Archive for April, 2012

Small Fishes are Catching Up with Configuration Management Solutions

April 28, 2012 1 comment

Small Fishes are Catching Up with Configuration Management Solutions in engineering industries.

Small Fishes (non-PLM vendors) are Catching Up with Big Fishes( PLM vendors)

It feels good to make a comeback to the blogging world after hibernating for a good number of months. Through Perspectives blog my primary focus has been to reach out to industry thought leaders and explore different perspectives about product management processes. Its been tough to reach the good ones in the industry but it’s quite happening !

One thing boggled me this time was to find out and frivolously compare different configuration management solutions from PLM and non-PLM vendors available in 2012 market across engineering industries mainly the aerospace, automotive, high tech industries and the emerging verticals.

Its essential to note that some of the solution vendors market their solution as configuration management solution, some refer to it as variant configuration solution and some others simply refer as product configurator. Interestingly there is huge number of non-PLM vendors in the market who sell configuration management principles as a Sales Configurator or Product Configurator and surprisingly few CAD industries even refer to it as Bill of Material solution. Regardless of the different marketing names and offerings basically everybody sells Configuration Management principles.

According to one of my observation – it seems like here the small fishes (non-PLM vendors) have a greater edge in the market over the bigger fishes (PLM vendors) because of probably their unique selling point and wider focus and offerings. The bigger fishes have not been able to capitalize the current market due to their primary focus and perception of configuration management as ONLY system engineering solution per se whereas the smaller fishes have jumped several miles ahead by selling the CM principles as a Sales Configurator or Product Configurator.

I spent some time this week to google various configuration management solution(vendors) and collated a few findings in this blog post. Let’s have a look at some of the top PLM vendors in this market followed by what I call as small fishes – the non-PLM vendors.

As usual let me start with my favourite – Dassault Systemes !!!

Dassault Systemes offers CM as part of Portfolio Configuration Management solution and also as a BOM solution through ENOVIA Variant Configuration Central/ENOVIA Engineering Central.  Some of the unique pointers of the solution are –

  • Product Portfolio Definition
  • Product Planning/Evolution
  • Generic Product Architecture
  • Configuration Rules
  • Product Configurator
  • BOM Generation
  • Change Management

The most interesting fact about DS offering and the key differentiator is it’s 3D experience capabilities and its ability to integrate with best in class CAD solutions in the market.

Siemens offers Product Variation and Derivative Management solution through Teamcenter Enterprise knowledge foundation & Engineering process management and the unique pointers about their offerings are –

  • Re-using product/process knowledge
  • Facilitating mass customization
  • Post-sales support
  • Marketing and sales analysis
  • Options (150 percent BOM) and all possible variants (100 percent BOMs)

PTC sells the solutions as Change & Configuration Management through Windchill PDMLink

  • Rapidly find and access accurate change-related documentation,including a record of proposed changes
  • impact of proposed changes on reliability parameters,regulations and product costs
  • track changes for the next cycle of iterations
  • Improve innovation by freeing up engineering time
  • Reduce product cost by planning for effective changes to product configurations and minimizing product inventory

Interestingly there are a number of non-PLM vendors in the market who sell the configuration management solution as their sole product offerings. They are not classified among PLM vendors but they do sell CM solutions and have a greater market presence in the emerging industry verticals and some of them are listed below.

ConfigureOne offers Concept Enterprise Product Configurator and the unique thing about this product is its ease of use & presentation and they have some of inherent features of a CM solution such as-

  • Rules Engine
  • Pricing and Quotations
  • Drawings and Visualization
  • BOM’s, Routing, and Part Numbering
  • Security and Workflow

Tacton sells the solution as sales configurator and they name it as TCsite. Some of the unique features as part of Tacton CM offerings are –

  • Streamlines quote generation and quote management
  • Can be used by the Internal Sales Force as well as Distributors and Resellers
  • Integrates with TactonWorks for generation of CAD-drawings on-line
  • Supports Enterprise Sales by letting all sales channels share the same source of information
  • Designed to be easily integrated with surrounding platforms such as ERP, CRM, CAD, Visulization, and PLM systems

Cameleon Software also sells Product Configurator and the key features include –

  • A dynamic constraint engine that drives real-time management of rules and options
  • Interactive sales scripts supported by rich media
  • Nested configuration to handle loops, packages and bundles
  • Profile-driven branding, content, pricing and behavior
  • 2D/3D drawing engine to generate production graphics
  • Easy-to-use collaboration tools for configurable Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) with no programming skills required

Cincom Acquire provides the following as part of their Product Configurator solution –

  • Shared knowledge in sales, manufacturing and engineering
  • A tailored knowledge environment that fits your company’s needs
  • 100% Accuracy on quotes, sales orders, BOMs and routings directly to sales without utilizing product experts
  • Real-time Integration — Cincom’s business rules engine, Cincom Guru, enables integration with CAD, ERP and other enterprise applications including Microsoft Dynamics, SAP, and Cinco
  • Validation of design, configuration and product pricing

And to my surprise even IBM sells Product Configurator solution through Sterling Configure, Price and Quote and some of it’features of the product are

  • Avoid order errors, such as incomplete configurations, inaccurate or constraint options selected for products
  • Generate a custom Bill of Material
  • Execute complex price and mathematical calculations
  • Make context specific up-sell and cross-sell opportunities available

Finally to end this blog post – it was an interesting journey on google to find out various configuration management solutions available in the market in 2012 and one of the key observation is that the list of vendors in this area is ever increasing and it’s high time for the big fishes to have an eye over the small fishes.

Do let me know if I have missed out any good sales/product configurator vendors and I would be more than interested to know about them in the form of a comment to this blog post or an email.

Best Regards, Kini

PS: Some of the pointers mentioned here are directly reproduced from respective company websites. Please refer individual company websites for more information.