The Practical PLM Newsletter - Issue 4, March 2016


  • Introduction - PLM Continuum...Rethink the Spectrum of Possibilities
  • Business - Saab Selects Aras to Support Gripen Fighter Aircraft Product Data
  • Best Practices - The PLM Maturity Quadrant Explained
  • Application - Component Engineering Insights
  • Tech Tips - Visual Collaboration…You Won’t Need Your Other Viewers
  • Learning - Previous and Upcoming Webinars
  • Events - ACE 2016


The PLM Continuum - Rethinking the Spectrum of Possibilities 

PLM inherently touches multiple departments and areas of responsibilities.  The value of part and product data, files, drawings, specs and schedules for example, extend beyond the engineering and manufacturing departments.  But, the reality is various teams/groups in the organization invariably acquire technology solutions specific to their needs.  Hence the silos of data and disconnected processes are perpetuated.

It’s fully understandable.  Trying to get the different groups to collectively agree, define and budget can be challenging at best.  That’s why we have stressed the importance of senior management sponsorship to break down the barriers.  We talked about this in our last newsletter.

The exciting news is that PLM can indeed serve a wide range of functional needs across the business that can range from sales through to field support, maintenance and warranties.  Everyone wants a “single source of truth.”  This vision starts when the next application to beacquired builds towards this goal.  We would argue that aside from ERP, most other product related applications in the organization are tied to PLM.

That is the theme of this newsletter and the upcoming webinar.  We introduced the PLM Maturity Quadrant in our last webinar.  We’ll talk about how you can use this to quickly identify where your organization operates.  A couple of other topics are provided that continue to reinforce the spectrum of possibilities. 


Saab Selects Aras to Support Gripen Fighter Aircraft Product Data 

Based on Press Release of March 1, 2016

Saab recently announced that they have selected Aras Innovator® to support the handling of complex product data and business processes related to the Gripen fighter aircraft.  Specifically, Aras will be used to strengthen the information management capabilities for the maintenance aspects of the aircraft.

Saab’s noteworthy reasons include

  • platform flexibility
  • upgradability
  • integration capabilities with other applications

Companies want flexibility to include making changes to the database structure and processes without requiring surgical teams coming in for months at a time.

In addition to bug fixes, software updates also include new features and capabilities.  Yet, for most companies that have on-prem enterprise solutions, they may as well ignore updates.  Why?  Because the customizing and tailoring that has occurred tend to make upgrades the cause for cold sweats.  It’s too costly and time-consuming.  We’re sure the execs at Saab were pleasantly surprised to learn that Aras does the upgrades as part of subscription.

Finally, Saab cited application integration capabilities. In the next section of this newsletter, we talk about the PLM Maturity Quadrant.  One of the variables is related to the cohesion of data; how well is data connected to various repositories and applications?  Integration capabilities need to be readily available.

For more information, the press release can be read here


The PLM Maturity Quadrant Explained

Where does your company operate as you pursue the promise of PLM? 

The vdR Group has recently formulated the PLM Maturity Quadrant as illustrated in the diagram below.

The quadrant is comprised of two simple parameters.  The x-axis is referred as the Data Cohesion variable and the y-axis characterizes Process Repeatability.  The top right-hand quadrant represents the ideal PLM environment. 

The Data Cohesion variable considers how well data is connected.  The expression “single source of truth” is often associated with the goals of PLM.  This suggests that users seeking to access part and/or product related data can go to ONE place.  The data doesn’t have to be in a single repository, but linkages need to be in place.

The vertical axis considers the repeatability of an organization’s processes.  On one end of the spectrum, the processes are based on manual and verbal communications and leverage cultural and/or community knowledge and experiences.  One way to assess this would be to ask the question, “What would happen if a key employee was absent today?”  On the top end of the vertical axis shows processes that are highly repeatable.  This tends to suggest a significant level of automation and workflow.  If a key employee were out for the day, the processes may be delayed, but would not be interrupted.

Where does your company operate? 

In our previous webinar held last month, we talked about practical steps to more to the “promise land” of PLM.   You can watch the 30 minute recording here.


Component Engineering Insights

An Interview with Lopa Subramania, Aras Product Manager for Component Engineering


Companies are recognizing Component & Supplier Management for its potential to make major reductions in many elements in Cost of Goods Sold. The Aras Component Engineering (CE) application spans both elements of C&SM.

We asked Lopa to explore CE, telling us about her rich background in this subject area.


I’m a mechanical engineer by education, and I have pretty much been in PLM and the enterprise software space for my whole career.  I started in services with SDRC Metaphase and then moved to Aspect Development/i2 in their supplier relationship management area. I gained great experience in both services and presales working with utility companies, high-tech, apparel, retail, industrial and the auto industry.  Before joining Aras, I spent a number of years at Siemens PLM working with Teamcenter. 


