Aras revolutionized business application development by providing the first open-source, license-free enterprise Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software solution. Aras provides businesses across the globe with a scalable, flexible, and secure solution at a fraction of the cost of traditional enterprise PLM solutions offered by competitors.
The Aras Component Engineering application, which is part of the complete Aras PLM solution, provides a single access point for electronic and component engineers and sourcing professionals to search for, compare, and select components for product development. By embedding commercial component data from the IHS CAPS Universe database into the Aras environment, the application provides users instant access to over 450 million components, including up-to-date technical, compliance, and obsolescence information. This not only reduces regulatory and supply chain risks, but also increases engineering efficiency and productivity.
After its release, customers began asking Aras to provide more open access to the application as well as to allow its installation outside of the PLM solution. As a result, ARAS management charged Vip Fargo with implementing the tablet-based application described below.
The goal of the project was to develop a stand-alone, tablet-based application that provided only the essential functionality of the Aras Component Engineering application and was accessible to any user from any location at any time. Vip Fargo developed Aras Component Search, a custom, stand-alone mobile application that supports the component search and procurement process.
The Aras Component Search application provides direct access to the IHS CAPS Universe electronic component database. Users can also initiate part approval requests and corresponding approvals directly through the application.
The application was developed in the Windows 8 environment, to ensure compatibility with the most up-to-date version of Microsoft Windows. The application supports the Metro user interface (UI), the Microsoft design language that allows mobile applications to be developed for the Windows 8 environment and published in the Microsoft Store.
The application is available for download to any user via the Microsoft Store. Because of the Metro UI design, it requires no user training prior to use. The easy-to-use functionality of the application makes it convenient for all users, regardless of prior experience.
Vip Fargo’s prior experience developing software solutions for Aras allowed us to immediately hit the ground running on development of the Component Search application. First, the Vip Fargo team, in collaboration with Aras stakeholders, reviewed the Component Engineering application to determine the minimal functionality needed.
Once this was completed, we used an iterative development process for designing and developing the application. Our development team leveraged the Aras Innovator API to provide baseline functionality, including access to the IHS CAPS Universe electronic component database and the newly-designed, in-app parts request and approval functionality.
The Windows Runtime API was used to develop the application in the Windows 8 environment, which supports all Windows 8 devices, including mobile platforms. Windows Runtime provids a simple programming model that implements the Metro interface. Our UX designers and development team leveraged the Metro interface to create an intuitive and easy-to-use user interface that any user could understand and use without training.
To ensure all Aras stakeholders were active in the development process, routine meetings were scheduled throughout the design and development process. This allowed feedback to be provided during each phase of the process, and eliminated any unexpected surprises upon product delivery.
Within a short period of time following delivery of the Aras Component Search mobile application, Aras clients experienced the following key results:
- Increased application installation and use. The number of application users significantly increased, as users can now download it to mobile devices without waiting for requisite training or onsite access.
- Increased collaboration among engineering teams. Engineering teams from design to maintenance are able to better communicate and collaborate as a result of the mobile application.
- Faster parts requests, approval, and sourcing. The overall time to request, approve, and source parts significantly decreased, as users no longer needed to be onsite in order to move any components through the workflow.
- Increased productivity. Organizations experienced increased productivity and efficiency as a result of faster workflow completion.