Familiar face: Selectica configurator tracks, validates supply chain and design changes
The Selectica Configurator 9.2 sales configuration engine is a next-generation automated configuration modeling environment based on the Selectica Knowledgebase Development Environment (KDE). It seeks to automate the tedious and error-ridden process of manually modeling product configurations.
In fact, Selectica customers report that automated configuration modeling using the MDE infrastructure shortens time-to-model new products or implement part or supply chain changes, and uplevels the modeling structure to give product managers more control.
MDE, as an automated modeling system, enables auto-generation of product models without human intervention, and enables product managers to consolidate modeling data from multiple sources, such as Web forms, bills of material, Excel spreadsheets, and databases to create an automated process to generate product models. The result is a “touch-less” product modeling process that can automatically track and validate part and design changes, allowing managers to update the sales configuration system as often as needed without having to manually build individual product models.
By abstracting product details using MDE, product managers can save hundreds of hours normally required for manual product modeling. MDE includes built-in validation checks to guarantee the integrity of design and supply chain rules such as power requirements, dimensional specifications, memory requirements, and other dependencies. As a result, Selectica customers can completely automate their product knowledge base, shortening time for new product introductions and change management from months to days.
Implementing MDE also means product managers can continue to use the tools they are familiar with, such as spreadsheets and web forms, to enter product and supply chain changes. MDE automatically models those changes based on whatever sources it is programmed to track. The system also ensures that any changes always reflect a perfectly buildable order, which eliminates margin erosion from returned orders, non-buildable products and assemblies, and associated shipping overhead. Selectica executives expect customers to realize an ROI on automated configuration modeling in a matter of months.
“Over time, products have become increasingly complex, with countless combinations that have to be enforced by interdependent engineering, manufacturing, and marketing rules,” says Pravil Gupta, CTO, Selectica. “And to stay competitive, manufacturers are changing business rules more frequently. With MDE, we give product managers greater control over their products letting them convert complex data and business rules into a user-friendly application that lets them make changes as often as they need to, without the tedium of manually building product models.”
The MDE user interface supports the Selectica Configurator, which uses a declarative constraint engine to provide a fast, efficient, and compact method of describing the most complex business processes. Where rules-based sales configuration engines must apply a linear process, which makes it difficult to accommodate changes in configurations, a declarative constraint engine allows users to model business logic directly. In this way, users can set parameters once and be assured that the business rules remain in force. The Selectica Configurator is ideally suited for configuring the most complex products and services. For example, a current customer uses the system to manage nearly 7 trillion product combinations without error.
Annual Salary Survey
After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.
The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.