Aras Innovator: PLM Done Differently – Part 4

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Andy Finkbeiner is the Engineering Support manager at the Xerox site in Wilsonville, Oregon.  He is one of the people entrusted with the job of implementing PLM functionality within the company. One of the first thing’s I asked Andy was why his company chose Aras Innovator over Windchill. This is what he had to say:

“One thing that we do need to clear up is that we haven’t ever used Windchill in a PLM role. We used to use a module of Oracle Engineering for some of our change control process in Wilsonville and we replaced that functionality with an Innovator based tool so that might have been what Peter Schroer was referring to in his comments.

Several years ago, the business group where I work did a full evaluation of various PLM offerings and came to the conclusion that we just couldn’t afford to implement a change control system which required named user licenses. We have roughly 1000 people who need access to a change control system so the cost of buying licenses for all of those users was very expensive. Another issue is the fact that many of those users are casual users who just interface with the system once or twice a year and therefore they need a fairly simple user interface as well as a simple log in process. Most of the PLM systems that we examined were very complex offerings with complicated user interfaces and our users just were not willing to deal with that level of difficulty.

When we completed our survey of the PLM space we became discouraged that we couldn’t find a solution that fit our needs.  After some time passed we became aware of the Aras Innovator solution and we quickly became interested in the potential of that software package. The price point (zero) was very interesting to us but so was the capability. Innovator uses a software model that is radically different than what we were familiar with so it actually took us a fair amount of time before we even understood the power of the tool. Aras Innovator is marketed as a PLM tool and it can certainly be used that way but we use it as more of an application builder.

We did use Innovator as the basis for our engineering change management system (ECO) but we didn’t use the pre-built solution available from Aras. We started with our business requirements and then built our ECO module from the ground up using the Innovator functionality. Innovator comes with a full tool kit of pre-built functions that enable very rapid application development. The flexibility of the Innovator software allowed us to build user interfaces and reports that were very simple and familiar to our users. This familiarity made the Innovator system very easy to deploy, in fact, the vast majority of the engineers were able to start using the Innovator software without taking any training classes.”