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Product Cost Management Software Facilitates Global Deployments and Costing of Complex Product Platforms
CONCORD, Mass.—Continuing the company's mission to drive product cost awareness upstream into the earliest stages of new product development, the latest release of aPriori's product cost management platform, aPriori 2012r2, is reported to offer expanded capabilities that further enable the platform to be deployed across global manufacturing organizations. The new release (www.apriori.com) enables customers to more effectively use data hosted in other critical enterprise applications, such as ERP and PLM systems, and communicate product cost information between all functional organizations involved in product definition and delivery, according to aPriori.
The company's Product Cost Management software platform was designed to help companies attack cost at the point of origin by equipping design, engineering, sourcing. and manufacturing professionals with the knowledge and technology infrastructure to quickly and precisely determine the cost of a part or complete product. It uses computer-aided design and intelligent cost models to quickly generate a detailed manufacturing analysis and cost estimates, as well as quantify the impact of changes to product design, materials, manufacturing processes, volumes, and location.
A number of specific new capabilities are being introduced with aPriori 2012r2 that are said to help manufacturers protect product profitability. One is the import of complex engineering Bills of Materials (BOMs) from ERP, PLM, or other enterprise applications. The BOMs can be organized by unique functional groups, and end users can use the core aPriori cost engine to calculate costs for new components and subassembly designs and compare with target cost. The updated product cost can then be shared across the enterprise so that all functional organizations operate from the same product cost playbook.
The company also reports that aPriori Virtual Production Environments (VPEs) can now be configured to inherit material and machine data and cost model logic from other VPEs (aPriori's digital representation of a real-world manufacturing factory). This allows customers to more easily expand cost scenarios, study the impact of new tradeoff decisions, and streamline system maintenance.
Another new capability is the simplified creation and refinement of cost estimates by consolidating inputs into a single menu panel. This helps design engineers and other cost novices more efficiently produce cost estimates when evaluating early stage design and sourcing alternatives. In addition, the release offers expanded capabilities to override preliminary data inputs. Cost engineers and sourcing specialists can more easily refine cost estimates for developing internal factory time standards or better supplier negotiations.
An Enhanced Progressive Die model that improves automated calculations for machine selection, material utilization, die station estimation, and tooling estimation is also new. In addition, expanding on the major upgrade to machining cost calculation introduced in November 2011, aPriori 2012r2 provides additional improvements for costing precision machining with increased sensitivity to geometric tolerances. As a result, low volume complex product manufacturers can use aPriori's automated machining capabilities to accelerate the creation of cost estimates for milled and turned parts.
Product Cost Rollups
Most product manufacturers today, especially those dealing with complex machinery, have strategic platform strategies that involve sharing a set of common design, engineering, and production efforts, as well as major components, over a number of distinct models. This necessitates the ability to compare estimated costs for product design alternatives at the functional group (e.g., powertrain) and product levels (e.g., complete assembled vehicle). In addition to the BOM loader mentioned above, aPriori 2012r2 is said to provide a number of new capabilities in this area.
Users can begin an NPI project by loading an initial BOM, including pre-existing component attributes (such as cost target and supplier) and costs, which can be used to support project execution, cost analysis, and tracking. They can also import functional group hierarchies that create logical rollup structures within the BOM that can be used for comparison and analysis between BOMs; track project changes month-to-month or compare new versus existing BOMs; and easily share cost knowledge between PLM and ERP systems, enabling a more complete, accurate, and real-time view of product cost across the organization.
Commenting on the new release, Julie Driscoll, aPriori's vice president of strategic product management and marketing, said "aPriori has historically done an exceptional job at calculating the cycle time and cost of complex manufacturing operations for components and small product assemblies, represented in a 3D CAD model or assembly design. This new product release elevates our technology platform to a new level, enabling our customers to better integrate and leverage information from other enterprise applications to support cost tracking in NPI projects, evaluate product design alternatives at the functional group or complete product level, and understand the cost implications of different tradeoff decisions. We believe product cost tracking is a critical component to a manufacturer's cost management strategy. aPriori is committed to providing a flexible costing platform that can support the tracking process or output cost information to other systems if a tracking process is already in place."
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