5 most read articles in july 2013

Posted on July 31, 2013

Here are the most read articles from our blog this past month. They were not necessarily written during this month. This indicates sometimes the articles with value that is still up to date.

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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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Element14 API usage with Aras Innovator – Manufacturer Parts up to date in your PLM

Posted on July 19, 2013

This is again a demonstration that PLM can have a very wide coverage of features in a company. In this case it was following an Aras project we’ve implemented for a customer where they needed for their logistic support activities to be able to select within a BOM-as-maintained, a part to replace, navigate to the approved manufacturer list and add the manufacturer part to an order by right-clicking on it and selecting “add to order”. You can view this process on this link. The issue is that you needed to update the manufacturer part’s data. What if you could get these data live from your supplier? Some distributors like element14 are providing Rest APIs to browse their catalog. So we used it and worked with federated items in Aras to easily query they catalog and get the pricing information and also datasheets or other related documentations. Here is the video presenting this integration:


 

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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Getting people trained and interested in the solution

Posted on July 8, 2013

This is a recurrent discussion we have at Minerva when we talk about actual and past projects. We discuss the good experience we are having on actual projects and the ones we’ve had on past projects. Even if sometimes, some situations have been difficult and exhausting for us. We take all these as experiences and bring these info in our lessons’ learned list. With Aras Innovator we have the chance to be able to offer services for a very wide range of enterprise. We have subscribers from 5 users to 1,000. And the resources available can be very different from one customer to another. We realize that even in larger groups, a lack of general/technical interest on the solution can be a risk for the quality of the relationship during the project. The PLM is not another software of your environment, it’s a company-wide IT solution that needs to be understood at least for the following reasons:

to evaluate the solution

This is the key factor for us working with Aras Innovator. Aras is free to download, then save yourself long presentations, download the solution and install it. You’re not so into IT and you don’t know how to install it or don’t have the machine to do so? we’ll provide you with a trial access for free. The goal, is to understand the concepts of Aras. But then, when you go further into discovering Aras Innovator, you need to learn about the architecture and how deployments are made. This is key for you to trust or not the solution. Have you started a  requirement list with items like “the page should not take more than 8 sec to open”? If so, it means that you haven’t tried the solution.

to take decisions

Then, based on the experiences we’ve had on implementation and evolution, we realize that when the person we’re talking to is able to understand the business but also the technical concepts of Aras Innovator, he is more able to make alternative suggestions. He knows the user better then we do, he manages his budget, there are alternatives for which we would not have all the input to suggest these. If you want to be confident about your decisions, get trained or learn by yourself the solution.

to evaluate your supplier

The relationship with our customer is key. The best projects are not necessarily the biggest budgets. It’s mainly when there is a good quality in the relationship and good level of trust. And this level of trust is due to the fact that our customers know the solution and know how we are performing on the solution. We can clearly identify that when the company has no interest in understanding the solution, the relationship is not so good. And we have a clear split between fixed price project and time & material based projects. And honestly I think time & material projects are saving 15% to 20% of the project cost when they understand the solution. The price of the risk !

to extend the solution

If you know a little bit the business model of Aras, it’s a subscription based business model which basically means that the more solutions you build for your users, the most cost-effective your solution is. But how can you see where new solutions can be built in your organisation if you don’t know how the solution works. You need also to look at what other companies have been implementing, use the community to get more insights and more ideas.

A good document to start from:

Here is an interesting presentation I recently found. And I think it is a quite interesting view of elements companies’ IT people should know about Aras when they are involved in evaluating or implementing the solution


 

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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5 most read articles for the first semester 2013

Posted on July 4, 2013

I use to have the tradition with Prodeos to publish every month the top 5 most read articles of the blog. The articles were not necessarily written in the month which was showing sometimes that some articles were staying many month in this top 5. A good example has been the tutorial to install Aras Innovator PLM Solution.

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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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AML studio 2.0 is available !

Posted on July 3, 2013

This one of the best productive tool we use in all our development/reporting work with Aras. AML studio has been developed by Eric Domke after he attend the initial training at Aras with Bob Ellis where he realized there was a potential great improvement to work on regarding the Nash interface (the Nash is the out-of-the box AML query interface for Aras Innovator.) Then he started with a first version which was already very nice.

AML studio

AML studio

When we started using it, Anthony Ponceot from Minerva brought a slight improvement in order to save queries. Every time you had to save queries we had to copy & paste each query in an external file, so Anthony wanted to keep this in the application.

