The Union of PLM and ERP, PLM & Decision Making, Product Data: Finding It - Using It (6)


2PLM Newsletter

John Stark Associates                                                                                                                                          November 19, 2012 - Vol15 #15

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The Union of PLM and ERP
by Roger Tempest
After 3 events in 2 continents, and 18 participants from 6 countries, the PLM-ERP initiative is on course to produce the definitive Version 3.0 PLM-ERP Handbook by the end of January.

The Handbook alone, however, is not enough. There is also a PLM-ERP Primer (see 2PLM Oct. 22) that encapsulates the business and management issues into an accessible working document; and the technical areas require the application of the Product Structure Standard and a new Data Management Manual. All of these will be published alongside the Handbook as part of the PLMIG membership material for 2013.

Most importantly, the concept of 'a single product management system for the entire enterprise, that manages the data from its first inception right through the manufacturing and build to field service and support', has been shown to be correct. After the first Workshop in Bristol this was outlined in 2PLM Sep. 24 as "PLM=ERP", but it is better expressed as: "PLMuERP" - the Union of PLM and ERP.

This concept of having PLM and ERP people, processes and technology working together in a harmonised way is fundamental to what we are trying to achieve. No longer are we talking about fixing a split between two computer platforms by using some kind of "interface sticking plaster". We are now working on the basis of a union between PLM and ERP in which everyone feels part of the same team, and works towards the same goals by following the same plans.

This may sound like common sense, but if you look around your own company you may see that there is still some way to go. That is why the PLMuERP annotation is useful - it helps keep everybody's mind on the new paradigm.


Roger Tempest is co-founder of the PLMIG. Membership of the PLMIG is available via

PLM & Decision Making
by Scott Cleveland
from Jim Brown of Tech-Clarity
Given the important role of engineering decision-making in product development, manufacturers should treat it as a core competency. Manufacturers must enable decision-makers to make better, more confident decisions. They should also enable engineers to make decisions efficiently and get them right the first time to optimize product development time, reduce time-consuming design rework, and improve time to market. Optimizing engineering decisions is ultimately about driving greater success and profitability of products.

My Thoughts....
I first started in this business many years ago with Sherpa Corporation. At that time, our president used to say that our software gets 'the right information to the right person at the right time'. I remember that I didn't think that was a very good sales pitch.

Now that some time has passed, I am thinking that he was right. And, decision-making is the driving force. If we can get the right information to the person needing to make a decision at the time they need to make the decision, this will give them the opportunity to make the 'best decision' possible at that time.

That 'best decision' allows them to optimize product development time, reduce time-consuming design rework, and improve time to market resulting in decreased costs and increased revenues.


Your Thoughts....
Does this seem logical?

Scott Cleveland can be contacted on +1 408-464-6387

Product Data: Finding It - Using It by Deploying a Search Engine Solution (6)
by Dick Bourke
In Part 5, brief descriptions of the two dimensions of searching methods were presented: Deep (full text) and Wide (unified access). The purpose of this Part 6 is to describe the general searching process in two phases: Initial and subsequent. For readers who have done on-line shopping, these processes will look familiar. With SESs, however, the navigational aids are more extensive.

Initial searching process
A key component of an SES is a purpose-designed user interface (UI) that is focused on the needs of engineering and manufacturing users. A single point-of-access eliminates the need for multiple sign-ons.

When a user enters a search criteria - a word or phrase - in the UI, the SES presents an initial results list to the user for further analysis and action. To facilitate this process, an SES may use powerful techniques for normalizing and classifying data by use of thesauri - think synonyms. The means to relate similar terms include 1) Taxonomy (hierarchical relationships) and/or 2) Ontology (a network of relationships) methodologies.

To supplement this discussion, look at some representative vendor offerings, for example, Actify, Alcove9, Exalead (Exalead ii) and Siemens (Active WorkSpace). Notice, their displays that appear will be remarkably similar. These initial search results are surrounded by several navigational aids and refinement methods showing possible areas to explore further. Claims of "intuitive" are valid. New users should be able to quickly grasp the exploration possibilities with minimal training.

Using Deep/Wide search capabilities, the presented results are generated by driving past metadata to access desired content in every relevant record; the search criteria are highlighted in each listed record containing it. Typically, thumbnail previews of images will also be shown. These displays of retrieved results then can be iteratively refined to narrow the results list to find data that is most "relevant" - a key capability in semantic technology and in an SES.

Relevant - the desired search end is an "a ha" moment. Two factors come into play: 1) SES algorithms and 2) user actions. In the world of semantic technology, the end is still the same; the means are based on various algorithms. These determine the ranking of the results to be presented by taking into account any number of factors, such as frequency and proximity of the criteria to other words. Relevant ranking methods can range from simple to highly complex - based on sophisticated mathematical logic.

In addition to the displayed results, a user will see filtering choices to narrow subsequent searches, e.g., dates and file types are two examples of many. 

Further exploration is highly likely; a typical initial search may reveal hundreds of choices. Thus, the second factor is the ability of a user to determine the correct choices for further discovery and ultimately, decision-making.

Subsequent searching process

Getting to the relevant data needed for a timely decision, therefore, is also a function of the user's ability to take advantage of the displayed navigational aids, e.g., the capability of an SES to show relationships as an aid to decision-making, such as all related documents for a CAD drawing.

Moreover, further refinements to the selection criteria may be in order. Some familiar refinements include:

  1. Boolean logic with AND/OR/NOT operators
  2. Wild card entries
  3. Mandatory, prohibited, and optional clauses
  4. Sub-expressions - use parenthesis to compose a query of smaller queries
  5. Field qualifier - explicitly search a particular field
  6. Phrase query - a series of words to be matched in a stated order

Faceted navigation is also a key discovery tool. Facets are the categories into which the SES has grouped relevant records, with a number of them in each category. In turn, the records in a particular category may include several types. Thus, faceted navigation helps the user to identify and select a specific category for further exploration.

Now, the significance of Deep and Wide searching should be more obvious. With Deep, a user is assured that all search criteria have been identified; with Wide, a user is assured that all designated files have been accessed.

From a user's standpoint, the SES will have done its job when relevant data is presented. To keep the power of an SES in perspective, though, bear in mind that algorithms can't judge quality and any duplications aren't removed, just identified. Once again, well-informed users are crucial to getting results with an SES.

Accordingly, the essence of effectively using an SES is to make timely decisions that markedly and positively affect the enterprise's strategic objectives, such as improving "Time-to-Market" by reducing the costs, times and risks of product development.


What's Next
In Part 7, Comments and answers to questions.
Please direct questions to me at

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 Product                         Lifecycle                         Management: Paradigm for 21st Century Product                         Realisation

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The Adept Group announced availability of a White Paper, "Strategizing, Road Mapping and Executing the Product Line". Details

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Omnify Software announced it is celebrating ten years of PLM software success. Details

Siemens PLM Software announced a free High School Edition of its Solid Edge software. Details

Sopheon issued its interim management statement for the period since 1 July 2012. Details



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