what appears is the keyed name of the customer (in the tutorial it is equal to the name). But you sometimes want to add some elements either to show them in a form or to make queries based on these items without having encapsulated queries.


The tutorial

So here is the quick tutorial. Let me know if you have other small topics of interest.

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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Customer references are even more valuable during your project

Posted on December 20, 2013

Quite often when prospects are qualifying Aras Innovator, they ask us for references. If they have enough interest into Aras Innovator, we can provide them a contact. Even at this point, you don’t really need us. Look at the Aras Community Events description, you will have customer references presenting and you can easily get in touch with them without having us as an intermediate. The other thing you can do is attend one of these events. There is one Global Aras Community Event every year around may 1st. And ther is a European Aras Community Event in late october. You also have more local Aras Community Event organized by Partners.

But PLM solution benchmark should not be the only time you look for references testimonial. And I encourage to talk to all our customers. We have a sales representative who always tells me “don’t talk about the issues some of our customer may have”, but I can’t hide that, Aras is a very powerful solution and you need to do things correctly to get all the benefits. Ask some of our customers why sometimes they did not make the right choices.

Lean approach and specification management

Based on some recent experiences, I would say that one of the common feedback you would get from references is go for a lean implementation. And I can see that the best ACE presentations always mention it. Insitu’s presentation was exactly talking about that. Also do not over specify. I will talk soon about document management in IT projects. It’s crazy how much documentation some company can build before starting a project and then have a hard time maintaining these documentations. Ask our references, they’ll tell you where you should put the effort. We’re not changing the whole IT implementation process, we still build documentation, but we always thinking about how much it will cost to maintain.

Key-users management

Key-users management is one of the top aspects of a PLM implementation. It’s change management and if you haven’t done many IT projects, you need to be humble about it. Ask multiple references, find out where they have had issues. We see customers who think they know exactly how their users are and how they work. You can have a lot of surprises, so ask references they’ll tell you what were their surprises.


When we talk to our new customers, it’s not easy to evaluate the training they need to have. We constantly have our hands in Aras. Aras is fairly simple to use. Mainly because it’s pretty much always the same interface for any kind of process you handle with the solution. We’ve seen companies doing all the training internally by themselves with just presentations and coaching and it worked perfectly well. So instead of planning everything upfront and challenging us on how much training you would need. Once again call references. They’ll be glad to help you out with all these topics.

What’s blocking you from calling a reference??


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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SoLoMo…CoSe for PLM

Posted on November 5, 2013

The title of this post was initially SoLoMo known for Social, Local, Mobile. I started this post a while ago after listening to Robert Scoble talking about the evolution of contextual needs on web application. It was interesting to think about the applications in PLM. We always mention that the target of PLM is to have the right data at the right moment (I’ve also read an Article from SAP adding “with the right Experience”). And that’s exactly what we need to work on. Today, you have a profile to define who you are and what you have access to in your PLM solution. But this, from one project to another, from one phase to another, can require you to get a quick access to specific data and dashboards. Before a meeting, your dashboard should not look the same as the one you may want to look at before leaving work. When you look at a project you might want to see a very different UI organisation depending on the project’s situation.


And the evolution of this title is following the recent ACE (Aras Community Event) Europe 2013 in Francfort on October 29th & 30th. One of the last presentation was done by Rob McAveney on the Aras roadmap and some very nice presentation of the new features Aras is working, or just thinking about. This year, Oleg Shilovitsky our great PLM blogger friend wrote an article to explain how Social PLM failed and I think that some part of the answer is in how Aras sees Social PLM. If Co for context has been discussed a lot, Secured is something that Aras wants to explain very clearly. It’s not only a marketing think to make our future customer confident about their data being in the solution. It’s mainly because it values even more the security administration layer built in Aras Innovator. It already made sense to Aras to have such layer but now with these social features it demonstrates once more how good this layer is.

Here I included a presentation of Rob McAveney during the last ACE event in Detroit. But after seeing the latest social features shown by John Sperling during ACE Europe. The social aspect of PLM in Aras makes more sense and becomes less fancy by giving some ideas of the realy value it can provide.


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 – Day 2

Posted on November 3, 2013

I took the time to rest a little bit in the very nice and still warm city of Roma, Italia for the week-end before publishing this article about the second day of ACE 2013 which append Wednesday 30th of October. This second day was providing a lot of information on the Aras roadmap. Most of it must have been said at ACE in Detroit in May, but I think we’ve ha a fresher look at the coming version 10 of Aras.

Aras 10 fresh look

Aras 10 fresh look

A whole new set of icons has been included, shortcuts have been added. Colors are still the same but it honestly finally gives a realy fresh look at Aras Innovator.

Aras News & Roadmap

Here are my quick note taken during Rob McAveney’s speech about Aras news, presenting also Aras Innovator’s roadmap.