Now the version 2 is completely different on the interface side. It gives you pretty much the same “query saving” features through tabs. Here is what the interface looks like.

aml studio 2

aml studio 2

What I think is the best improvement with this new version it’s the fact that it is really replacing the Nash, you don’t need to have a separate application. Nash was good because from any computer you could run the nash interface. AMLStudio 1.2, you had to have it downloaded on your machine in order to run it. Now this AMLStudio v2 can be installed as part of Aras Innovator to be run from any client. It’s been a while since my last video so here I’m back :

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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3 different approaches for Aras Innovator

Posted on July 1, 2013

Companies have different approaches to Aras Innovator. Most of these companies have found Aras through searches for PLM solution, or even sometimes looking for Open Source PLM, usually for economic reasons. Aras Innovator offers different approaches depennding one your level of understanding of it. I’ll try to give a quick explanation of these three approaches and why they are interesting.

PLM Solution

This is the out of the box solution you are installing when you download Aras Innovator. When you hear about “Aras PLM” that’s it. It gathers the technology behind Aras Innovator and the whole predefined PLM datamodel with parts, CMII change management objects, projects, quality management objects. It’s a quite complete solution based on industry’s best practices. You download the solution, and you have it ! You want to make sure your data is safe at every upgrade, get a subscription. If you feel confident that you don’t need the subscription, then don’t take it and try/use Aras PLM for free.

Partners industry focus solutions

But sometimes, the Aras PLM solution is not quite adapted to your industry. We’ve seen that at Minerva, when we wanted to have some customers in the Electronic & High tech industry to try Aras, we quite quickly realized that their way of managing parts lifecycle was a bit different. And existing tool were pretty competitive regarding the speed to create and manage changes in their system. So we understand that the Out of the box Aras PLM is just not quite THE solution for all industry. Different partners are then packaging industry focus solutions. We at Minerva have build the Electronic & High tech, and the medical device templates. Other partners have built templates for fashion for example and other industries.

the framework !

Now we come to the part I like the most, the framework ! I even like better the expression : the Enabler ! That’s what it behind Aras PLM or other partner’s solutions. That’s what most PLM editors have tried to accomplish. A flexible system to quickly configure the solution to answer companies need. In 2009, that’s the main reason why I started to work on Aras. I could see Aras being useful in almost every department of the companies I’ve worked for in the past, and I would still call it PLM. The framework gives you the opportunity to generate forms, workflows, lifecycles,versions, and this with a very fine user/permission management.

Conclusion

This is a constant work we have as Aras partners. We try to our customer and prospects that Aras PLM comes already with very advance features for your business. But let’s see further in the future what Aras can do for you. This vision has to consider very deeply the Aras framework. That’s the one that we’ll support you the most on the long term.

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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back on the PLM limits discussion

Posted on June 27, 2013

This is once again a post about the endless discussion “what is the limit of PLM?” and I don’t think the discussion will end today mainly because I don’t have a scientific formula which would have, as an input, your requirements, and would output a boolean which would say: true this is PLM or False it’s not! So I’m trying here to just discussed what may not be the real frontier of PLM and what information may be considered instead.

Data management processes more than company departments

Every time PLM limits are discussed, the frontier are based on companies department. One of the most recurring question is “should this department get to use our PLM software?”. And this maintains the strong separations between these departments. Also between business/engineering fields. Get into an R&D department packed with mechanical CAD designers, everyone will know about PLM. Get inside another R&D department in an Electronic & High tech company. I’m not so sure that so many people would know about PLM. In many cases with Aras Innovator we don’t start with parts & BOMs. We manage other stuff, tests, change, projects, deliverables, sometimes just processes and yes we still believe we are delivering a solution for PLM. And yes I turn this sentence this way on purpose because Aras Innovator allows us to provide a solution for each company’s product lifecycle management.

Capitalizing an IP

This is always one of the first item that comes to my mind when I discuss PLM limits with others. Very often it is to differentiate the difference between ERP and PLM. To me the fundamental difference is that the ERP should track the execution of things in the company with almost always an accounting equivalent to every movement/consumption. Whereas the PLM intends to build value, to capitalize the IP that exist in the product definition, changes, experiences,etc.

Process

This is another aspect of PLM solutions and it is one of the best selling point when you have a technology that allows you to be flexible with it. Companies want to standardize and automate some decision process in the product management area. And on this topic we can have the same communication as a BPM solution editor would provide. Many PLM solutions are containing a BPM engine in order to produce workflows and lifecycles. On this one I wouldn’t put any limit between ERP and PLM. I think BPM, is a tool that can be common to both tools.

data & integration

I think the limits between ERP and PLM are maintained by editors and customers. Potentially today, you have one interface for PLM and another for ERP. Why don’t you have just one interface which send data to both systems if they need to have separated back-ends? To me, with the enhancement of integration solutions like most ETL, we may start having more integration between systems and the limit between PLM and ERP, will just be a data management issue for IT departments and not for the users. If you have been on our former Minerva France website, we had a drawing representing modules of ERP and PLM where some modules could be common to both. here it is: (sorry I will update this post when I’ll have it in English)

PLM and ERP

PLM and ERP interactions

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 goes mobiles with Jquery !

