The automated exchange of data between a PLM system and an ERP system is a goal many organizations spend a considerable amount of effort trying to achieve. Most of the time, there are significant customizations involved with this effort. ENOVIA SmarTeam’s Engineering Express (SNE) solution provides provides some out-of-the-box tools to help you achieve PLM-ERP communication with very little (if any) customization.
The SmarTeam Engineering Express (SNE) solution is a pre-configured ENOVIA SmarTeam environment that includes a standard data model (PLMDB), scripts, icons, pre-defined workflows, and enhanced tools to allow an organization to rapidly implement an “item-centric” approach to manage their product development data and processes. SNE includes a set of import and export tools that can be run interactively by the user, automatically after a workflow process action has occurred, or at a scheduled interval. The Export XML tool is intended to support the export of items and their structure to a XML file format that can be imported to an ERP system (but not limited to just ERP systems). The Import XML tool has the ability to create and update items in SmarTeam from existing XML files (typically generated from an ERP system).
The SmarTeam Engineering Express Export/Import XML tools do not directly import data to an ERP system or directly export data from an ERP system. They rely on the external system or a custom tool to produce or consume the XML in the format that is defined and understood by ENOVIA SmarTeam. In case you are wondering, the SNE Import/Export XML tools are not the same as the standard ENOVIA SmarTeam Import and Export administrative tools.
(relevant as of SmarTeam V5R19 Service Pack 1 and higher)
The SNE Export/Import XML tools have options to allow you to configure the folder paths where the XML files (from SmarTeam) will be exported to and where the XML files (headed into SmarTeam) will be pulled from. The folder paths are typically shared network folder paths that every SmarTeam client user should have access to. These options are configured via the SmarTeam System Configuration Editor tool. The quickest way to access these options is as follows:
- Login to System Configuration Editor as a user with admin rights in SmarTeam
- In the search box in the upper right hand corner of the web browser, enter “importXMLFolderPath” and click the search button. This will return the configuration set name “smarteam.std.express.config” and the key name is equal to “importXMLFolderPath”
- Click on the key name and then click the Add Value link to bring up the page that allows you to add a new value to the key
- Select an override level (typically you select Domain here so that it applies to all users in the environment)
- Enter a valid folder path (ex: \<ServerName><Shared Network Folder for Import>) in the Value textbox and click on Save Changes
- In order to define the Export XML tool folder path, repeat steps 1 through 5 above but search for the key name “exportXMLFolderPath” in step 2 and define a different folder path for step 5
The other configurable options provided by the SNE Export/Import XML tools are located in the SmarTeam database as Admin Settings. The SmarTeam Admin Settings are stored in a class in the database simply named “Admin Setting”. For the pre-configured SNE data model, SmarTeam provides “starter” Admin Settings so you don’t have to add them manually. You can modify the existing Admin Settings to suit your requirements. To manage the Admin Settings, you use the SmarTeam Editor (Windows client) application, so adding or making changes to the Admin Settings is performed through the familiar profile card interface. There is no fancy user interface to manage these settings so you need to take care in modifying the settings, otherwise you may run into issues later with troubleshooting errors. The easiest method to access the Admin Settings is as follows:
- Login to SmarTeam Editor (Windows client) as a user with SmarTeam admin rights
- Click on the View menu, select Open Views, Admin Settings. This will display a standard SmarTeam Tree View of all the pre-defined Admin Settings in the database as illustrated below:
3. Expand the tree under Smart XML Settings. This contains all the settings for the SNE Export/Import XML tools
The specific details of each Admin Setting is beyond the scope of this article, however here is a summary of the available configuration options:
- General Settings:
- Control the format of date values (ex: mm/dd/yyyy) in your XML files
- Determine whether XML files are deleted after import to ENOVIA SmarTeam
- XML Node Names:
- Determines the names of the elements in the XML structure
- Export Settings:
- Define the configuration view(s) (i.e. Manufacturing BOM view) and allowable item states (i.e. Approved, Released) in which an export can be performed for an Item and its structure
- Data Model Mappings:
- Defines the SmarTeam class where data from the XML file is imported to (i.e. Item, Standard Item class)
- File Naming Conventions for XML files:
- Defines various options for naming the XML files created by the Export XML tool. A prefix and sequence can be defined to ensure exported XML files are unique
- Attributes for single item or BOM structure Export/Import:
- Define the attributes from the SmarTeam objects data that will be exported to the XML file
- Define the attributes that can be imported to SmarTeam from XML files created by the ERP system
Using the Tools
The SNE Export/Import XML tools support being used in three different scenarios: interactively by a user within SmarTeam Editor, after an action within a SmarTeam Workflow process, and unattended as a scheduled task.
There are three toolbar buttons in SmarTeam under the “Add-Ins” toolbar ribbon that allow the user to run the Export/Import XML tools interactively. Access to the tools can be configured via user permissions in ENOVIA SmarTeam so that only certain users can import data from the ERP system into SmarTeam or export from SmarTeam to the ERP system. For instance, let’s say a lead engineer is in the process of developing the BOM for a new product and needs to get the latest information (cost, quantity, etc.) for standard items from the ERP system. Instead of searching for that information in the ERP system, the lead engineer can run the “Import XML” tool and update the latest information about those standard items (if it has been exported by the ERP system) into ENOVIA SmarTeam. The lead engineer can then use that information to continue to develop the BOM. The Export XML tool can also be run interactively by a user in instances where manual updates need to be pushed to the ERP system.
Another scenario for using the Export XML tool is within a SmarTeam Workflow process. For example, in the pre-configured Item Release workflow process in SNE, the Export XML tool is automatically launched right after the user assigned to the Production Engineering workflow node selects to complete the Item Release process (see the flowchart below). The item attached to the Item Release workflow and its BOM will be exported to an XML file ready for import into the ERP system.
The last scenario, that only the Import XML tool supports, is the ability to import items via an ERP-generated XML file at a pre-defined schedule. This is performed by using a combination of a SmarTeam-provided executable file named “SmarTeam.STD.XMLImport.exe” and a Windows scheduled task. A Windows scheduled task can be setup to run the SmarTeam.STD.XMLImport.exe tool at a pre-defined interval (ex: once an hour) on the ENOVIA SmarTeam server. When the tool runs, it will import any XML files located in the folder path defined in the System Configuration key “importXMLFolderPath”. This will ensure that the latest ERP information is automatically transferred to SmarTeam without any user interaction.
By using the export/import tools provided by SmarTeam’s Engineering Express solution, you could be one step closer to integrating ENOVIA SmarTeam with your ERP system. And it is worth noting that SNE is available free of charge from Dassault. You certainly need the appropriate underlying ENOVIA SmarTeam licenses to enable SNE functionality and your database may require modification to allow SNE tools to run against it, but the additional features of SNE (like the SNE Export/Import XML tools) are available for free. If you have questions about any of the capabilities of the SNE tools or about how to add SNE capabilities to your existing ENOVIA SmarTeam database, do not hesitate to contact us for assistance.