  • Visualization
    • strong investment in 3D PDF. With the server side converter, you checkin 3D models and get 3D pdf output
  • Office connector
    • Minerva has a connector which is still sold and working on customer side. I still have not seen and tried the Aras Office Connector. If you had, let us know how good this is.
  • CAD Integration
  • Feature activation
    • Features activation will be easier to manage with a new licence key management.
  • Trubiquity File exchange
    • I’m not sure to have all the details about it but it feels like there are some great dropbox-like (but secured) features added to Aras which I should look into soon !!
  • Configurable InBasket (9.4 SP1)
    • management features : look at your employees tasks
    • Expand with new columns and new types of activities
  • Platform support
    • v9.4 => SQL server and Windows Server 2012 / IE10 / Windows 8
    • v10 => IE10 not ealier version because of HTML5. Offers access to Mac OSX. Drops support for earlier windows and sql server versions
  • Complete restyle of Aras 10.0 with new icons giving a real fresher looks.
  • Shortcuts

I’m sorry, the sentences are not very long. These are more notes. Feel free to ask questions on specific items If you want.

Building a PLM skyscraper

Richard Mayrs – IT Manager @ Schrader Electronics

We met Richard at the first tech session on Tuesday and I understand and approve why is stated in his presentation that you should get people inside your company trained technically on Aras. There are so many things you can do with Aras without having to have 10 years of experience on the solution. That’s what I’m always telling customers. Have your tech resources trained on Aras you’ll really get them producing real value quickly for your IT environment.

Change Management with Patrick Willemsen

Patrick from Aras came back on the various options you have to manage enterprise change with Aras Innovator from the OOTB solution, and how you could quickly adapt it to your needs.

Other presentations and Closing

For the rest of the day multiple presentations were run in parallel. I was able to attend:

  • Secure social and Visual collaboration which was really nice to follow. If you’ve read Oleg’s blog this year about why Social PLM 1.0 may have failed. John Sperling has shown nice features which embedded with the Aras Innovator security framework may be a nice answer.
  • Solution Showcase: this was much smaller than for ACE in Detroit but still we could see some interesting things like our external collaboration service at Minerva for which you may have some information soon…

Finally Rob McAveney was back for even more information on what could be the next steps for Aras. It requires a lot of resources and we know its complicated and risky to work on everything so Aras and the partners will do the best possible to extend Aras Innovator capabilities using lean strategies in order to fulfill customers needs.

Aras Innovator PLM Roadmap

Andreas Muller from Aras Corp, closed the event by announcing next years’ ACE Europe Event in the same location which is a very convenient place to do so! Hope there will be eve, more people.



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 – 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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Aras is hiring ! Minerva as well…

Posted on September 27, 2013

The Aras Innovator business is definitely growing. And we can see that as planned when I started working on this solution, this is not a solution dedicated for a certain size or type of company. This is a framework with pre-defined business models fitting a lot of basic requirements from the industry. The of most of our deployment is to quickly provide features that are robust, based on business standards at a low cost. And then, the Aras Innovator framework becomes an enabler allowing the company to become creative or just allowing them to include their best practices in the solution instead of being just industrial followers by implementing the standards provided by an editor. And this is where we (Aras and the integrator like Minerva) definitely need hands.

Aras is a cool place to work at

I’ve been several times at Aras in Andover, MA. I remember back in 2009 when I first came to the Aras Office for my very first training on the solution. Several minutes after I came. Some guy I didn’t really came to talk to me about how Aras could have great opportunities in France. Unfortunately I had to stop the conversation pretty quickly as the training was starting. Looking at Aras website again a little bit later I realized that “this guy” was Peter Schroer, the CEO of the company. Since then, many times I’ve been able to exchange with Peter, and it’s great to know that the CEO of this company is all about continuously creating value for Aras Innovator without going crazy about sexy marketing trends which are not realistic. He focuses on providing real value to the Aras customers. Year after year, the team at Aras is getting bigger, I could see a lot more new young faces these last two years ( oh yes, I may be the only french guy to go skiing in New Hampshire every year). This must be a really nice place to work at!

Integrators can work with very large account

That’s the really surprising thing that I’m living at Minerva. We are pretty small for a service company. But we have chosen the right technology for our customers allowing us to deliver more with less ressources. And it works with large account. Our customers are some of the largest industrial companies in Northern Europe. What you develop when you work for Minerva impacts a lot of people and walking in some large engineering department and watching people validating workflows activities you have set up a few month earlier is quite exciting. Next thing you know, some guys in China and Brazil are doing the same actions at the same time. Aras really help us to make our work effective for our customers.

Join us

=> Aras : http://www.aras.com/company/careers.aspx

=> Minerva : http://minerva-plm.com/about/minerva/jobs-at-minerva

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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