Posted on May 13, 2013

I apologize for the delay to publish this post which should have been posted a while ago. It was still waiting in my draft post list. Just before last christmas, I’ve got my colleague Anthony Ponceot who was just pushing really hard to get a nice mobile interface working for Aras Innovator. Some of the work was financed by one of our customer who will benefit of it pretty quickly to create Problem Reports directly from a smartphone or even a tablet getting a chance to take a picture and include it directly in the newly created problem report. So you may have seen this video directly from youtube a while ago but it’s good to see how we can extend the possibilities of client interfaces.

 

We’ve used jquery mainly because we started this project before the announcement of Aras switching to dojo. We believe that once the Dojo library switch will be release, we will look into the capabilities of dojo to create mobile interfaces. We will also make sure that we are not interfering with Aras R&D as their goal is to provide a UI kit which will allow companies to easily produce user interfaces adapted to each work.

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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is PLM the right marketing for Aras Innovator ?

Posted on May 7, 2013

This is a strong question for us. We’ve been working for some years with Aras Innovator and we have some very nice success in Europe, not only for us but mainly our customers increasing their number of users and adding new features almost every month.

Truth would be : Aras can cover for entire PLM

I’ve started working with Aras since 2009, but I’ve been thinking and working on complete product lifecycle management since college. I was all about what could be reused or automated in the product lifecycle. I remember seeing movies of Catia V5 with a demo of an electronic board where it suggest changing capacitor sizes to reduce cost, with live cost update. I’ve worked with CAD, ECAD and also simulation solutions. Never has a specialist but always trying to understand the data management enhancement that could be done. But when I got to discover some existing PLM systems from the large editors. I saw that it was not covering much out of the design phase. And when you are working as a system engineer in a Defense & Security company, your visible PLM solutions are Microsoft Excel, Access, and the requirement management solution Doors from IBM. That’s why I came to work with Aras. It’s because Aras could do it. It could cover many more processes than the existing solution we had.

For more customers it could be named Rapid Application Development Tool

PLM is still a niche market. How many of your friend know about PLM. In Europe with so many languages I guess it doesn’t help PLM awareness. And if we look at most of our customers, they extend their PDM sometimes replaces it, but at least, what is common is that they constantly grow their system. They sometimes look for new solutions from Aras, but most of the time they want to develop their own solution to fit their business. Aras helps them by being a Rapid Application Development Tool. You have processes, versionning, form builder, identity and roles management,… everything to build enterprise application.

To keep higher value customers it should stick to PLM

PLM is known mainly by R&D departments  And back to my discussion a while ago about the fact that it would be interesting to start PLM from somewhere else then R&D, a lot of answers where explaining that the reason why it was starting from R&D was because it was easier to justify high IT cost. So if Aras wants to make sure to have a clear financial advantage over time, it will be easier to stick to PLM.

My thoughts

I think by opening up the marketing message in order to explain that Aras can expand to every department of any industry, the community could grow up much faster. It doesn’t push Aras to stop using the PLM term because I really think that it is what they are doing. And they provide the solution that covers the most the product lifecycle management processes. The main issue we have by using the name PLM is that a lot of our customer have already invested in a PDM solution called PLM. And it feels almost like a religion. There can’t be a second PLM for them. So in many cases we are asked to never say that we are implementing a PLM solution. It doesn’t bother us much !

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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What are the benefits of running webinars on PLM ?

Posted on April 24, 2013

I’ll be running a new webinar this Thursday about FMEAs and this time is the first time we have more than 50 people registered to attend. I’m thankful to all the people who registered and I hope they’ll have a great time. So far, the feedback have been always pretty good. The only recurring complaint I receive is about sending out the recorded video. Now I send the link to video after each webinar, but I still can’t upload it to YouTube (codec issue). With that being said, I wanted to get back quickly on the reasons why I was doing these webinar and I’d like to make more general statements about this kind of live presentation enabling interactions.

it’s “honnest” marketing

That was pretty much my first intention when I started to run some webinar. I just wanted to show the product to a larger audience. In PLM, many times I went to meetings where people where surprised that I would show them the software. Many times I was told that usually the competition would wait 1 or 2 meeting before showing their software. And it’s true that for PLM, lots of solution are sold on answers to the business and not so much on IT technical aspects. So showing the real software to a large audience is key. And sometimes Internet Explorer may crash, sometimes, I’m not so well prepared and I’m using an instance with some developments that I’m doing so there is a pop-up telling that something is wrong. But it is real life and that’s one aspect of the webinar.

Get to see the software

Just like I just mentioned  how many PLM editors’ website will actually show the software. It’s complicated to see screenshots or even presentation of the real software. And sales people will tell you that it’s normal because it’s not a “mickey mouse” system and showing it without talking directly to one person may be risky. Here at least there is a presenter talking and explaining. I think we should see the software more often before planning to invest more time evaluating it.

