Prostep | Newsletter
Dr. Lutz Lämmer

OpenCLM provides transparency
in the product development process

By Lutz Lämmer

Monolithic system architectures with static interfaces do not do justice to the dynamics in the development of smart networked products. PROSTEP has therefore developed a new integration approach that makes it possible to directly link the data of the various disciplines and domains instead of replicating them in a PLM cockpit. OpenCLM makes the status of interdisciplinary development projects easier to understand.

With the development of OpenCLM, PROSTEP is meeting the requirements of its customers, who are faced with the challenge of agile integration of new tools and methods into their system landscapes and the need to replace existing ones without losing transparency in the product development process when developing smart products. As the proportion of software and electronics increases, not only the dynamics of product changes increases, but also the dynamics of technologies for their development and production. At the same time, the coordination of the disciplines and domains involved in product development requires a depth of integration that can no longer be achieved with classic integration approaches or only with immense effort. This is all the more true as the engineering landscapes in most companies today are very heterogeneous and - as already mentioned - are constantly changing.

The development of smart products in this heterogeneous system landscape creates a huge amount of data that is related to each other and changes continuously. Project managers and their teams are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain an overview of the interrelationships and to document project progress comprehensively throughout all phases of the product development process. The manual collection of project results also involves a considerable amount of time for essentially repetitive work.

Snapshot of the digital master

OpenCLM automates this process by automatically generating the currently valid view or configuration of the information statuses and their relationships to other artifacts during the approach to previously defined coordination points (milestones). This view documents which requirements triggered which activities (tasks) and which deliverables were generated or are still to be generated. If you then draw a baseline, a snapshot of the digital master, it can be automatically derived in 3D PDF format if required.

Combining all product-relevant information for baselining in one backbone system would entail enormous effort for the integration of the authoring or supporting management systems (such as TDM, ALM, SDM) and would probably still not ensure the required depth of information. Most companies, for example, do not record the requirements in their PLM systems in a granularity that would allow individual requirements to be linked to specific artifacts. As an alternative to data replication, data linking using OpenCLM is therefore recommended.

Link data instead of replicating it

With OpenCLM, PROSTEP has developed a lightweight and easy-to-configure web application for cross-discipline Configuration Lifecycle Management (CLM). It makes it possible to easily link data and documents from different source systems. Its basis is the integration platform OpenPDM, to which not only common TDM, PDM/PLM and ERP systems, but also simulation data management systems, ALM systems (Application Lifecycle Management) and other enterprise applications can be connected via industry-proven connectors or standards such as OSLC. OpenCLM displays the linked information objects with metadata such as status, change date, owner, etc. in a clear and concise cockpit. There they can easily be compared with other data statuses.While other linking concepts aim to automatically establish semantic references between the data at database level with the aid of intelligent search algorithms, PROSTEP focuses on targeted linking of the original data based on the specific process requirements and taking into account their status information in the respective management systems. Among other things, this has the advantage that OpenCLM can not only display the linked data, but also enable write access. The project manager can then use the cockpit, for example, to add missing attributes or initiate a status change, provided he or she has the appropriate authorization in the process and in the source system and the write function is enabled in OpenCLM.

Project plan as starting point

The starting point for data linking is a concrete project plan that is oriented to the phases of the product development process. For each milestone, this plan specifies which artifacts from which source system have to be linked from one step to the next, what semantic meaning the relationships have and what quality the results to be generated should have. There are predefined link types with the permitted start and end artifacts that specify how a request is linked to a certain task, such as a simulation step, which is the work result (e.g. a test report) and where it can be found, even if it does not yet exist or only exists as a placeholder at the time the links are defined. This distinguishes OpenCLM from AI-based linking approaches, which can only calculate these correlations afterwards.

The effort for the manual preparation of the linking is manageable, since the references in principle only have to be created once. OpenCLM offers the option of creating templates for the various project types with the specifications for the respective milestones or baselines, which the user links to the concrete information objects in the current project. OpenCLM then always provides a current version of the linked information for each milestone. The project manager can create the templates himself, e.g. on the basis of his existing project structure plans, or have them created by PROSTEP as part of customizing.

Tool for project control

OpenCLM is first and foremost a tool for project managers and participants with which they or their teams can structure their work and control its progress. The project team members see an overview of all tasks and artifacts that belong to an upcoming milestone in the cockpit, and in which status they are. You can navigate in the structure and arrange it according to different criteria, e.g. to display all information belonging to a specific function across all disciplines. The software automatically identifies open points or artifacts that are still missing and can also automatically suggest their degree of maturity. In addition, project managers receive immediate visual feedback on problem points, e.g. when a particular simulation task has been performed on the basis of an outdated model.

The new PROSTEP solution ensures a high level of transparency and traceability of the development objects across all disciplines and domains. Because the relationship information is managed transiently in OpenCLM, the data models of the source systems do not need to be touched. Among other things, this has the advantage that the departments can use a different tool or data source in the next project if required, without the process or software having to be constantly adapted. The baselines of OpenCLM define which work results they have to deliver and when. This ensures consistent, comprehensible and rule-compliant product documentation, as required by SPICE, CMMI, DIN ISO 26262. plan as starting point.

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