SmarTeam users can select and view parts and their related data structure. In this case, a user is looking for the semicircular cover's stress analysis.

 

Data sets in SmarTeam can be tracked through user-defined and predefined workflows. These take information through a process that can include automatic actions such as vaulting and user actions such as approval.

 

SmarTeam Web Editor gives users secure access to its database from standard Internet browsers.

 

Check-in can be performed directly from CAD systems such as SolidWorks.

Its developer delivers a family of PLM products that can be used without making major investments in implementation, training, or support. In addition, the developer will customize the software, which helps speed acceptance of the product within companies. It's priced at the same level of most Windows-based CAD and other desktop applications.

The PLM software focuses on supporting a build-to-demand idea and positions itself as the link between ERP, SCM, and CRM systems. It is supposed to help share information across design, engineering, sourcing, sales, marketing, field services, suppliers, and customers, regardless of product-development tools. For example, engineers can use the PLM software to manage CAD data and change processes. Marketing people can use it to access designs and specifications for creating proposals or new products. Purchasing can access information about materials and purchased parts. Manufacturing engineers can review designs and manage tooling, share BOMs and other data with an ERP system, and coordinate design with manufacturing. Likewise, others in an organization can use it to search and manage all types of product-related information within their business processes.

Even without customizing, SmarTeam comes almost ready to use as delivered. Several industry-specific templates come with the software. They handle tasks for industries such as power and process, discreet manufacturing, electronic and telecommunications, heavy industry, automotive, aerospace, office automation, medical device, and software. It also supports audit trails and electronic signatures.

Additional precustomizing is available for electronics and FDA applications. The electronics industry gets support for mechanical and electrical-design processes. The FDA version has a validation kit to speed the approval process for its CFR21 part 11, a requirement for companies making medical devices, drugs, and food products.

Users create tree structures by importing data from other software purchases such as office automation, MCAD, ECAD, and ERP. Trees characterize an organization and interrelationships of items that constitute a product's definition, such as CAD models, drawings, specifications, and test reports. Each item's attributes, author identification, right to access, and other factors are accessed from profile cards and stored with related documents in a secure vault. Users find information by defining queries or navigating through profile cards and trees. Trees may be a product structure, BOM, or document folders. Objects in trees can be viewed, redlined, annotated, published, sent through a process, and exported.

Web-based portions of the software (Smarteam - BOM, Web Editor, and Community Workspace) let users in large and small organizations and throughout supply chains use the PLM software regardless of computing platform. The software also works with a variety of CAD programs such as SolidWorks, Solid Edge, Catia, and Autodesk's Inventor, AutoCAD, Mechanical Desktop, and Microsoft Office. Third-party integrations are available to Pro/E, Unigraphics, and several ECAD programs.

The PLM software has distributed data vaulting as well as a distributed meta-data database. Distributed meta-data is a requirement for companies with many widely dispersed product-development centers and supply-chain partners working on common problems.

Modules handle specialized functions and tasks. For example, Foundation includes a vault - actually a Windows NT server - for high-level security, authorization, and control over all documents and drawings. The Workflow module lets small groups create work processes with automatic task notification, attach documents and part lists, and build workflow templates. A Gateway module bridges the software to ERP, SCM, CRM and other enterprise systems. Web Editor gives remote individuals and teams access to the central database and managed files from standard Internet browsers. And a Community Workspace lets partners in a supply-chain collaborate on product information.

SmarTeam comes from SmarTeam Inc., 900 Cummins Center, Suite 307T, Beverly, MA 01915, (978) 524-1950, www.smarteam.com

-John MacKrell


The author is a principal consultant with CIMdata Inc. (www.cimdata.com) an independent worldwide strategic PLM consultancy. The company helps companies design and deliver products and services using PLM.