Interact with the presenter

Finally this would mainly be to differentiate with YouTube videos. We have a lot of YouTube videos. They are fine and they last long, but when I see how many questions I can get during one webinar, I believe then, that there might be a lot of unanswered questions when people are watching our YouTube videos (our channel). I’ll announce the next webinar in the next few days. stay tuned.

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 2013 – Vote for the Collaborate & Contribute award

Posted on April 2, 2013

prize

Once again the Aras Community Event announced the Nominees for the Collaborate and Contribute awards. I don’t remember seeing so many projects in the past and I would say that about 80% of the project title will have an impact on what I will be able to deliver when implementing Aras for our customers. This reflects how active is the Aras community. Not only on the partners side, because if you look at the names, most of them are Aras customers. We can see that most of our customers are training not only key users but also developers internally to customize their Aras Instance and add new features. The subscription is well suited for a continuous improvement as you can keep adding features on your supported environment, constantly upgraded with no additional cost.

Look at the following project names. You can then click the image at the bottom of this article to vote for your favorite projects. Minerva won the award in 2010 and 2012. So let’s vote for 2013 and we’ll make sure to submit new cool projects in 2014 !

  • Recursive retrieval of very large hierarchical CAD structures – JAMCO
  • HTML5 Rich Text Editor – MAN Diesel & Turbo
  • Technical data pack search, view, select and package – Esterline
  • Class-specific property tab parameters grid – Silicom
  • Expanded support for Microsoft Forefront Unified Access Gateway – Sikorsky
  • Deep structure multi-level BOM customizability – GE
  • Custom SharePoint list retrieval & display – Sandia National Labs
  • Impact matrix hierarchy optimization – Esterline
  • Expanded access to supporting materials during workflow voting – Maxion
  • Multi-parameter Boolean advanced search – Carestream Health
  • SQL Server Reporting Services integration enhancements – ConAgra Foods
  • Enablement of custom event behavior during Copy Item – The Woodbridge Group
  • Complex CAD structure instance handling enhancements – T-Systems
  • Improved item promotion sorting in dialog – Sonnex
  • Simplified change workflow configurability – Young & Franklin
  • Custom solution upgrade enhancements – Motorola
  • Task reassignment during workflow looping – Lear Corporation
  • Fixed/Float business logic enhancement – The Woodbridge Group
  • CA SiteMinder reverse proxy and single sign on integration – GE
  • Search by foreign property improvement – GETRAG Ford Transmissions
  • Enhanced grid control configurability – Lear Corporation
  • High latency WAN performance improvements – Maxion
  • Released assembly structure retrieval improvements – F.X. Meiller
  • New SQL Server Reporting Services output options – Tomexpo
  • Configurable grid programmability optimization – AESSiS
  • IOM API COM interface compatibility update – GETRAG Ford Transmissions
  • Expanded Excel integration capabilities – Carestream Health
  • New business logic for Workflow Map with Versionable Items – Hitachi Metals
  • Inline Hebrew & English with right-to-left display – Aitech
  • Classification import / export / merge capabilities – Lear Corporation
  • Rich XML-based export to Microsoft Excel – Ubidyne
  • Programmatic filtering of search results – Yutaka
  • Enhanced multivalued list capabilities – Humax AutoInfortainment
  • IE9 File Item improvements – Tecnodinamica
  • Enhanced workflow email configurability – Weichaun
  • 1-click .NET/IE configuration script – TriQuint Semiconductors
  • Lifecycle state-based property verification enhancement – Spontech Spine
  • Material classification business rules – Diehl Gruppe Hydrometer GmbH

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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Single point of truth is still a key missing point…

Posted on March 12, 2013

single database and spreadsheets are not helping ! It seems like this sentence comes to my mind pretty much everyday. And we don’t have a 100% valid solution today to provide to our customers as they still use Excel files or Access databases spread into their organisations and not connected to each others. As I alread

just integration won’t solve it all

A few month ago I was writing about integration because I could meet more and more prospects telling me that they have the right interfaces for their users they just miss the connections from one job to another. And coming with a complete PLM solution, I felt like I had no point showing them the solution as they just wanted to invest in integration. But integration is not connecting simple stuffs. Who uses standards in the industry? And Once again I’m not talking about complicated stuff like STEP. I’m just talking about simpler things like requirement management, simple BOMs. How many times have I had someone telling me: “we have a pretty standard spreadsheet for our BOM”. No you don’t! I’ve heard this many times and they were all different. So the phrase “shit in, shit out” is also true for integration. Make sure your data as the right format and is clean and then integrate.

