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Why Attributes Are Critical to PLM Part Search

PLM Part Attributes and Analytics

In fiction, a composite character can be comprised of two or more real-life individuals; for example, the character Peter Brand in Moneyball is a composite of real-world people. To streamline the story in Black Hawk Down, several real-life soldiers, who were involved in the event, composed the character Matt Eversmann.

In the piece below, several real-world customers, who had questions regarding the value of having field attributes to their product lifecycle management (PLM) software implementation. We have combined their questions into a single customer in this blog.

Customer: What is a field attribute and how does it impact item numbers and categories for items, request types, and change types?

Arena: Attributes help you to define and find product, quality, and other key information. They can help you analyze product information and processes more effectively. For example, it might be good to have an attribute labeled “Product Line” across your engineering change requests (ECRs), engineering change orders (ECOs), and quality management processes. Adding attributes gives more ability to analyze your processes over time. For instance, using an attribute for a Product Line would allow you to see that Product Line X had 10 changes while Product Line Y had 60 changes.

Customer: Can attributes help to drive analytics, and the ability to search and find out more information?

Arena: Yes, they can also help you from a component part perspective. Instead of putting intelligence into a part number that gives you the screw type, length, head type—you can put that information into attributes so you can search your PLM system for all screws of any type. Attributes also help your product teams find the lowest-level component available or determine if a new part number needs to be created.

Customer: Can attributes drive easy reuse of parts into your product instead of having to create a new part number every time?

Arena: Absolutely. Before using a PLM system, engineers and product teams did not have an easy way to search or find out whether they had an existing part. So they often created new part numbers each time because searching for a specific part was difficult. And in their old system, they might have had 50 resistors, capacitors, or screws that are all referencing the same manufacturer's part number. So teams that needed, say 10 screws for each using assembly, would purchase based on a given part number—not realizing that several other internal part numbers referenced the same manufacturer's part number.

Customer: So what’s the ultimate advantage of using well-defined attributes?

Arena: We would say the big reason is the more metadata (or part characteristics) you use to define your product, the easier it is to find, sort, analyze, and reuse parts.

It enhances your capacity for complex searches. If you want to search for all components that have a 0603 footprint or a +/- 5% tolerance. The more information you provide about your items, the easier it is to find them.

If you accurately define attributes like product line, then you can slice the analytics by that attribute. And ultimately, you could leverage that attribute information in reports or Arena Analytics, to gain maximum benefit as you review the KPIs.

To learn more about how Arena Solutions can help you manage parts, products, and other related processes, click here.