So, let’s jump into the CE application.  Give us an overview of the application and who is Aras targeting.


When you look at PLM today, there’s generally no content embedded out-of-the-box.  Today, users have to open a browser and search for the desired parts.  Once they find it, they need to go through a manual process of entering the data in their current application.  The CE application eliminates all that. 

Right from within Aras, a user can search, select and immediately add it to the collection of parts. The CE solution delivers normalized parts and supplier data directly from within Aras Innovator.  It’s putting the content at the point of use versus having the user dig into various silos of manufacturer parts.

The advantage of that is you save time, and you have the added benefit of knowing data in context.  You see, the latest information from the manufacturer, which may say, “Oh this part is no longer available.”


Essentially, it’s prepopulated information about a part that is an off-the-shelf-part.  Is that a fair description?


Correct, you could call it prepopulated or up-to-date information.  If you think about it, it’s everything you need to know about a part, right there without having to leave Aras Innovator.


So this triggers the question, “Where does this prepopulated data coming from? “


Good question.  We partnered with IHS, who is a leading source of parts and supplier information.  What they do is aggregate the information, either they go to the manufacturer’s website, or they contact the manufacturer. Every day, there are hundreds of engineers collecting this information and keeping this data up to date.  IHS has a huge database of 430 plus million parts.  They post it in a database called IHS Caps Universe Database.  That is their business model, where they collect information and keep it up to date using ISO-certified processes, and then they sell it to other companies for a fee. 


Let’s talk about the user experience and how they get to this data.


I do have to say that even though we do get the data from IHS, we keep our own active collection in the Aras CE cloud.  This gives us a number of benefits.

First, it provides a better search experience.  The user does their work directly within Innovator.  There are menu items that start the search.  I then get this catalog with a Google-like search.  You can put in your keywords, select your part category, do a search and then you are presented with the results that match your criteria.  Then you can use filters on technical parameters like architecture, tolerance, voltage, etc.  Once you have found what you are looking for, you can add the part directly into Innovator.  The application keeps that data current.  So the next time you look at it, say six months from now, you will see the latest information on that part. 


Going back to the data in Aras.  It sounds like Aras has developed a mechanism to keep the data synchronized with the cloud to ensure that the latest information is being presented?


Yes, correct.  Aras is replicating the data from IHS and then synchronizing updates.  They send us data through automated updates, and we automatically update our cloud database.


Is the CE application a part of the subscription offering, or is it something user would add to their subscription?


CE is an additional subscription.


Lastly, can you identify some words or phrases that an organization would use to suggest that they would benefit from something like this?


Yes… essentially, if a company needs to select, use and manage electronic manufacturer parts as a significant element of their design process.  In particular, companies that are coping with end-of-life (EOL) considerations, product change notices (PCNs), and environmental compliance information for RoHS, REACH and Conflict Minerals should investigate this application.

Editor’s Note:

CIMdata wrote up a review of the Aras Component Engineering module.  For more information, follow this link.


Visual Collaboration

View any content, any format, share, and discuss

Last year Aras was the first PLM vendor to provide embedded CAD to 3D PDF conversion capabilities.  It is now an inherent part of the Aras Innovator PLM for subscribers and enables users across the enterprise to view all formats of product data in a single, common user interface without buying additional software.  As a result, there is no need for a separate visualization tool 

One of the powerful 3D tools available in the Adobe Reader is the 3D measurement tool. Anyone with Adobe Reader XI can easily measure and markup rich engineering data saved in the 3D PDF file format.

We want to highlight some of the measure and markup features.

To measure a model, first activate the 3D window by clicking on the model. You should then see the 3D toolbar.  If the 3D toolbar is not visible, right-click in the 3D view and select "Tools"-­->"Show Toolbar" from the context menu:

Select the 3D measurement tool icon on the 3D toolbar to display the 3D measurement tool.

Snap Enables

The left side of the 3D measurement tool controls the snapping behavior when selecting 3D geometry.  Snapping behaviors allow you to select specific locations on 3D geometry.  For example, using 3D snapping you can accurately pick the endpoints of an edge or the silhouette curve of a curved surface.  It is important to develop a good understanding of what snaps behaviors are available in the Adobe Reader and how they work.

There are five different 3D snap behaviors, and each behavior is toggled on/off using a button on the 3D measurement tool under the heading "Snap Enables":

electing a snap enable icon toggles a snap behavior on/off. Toggling all of the snap behaviors off disables snapping.  It is important to note that you can have more than one snap behavior enabled at any given time.  You can tell which snap behaviors are active by the rectangular outline that is displayed around enabled snap behavior icons in the toolbar.  In the image above, all of the snap enables are active.