PLM as MDM+BPM+…

I wrote an article in french about this a few year ago. I was explaining why PLM was a sum of other tools like MDM and BPM. And recently I was being interviewed by a company who needed some consulting on how to structure their product management. And one of the person asked me: “what do you think is the difference between PLM and MDM?” It was honestly a strange question, I would understand a question like “do you think PLM can be used as an MDM?” because PLM and MDM are on different levels, PLM is more functionnal and less IT it gathers various tools to enable the automation and overall IT support for the business rules related to product data management during its whole lifecycle. Then yes, PLM could be a single point of truth and take the role of an MDM, but then you would fight with ERP.

Then, I think MDM is n interesting topic and should not be studied without looking at who is using the data and what other solutions are interacting with it. As we can see today with Aras Innovator, we have HR departements asking us if they can manage yearly performance review within Aras. And of course they can, is it related to product? it could be but it’s not the point. The point is that the mix of a convenient technical architecture with a correct business model makes it possible. But don’t forget to think about how you could us standard formats.

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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Versionning should be yours

Posted on March 10, 2013

document versionsThese last weeks were pretty crazy in terms of projects to work on. Travelling from sites to sites and visiting various industries. From tractors production (about 40 to 50 units a day) to navigation systems (few thousands a day and highly automated), it is always good to get back to basics and meet the people who are actually consuming the design data to understand what should be enhanced, not so much in terms of CAD data quality (I’m not a CAD vendor) but more in terms of general information management. The last strong argument I have had with one of our customer is about versionning. I’m not sure the discussion is over yet so I’m using the blog to exchange with you, our readers the decision process on versionning strategy.

Who is versionning things?

So, I’m writing this article to make some follow-up on one of the latest article of Oleg about versionning. This is an endless topic. He was mentionning versionning in PDM as a follow-up on my article about the existence of various understanding of what is versionning depending of the kind of work you are doing, or depending on your field of education. I would like to extend the versionning on another axis which is to understand why someone may or may not lead the versionning in a global supply chain. Our customer case is quite special as their are manufacturing devices that are designed from their mother company and sold to car manufacturers. So they get product definitions with a versionning system, and they are due to follow this versionning in order to deliver their product to the final customer.

So they are really concerned about following their supplier’s versionning because the mother company is the one communicating version with the final customer. They already have multiple level in their versionning. With a minor revision and a major revision but these are based on design change, nothing is directly related to manufacturing-related changes. But still, changes happen all the time and I believe that anyone one making changes should use an appropriate versionning system.

Multiple versionning object or one versionning with multiple level?

And this is a question I haven’t 100% answered yet mainly for a lack of time and discussions. My initial idea is to be completely independent from others whatever the relationship you have with your suppliers and customers. You should own your versionning systems. So that would mean allowing multiple versionning objects related to items (like parts) that you want to track. But what would be the difference with a single versionning object but based on multiple levels? This wouldn’t not allow so much independence. As they recently experienced it, the mother company can sometime change almost completely their way of managing versions. So, if you don’t want your system to be affected, multiple objects makes sense.

So that’s the idea for now. I’ll try to define a stronger position with illustrations once we will have decided of a system to use.

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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access & permissions as a key asset for PLM

Posted on January 30, 2013

Access and permissions in PLMI personally spend a lot of time wondering how we could provide better solutions to our customers and to the industry in general. I look at what we provide and yes there is always something I would like to enhance in the product. The issue is we, at Minerva, are mainly integrator and the best impact we can have on products like Aras Innovator, is based on the feedback and enhancement request we raise. But then we are not the editors so we are not making the decisions. So as an engineer and talking about PLM and PLM software  I’m always interested in imagining how PLM could be better.

Databases

I’m not a database specialist, so this one will be short. I already mentioned in a recent article the graph databases which may have an important impact on how the objects interact and how permissions and contextual views can be managed. But I think today, the issue does not necessarily come from this point.

Interface

The focus comes back many times to the interface. I have designed a solution called mysimplegrid where the interface is one of our nice strength and many times, company come back with some criticism about the Aras Interface. And we know the strength is not in the interface but in the flexibility of the solution to build any enterprise application. So many times I look at interfaces technology, javascript UI libraries like dhtmlx and dojo (the one used by Aras for its browser independent UI). And I tell myself that there wouldn’t be so much work to do to reach the solutions needed by small companies who may not need to much flexibility.

Access & Permissions is a key asset

But one key asset that is complicated to setup and for which a solution like Aras Innovator has been well design at initial design is the Access & Permission strategy that they’ve been implementing. There are still some issues that can be entirely leveraged by custom code inside Aras if needed. We recently use this capability at one of our customer to build very flexible workflows for which their legacy system provider is not able to match. So this is where my dreams of a very simple solutions developed in days are stopped. I realize that it takes a lot to build this access management system. And that’s why If you put a little energy in trying Aras, you’ll see that not only tomorrow but even a few years from now you’ll still be able to setup access & permissions for your users in a fast moving economy environment.

