Formation to Give a Web Face to Product Lifecycles Management

Formation Systems Inc. is Web-enabling its product lifecycle management software suite. As a result, makers of formula-based goods such as packaged food or plastics will be able to automate the development and fabrication of their products not only within their own companies but with outside suppliers.

Formation Systems, of Southboro, Mass., in January will introduce an upgrade to its Optiva PLM software that provides Web interfaces to its collaboration, planning and manufacturing applications.

In addition to the Web-based architecture, the January upgrade of Optiva will have role-based user interfaces and sophisticated analytics delivered through the suites Report Server and Dynamic Forms Generator, officials said.

In advance of that the company next week will release an upgrade of Optiva that will better automate compliance to regulatory restrictions and labeling rules through sophisticated version controls. The feature release also will enable manufacturers to cut direct materials costs through enhanced tools for forecasting raw materials use across different business units, officials said.

It also adds the capability to analyze and compare the physical and chemical characteristics of raw materials so that a manufacturer can find cheaper substitutes for ingredients used in current formulas.

Optiva also will be enhanced with the capability to search and compare previous lab experiments and products with ones currently planned so that new product ideas dont repeat previous mistakes or dead ends. Enhanced sample management capabilities can be used to quickly refine old product formulas to meet new customer requirements and new consumer tastes, Optiva said.

"Its a classic example of automating processes," said Formation CEO Peter Shields.