By Anthony J. Lockwood
Dear Desktop Engineering Reader:
Arena Solutions is too young an outfit to be called a grand-pappy. But, when it comes to what we call “cloud-based services” today, they really are the old pros. Maybe economic Darwinian survivors is a better term. See, Arena opened for business under another name just before the dizziness of the “Dot Com” era produced the first of the many excessive exuberance hangovers we’re smarting from. They were way out of synch with those times: They actually had a product. It was a good product that filled an enormous need. Called BOM.Com, it provided small- and mid-sized engineering and manufacturing outfits with affordable, flexible, and secure on-line BOM (bill of materials) management. The idea was simple: Get control of your data and you’ll minimize and maybe eliminate scrap, communications failures, schedule delays, and rework. Oh, and while you’re at it, simplify software maintenance and IT overhead.
Arena continued building off that base philosophy with more online management tools for manufacturers. In no particular order, that meant solutions for a range of critical tasks such as managing compliances, documents, engineering changes, and quality as well as applications for functionality like integration with enterprise applications. Arena recently introduced its Fall 2013 release of what’s now called Arena PLM (product lifecycle management), and this version carries on this tradition.
Four new solutions are now available as part of the Arena PLM offering. These are Arena Demand, Arena Projects, Arena Exchange, and Arena API. Here’s a brief rundown.
Arena Demand is the money application that sounds like my type of thing. It gives you visibility into component usage across your entire product portfolio. All of it. All of the big things and all of those wee widgets that cost a couple of cents. The latter is really important to me because I always suspect that a couple of cents here and a couple of more there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money. Now you can find out easily. The Arena Demand application provides an aggregation calculator, a volume discount assessment tool, and capabilities for time-based material demand analysis. Ultimately, you can see where you’re spending and wasting money, which better positions yourself to forecast real needs and buy just what you must.
Arena Projects is a project management system with real-time updates. It ties your project schedule to your product record. You can set schedules, assignments, and metrics. You can invite your supply chain partners to participate, monitor quality processes, and create all sorts of reports to help you keep things rolling.
Arena Exchange is an ad hoc collaboration facility; Arena already has a capability for ongoing collaborations. Arena Exchange is designed for quick action with your suppliers as well as theirs, whether they are Arena users or not. So, you can do a fast session or series of sessions on, say, what that last minute engineering change is going to mean for your costs and schedules. It has real-time approval tracking to help move things along.
The Arena API, as its name implies, provides the programing oomph so that you can integrate your data in Arena with your enterprise application infrastructure. It has things like authentication controls, secure protocols, and cloud-based web service standards. It’s also scalable, so it should handle simple as well as complex integrations.
Arena succeeded out of the Dot Com rubble where others failed because it provided a good tool at fair price. Since then, it has paved the way for all this cloud-based software as a service stuff that others are lately noticing might be a good idea for a business. So, it might be a good idea for you to hit today’s Pick of the Week link and learn more about Arena PLM. It’s good stuff. Make sure to take in the intro to the Fall 2103 release as well as the videos on the new applications now available. You can also sign up for a demo.
Thanks, Pal. — Lockwood
Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering
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