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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Should we pull PLM Deployments? a new Lean deployment strategy?

Posted on January 20, 2013

I already wrote about lean strategies related to PLM solution deployment and also the article about not starting a PLM project from Engineering, and I’m apparently not done on that topic based on this new article. Lots of comments were made on me being mad when willing to start PLM out of Engineering and at the same time very experienced people took the arguments, faced these arguments with the existing projects and realize there were some good points which were making sense and could be applied. Last week-end as I was helping a brother to start building a fence, working with others, we made sure we were pulling production to reduce moments where you wait holding some heavy stuffs and it brought me back to the lean topic.

The manufacturing / Engineering interface issues

This is something we always ear and mainly when there is a new cad designer in the company, it is not that easy to design stuff that the company can produce. Being good at designing product that can be manufactured requires experience, knowledge about manuufacturing and industrialization and also about your own factory’s ressources. So the main cause is usually experience, but what if the systems were made to provide more information and more constraint to the designer? Before designing, should he get to know what’s available in manufacturing or if there is a new machine to purchase, should he bring enough information to provide the right data? This is said to be good practices that designer should have. I would say that these are requirements from manufacturing.

Pulling data

The lean concept is highly based on a pull flow. Most of the arguments I’ve had were about the fact that the main data is created in Engineering so we should start deployment in engineering. Well, what if you should provide a system to the first person who enter the system. The one who will pull the flow, the customer? the marketing? assistance & support?

Impact on deployment

PLM editors have been working a lot on integrating requirement management solutions lately and this might be some of the features to implement first. We have started projects from the Change Management. Has there are existing parts, prototypes and products instead of changing a whole existing system to provide a solution for engineering we may want to start by capturing the daily change request and problem reports. And then you would continue the implementation rolling back the product lifecycle.

Have any experience of project which may have run in this way?

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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versionning, different meaning from one activity to another

Posted on January 15, 2013

Versionning is always tricky in organisations and this is true for a lot of different environment. You can either be in sales, logistics, engineering, maintenance, HR,etc. There is also an issue with versionning. And it is strange because best practices have been discussed a lot, but it is sometimes hard for people to have a common way to think about versionning. I was recently discussing with a colleague with whom we are working on a new interface where the versionning is to be shown and available to the user. And as he comes more from a software development environement and I’ve been 100% in PLM without to much including source code management, we realized we had a different feeling about versionning.

Difference of intentions

It is funny, because I hear more and more leads and customers talking about intentions when they want to describe a software and that was exactly my feeling when we stumbled upon this difference on how we thought about versionning.

  • For the software development oriented person, versionning means saving or tagging. It means that the actual work has to be saved because we want to keep a state of the actual work. “I want to keep a state, I make a version, this version is stored”
  • In my view, related to main PLM concepts, versionning is creating something new. “I want to start a new work or I want to change a document, I version it. my new version is my working copy”.

The difference is not that big, but the difference of intention in the term “versionning” is surprisingly quite important.

Conclusion

We realized that it could be just a matter of interface because the backend can have the same logic. The issue is that we were on a software which would be used by users from different departments and with different experiences but where we couldn’t have two interfaces. So it needed some discussions to make sure we understood the same concepts and we would make compromise to use one single software interface on that product.

What is your “version” of “versionning” ?

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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New database systems for future of MDM

Posted on January 9, 2013

Happy new year to everyone. I hope the actual economy environnement will convince more people to invest time for helping the product development initiatives by solving Product Lifecycle Management related pending issues. Today’s article is about my thought on why it is always so complicated to move from a PLM solution to another, why are we changing tons of things and settings to in fact change a software cost or an interface. On of the reason is that all these elements are strictly related and the elements in a PLM solution can’t be dissociate. You can’t just keep you data and change the interface. From my previous experiences of migration, I’ve realized that I was moving data from a system to another with transformations but the data would still mean the same thing it is just that the software would handle it differently. Then speaking of standards would there be a standard for data management in PLM and should this define a technology or at least should it drive database system editors to push for one?

Actual systems

Today we mainly use SQL databases with tables in databases. Two schemas are used. Either the schema with a constant number of table like “value”, “properties”, “table_name”,… which allows you to create any complexity of system with a constant number of table. Or you have the schema like the one used by Aras Innovator which has one table for each Itemtype. Th

New database solutions

These solutions may not be new but they are not used so far in PLM systems. The main difference that I see is that it is taken into account that a part and a relationship between two parts can’t be stored the same way. Plus, we are use to have very simple relationships parent-children with sometime one or two other type of relationship but what if tomorrow the objects behave much more on context and you need to define these with more flexibility.

  • One first alternativ would be to store everything in XML databases. Most of the standards are using XML to be described why shouldn’t we store them directly in XML. Here is a presentation of BaseX.

