New capabilities by Product Lifecycle Management software developers are driving design deeper into the fold.
Aras Corp., a PLM software developer in Lawrence, Mass., announced last week the next iteration of its namesake PLM platform, Version 6.0, that takes into account the often difficult-to-measure area of product development by providing actionable metrics.
The metrics are based on a standardized set of KPIs (key performance indicators) for engineering product development. This latest version is built on Microsoft Corp.s .Net environment for more simple deployment of the software, officials said.
Displayed in graphical score cards and dashboard scenarios, the actionable metrics provide users with the ability to set goals and run performance measurements over time. Similarly, users can identify and fix issues, and target areas for improvement in five specific areas: product innovation, engineering efficiency, the design-to-goal process, engineering optimization and time-to-manufacturing.
Jim Sutton, manager of IT engineering systems at Varian Semiconductor Equipment Associates Inc., is testing Aras Version 6.0 to pull together his various manufacturing systems under one umbrella.
"We already have a PDM [product data management] system in place, a pretty solid ERP [enterprise resource planning] system in place and Lotus Notes with lots of other databases that have been built over the years," said Sutton, in Gloucester, Mass. "Were starting a customer engineering commitment database, and we need to bring information from all those systems together to serve up in a dashboard-type tool."
With Version 6.0, Sutton has been able to create a dashboard that brings in information from his PDM, ERP and homegrown systems to provide a visual picture of whats going on with current projects.
"Before what we had were people sitting down with Excel spreadsheets and databases, and if someone asked a question you had to say, Let me look that up," said Sutton. "That doesnt make sense in todays high-tech world."
Aras PLM works together with the companys namesake Innovator, a model-based application framework announced in 2001.
Meanwhile, Agile Software Corp., of Orlando, Fla., announced earlier this month that it has integrated its namesake PLM suite with i2 Technologies Inc.s electronics database to allow customers to streamline parts research during the development phase.
The connectivity of the two systems will enable the dissemination of the Dallas-based i2s materials and parts content across the Agile PLM suite. It will enable Agile users to locate and analyze electronic components for better compliance with product design goals.