Arena API Enables Good Companies to Play Nice and Share

Posted in ERP, BOM Management, PLM
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As kids, we were taught the importance and value of sharing with others.

The spirit of that lesson is alive in Arena’s newly launched API, which allows for the bi-directional sharing of design and business data from Arena product lifecycle management (PLM) to an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, such as NetSuite.

Arena’s bi-directional API ensures the maximum value of integrating Arena with an ERP solution is achieved with product development and business processes linked as continuous functions in a seamless, end-to-end solution. The API allows organizations to develop lightweight and flexible integrations from their enterprise application infrastructure and custom interfaces to Arena PLM.

One of the biggest benefits of bi-directional API is contextual access to information for a broad range of team members. What does “contextual access” mean? An engineer modifying docs in Arena PLM now has access— at his fingertips — to critical product record specific information stored in a related ERP system. “Contextual access” gives team members access to pertinent information that resides in a system outside of their traditional working environment (Arena PLM) and their natural habitat (darkened room surrounded by RedBull, and peanut M&Ms).

There is, of course, some natural overlap between PLM and ERP. For instance, PLM is the system of record for the product, and manages not only current, but historical and future versions of that product record. ERP systems, on the other hand, manage what is currently being produced, how much it cost, and how many do we have and where.

This system overlap drives the need for a bi-directional API to maximize business results, and reduce product error and lower costs. For example, although PLM systems generally have the ability to manage costs related to components and perform roll-up calculations, the costs that are generally managed in PLM are engineering-related and prototype costs. As a consequence, once an assembly is released and pushed to ERP, the costs usually become out of date pretty quickly.

A bi-directional API results in greater bi-directional system visibility for more immediate and efficient business decisions.

Let’s look at a few practical use cases and highlight some tangible real world benefits of leveraging Arena’s bi-directional API for contextual access to information. First, let’s look at two common scenarios in which a user would pull information from an ERP system while residing in his PLM system.

In PLM: Look up component cost from ERP

An engineer designing an existing component into a new design could — from his PLM system — quickly perform a lookup of that component’s cost in the ERP system and pull that into his system of record for the product.

In PLM: Investigate inventory from ERP

A VP of engineering or manufacturing wants to make a decision on replacing a given component in an assembly can — from his PLM system — look up in the ERP system how many of the components being replaced are in inventory and make a decision whether it’s more cost effective to scrap or use up existing materials.

There’s no doubt that this bi-directional API allows users to access information quickly and easily from an ERP system while working in a PLM system. Now let’s look at two common scenarios in which a user would look up additional information related to the product record and pull from a PLM system while residing in his ERP system.

In ERP: Preview file in PLM

A buyer or planner who primarily uses ERP now has access to data sheets or a drawing related to an item in question. Rather than login to PLM, the buyer can now click a button on the item in ERP and view the related file directly, saving time and money.

In ERP: View Full BOM in PLM

It is not at all uncommon for customers who outsource manufacturing to manage the full product record in PLM, but only push 'orderable items' to ERP (as these are the only things that need to be transacted). It may be useful — from within the ERP environment — to see the full bill of materials (BOM). This would also be pulled from PLM via the API.

RESTful API is the technology platform for Arena API. RESTful API enables simple and well-known communication between technology platforms such as PLM and ERP.

More manufacturers understand that the integration of PLM and ERP solutions improves efficiency and quality of product development and delivery by making sure the BOM data captured in the PLM system is available across the enterprise to internal and external supply chain teams.

The benefits of integrating ERP and PLM can be expected to grow as ERP and PLM are further integrated to enable bi-directional data-sharing. Arena’s bi-directional API provides innovative product companies with maximum integration value.

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About the Author

John Papageorge
John Papageorge has worked at some of the biggest names in the high tech industry, launching products and programs for companies, such as Oracle, HP, Cisco, and Microsoft. John's passion ... Read More 

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