  • The second one much newer and with nice perspective is shown in the following video where it says how they care about relationships in a different way then usual and with a lot of inputs from the actual developments in the social web.

I didn’t want here to get to deep in the tech talk about databases. Just starting some more thought about what could be the next technology to use to help customers to have a real matching between the real world and their databases and then to have more chances to detach the interface and the data. What are your thoughts?

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 : How to start an Amazon EC2 cloud server all prepared to install Aras Innovator!

Posted on December 19, 2012

Yes, still for a while, Aras Innovator should not be available on other server platform than Windows Server. Which is of course just a limitation on the server side and not on the client side as Aras is announcing that soon the browser independent UI will be released, replacing all the ActiveX component by the javascript library Dojo. The Aras Innovator install is still extremely simple. Of course I say that because I already tried to install other solutions and I went in some training for other solutions and it has always been a disaster to uninstall these. The first day, you spend it installing the solution, the day after you copy the virtual machine of another trainee as it failed… This doesn’t happen in an Aras training. But Aras Install can fail sometimes, it always rely on your windows server and IIS configuration. But as long as you follow the tutorial you should be just fine. In less than 1 hour you should have Aras Innovator Up&Running starting from scratch!

Start a windows server in the Amazon cloud

  • First, you need to register on Amazon EC2
amazon_register
  • Once registered, you can access the Amazon Web Services. In this tutorial we will only need EC2.
  • Once you land on the EC2 Console, click on “Launch Instance” to start the server creation process.
  • Select “Classic Wizard” then click”Continue”
  • Sleect the following server: “Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 SQL Server Express and IIS”. It will be ready for you to install Aras Innovator as it has not only IIS activated but also SQL server and the SQL management software already installed.
  • Select a small server. We’ve evaluated the micro server but even though Aras doesn’t need a lot of RAM, 613 is way to low. In terms of cost you need to forecast about 90$/month for a “small” instance  if you leave it running 24/7. You’ll see that it is quite easy to turn off without loosing the state of the server.
  • On the following screen I suggest to select the option “Prevention against accidental termination”. Mainly if at one point you start managing instances through command lines. I already had an accident with it myself. Deleting an instance against my will.
  • The following screen asks you if you want to change the storage unit size. Leave it this way, you’ll be fine for a while.
  • The following screen let you add information about your server instance. just click “continue”.
  • the following screen allows you to create your “Key Pair” which will let you get the windows administrator password once the instance is launched.
  • Once you have entered the name for your key, you click on “Create & Download your key pair” and you should see that your key name+”.pem” should get downloaded. Don’t loose it !
  • You need then to create a security group which will define the different port that you need to open on the machine. Be careful before moving to the next screen, there are two rules to create !
  • So, the two following rules have to be created. It means that you need to first, select HTTP and click on “Add Rule” and then you do the same thing selecting  RDP and clicking on “Add Rule” again.
  • HTTP allows the web application to be reached from the anywhere and RDP stands for Remote Desktop Protocol which allows you to access your server to setup Aras.
  • On the following screen you can finally start your instance !
  • The instance creation is validated you can then close this window!

Access your windows Server

  • Once your instance has been launched, you can see it in your instance list
  • Once the launch is finish you should see a red light with the “running” status
  • Rright click on the line and select “Get Windows Password”
  • in order to get retrieve the windows admin password, you need to take the file you downloaded one the “key pair” creation window.
  • You select the file and then your password should be provided on the next window
  • You can then start the remote descktop connection interface and fill the computer addess
  • … and then your login and password
  • You’ll have a certificate to validate (sorry for the french interface on that one!)
  • Finally you should get to your almost ready instance to install Aras Innovator !

Check your SQL Server config

When Microsoft SQL Server is installed, in order to avoid problem during the Aras Innovator install, it is necessary to allow the mixed-mode login which will allow Aras to log in without using the Administrator Session. By default it is set up as “windows authentication mode” on these instances. Here are the steps to change it.

  • find SQL server management studio in the start menu

  •  log in with “windows authentication mode”

  • right click on the database server (left panel) and select properties. You should get to the next screen. Reach the security menu and make sure you change the Server Authentication to “SQL Server and Windows Authentication mode”

  • Once validated, I always suggest to restart the SQL server. You can right click again on the database server and click on “Restart”

“You’re all set !”

You are now ready to to install Aras Innovator on this server with no issue! I’m preparing another tutorial for that.

In case you had an issue during this tutorial

  • you can still post a question on this blog
  • you can post a question on the Aras forum. The community will be there to help
  • or you can also write me an email directly at yoann.maingon@minerva-plm.fr

If you succeeded you should feel just like this little man!

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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Integration more than solutions for some purpose…it’s still PLM !

