The number of products for helping engineers manage their work—and the product development process in general—continues to swell. Three new products have hit the market in the last two months that promise to bring that management capability, with two of them designed for small- and medium-sized companies ($10 million to 100 million in revenue).
Autodesk launched Productstream™2, a prod lifecycle management (PLM) product, which the company says will automate the design release process by managing engineering changes and bills of material.
Meanwhile, Aras Corp. announced version 6 of its Aras™ PLM product, which includes metrics that reportedly help engineers uncover the true costs of engineering changes and the corrective actions they demand. It, too, takes aim at small-to-midsize companies.
And RuleStream announced a suite of software products for capturing, storing, and applying product knowledge such as design rules.
In making their announcements, Autodesk and Aras seemed to be responding to the plea of Daimler Chrysler's vice president of virtual engineering, Lawrence Achram, who told attendees at the Collaborative product Development Associates' Product Lifecycle Management conference that PLM vendors need to fit in to manufacturers' ways of doing product development rather than force changes in their methods.
Autodesk's Productstream fits in, the company says, by being a modular tool that's self-paced. While virtually all PLM systems claim to be modular, they require extensive services for implementation, says the company's Andrew Anagnost.
"With this product, you don't need outsiders to come in and re-engineer your whole process before you get return on investment," Anagnost comments.
Anagnost says Productstream is built upon the company's Vault, a database management system that's part of all Autodesk products. Productstream, he says, focuses on change management and sourcing issues, which are critical, for small and medium-size companies, he adds.
Aras' Paul Gilmartin says the company's new product lets engineers drill down to find the cost of changes. "We make the hidden costs visible," he says. The metrics are displayed in real-time graphical scorecards and dashboards.
Taking a different tack, RuleStream's Marketing Vice President Gary Kuba says the company's software constitutes "rules-driven product data management." It captures rules in a data base, eliminating the distinction between standard and custom orders for the company, he says, thus cutting lead times 30 to 60 percent. A PDM system knows where a design rule is, while RuleStream knows what the rule means in addition to when and where to apply it, Kuba says.