Measurement Types

The right side of the 3D measurement tool controls the type of measurement that is toggles it on/off.

There are four types of measurement that you can perform using the Adobe Reader:

3D Point To Point Measurement - Measures the distance between two positions on the 3D model. Click to set a start point, and then click another location to set an end point or edge.

3D Perpendicular Dimension - Measures the distance between two edges taken at a right angle to the starting edge.

3D Radial Dimension - Measures the radius at the location clicked.

3D Angle Measurement - Measures the angle between two edges.

Matching Snap Enablement with Measurement Type

A good measurement strategy for the Adobe Reader is to match your snap enable settings with your selected measurement type.  For example, if you are measuring radial dimensions ( ), you should set the 3D Snap to Radial Edges ( ).  Also, make sure that you deactivate any unnecessary snap behaviors.  You don't want to be snapping to linear edges when you are trying to do a radial measurement.

Editor’s Note: Aras subscribers can get more in the Aras KnowledgeBase (Aras KB) located in the Subscriber Portal at


ACE 2016

It’s NOT too late to take advantage of the learning experience by attending the upcoming Aras Customer Event, Detroit, MI - March 15 - 17, 2016

Join the Aras community for ACE 2016 - - - a great place to network with Aras users and partners, hear about next generation PLM strategies, see the latest solutions and find out what Aras has in store for the future.  For more information, check it out here.

Previous Webinar Recording

Part 2: Creating a “PLM Beachhead” That Drives 80% of the Value with 20% of the Effort

Conducted February 18, 2016

We shared strategic and practical insights as to how to establish your company’s “PLM beachhead.”  You can watch the 30 minute recording here.

Upcoming Webinars

Practical PLM Webinar Series Part 3: A Unified Approach to PLM that Extends Beyond Engineering

March 18, 2016

During our webinar (Practical PLM Webinar Series Part 2), we looked at strategies for developing a “PLM beachhead” that drives 80% of the value with 20% of the effort.  This was chiefly concerned with driving efficiency and value at early stages of an implementation.  Part 3 expands on these implementation strategies by identifying the functional areas of PLM within the broader enterprise. 

Join us as we define the broad and evolving functional scope of PLM.  The traditional domain of PLM is no longer confined to engineering; it now extends into all functions from sales to services.  This scope has implications for how PLM’s functionality is modularized, how people access information and how data is stored and integrated. 

What will I learn in this webinar?

  • the direction PLM is evolving toward
  • the functional areas of PLM
  • how can my organization extend the value of PLM beyond engineering

Click here to register for the March 18 webinar.

Practical PLM Webinar Series Part 4 – Proposal Management: Extending the PLM to the Headwaters of Product Data

April 15, 2016

In our last webinar (Practical PLM Webinar Series Part 3), we define PLM’s broadening and evolving functional scope.  This was depicted by the role PLM can play in functions from sales to services.  Future webinars, beginning with Part 4 in the series, will be dedicated to examining the specific functional disciplines of PLM as outlined in Part 3.  Until now, our webinar series has been at the 10,000-foot level, and now we’re eager to get into the nitty-gritty of PLM.    

This webinar will explore how PLM can add value during the sales and ordering process.  This is ultimately the headwater of product data and a fitting place to start our journey across each functional area of PLM.  Sales and ordering is not traditionally thought of as a PLM discipline.  This webinar overturns this misconception as we learn how requirements management, proposal management and Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) management can streamline sales and ordering, accelerate engineering and boost customer satisfaction.

What will I learn in this webinar?

  • accelerating sales through PLM paradigm shift
  • bilateral sharing of product data between sales and engineering
  • minimizing requirements data loss during the product lifecycle     

Click here to register for the April 15 webinar.


This Practical PLM newsletter is authored and edited by The vdR Group, Inc. (vdR) along with contributions from selected partners.  It is scheduled to be published the second Tuesday of every month.  Delivery dates may vary depending on holidays.

Your editors are Martin van der Roest and Dick Bourke. We welcome your comments/questions.  You can direct them to or  If applicable, we will respond in a following newsletter. 


Our mission is to help engineering/manufacturing companies achieve the promise of product lifecycle management (PLM).  We do this by exploring practical action steps that drive business value and that yield measurable revenue contributions and reduced expenses.

PLM is a combination of business strategies, best practices and technology.  Hence, this monthly newsletter looks at business drivers, processes, along with considerations for various technologies.

The Aras PLM platform is a cornerstone of this trifecta.  Aras is the fast growing PLM vendor today.  The vdR Group is a full-service partner of Aras.

Copyright © 2016 The vdR Group, Inc., All rights reserved.

All trademarks belong to their respective holders.  Content, responses and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Aras.

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