Posted on November 13, 2012

I recently visited a company after I received an email from their director with the title “PLM project or not?”. This was an interesting email because this person told me that he had read my blog articles for more than two years and at one point he was wondering how he could make his company become more efficient in managing the product lifecycle information. The context was interesting because they are a company who was distributing their mother company’s product until they became capable of developing niche products which is now a large part of their activity and becomes even more important. So in my long answer (it was almost like a blog article) I explained the actual ways of solving PLM problems and how a solution like Aras could either fit or not with their case. But I didn’t have enough data so I came on site to have a better understanding of their processes.

“We already have all the interfaces we need”

Quickly after we had discussed our activities and after visiting the whole enterprise we’ve tried to understand the actual processes and the actual pain or lack of efficiency they could think about. And quickly we realized that the users had some great interfaces already, the correct software for each person. They were not making a too important use of Excel. Most of the information is managed in the ERP or in Lotus databases, Project management software and they were having files managed directly in folders but their organisation could still make it working without too much risk so far. The main pains they could talk about were the many times they had to rewrite data because one software couldn’t transfer  it to another. So I did not open my computer to show Aras Innovator. They already downloaded it and installed it a while ago. And here it was clear that I couldn’t tell them to replace all these interfaces that are working so well. So what’s next? What is the role of a PLM-technology consultant in such conditions?

data integrationdata managemententerprise application integration

This is the business description in wikipedia for the company Talend. And this is exactly what we needed in this situation. I needed a solution to make their software talk to each other. So I think the first activity or the first type of software they could go to would be ETL. And then in a larger centralized view they could extend with other solutions like MDM, and EBS with some data-quality in it. But what is interesting and relating it to my previous article about different marketing strategies and namming in plm is the fact that we don’t see these terms too much in PLM marketing. But when you talk with people criticizing other solutions it usually comes down to these topics. Migration, Integration, sharing standards, etc. These are common terms that should be more frequently addressed when talking about PLM. I think (and this will be written in a coming blog article) PLM consulting will be split in more roles and the ones who want to have the wider impact/view on enterprise PLM should make sure to follow whats going on in the pure data management business. And I’m not talking “Big Data” I ‘m talking about data systems, data quality, data integration for any-size business. I’m already 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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different marketing strategies and namming in PLM

Posted on November 8, 2012

Seen from the Aras community, I’m must say I’m guilty! I’ve been following a little bit the twitter’s feed of the 3dexperience presentation from Dassault yesterday. Not sure what was the initial reason of this conference so I came back on the website talking about the event and doing a summary of the day. And based and this page and the tweets, I’m like “Wow” !! is anyone talking about PLM here? Or are we just spreading the French arrogance to the world. So, the aim of this article is not to focus on ths conference but to look at the different messages that I can hear from different PLM editors. But before that let’s take a look at some tweets! This is just either funny if you’re not in the PLM business, or disappointing if you are suffering from outdated softwares in PLM.

Seriously, this is embarrassing. I don’t think I’ve twitted stuff like that during an ACE event. This has just nothing to do with everyday life in companies. Enough with this, they won, I talked about them!

3D or Enterprise

Visiting PLM companies websites and following tweets and stuff, there are two major trends in term of messaging. Some are more using one than the others and some are doing a mix of both. The two items are 3D and Enterprise. You’ll see a lot about enterprise PLM and it makes sense because as I constantly repeat PLM is about everyone creating and consuming information related to the product in the company and also outside the company with partners. What is interesting is that some companies are still pushing forward on 3D to talk about PLM. It’s true, having a CAD model on the first page of your website is sexy!  But as I mentionned in my last article this can’t be a wrapper of PLM!

A portfolio is not a suite

I replied to one tweet yesterday during the Dassault event. Here is the quick exchange :

So as I was curious to see what was one the latest acquisition from our french friends, I visited the website. And surprise this product already covers the whole mining lifecycle http://www.gemcomsoftware.com/products . How come this be added to a suite. It’s growing the portfolio not the suite. It’s all about integration. There is no way this will be integrated with other products. And to extend this comment this is the criticism not only competitors but also system integrators make to these portfolio and I’m not targetting a specific editor. But sometimes you’ve got solutions which really looks like they would fit together but the technology is different and the editors are not investing enough to integrate tools. Then it stays as a portfolio status to me.

IT Framework

I think today the place we need more investment and more editors to dive in is the IT framework. Guaranteeing seamless integration between tools, and coherent suite growth. But this is not sexy and I wonder if most of these tools that many companies are missing may be found in other areas like EBS, MDM, ETL,etc. That’s more where Aras stands for me (personnal opinion). They approached PLM from the IT framework investing in a long term strategy which is paying now. I admit it, this ends as a pro-Aras article, but I really wanted to emphasis on marketing and development strategies gaps.

You’re free to comment 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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