Archive for September, 2010

Beware : The Rules are NOT meant to be broken ! ! !

September 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Rules are meant to be broken? Definitely not when it comes to Product Configuration. Configuring a product can be very complicated if a mediocre rule management system is adopted. Below is a list of basic advantages of using different kinds of rules which help in mass customization or Product configuration.

Basically, rules help in

  1. Increasing Reusability
  2. Reducing time
  3. Validating and Generating Preview BOM

Never Break The Rules

Listed below are some of the rules that are put to use by various Product Configurator vendors. Again we have a high level classification as

  1. Programmable rules
  2. Constraint Based rules

Programmable Rules are those that are procedure based where every product configuration is achieved by writing complicated codes. For instance if you want to configure a mobile phone with camera you would be writing a method/function as

mobilePhoneWithCamera(){ if(mob==camera){genrateBOM();}}

Progam based approach would be very cumbersome and reusability is almost impossible to achieve. On the other hand, Constraint based rules help us overcome a lot of above mentioned issues. Constraint based engines are used where configuration decisions are made dynamically based on inputs provided by the customer. Constraint based rules help domain experts to easily and flexibly represent a constraint model. Constraints can be expressed in several forms as mentioned below:

  1. Compatibility Rules
  2. Inclusion/Exclusion Rules
  3. Resource Rules
  4. Feature Selection – May or Must selections of features
  5. Quantity Rules

In this case if we take up the same mobile phone with camera as an example, constraint based rules would provide the user a combo box with 2 options say “Camera” or “Non-Camera” to make the right selection. Upon selecting an option, rules (constraint based) are validated dynamically and Product Configuration can be created instantly.

Now my query to you is do you know any other advanced way of configuring a product with or without rules approach?

An interesting LinkedIn thread related to a query on rules can be accessed by clicking here.

With Dassault Systemes ENOVIA Variant Configuration Central, companies can define conceptual product definitions that can be reused across a multiple series of products, satisfy market specifications, and provide many possible optional capabilities. These conceptual product definitions serve as a framework for defining variant products that are configurable and drive the generation of design bills-of-material (BOM). This product provides both programmable and constraint based representation of rules. Check Out !

Best Regards, Ajit