When we started this discussion in Beyond Product Configurator Software: Total Variability Management, we talked about defining and managing variability across a product suite. Teamcenter uniquely supports variability introduction and management seamlessly tied to product definition and visual configuration.
Critical to this approach is the concept of a single variant backbone for managing variability across all domains. To make sure every user is able to most effectively interact with that data, you need specialized variability that’s relevant for different roles. Last week, we talked about configurators for product management and planning roles. Today, I’d like to look at how those upfront decisions help guide Engineering and Manufacturing.
Product Option Offerings Directly Guide Engineering and Manufacturing
In the previous article of this series, we talked about how product managers define a strategy for how their product will “look” to the marketplace. Enabling product managers to capture their expectations for the product options in Teamcenter, in turn, enables engineers to be much better informed about what combinations of options their engineering solutions must satisfy.
Historically, engineers have had to choose a small number of pre-defined configurations against which to do impact analysis and design. With Teamcenter, all allowed product option combinations (based on the defined configurator rules) are known to the system and available to the engineer so they may confidently design for the full range of options that their solutions will fulfill. Teamcenter also supports robust and real-time engineering impact analysis to allow engineers to confidently evaluate and design against a full range of options.
Likewise, product configuration capabilities in Teamcenter support manufacturing engineers and process planners by allowing the product definition decisions made by engineering to apply seamlessly to manufacturing planning for those solutions, both in terms of option reuse as illustrated above and by supporting multiple views of the product definition, as my colleagues discussed at length in articles about the integrated product definition, PLM BOM for the next generation design paradigm, and product architecture breakdown.
Engineering for a Range of Product Variants
We’ve focused so far on how configurator capabilities in Teamcenter support activities well beyond engineering.
I’d be remiss, however, if I didn’t take just a moment to elaborate on how the configurator in Teamcenter makes the engineer’s job more straightforward and precise than ever before: Engineers can simply and easily perform impact analysis and design for a complete range of product variants relevant to their task. This includes overlaying multiple configurations (e.g. a given configuration with all different variations of the steering column to ensure that a single injection-molded dashboard or seeing a vehicle configured for left-hand drive and right-hand drive steering overlayed). This also includes starting from a selected set of components and being able to readily see all other components that could possibly co-exist with these in any valid configuration. As I mentioned above—this analysis can be readily done against ALL valid configurations—not just a select set of tracking configurations.
Configurator in Teamcenter: Benefits Reach Far Beyond Engineering
Let’s say it again: An effective configurator strategy needs to address the scope of product configuration and variability management far beyond the scope of engineering. You need to support variability introduction and management seamlessly tied to product definition and visual configuration. I know, today we DID talk about engineering, but I hope it shows how the network of connected information provided by Teamcenter helps many user communities across the organization. Next week will be our last installment for now. We’ll explore another very important role – your customer!
Other discussions in this series include: